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Stop interrupting and start inspiring – brands and Pinterest

Mellissa Flowerdew-Clarke
Mellissa Flowerdew-Clarke
VP of Marketing, EMEA
6 min read
1 April 2021

Numerous brands are active on Facebook or LinkedIn, however, many companies forget about Pinterest: a photo-sharing platform which enables users to browse, get inspired and discover new ideas. Most of the content found on Pinterest is unbranded and is either an idea, product or service which can link back to a website. And given the fact that pins are 100 times more spreadable than tweets, Pinterest is a great way to drive traffic towards your website and potentially increase sales.

Voted as “the last happy place on the internet”, Pinterest users are a very active community of over 322 million monthly users worldwide made up of 71% women and 29% men. People mainly use it to find inspiration and save ideas for themselves. This means users are actively seeking new ideas and/or products, a perfect moment for brands to showcase their visually-focused content. Now, not everyone posts images. In fact, numerous people simply browse pictures which relate to their personal interests. According to Hubspot, the most popular topics of 2019 were: travel, health and wellness, DIY projects and fashion and beauty. And if you want to know about the top searches for 2020, Pinterest has created its own guide. Generally, most topics are future-focused and revolve around daily events (for example healthy dinner ideas), seasonal moments (Easter holiday decoration ideas), and special life events (such as a wedding). 

Inspiring ad formats that don’t interrupt the user’s search

The easiest way for a brand to be present on the platform without creating content is via advertising. Over 90% of weekly active Pinners use Pinterest when it comes to making a purchase decision. So it makes sense that brands would want to be present and advertise on the platform. However, as a guiding principle, the platform recommends the following to companies: stop advertising, start inspiring. The fact that 75% of saved Pins come from businesses and that only 50% of users realise that they are seeing ads show that many brands are taking this advice to heart. 

Should you decide to advertise on Pinterest, keep in mind that ads should be visually integrated into people’s feed and the content placed in the correct context. Because ultimately decisions and potential purchases happen through pins. To make it easier for brands, Pinterest offers multiple ad formats:

  • Promoted Pins: This is a basic ad format with a single featured image. Companies can advertise their own pins so that more users can see and react to them.
  • Promoted Videos: There are two video formats to inspire users – standard width videos which are the same size as other pins, and maximum width videos that span both columns of the feed (max-width video).
  • Promoted Carousels: Contains up to five images for people to browse through 
  • Promoted App Pins: Make your brand app discoverable and enable users to directly download it without leaving Pinterest 

And ads really do work! Half of Pinners reporting that they have made a purchase directly after seeing a Promoted Pin. To ensure you are reaching the right people, the platform offers various targeting options such as gender, language, location, device, frequency, placement. But also interest-based targeting based on keywords or search terms. And tracking campaign results is easy using either Pinterest Analytics or third-party Pinterest partners.

Organic growth using creative pins

While ads can help increase a brand’s exposure, a well-maintained corporate bulletin board with visually appealing and relevant content offers companies the opportunity to enlarge their target group organically. Like numerous other social media platforms, a pin on Pinterest is shown more often organically if followers click on it and/or save it since this signals to the platform that it’s good content. This means the number of people you reach can quickly increase because if your followers like your image it will be shown to their followers. Companies can even create several boards which cover various topics related to their brand and product offering. For example, the cosmetic brand Glossier has a separate board for lip, brow and other makeup inspiration. So use your boards to connect with Pinners. 

A visual search engine that focuses on the upper sales funnel

Most people simply like to browse through topics which interest them. And unlike on other search engines, 97% of users search for non-branded content on Pinterest – i.e. idea-based content. This means most people intend to make a purchase but don’t quite know yet what they are looking for, placing them in the upper levels of the sales funnel. This opens up a big opportunity for brands to get discovered but for that, a strong content strategy is required which balances showcasing a product/service while catering to what people want to see. 

Given that the platform is a visual search engine, it offers various possibilities for users to search for specific items in a visual way such as:

  • Visual search – users can take a photo of an object in front of them (either a screen capture or a photo of an object in the physical world) and Pinterest will search for matching images.
  • Shop the Look: Product Tagging – Pins have a small icon of a magnifying glass on the bottom right. When clicked on, white dots will appear that tag different parts objects in the image which people can click on to view and shop that exact product or similar items.

So if your brand has created content which matches a users query, it will show up in the search result options. Simply link the product detail page to the pin to drive people towards your website.

A picture is worth a thousand words

We live in an increasingly visual world and Pinterest caters to that perfectly by enabling users to not only browse but also search for an item in a visual manner. Between creating company controlled boards and advertising on the platform, Pinterest is an underrated social media channel which can help drive traffic towards your website and potentially increase sales.

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VP of Marketing, EMEA

Mellissa Flowerdew-Clarke