Pinterest: What, Why, How and Who? + Tips & Pin Optimisation

Pinterest: What, Why, How and Who? + Tips & Pin Optimisation

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This article is a product of getting into Pinterest and clients coming forward saying, “What is Pinterest?”. In fact, there is a lot to learn from Pinterest and it is worthy of analysis which I will get to below. According to ExperianHitwise, Pinterest is now the #3 social media site behind Facebook and Twitter. It is also the #16th most visited site in the USA, so it is not something you should ignore.

Let’s have a look at what Pinterest is, why it’s different, who uses it, what makes for the most popular pins and how to optimise websites for the best Pinterest exposure.

What is Pinterest?

“Pinterest is a pinboard-style social photo sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, hobbies and more. Users can browse other pinboards for inspiration, ‘re-pin’ images to their own collections and or ‘like’ photos. Pinterest’s mission is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting” via a global platform of inspiration and idea sharing.”

Pinterest Screenshot

Why is Pinterest different?

Pinterest is an excellent site for inspiration and ideas and it is also a very cool community filled with artistic souls. ‘So what?’ you might be thinking, I already belong to ten of those and I don’t have time to read all the blogs and articles as it is… so here are four reasons why Pinterest is different:

  • Pinterest uses a new type of social interface to drive traffic and it is linked to Facebook and Twitter.
  • Pinterest appeals to both the general public and to the art & design crowd
  • Pinterest is an excellent marketing tool
  • Pinterest is the first of similar sites and it signals a shift in Internet marketing, viewing and usage.

Pinterest challenges most social media and current computer trends. It’s fast, beautiful, visual and easy to use. Just as so many sites are opting for utility over beauty, Pinterest invites users to think visually and appreciate beautiful things every time they enter the site. Most importantly, it saves you time especially when researching.

Pinterest is Beautiful

Who uses Pinterest & why?

The social king pings of the moment, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, take copious amounts of time to interact with. Twitter, at least got the speed part of the equation right. Time intensive social media such as those mentioned above, is fine for college kids or even unemployed professionals, but neither group is exactly the demographic most businesses are targeting. According to Alexa, Pinterest users are predominantly female between the ages of 25-34.

Facebook in particular has an interface that is purposely constructed like a series of rat holes to keep viewers on the site as long as possible. This is a carefully chosen strategy to increase the ratings of Facebook in the SERPS. However, it isn’t user friendly and one of the top reasons people leave Facebook or refuse to join, is: Facebook takes too much time.

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In contrast, Pinterest is easy to learn and quick to use. The visual interface is stimulating to the brain and it invokes almost an addictive response in users. This is appealing to both the art crowd and to general users. Males, although they do not currently make up a large section of Pinterest viewers, could in the future due to the male affinity for visual stimulation. In addition, from a conversion perspective a buyer interested in shopping for anything, can quickly assemble a Pinterest shopping list on the site and come back to it for comparison-shopping when ready to buy.

On a side note, there is now an app that turns Facebook into a Pinterest-like board.

A look at how to use Pinterest

Chairs on Pinterest

A quick search & compilation of ‘dining room chairs’ took exactly 6 minutes to create.

This included creating the board, searching, and selecting products from Pinterest and Google search. This is a busy buyer’s dream. The introduction of this type of fast, visually based shopping platform could spark a small ‘revolution’ in how websites are designed and constructed; especially for large online retailers.

Designing with Pinterest in Mind

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Pinterest pulls photos from a website and then provides a link back to the source. The use and reuse of these photos as they are repinned may not be in accordance with the photo usage agreements that were established with the photographer or photographic copyright holder. But legally, the responsibility of pinning and copywrite infringement exists with the pinner, not the site owner or Pinterest.

However, in reality the photographers will come after the site owner rather than Joe Pinner for compensation related to copyright infringement. Large clients need to clarify the ownership rights and contracts with their photographers in the event that they start to see an up tick in profits from Pinterest photo pinning and re-pinning. There are also ways to block images from being used as pins.

