how to create shareable pinterest imagesAs Pinterest tops 40 million users, the online pinboard shows no signs of slowing down. And as more brands and businesses flock to the site as a result of tools like Pinterest pages for business, Pinterest is proving itself to be an increasingly effective part of a digital marketing strategy—especially for retailers.

Regardless of your business or industry, the keys to Pinterest success don’t vary much from other social networks. You want to build your audience and present informative, compelling content that inspires them to comment, repin and come back for more.

Yet the trick with Pinterest is that it’s built around images—much more so than other networks—and it’s critical to create eye-catching images that people want to share.

You certainly don’t have to be a graphic design wizard or an award-winning photographer to create these sorts of shareable visuals. Instead, try these simple tricks and see how your audience responds.

Try text on your image. I know—this sounds a little counter-intuitive, right? After all, you don’t want to cover up a beautiful image with text. And while you don’t want to fill the entire image frame with words, Pinterest users are increasingly responding to images that include text on them, rather than simply confining information to the accompanying description. If you want to experiment, try a free photo editor like Skitch or Pic Monkey and add a few words or brief sentence to a photo. If you’re promoting a sale, for example, create a collage of sale images along with a brief message about the discount and what’s on sale. That way, Pinterest users can quickly capture the essence of the image without relying on the accompanying description and are more likely to engage with the image, especially if the message or visual is relevant to them.

Size matters—for your description. Just because you’ve included text on an image doesn’t mean you want to skip the description altogether. And if your description is too long or too short, it might impact how much it’s shared. Stats show that the optimal description length ranges between 200 and 300 characters. Sure, you might have descriptions that fall outside this window—but it’s a good idea to keep most of your Pinterest descriptions within this range.

Logical labels. When you publish a photo on your website or blog, it could, theoretically, be pinned. And if you want to encourage site visitors or blog readers to pin your images, make sure they’re clearly labeled. Before you upload a photo to your site, pick a clear, concise title that describes the image. When it’s pinned, that information will be included, which makes it easier for Pinterest users to understand the visual and why it’s relevant to them—and that means they’re more likely to share it.

Encourage pinning. Ongoing copyright issues have resulted in many Pinterest users who are hesitant to share images. If you want to encourage others to share your pictures and pins, let them know! Make sure you’ve installed a Pinterest sharing button your site and blog—and you can take it one step further by including text that says something like “Feel free to pin.” It’s similar to asking for a retweet on Twitter—and although that’s one of my pet peeves, research shows that clearly defining an ask works.

See? No Adobe Creative Suite wizardry required! As you try these techniques, keep an eye on your Pinterest activity to see what your audience responds to and what sparks more comments and sharing. I’m sure that, by now, you know how I feel about stats and data driving decisions—and if you pay attention to your audience, they’ll tell you exactly what they do (and don’t) want.

Are you using Pinterest for your brand or business? I’d love to know how the site’s working for you.

Image: mkhmarketing via Compfight cc