Pinterest for Business: What You Need to Know for 2017
Businesses today need to stay on top of many social networks at the same time, and one that's not at the top of many marketers' lists is Pinterest.
Pinterest? That place where soccer moms pin recipes and inspirational quotes to boards?
Well, yes. But Pinterest has come a long long way since it first started in 2010, and it's high time we take a look at how businesses and brands can make the most of the visual network in the upcoming year. Pinterest has grown its user base by 50% over the past year and now has 150m active users worldwide.
Settle in with a pomegranate, ginger & lime flavored water and see how your business can succeed with Pinterest in 2017.
To save you from death by scrolling, head directly to where you want to go:
Here's why businesses should start paying attention to Pinterest now
1. Its user base is growing (and diversifying)
Which network is more influential, Twitter or Pinterest?
A recent announcement from the visual network says the answer might not be as straightforward as it used to be.
According to new figures released in October, Pinterest now draws 150m monthly users to its site.
Of those, 80m come from outside the US, along with 75% of new signups. Combine this with 75 billion pins and the 2 million people who are pinning products every day, and you can see why "the world's catalog of ideas" has evolved into a powerful e-commerce platform.
[Pinterest has released new user stats for 2016. Image source: Pinterest]
The Wall Street Journal poignantly summed up the significance of Pinterest's announcement:
[User stats from Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Image source: The Wall Street Journal]
What you should take away from this: Pinterest is growing fast internationally, and it's the perfect place for businesses and brands to showcase their products.
2. Businesses are flocking towards Pinterest to get their slice of the cake
In December 2015, more than one million businesses had already signed up for the visual network, and that number has likely grown significantly over the past year.
The main reason it's so popular with businesses is also what makes Pinterest unique among social networks: 93% of Pinners use Pinterest to plan or make a purchase. It is one of the largest sources of social referrals in the world and at 55%, Pinterest is by far the most popular network for shoppers according to a recent survey.
83% of active Pinterest users said they purchased something because they were on the site (not necessarily through Pinterest).
Plenty of reasons for businesses to get excited.
3. It's not your standard social network
While sheer numbers say Pinterest plays in a league with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others, some argue it doesn't even belong in the same category.
Forrester analyst Jessica Liu highlighted the fundamental difference between Pinterest and social networks in a recent report. According to Liu, businesses should be more aware of how consumers use Pinterest as a discovery tool.
"The reality is that Pinterest is not a place for customers to engage with brands like they do on other social networks."
Users value it as a personal tool rather than a social one. They can both follow people and boards, which makes it easy to find products and items they want to buy.
[Pinterest's Explore feature highlights how much users enjoy browsing through topics. GIF source: Pinterest.]
But just because the visual network doesn't have the social aspects of other networks, marketers shouldn't ignore it.
"Marketers know to go to Google to increase their brands' visibility and awareness but don't think about Pinterest in the same way — and that's a mistake," says Liu.
4. Pinterest is making it easier for businesses to advertise
Pinterest has been working a lot on improving its ad options for brands, and businesses now have a range of options to promote their products or services on the site. While these are mostly limited to US and UK customers at the moment, the speedy international growth will likely see ad options being rolled out to other countries in 2017.
For more in-depth information about your Pinterest ad strategy, check out our resources section.
Promoted Pins (available for business accounts based in the US, CA, UK only)
[Promoted Pins help businesses reach more people, drive traffic, and increase conversions. Image Source: Pinterest]
Promoted Pins give your content greater visibility for a targeted audience. They're searchable and you can choose from three options: drive engagement, traffic or awareness. Here's a great article on how to do it step by step.
Promoted One-Tap Pins
If you're familiar with Pinterest already, you know that tapping or clicking on a pin usually leads you to a full-screen version of said pin. Only clicking again will take you to the original source of the content. With One-Tap Pins, marketers can avoid that in-between step and lead customers directly to a landing page or other piece of content.