Clear, beautiful engaging photos are the backbone of Pinterest… but what makes for a good pin?

Clients looking for pins by the community should have several excellent photos available for pinning on every page of their site, keeping in mind that great photos, logos, infographics and memes are the most popular pins. Pinterest’s own search engine includes a “popular search” and a quick examination of the most popular pins reveals the following:

Sample: 500 Most Popular Pinterest Pins by Type

  • Photos: 317 total pins; includes most categories.
  • Meme / infographics: 129 total pins; includes anything that has text/and or visuals in the pin.
  • Practical: 36 total pins; are how to posts, excludes food.
  • Ads: 10 total pins; professional marketing ads or brand logos as pins.
  • Celebrity: 7 total pins; excludes celebrities used in memes.
  • Video: 1 total pin.

Sample: 500 Most Popular Pinterest Pins by Category

  • Black and white photos that didn’t fit into another category: 14 pins
  • Color photos that didn’t fit into another category: 47 pins
  • Memes / infographics that didn’t fit perfectly into another category: 97 pins
  • Food and Drink: 64 pins
  • Home design: 47 pins
  • Nails and Hair: 31 pins
  • Fashion / jewelry / clothes: 30 pins
  • Love / Wedding: 35 pins
  • Crafts: 34 pins
  • Garden: 22 pins
  • Practical: 15 pins
  • Pets: 19 pins
  • Children/baby: 11 pins
  • Ads: 10 pins
  • Celebrity: 7 pins
  • Tattoo: 6 pins
  • Health and sports: 7 pins
  • Car: 3 pins
  • Tech: 1 pin

The data above is only a single sample. Furthermore, it is seasonally influenced by seasons, such as Spring when weddings and prom are popular topics. Similar samples would need to be collected over time to establish valuable data but even one sampling is revealing. For example, health and fitness is surprisingly absent in this particular sampling.

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Tips & Pin Optimisation

Pins that generate comments and are physically longer, dominate the Pinterest site. The five-column format naturally favors vertical orientation of both photos and memes. The majority of both in the most popular section are vertically oriented. Comments and lengthy text increase the page space accompanied by any pin making it more likely to be repined and shared by other viewers. Consequently, adopting and using vertical formats into web designs, where pinning is desired, makes sense.

Even though ads make up only a small percentage of the most popular pins, many were presented as logos. For example, Trader Joes’s logo is one of the most popular pins on the site. Each time the logo is pinned it is an endorsement not only for the store but also for the designer of the logo – if it is credited by the pinner.

Also check out these 40 interest Pinterest boards for designers.

Over To You

I’d love to know if you are using Pinterest and what value you get from it? How have you optimised your site for Pinterest, if anything? Got any other Pinterest tips to share?

17 thoughts on “Pinterest: What, Why, How and Who? + Tips & Pin Optimisation”

  1. I found the breakdown of the most popular content overall super helpful. I have been on Pinterest for almost two years and have used it for building lists and making inspiration boards for clients.

    I’m also implementing Pinterest for some of my clients. There are definitely challenges because we really should only be posting content the brand owns – while a normal user can get away with curation, a large brand cannot.

    Again, thanks for the write up!

  2. Right now my site content is literally raped by enraptured pinners to the extent that all my material is there. I get no traffic from Pinterest. I hate Pinterest, it’s nothing but a copyright infringement machine.

  3. I’ve certainly taken to Pinterest quite early on and I enjoy using it for pinning a variety of inspirational images that I can go back to any time I want. Kind of like an on-line mood board.

    I’ve also pinned a few pieces of my own work up but I can’t say I’m reaping the benefits of new traffic to my site through this. Most people seem content to just keep pinning/liking within Pinterest rather than clicking to find the source (in my opinion).

