To Pin or Not to Pin: An in-depth look at Pinterest

by Kathryn Rose on

Like many, I’m new to the social network Pinterest.  It intrigued me after reading many articles about it being the fastest growing social network, so I set out to uncover the business case for using it.  Because I’m a social media marketer, and business owner, it’s important that I squeeze every bit of visibility potential out of the various networks if I’m going to spend any time there.  To learn more, I enlisted a friend and pin-wild owner of the boutique Sueb.do Susan Goldberg Zimmerman to give me the guided tour.

Susan was a great teacher, showing me all of the beautiful images she collected of places she wished to visit and the products she has in her store.  I asked her what the business use was and she said that she looks at the images as an introduction to the person as to whether or not she wants to follow them or perhaps do business with them.  That was fair, but there had to be a more compelling reason for me (or my clients) to spend our time on Pinterest.

Once I was on my own, my first thought was about how addicting it could be; creating boards and pins of various topics can be a lot of fun but can also be a major distraction.  And from many of the blog posts I am reading, speaking to friends of mine that are full blown Pinterest addicts and my own experience trolling the web for over an hour looking for images to add to one of my own boards–it turns out I’m right.

As I mentioned, my mission was to find a business case to use the network so, I had to get back on task.  While I’m a visual person to some degree, I’m nowhere near as adept at fleshing out beautiful images that tell a story like my friend Susan.

Through my research, I found that using Pinterest is a great way to create interest in, and drive traffic to, your blog posts.  Of course your posts must have images on them–an important strategy you should be employing anyway—and it’s very easy to set up a board or several boards that highlight your blog posts.  Using the ‘pin it’ bookmarklet on the Firefox browser, you simply click on the image in your blog post and ‘pin it’ to a board. There are other ways to add images, you can upload them as well from your hard drive or embed code in order to aid you in pinning things more quickly.

Once you pin the image in the post, it displays on a board.  You can set up a board with any name you like.   If someone clicks on the pin and either clicks on the image or the link in the pin, they’re taken to my blog.  The same process also works for videos.  You can ‘pin’ videos from YouTube and once the pin is clicked the video plays on the site, no need to link off to the video.  This can be a very valuable tool.

Also, as an SEO person, I wondered if links from Pinterest could also provide any site ranking benefits  on Google and other search engines.  Turns out, so did Search Engine Land, and they did a great post called “How to Use Pinterest for Local SEO.”  Apparently, Pinterest, unlike other social networks, allows “do follow” on their links; that means the links provided on Pinterest are giving ranking benefit.

Some of the pointers they gave:

  1. Make sure your profile is not hidden from search engines and use keyword-rich “about” descriptive text.
  2. Begin your “about me” with your business URL.  This is not a live link but it can’t hurt to have it here.
  3. Be sure to list your web URL (shown under your profile with a “globe” icon) and also set the location to the city where your business is located.
  4. If your business is well represented by a Google Places business page, consider using that as the landing page for your profile instead of your website.  Particularly if there are great reviews of your products and services located there.
  5. If your business is local, set up boards with your city name and collect pictures about your local area.  They don’t all have to be pictures of your products.
  6. Create boards with keyword-rich titles.
  7. Use good keyword text when writing descriptions of your pins.
  8. Make sure to pin attractive images.  Pinterest users are all about the visual.
  9. Cross promote your pins on Facebook and Twitter.

Another great tip:  Set up a Pinterest contest for your business. Offer prizes to those who post pictures about your business.  I also discovered in my research that if you put the price into the item’s description, a banner comes up with the price displayed which could be useful for retail shops.  And, unlike Facebook ®, it does not appear to be against Pinterest terms of use to set up an account in a business name, like Susan, whose account is under her boutique name.

Another way to use Pinterest, is to create new relationships with potential collaborators.  The return on relationship factor is very high on this network.  Folks are pinning and repinning content at lightning speed. You can also make comments on someone’s pins; so as long as you keep in mind the “relationship” aspect of the marketing, go ahead and post comments on pins perhaps inviting a co-promotion with a link back to your site.

There are a couple of things to be aware of with Pinterest, however.  When I first signed up I noticed that I was getting a number of emails letting me know that a great deal of people were following me, which was strange because at the time I didn’t have one pin posted.  After some research, I figured out that Pinterest was committing a major no-no; they are autofollowing people based on your “interests.”  Can you imagine the magnitude of the fallout if Facebook began to “auto friend” people based on your hometown, high school, etc.?

The other thing I noticed is that there are absolutely no privacy settings. So, if you decide to create a board that has family pictures or pictures of your local town, anyone can view them and re-pin them, something privacy advocates have been railing against on Facebook and other sites.  You must take care not to post private pictures on Pinterest.