Promoted App Pins
Promoted App Pins allow users to promote an app that can be downloaded directly from iOS by clicking on the Install button on the pin. For users, not leaving Pinterest enables a more seamless experience.
In August 2016, Pinterest has launched Promoted Videos. Rather than just displaying a video on its own, Pinterest shows relevant Pins of the brand beneath the video - something they say makes people more likely to take action after seeing a video ad. At the moment, the feature is only available to businesses working with a Pinterest account team, but that might change in the future. With video being hailed as the next frontier
Rich pins are designed to showcase a lot more specific information than a normal pin. App Pins include an install button for users to download and install apps directly from Pinterest, Product Pins include pricing and vendor information as well as real-time availability, and Place Pins include address, phone number and a map.
[Product Pins encourage users to buy the product directly. Image source: Pinterest]
Rich Pins are available to anyone, all you have to do is add metadata to your site and validate the Pins before they appear on Pinterest.
[The Save Button helps customers Pin their favourite images or products easily. Image source: Pinterest]
This is a small step every business can take to make it easier for customers to share the brand's visual content on Pinterest. Simply add a Save button to your business' website to enable your visitors to pin your content.
Take a look at these options and see which is the right one to promote your brand on Pinterest.
Getting started (and getting results!) on Pinterest is easier than you think
Think Pinterest isn't for your brand? Think again.
It's true, Pinterest is known for its largely female user base, but there's a lot more to it than pretty pictures, recipes, or arts & crafts. Pinterest is to many millennials something that logs their aspirations - a tool to plan the future and to find ideas to improve their lives.
Businesses have understood that and they're trying to place the products that users are looking for on Pinterest. If that sounds like an abstract concept to you, worry not. Here's how other brands and businesses have created successful Pinterest campaigns that can inspire you for your 2017 planning.
1. Boring brand? Bank of America proves it doesn't matter
When you ask which brands you expect to be successful on Pinterest, Bank of America probably wouldn't make it top of... well, any list, frankly. However, with their Better Money Habits profile, the company has identified a niche that works for them.
Here's what happened: the Better Money Habits team at Bank of America wanted to connect with a new, younger audience.
“Whether you’re planning a wedding and need some budget help or are looking to buy a house – we know we aren’t the centre of those decisions, but we can help you plan,” said Christopher Smith, enterprise social media executive at Bank of America.
The company used promoted pins to reach their audience and created several boards that aligned with what their intended audience was searching for.
This example shows that even businesses offering intangible products can find ways to engage with their intended audience on Pinterest. Compared to the main Bank of America account with 660 followers, the Better Money Habits account now has 5200 followers. Overall, the 5-month campaign reached nearly six million people and generated over 29,000 Repins.
2. Let's talk about virality: Buzzfeed
If you're a social media marketer, chances are you've heard about a post's half life. Facebook and Twitter posts are notoriously short-lived, but Pinterest is an entirely different beast: pins can drive traffic for months or even years after their initial publishing date and thus the platform has a huge virality potential, particularly for evergreen content.
Buzzfeed has experienced this first hand. Check out what Buzzfeed's Dao Nguyen, VP of Growth and Data, has to say about it:
"Pinterest is BuzzFeed’s second largest social network referrer. It also has a much longer lifecycle than other social networks, often driving traffic to posts months after publication. In fact, more than half of BuzzFeed's traffic from Pinterest goes to posts published more than 2 months ago."
Buzzfeed found that content which makes people click immediately works just as well as content that people come back to months after they saved it. Aim for a good mix of both types to make sure you can produce steady results.
Buzzfeed also recommends to optimize your website for mobile to make sure people can pin your content on the go.
3. What not to do: Arby's
We all know how hard it is to be constantly active on an ever-growing list of social networks. If you're not sure if Pinterest works for your business, there's no harm in trying it for a while and see where it leads.
There are a few best practices you shouldn't ignore, though. Take a look at Arby's official Pinterest account, and you can't help but think someone's not quite understood the principle here.
