Social media is a challenge for business. Is it a time-sapping frivolity, or legitimate marketing? Which is the most effective? Do I really need to be on all of them?

Of all the social networks, Pinterest seems to generate the most head-scratching. After all, it’s just a kind of pinboard. How can that help your business? 

Showcase products – not just yours

Not all businesses are naturally visual. But many are. Pinterest is notoriously awash with people comparing shoes, but you don’t have to dig too hard to find that there’s much more there in the way of substance. If you illustrate, create jewellery, design logos, build houses, sell flowers or bake cakes, then there’s a visual aspect to your business. Pinterest is a highly effective way of sharing your business, visually. But, like other social networks, don’t be so superficial as to only share your own products. You can generate more interest by sharing what’s great, even if you didn’t create it. Sure, some of your following will get diverted to other companies’ products – but you’ll have a far bigger, better and more diverse following. 

Backlinks and referrals

Pinterest is good for search optimisation – since your images come from your own website (and are therefore backlinked to it). The key? Good content – content that people want to share. If they share it, then you’ll get more backlinks. Counter-intuitively, you shouldn’t just keep pimping your own products – yes, doing so would ensure that you get all of the backlinks coming via your account, but you’ll get fewer backlinks if your content isn’t diverse. It’s worth being a community player – think about your products as if you were an outside enthusiast. You’ll always include competitors. Do so. Think big picture.

People searching on Pinterest

People use Pinterest for inspiration, to look for ideas. If your products aren’t on there, then they’ll be inspired by someone else’s. Think that Pinterest isn’t that popular? Think again...

It’s the third largest social media website

Yes, Pinterest is the third largest social media website, more popular than that business essential, LinkedIn. Yes, Twitter and Facebook still outstrip it, but Pinterest is growing faster. And it’s important for another reason, too...

Pinterest drives traffic

Business users of Pinterest have found that it’s great for driving traffic back to their websites. Think about it: Pinterest is simply a visual signpost; if people like what they see, what are they going to do? Pinterest is proving at least as useful as Facebook and Twitter for driving traffic back to the brand’s website. If people use Pinterest to get inspiration, what happens when they get inspired? Well, for a start, they spread the word...


When people like a pin, they repin it. This is the visual equivalent of spreading the word. For brands, this is the conversation they’re seeking – but a visual buzz. It’s the retweet, in pictures. The gift that keeps giving.

Pinterest turns browsers into buyers

Well, that’s why your business is interested in social media, isn’t it? The nature of Pinterest – the visual search – means that people move from browsing to buying more quickly and more readily. It creates a direct path from interest to purchase – something no other social network does. One in five users has purchased as a result of browsing. Almost 70% of online consumers who use Pinterest found an item they later purchased (or considered purchasing) compared to 40% on Facebook. 


I’ve said that Pinterest is about inspiration; people looking for ideas. Inspiration is all about excitement – doing something, buying something special. Extra special. A content strategy for Pinterest is all about inspiration, about showcasing things which excite. The mundane goes nowhere – it’s important to remember this, to challenge yourself when you pin something. Ask yourself: is this visually exciting enough to repin? Or am I just pinning it because it’s mine and I want people to be interested? This self-challenge is important. Quick snaps of throwaway products get nowhere on Pinterest. To succeed, your images have to earn the repin. They have to inspire. 

Find out what your customers like

Pinterest is a great way for seeing – yes, seeing – exactly what your customers are interested in. Forget Google Analytics, charts and statistics, you can see with your own eyes exactly what turns your customers on. Which means you can react to it. Plus, you’re seeing what they see – products which have created an emotional reaction. Stuff they desire; stuff they covet. Like all social networks, seeing what your customers are interested in means you need to participate, not broadcast. You have to look at what interests them and react to it.  

Business accounts

Pinterest is getting smart for business users. It now offers tools to make the sharing of content from your website easier for visitors, you can verify your website via Pinterest so that users can see your business website via your profile, plus you can measure what’s going on via Pinterest’s built-in analytics. In other words, you can integrate Pinterest properly into your website and then measure the results you get from it.

One of the things which I personally find so fascinating about Pinterest is the nature of the images which are shared. People share things which interest them, excite them, stimulate them, inspire them. It’s a social network with heart; with passion. This inspires others. If your business has any kind of visual element to it, you should give it a try. Like all social media, it takes some commitment to ‘get it’ and a little more to stick with it – but it can be an important part in your marketing strategy.