The Small Business Guide To Pinterest

It’s all too easy to get into a flap about Pinterest. You know you should be active on this visual social media platform but you just can’t help but feel overwhelmed.


What's a pin and where should you stick it? How can you build followers? Should you have secret boards? Well, flap no more… for here is all you need to know.


The concept behind Pinterest is simple. Humans love to collect things and we are also aspirational. We like to dream about living in a grand design, clutter-free home, making the perfect victoria sponge, all the while dressed to the nines and with perfect hair (it can't be just me!). In short, living life but, somehow, better.


Pinterest offers us a way to collect the things that inspire us. We can now search for anything that we find of interest and keep that information on our virtual pinboards for later use.


Of course, it didn’t take businesses long to see the potential in Pinterest. So, if people wish to be inspired, who better than you to fulfil their desires? If customers are logging into Pinterest to seek answers to problems, surely your business should be there to provide the solutions?


One of the reasons why you might not be there is that you have limited social media resources. However, I would wholeheartedly recommend you do invest your  time as, quite simply, your small business needs to be on Pinterest.


So, to help you on your way, here is our quick start guide to all things Pinterest. In this article, we will aim to answer all of the key things that you need to know (see image below). 


What you need to know about Pinterest
What you need to know about Pinterest


Pinterest is full of stunningly addictive visuals. Users have ‘pinned’ these visuals to their virtual boards (more of which later). If you like the images you can click on them in order to ‘repin’ them to one of your boards. You can also create your own images that your followers may want to repin, like or share.


You can find things to pin whilst searching on Pinterest itself (addiction warning!). Alternatively, you can pin images that you see around the web. The easiest way to do this is to download the Pinterest Pin It button onto your browser. You can then click this button whenever you see an image that you want to pin.



There are three types of Pinterest Pins: place pins, related pins and promoted pins.


Place Pins

Place pins enable you to add a location to your pin and display that location on a map. For example, if you want to share a list of all your favourite local restaurants, you can create a board that displays all of those restaurants on a map. Simply select ‘add a map’ when you create a board (you can also add a map to an existing board by editing that board and selecting ‘add a map’). Your board has now been transformed into a place board.


You can now add your place pins to your place board. Create a place pin for each of your favourite restaurants by selecting ‘add to map’. Add the location of the restaurant and it will be plotted on a map for you. This could be extremely helpful if you host an event and invite clients and colleagues from outside your area. You can share your place board with your delegates and they can then benefit from your local knowledge!


Related Pins

Related pins are those pins that Pinterest picks for you based on the interest you have shown in other related content. Pinterest decides what it thinks you might like to see by looking at the pins you have added, liked or clicked on, by looking at the boards you already follow and by looking at the sites that you have visited recently.


You can influence the related pins that are picked for you by rating the related pin. Just click ‘info’ on the pin and give it a thumbs up or down.


Promoted Pins

Pinterest is now looking at how to allow businesses to promote pins on Pinterest. On announcing this new initiative in October last year, Pinterest Co-Founder, Ben Silbermann, was keen to allay users concerns by assuring them that promoted pins would be both tasteful and relevant. You will also be able to tell when a pin is a promoted pin because there will be a label informing you on the pin itself (see image below).



Finally, there are also pins called rich pins. These add extra details to pins from your website. There are five types of rich pins: movie, recipe, product, article and place. For more information on rich pins click here


Pinterest boards are the places where you collect your pins. Simply click on your name in the top right corner of Pinterest and select ‘Your Profile & Pins’. Then click ‘Create a Board’. Choose a name and category for your board. You can also choose a pin that will become the cover image of the board.


Successful Pinterest boards are those that are tailored to a specific topic. For example, rather than creating a board about cakes, create one about chocolate cakes, one about victoria sponge cakes and another about carrot cakes. By doing so, you will attract more Pinterest users to your boards as they are able to find the information they are searching for quickly and easily.


In addition, to those boards that are pinned for all to see, you can also create secret boards. A secret board is only visible to you and those you have invited to it. Secret boards have many effective uses. For example, you can keep your board secret until you have curated a certain amount of key content. Or you could create a secret board to promote an event or product launch and only make it public at the appropriate time.


Strike a balance on Pinterest between boards that relate to your brand, boards that entertain and boards that educate and inform. Once you have achieved that balance, the world is your oyster as there are endless possibilities!

Tweet: Strike a balance on Pinterest between the boards about your brand, those that entertain and those that educate and inform @picpresents

Key Demographics

One of the most important questions to ask when you are considering investing in any social media platform is: are your ideal clients there? There is little point spending time and energy on a network that isn’t on your customer’s radar.


Check if Pinterest is a good fit for your business. Look at the social media activity of your best and desired customers. If they are active on Pinterest or about to become active, you can make sure that you are there to provide them with the content they need.