The takeaway? Brands of all shapes and sizes are using Pinterest with great success. Your visuals need to be up to scratch if you want to generate some buzz and excitement among your target audience (check out our resources section for a list of tips to help you make the most out of your pins).
Promoting something that is not directly related to your brand may seem counter intuitive at first, but your audience is going to appreciate it, which will pay off in the long run. And even if your brand is selling something more abstract like insurance, you can still drive traffic with Pinterest.
Pinterest analytics: measure your way to success
Your overall Pinterest strategy for 2017 should be based on best practices for the platform, but there's something you can do to really bring it home: listen.
No two businesses are the same, which means your audience has specific requirements and unique behaviours on Pinterest that you should know about. It's vital for businesses to understand if their strategy is working - and why. On Pinterest, that means taking a closer look at data to generate insights about which pins or boards are major traffic drivers, and also to find out what your competitors are up to.
Pinterest Analytics is Pinterest's built-in Analytics dashboard. It's a great place to get a basic overview of your own pins. You can sort your data by impressions, repins, clicks and all-time.
View impressions for top pins over the past 30 days to check out which products on your website are most in demand (and manage stock accordingly) or check out how many original pins have been added from your website (if this number is low, you might want to make it easier for people to pin things directly from your website).
Another great Pinterest Analytics feature is the Interests section. You can check out which categories, boards or businesses are most popular for your audience. If you know that your audience is particularly interested in home decor, your product visuals should reflect this.
Make sure to include regular checks of Pinterest Analytics in your brand's 2017 Pinterest strategy to find out what's working and to continually improve your results.
Talkwalker Analytics for Pinterest
Pinterest Channel Monitoring
Talkwalker's advanced social media analytics platform lets you monitor more than 10 social networks simultaneously, which means that you can see how your Pinterest campaigns compare with your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram efforts easily. See what's working for each platform and adjust your budget accordingly.
[Talkwalker lets you compare any user or board and shows you a range of KPIs so you can make the most of your data.]
Compare user profiles and boards
This is one of the main features that Pinterest Analytics is lacking, but where Talkwalker can help out. With a simple search query, you can get insights into any user profile and compare how boards are doing - even if you're not the owner. Easily compare your DIY board to the most popular DIY boards to improve your own strategy.
[Find Pinterest influencers for your campaigns or benchmark your performance against competitors.]
Spy on your competitors
Talkwalker's social media analytics is a great way to explore what your competitors are doing on Pinterest. Dig deeper to see what works for your competitors and compare KPIs to benchmark your performance.
[Get in-depth info about engagement on your pins. You'll be able to see popular posts from Pinterest among your results as well.]
See Pinterest results for your search queries
Talkwalker doesn't only let you compare boards and pinners via channel monitoring, it also displays popular results from Pinterest for all your other queries as a data source. This way you can be sure you're looking at the full picture of your online brand presence (and of those of your competitors, if you're tracking them).
So now you've seen how Analytics can help you make the most of Pinterest, we recommend you use a combination of Pinterest and Talkwalker Analytics to power your 2017 strategy.
A look beyond 2017: Think Visual Search and Image Recognition
Pinterest has been trying out a lot of new things to get their revenue business up and running, but they're also improving on the tech side. One of the most interesting features may be their visual search function. It lets you highlight part of a pin and shows you similar-looking images right away - perfect for finding purchase information about products you see in pictures.
While that's a really cool feature already, development won't stop there. Pinterest is trying to make things even more discoverable than they already are, which is great news for businesses. If people can find your content or product easily, you'll generate more traffic, higher CTRs and ultimately more sales. Here's what's in store for us in 2017:
"We’re also building technology that will help people get recommendations on Pinterest for products they discover in the real world, by simply taking a photo. This will enable a new kind of visual search experience, combining image retrieval, object detection and the power of our interest graph. Stay tuned for more information on camera search technology," said Dmitry Kislyuk, software engineer in Pinterest's Visual Search team.
But with so many people sharing images on Pinterest and online, brands need a way to stay on top of things. Tracking text mentions is pretty standard these days, but seeing when your brand logo is being used in images is entirely more difficult. Talkwalker has developed its own proprietary image recognition technology that helps brands discover their brand logo online.