Next beware of copyright infringement. Take a look at the “Pin Etiquette” section.  It’s best to give credit to the photographer or person’s work that you are pinning.  If you use images in your blog posts, be sure to purchase them from a licensing site like IStockphoto or Getty Images.

Lastly, once spammers realize that Pinterest is a “do follow” network, look out for all of the completely irrelevant spam comments on your pins that include links to various travel, Viagra and SEO services sites (or worse).  This I predict will be a major issue in the coming months.

Overall, I think it’s a fun, innovative network that businesses can definitely benefit from using.  Keep in mind the privacy concerns and be careful when sharing.  Also, like any social network Pinterest can tempt you to fall into the rabbit hole.  Use an egg timer or a downloadable timer on your desktop to prevent you from wasting time.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Denise Wakeman January 18, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Kat, I’ve been wondering the exact same thing, how to best use for visibility and business. Thanks for doing the footwork and sharing your findings and insights! I’m going to add my blog posts and it’s good to know that videos can be pinned too. Blog on!

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Gina Carr January 18, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Thanks so much, Kathryn. This was phenomenally helpful. I can now think of several clients that can use this. I love that you really evaluated this with the business case ROI in mind. Applause!

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Susan Zimmerman January 18, 2012 at 7:15 pm

Great content. Thanks for sharing….so glad I gave you the push to embraced this wonderful visual tool for business.
~SueB

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meg February 9, 2012 at 12:42 pm

[...] you deoesvircd Pinterest yet?  No, well let me tell you a bit about it.  I myself didn’t know it existed until a few [...]

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Dechay January 18, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Thank you for diving into best uses for businesses. We’ve had several clients ask “what’s the point” and your post really captures some great benefits to business owners.

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Denise Sonnenberg January 19, 2012 at 5:31 am

Pinterest is on my list of Blog subjects for the next couple days. Thanks for putting this together. I’ll certainly refer to this when I post my article.
And for those using Chrome as a browser, there is an available Pin It extension for it as well.

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Lauren McMullen January 19, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Thanks for the excellent review Kathryn. Pinterest has been on my list of sites to showcase in a video and now I realize how important it could be especially for photographers or artists. I love your idea about a photo contest! The SEO benefit is wonderful as well but I wonder how long they will allow “do follow” links because of the potential for abuse

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Christopher Nicholas January 19, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Hi Kathyrn,
Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts on the site… a very insightful and very helpful article. Pinterest is already turning into one of those sites where you have to be very strict with yourself & only spend allotted amounts of time other wise your day has disappeared into a cloud of images !

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Cleofe Betancourt January 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Finally, someone with a plan for Pinterest! I joined the site but have done so little with it because, well, I just don’t see the value to my business. However, I will test out some of your suggestions to see if we can find something there.

Great post!

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Brenda J January 19, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Thanks for this. I have been struggling with how to integrate this into my social media use. Terrific and practical tips!

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Kate Williams January 21, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Kathryn, Thanks so much for mapping out the business case (and drawbacks) for Pinterest. I was introduced to it while visiting my daughter and she was so drawn to it she quickly set up boards and started sharing images with Pinterest friends. I held back and thought about whether it was going to be a personal distraction/hobby or a business marketing asset. I see how it could be both! LOL. Thanks for your practical, strategic social media marketing tips.

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Lynn Brown January 26, 2012 at 12:15 am

Thanks Kathryn for sharing all the great information about Pinterest. I set mine up and figured out how to add boards for my business. You offer some really great tips and I didn’t know about the highly lacking privacy issue. There are some beautiful photos on there right now – I hope the spammers don’t muck it all up!

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Jill (Hound Dog Social Media) January 26, 2012 at 9:27 pm

A very timely article as I am working on a Pinterest account for my business! Love the idea of linking to Google Places.

Pinterest isn’t for every business, but with some creativity and time, it could be a great value for many.

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Loretta January 26, 2012 at 10:06 pm

I used it today as part of a giveaway I’m offering. I didn’t post the giveaway on Pinterest but rather made “re-pin”ing my weight loss picture as an entry to potentially winning the giveaway. I’m curious to see how it all works out.

Thanks for sharing.

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Luxury Accommodations Blog January 27, 2012 at 1:36 am

…To pin. For us it worked great,and it is bringing some good traffic to our blog. We just made 1,000 pins today: http://pinterest.com/luxacc/

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Amanda January 27, 2012 at 3:03 am

Great post, thank you so much for the quality information. It’s the first time I have even heard of it so am off the check it out :)

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Ann Williams-Maughan January 28, 2012 at 12:01 am

So pleased I stumbled over this post. Will be putting some of your fab tips into practise A.S.A.P

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Pete DiSantis February 5, 2012 at 7:04 am

Kate,
Thank you so much. I have been asking the same question since I got hooked. I immediately added a job projects board, with keywords, of course.

Hope to chat with your soon,
ciao,
Pete

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