  4. I have been using Pinterest for a year or so now and it has mostly been for inspirational stuff. “An online mood board” sounds about right. Create my boards with things I like and find inspirational. My biggest concern would be copyright infringement, although I have always given credit to who I think is the owner. I have not put any of my work up(due to a lack of confidence), but know from personal behaviour that I will be given credit for it. Hopefully.

    Great post, as always. Thank you!

  5. I’m curious to see how long Pinterest continues its reign. Will it one day just be “neat” or will they be able to stay ahead of the curve and keep it interesting. . .

  6. “Twitter, at least got the speed part of the equation right.”
    Well, it depends on how much people you follow. From my point of view Twitter is, as well as Facebook, one of the most time consuming social networks nowadays. You must remain conected 24hours a day to keep track of what’s going on. Unless you use summarizing apps, such as tweetinsight (

    I have also tried pinterest but find it difficult (tiring, maybe even boring) to get engaged in another new network, no matter its features…

  7. What people do on Facebook, share images. What they do Pinterest, same thing share and uplaod images and speak through the images. It has become so popular among women customers that in March Pinterest had 104 million total vistors, which made Pinterest the third most popular social media platform behind Twitter and Facebook.

    Women are almost completely responsible for Pinterest’s success and 97% of the users are women. They trust recommendations from Pinterest more than any other platform in comparison to Facebook and Twitter.It’s simple, Because women trust other women in their circles more than anyone else. As a result, 47 percent of women bought something based off a recommendation from Pinterest where as only 33 percent bought because of a recommendation on Facebook.
    It’s really not surprising that followers have grown overnight. Many products are getting more exposure than they got on Facebook and Twitter.
    It may not be a surprise to Facebook as they might have knew this that is the reason they bought Instagram for $1 Billion as they know Facebook can make best use of this Application and picture sharing will be more fun on Facebook. After the acquisition people were saying the users will drop, but it creased to 40 million users from 30 million in just 1o days after the acquisition. So it’s not a surprise. More surprise is yet to come.

  8. I think pinterest at the minute is a lot of hype. Interest in it will eventually cool down.

    Reminds me of another website that had a lot of hype and I can’t even remember the name of, which allowed you to pin different types of content to your homepage (similar to iGoogle and probably a predecessor).

    People get so excited when it comes to technology companies that they get a bit carried away…

  9. Still not sure if it is something we should start using for our own sites. Guess just starting with one and see what happens is the way to go. When reading the remarks by Alerou its good to know Jacob knows how to stop it 😉

  10. Pinterest is for those who want to bring the brand and promotion to the hearts of women quickly as almost 85+% of its users are women..

  11. Just started using Pinterest and it does seems very simple to use. I have fell out with Facebook simple because like you say its just not user friendly any more. I also hate the Timeline. I do wonder about Pinterest in the future with copyright infringement will it come to a point when everyone blocks the site from using their content.

  12. I think Pinterest is great! I do wonder about its long term stability because at the monent it is still in infancy and is a craze, so it will be interesting to see if it stands the test of time. In terms of infringement, I thought that if someone takes your content and pins it, a link is created back to the original website?

  13. Pinterest challenges most social media and current computer trends. It’s fast, beautiful, visual and easy to use. Just as so many sites are opting for utility over beauty, Pinterest invites users to think visually and appreciate beautiful things every time they enter the site

  14. Pinterest and Twitter are my two only weapons in Social Media to drive more Attention towards my product and Services with my brand and Traffic as well.

    Your Pinterest guide is now my most valued product to help feed my posts get a lot more attention. Thank You.

  15. I found this article about a week ago. Now i’m feeling lucky. I had tried to use pinterest before as well but i didn’t like it. After finding this article i have able to derive traffic from pinterest as well.


  16. Hi,
    It is really a great post I ever seen that why I come to this website again and again.I have some doubt how to use pinterest but you made it clear.Pinterest is getting more popular social media site among the people.As a internet marketer pinterest is useful to me as well.

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