How does it work? Our engineers have developed an AI-powered image recognition engine that now holds a database of more than 30,000 brand logos. If a business wants to see how its logo is being used, they add a simple query in their Analytics setup that returns all instances of their logo in images, even when the brand isn't mentioned in the text.
You can add insights gathered from image data easily to your analytics reporting and learn how your customers are interacting with your brand - on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook or many more social networks. Think user-generated content or brand protection.
This AI-based tech is all the rage right now and trust us, there's plenty in store for 2017 and beyond.
Pinterest Resources to check out
Last but not least, here's a collection of resources you can use to plan your 2017 strategy.
General Pinterest tips & best practices
Pinterest for Business: Best Practice Guide. Pinterest’s own Best Practice Guide for Businesses. It’s a very basic first steps guide with links to more in-depth content.
Pinterest Marketing: Social Media Examiner. Social Media Examiner’s Pinterest Marketing board is an amazing resource that showcases everything from what-worked-for-me pins to infographics and expert tips. Definitely a bookmark candidate.
We Tried All the Best Pinterest Marketing Tips. Here's What Worked. In April 2015, Buffer looked at Pinterest tips out there and aimed to test them all. While the article is getting a bit long in the tooth, it’s a great step-by-step that goes into a lot of detail.
Kairen Varker: Pinterest Tips. Blooger Kairen Varker's Pinterest Tips board is a nice collection of resources (...4.3k followers can't be wrong!) If you're a blogger yourself, it's definitely worth checking out her other boards as well.
Layout & Optimization Tips for your Pins and Visuals
The Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Pinterest Pin Very in-depth article about what you should include in your description to boost SEO and make your pins easily discoverable through Pinterest’s smart search.
4 Ways to Optmize Images for More Repins This article explains in 4 steps how you can improve your images and pins before publishing them.
Ads, ads, ads
How to Use Promoted Pins on Pinterest. This Social Media Examiner article features a great step-by-step guide to set up promoted pins. The post shows you what options to choose to create a successful promoted pin.
The Fundamentals of Pinterest Promoted Pins. Another great and very detailed look at Promoted Pins that's suited for beginners.
How to Create a Promoted Pin That Will Actually See Results. Search Engine Journal created a great resource that talks about all sorts of Pinterest advertising possibilities and shows you how to do it for your business.
Pinterest Analytics, Image Recognition and other resources
Pinterest Analytics: a quick walk-through. Here's a great Pinterest Analytics 101 from SEO specialists Yoast.
Introducing automatic object detection to visual search. Check out this techy look at Pinterest's Visual Search feature.
Introducing Talkwalker Image Recognition: The Future of Social Listening. How social media professionals can improve their social listening strategy with image recognition.
10 Pinterest Best Practices for Event Professionals. Sydney Dawes describes what you can do and improve when you’re an events professional on Pinterest.
Developing a strategy for Pinterest Group Boards. A look at how a group boards strategy can improve your campaigns and follower count.
Future focus: 2017 predictions
Instagram & Pinterest Predictions for 2017. A look at 2017 hot topics for Pinterest along with predictions of what might happen.
24 Predictions for Social Media and Social Media Marketing in 2017. Andrew Hutchinson's 24 predictions for Social Media and Social Media Marketing include everything you need to know for 2017 from Facebook to Snapchat, and there's also a section on Pinterest.
Official Pinterest Engineering Blog. The official Pinterest Engineering blog is packed full of interesting background articles to features and gives glimpses of what's in the works for the future.
Pinspiration: top boards and pinners to follow
L.L.Bean's official Pinterest board. L.L.Bean is one of the brands that regularly takes a top spot when people look at brands on Pinterest because they promote a lifestyle as well as products.
Brands on Pinterest Board. A nice overview board that shows you which big brands are on Pinterest
Do you have any other links or recommendations we should include? Tell us in the comments!