Growing Followers

Much like other social media platforms, starting out on Pinterest can feel quite overwhelming at first. You are not sure who to follow and you have no one following you. You look at other Pinterest users who seem to have followers spilling out from every board and wonder if you’ll ever be in that privileged a position.



The key is to be patient and build slowly and steadily - incorporating a high quality mix of pins that you create and pins that you share. Pin by pin you will begin to get noticed and then recognised as someone who consistently brings interesting pins into the stream. Make sure that you don’t try to sell - instead try to solve. Once you have built up enough social trust, you will find that your followers will grow organically.


Another way to grow followers is to follow key influencers. You can find out who those influencers are by using tools such as Curalate. In addition, Pinterest will suggest relevant content to follow. One of the great things about Pinterest is that you can choose whether you want to follow a pinner’s entire collection of boards or just the boards that most interest you.


You can also grow followers by linking your other social media networks to Pinterest and making your own website Pinterest friendly. Ensure that your colleagues, customers and contacts know that you are on Pinterest and invite them to take a look at your boards. You can invite friends by clicking your name at the top of Pinterest and selecting ‘Find Friends’. Then connect to Facebook or Twitter to invite your friends and followers from those platforms. Pinterest is also hoping to add an option to email invitations soon. 

Linking Social Media Platforms

As a small business, you may not have all that much time to spend on your social media marketing efforts. It makes a lot of sense, therefore, to link your social media accounts as much as possible. This has the dual benefit of showing followers on one network that you have a presence on another and also allows you to cross-publish content.


Pinterest allows you to link your Facebook and Twitter accounts to your Pinterest account. Simply click your name at the top of Pinterest and select ‘Settings’. Then switch ‘Log in with Facebook’ and ‘Login with Twitter’ from no to yes. If you want to share all of your pins to Facebook automatically, just switch ‘Link To Timeline’ from no to yes.


Once you are connected, you will see a ‘Post to Facebook’ and a ‘Post to Twitter’ box whenever you pin something (see image). In addition, you can also use the share button at the top of any pin.




Once you have identified who you would like to follow, engage! It is amazing how often we forget to engage on social media. It’s not surprising given how busy we all are but engagement is critical nonetheless. Jump into conversations, comment on pins, repin images with full credit to the original pinner and make time to be social. It is an investment that will pay off in the end.

Creating Visuals

Okay so this is the really fun part!


By becoming active on Pinterest, your business has joined the visual social media world. Welcome, it’s an amazing place! For me, the potential of visuals really hit home when I heard Ekaterina Walter talk in a Social Media Examiner podcast. She explained that we process images 60,000 times faster than text. There is just incredible potential for storytelling using visuals, especially in today’s world where time is a scarce resource.


The best news of all is that you don’t have to be a graphic designer to create awesome visual images. You don’t even need to hire one. Using tools such as Canva, Pic Monkey, WordSwag and Pixlr, you can create professional, impactful images that will be iminently sharable.


Aim to make all of your visual content colourful and compelling, positive and inspiring. In addition, keep image sizes in mind. Pinterest favours tall, skinny images (Canva has a great template option).


Every image that you pin comes with a link. Pinterest is a powerful driver of traffic so always consider where you would like that traffic to go. For example, if your image is of an amazing new handbag you want the link to take your viewers to a place where they can get more information and make a purchase.


It is all too easy to get carried away with Pinterest without stopping to think: is any of this working? You need to measure what pins are successful and what pins have not worked so well. By doing this you can do more of what works and move away from what doesn’t.


Pinterest offers you key analytics once you have verified your website (see image below). You can access your analytics by clicking on your name at the top of Pinterest and selecting ‘Analytics’. You can also use tools such as Tailwind to monitor your Pinterest activity. When you know what works - do it again!



Offline Potential

Pinterest can work extremely well offline as well as on. For example, you can create a board to showcase the products that are flying off the shelves of your store. Conversely, you can also show your in-store customers those products that are proving popular on Pinterest.

Guided Search

Pinterest recently announced a new Guided Search facility. According to Pinterest, Guided Search is “made for exploring, whether you know exactly what you want or you’re just starting to look around. There are more than 750 million boards with 30 billion pins… so the right idea is just a few taps away.”


Take a look at Pinterest’s video - it explains Guided Search in an extremely compelling way.

Guided Search is a major shift for Pinterest. “The data indicates they are set up to succeed,” states data analysis firm, RJMetrics. “Pinterest is set up to be a major player in online commerce. Is it possible that it will dethrone Google as the starting place for product search?” We will have to wait and see!


Well, that concludes our quick start guide to Pinterest. Of course, there is so much more to discuss. I’d better get working on my next Pinterest post then!


Take care and thanks for reading! Jane x

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