6 Ways To Use Pinterest To Promote Your Business

The best way to think of Pinterest, if you’re not familiar with it, is as your personal or business bulletin board – it’s where you pin pictures of things you like: your style, your interests, your aspirations…anything you can represent with images from the internet.

Pinterest also happens to be the hottest social media network, with growth in the past 6 months of over 4,000%. And people aren’t just taking a peek at the site and leaving; the average visit is more than an hour – Facebook is about 16 minutes, LinkedIn about the same.

How Pinterest Works

Pinterest users share photos they find online by “pinning” them, the equivalent of “liking”  on Facebook. To pin, users download a toolbar that grabs the image and identifies the source site. Once your pins are on your board, users who follow you, like Facebook friends, can see what you’ve pinned. If they like one of your pins, they can re-pin it to their own board.

Now that you know what it is and how it works, how can you use Pinterest to promote your business?

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1. Market Your Products. Create a Pinterest account for your business and pin images of your own products to your board – there’s even a space below each pin to describe the image and briefly outline its features and benefits. Your business can have multiple boards, allowing you to group products by theme, size, features, etc. Essentially, you’re creating an online product catalog.

sell products on pinterest

2. Lead Prospects To Your Website. A feature allows you to add a price tag for any item you pin; you can then add a link pointing back to your website so viewers can learn more or purchase. When you add a price tag and link to your site, you’re automatically added to Pinterests “Gifts” page; users can click on “Gifts” to find great gift ideas grouped by price ($1-$20, $20-$50, etc.) These links to your site help your off-page SEO and drive quality traffic to your site.

3. Showcase Your Services. Don’t have a product to sell? You can still promote your business by creating a kind of visual resume on Pinterest. If you design landscapes, for instance, post pictures of your installations; if you’re an interior designer, post pictures of your favorite rooms. 

sell services on pinterest

4. Improve Your SEO. When you pin with a price tag and link to your site, you’re creating important “back links” that pull people to your site (all pins link back to their source site, but pins with a price highlight that you’re selling the product). Use the area provided to describe your product, and incorporate your keywords to pull in your most valuable targets. You can also share your pins on Facebook and Twitter, generating even more links to your site. Bolster your chances of getting traffic from Pinterest by offering followers something for pinning your photos:

  • Ask users to pin an item as an entry into a contest; the more of your products they pin, the more entries they’ve submitted
  • Offer them a special Pinterest User Discount if they go to your site and make a purchase

The more people re-pin your pictures, the more buzz you’ll create in the Pinterest user community, and most likely with the people most interested – and likely to buy – your products.

5. Be A Resource. Present your product or service within the context of a larger solution. Say you’re a small company that makes custom window treatments; help prospects by showcasing more than just your products – pin other, related products that fall within the overall category of interior design (wallpaper manufacturers, artwork retailers, paint manufacturers, etc.). This way you’ll be viewed not as a company selling one type of product, but as a valuable resource for home décor inspiration and solutions.

6. Engage With Users. Pinterest is a social network, so take the time to form relationships with other users and to build a community around your brand:

  • When you see that users have re-pinned your items, comment and say thanks
  • Start following Pinterest users who show an affinity to your product or service, and this will encourage them to follow you in return
  • Ask for customer feedback by encouraging them to re-pin their favorite products in your catalog

Like any new social media network, it’ll take time to get up to speed finding and interacting with your target. But as the only visually based networking site allowing you to tap into people’s passion for specific products, this one’s well worth the effort.

If you’d like to take a step back and get a basic overview of Pinterest (lingo, terms, etiquette, etc.), before you dive in, download our free tip sheet, How-to Guide to Get Your Business Started on Pinterest.

 pinterest tip sheet

Comments: 10

  • Ryan says:

    Well said, Meg! Pinterest has so much potential and is absolutely reviving so many industries (like DIY and crafting, for instance) that were all but dead. With people learning how to make their own products, it’s especially helpful in this type of economy.

    We launched http://pinfaves in order to allow Pinterest users who are promoting or selling a product to get even more eyeballs on their stuff (even from non-Pinterest users who come across our site online).

    Pinterest oozes potential for so many different people – it’s great!

  • Kami says:

    This is very wrong, and against everything Pinterest stands for. Look at “Pin Etiquette” and you will see “Avoid Self Promotion.” This is NOT a direct marketing tool.


    And Ryan… DIY and crafting, dead industries??? Where have you been?

    Shame on all you marketing vultures for wanting to ruin a good thing.

  • Meg Hoppe says:

    Thanks for your comments, Kami. While Pinterest does, in fact, ask users to, “…try not to use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion,” the website encourages promoting and selling products; that’s why they allow sellers to add a prices to their items with links back to their sites.

    Pinterest is a lot like Facebook, designed for the enjoyment of users. But Facebook isn’t in business for purely altruistic reasons; they’re in business to make money, and they do it by charging for ad space (and, in fact, only because they charge for ad space can you enjoy Facebook free of charge). Our guess is that Pinterest, too, will eventually charge people a percentage for pinned items they sell – just like etsy and ebay – so that they can continue to offer a place for people to share and explore.

  • Kami says:

    Again, you are wrong. Pinterest is designed to include prices and link backs on the items people share so others can know where to find it and for how much, not so sellers can add prices to their items for advertising purposes. There IS a difference. Etsy and eBay were created for the sole purposed of selling products. Pinterest was created for sharing products and ideas. Pinterest may very well decide to create business opportunities for seller’s, but until that day comes, it is not to be used for advertising and self-promotion. Encouraging such use is in direct violation of the site’s Terms of Use.

  • Kami,

    You’re being very naive about Pinterest and their monetization intentions. See the New York Times article (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/07/is-pinterest-already-making-money-quietly/) from last week explaining the affiliate marketing process they’ve quietly implemented. Read that then tell me Pinterest isn’t a direct affiliate marketing channel.

  • Dunc says:

    I completely agree with Kami. Pinterest’s ethos is for users to pin pictures and products from across the entire internet that they genuinely like and wish to personally recommend to their followers. Creating an account and flooding it with your own product catalogue from a single website is basically just spam, and against the terms of service.

  • Meg Hoppe says:

    Here’s another article, from Forbes, that talks about brands using Pinterest not to directly sell, but to “humanize” their brands: http://www.forbes.com/sites/daniellegould/2012/02/15/pinterest-for-food-brands-startups-organizations/

    In the end, whether a pin is just for fun or posted with the goal of enticing viewers to learn more and purchase a product, you can choose to dig deeper, or to ignore it. No one is forced to act on anything that’s on the site or to follow anyone’s boards.

  • Kami says:

    Wow… again, Meg… the links you provided only serve to prove what I’m saying. It would be smart of Pinterest to generate revenue through a commission agreement with sellers whose product was found on Pinterest. In the Forbes article, they address using boards to express the interests of the company, quotes, books that align with their philosophies, etc. They do mention pinning their own blog posts, and I would disagree with that one. These things are still not the same as what you are recommending in your article; businesses creating board categories for pinning their own products. That is straight-up self-promotion, or as Twitter puts it, “pimping your own stuff.” Tacky and against pin etiquette.

  • Joe says:

    Couldn’t agree less with this. The beauty of Pinterest, and content marketing in general, is in the lack of self-promotion.

    Brands following your advice are actually more likely to put off consumers and/or ruin Pinterest as a marketing platform.

  • Samantha says:

    Thank you I’ve never been sure what to do with pininterest, I may just give it another go now after reading this

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