How to Create a Winning Brand Strategy on Pinterest

Are you ready to get serious about your Pinterest presence? If you’re a business with a visual bent and you want to take advantage of this rapidly growing platform, then we hope your answer is, “Yes!”

As a visual discovery engine, Pinterest has a unique style and methodology unlike social networking platforms. Businesses that want to do well here need to get up to speed about how best to work within the universe of Pins. That’s why we’re offering you some inside info on the best way to create an optimal brand strategy on Pinterest, including insights from Leon Lin, Product Lead, Feeds and Recommendations at Pinterest. So read on to get your pinning wheels turning and find out more about this lucrative way to build your business on social.

Create a business account

The first part of your brand strategy to tackle when you promote your business on Pinterest is to create a business account. If you already have a personal account, you can easily convert it to a business account. Business accounts are not only required for anyone doing business on the platform, but they offer a lot of special features as well.

First, you can create Rich Pins, which contain more information about your business and the thing you’re highlighting right on your Pin. There are four types of Rich Pins: app, product, recipe, and article. Second, you can create Promoted Pins, or ads, that help you get seen by more people in targeted areas. If your paid Pin gets re-pinned by others, that’s even more exposure. Third, you’ll be able to claim your website, so that any Pins coming from your site will contain your profile pic and name and your website address will appear at the top of your page, increasing traffic to your site.

Leon Lin points out that Pinterest has been working to help people with businesses who 1) sign up for a business account, 2) claim their domain, and 3) Pin at least once a week to gain attention and followers. “We’re surfacing creators in more areas of the platform, like on the Pin closeup, directly in search results, and as recommendations in the Homefeed.” He emphasizes that by doing those three things, businesses are able to tell Pinterest that they “care about getting distributed, have content that they create, and bring that content to Pinterest. In other words, those three action items tell our system that you’re a creator we want more users to follow.”

Design great pins for your brand

Of course, the best and most critical way to get followers and attention on Pinterest is to create and post awesome content. This is true of all social sites, but Pinterest requires businesses to take the long view when it comes to posting. Don’t just think in terms of a great Pin here and there, think about the big picture—the next month, quarter, even year. And work on the quality of your posts. Commit to authenticity, artistry, and usefulness.

Authenticity is about remaining true to your brand. That doesn’t just mean making sure your Pins include your logo, but the look and feel should reflect who you are as a business and what you represent. What’s your business’s personality? Inspirational? Comical? Thoughtful? Whatever it is, make sure your posts are in keeping with your key characteristics.

Artistry is about the look and visual quality of your posts. Pinners demand beautiful images, so you need to take care to create Pins that are attractive. That doesn’t mean you have to hire a professional designer. Easy-to-use photo editing and design tools like PicMonkey make it possible for business owners to create their own images, whether by using templates or starting from scratch. Adding effects, bright colors, and graphics is a great way to stand out from the crowd.

Usefulness is also crucial to success on Pinterest, because Pinners are there to get good, solid information and advice about what they’re searching for. That’s why businesses commonly post instructional Pins that offer step-by-step guidance about everything from recipes to home repairs to choosing a car to buy. And don’t be afraid to create longer Pins when you’ve got a lot of content to share, because they’ve actually been proven to attract more attention on Pinterest.

Pinterest’s Leon Lin encourages Pinners to “take the time to experiment and figure out what works. Some of the best performing Pins aren’t necessarily the most beautiful images, but rather the Pins that the most users find useful. The most important thing is to experiment with different creative and learning from creative that perform well. It’s also important to note that there’s no need to make fantastic Pins from the get go. So long as you’re not losing followers, there’s no long-term penalty for creating a Pin that didn’t quite hit the spot, so don’t feel intimidated to just put something out there and see how it performs.”

Learn from analytics

Pinterest Analytics is another important feature that’s only available to businesses. You’ll be able to access key metrics about the number of impressions, repins, and clicks you’re getting, so you can figure out which Pins are working best and refine your Pins accordingly. You’ll also learn valuable information about your audience, including location, gender, and interests. If you find that your viewers are particularly into furniture and home décor, you can focus on creating and posting more of those types of Pins.

Beyond the numbers, it’s a good idea to listen to the advice that people post in their comments. Oftentimes, you’ll get very specific guidance on how you can improve your content and reach more people. And once you’ve gathered all of that feedback and create new posts that implement it, you can try them out on a secret board to test their effectiveness and make sure your overall board looks well organized and cohesive. This is also a great way to check if your board looks good on mobile, which is important since 80 percent of Pinterest users are on mobile.

Increase your followers

Pinterest wants to help businesses gain more followers, which will ultimately lead to more views, more engagement, and more buying. One great way to do this is to add the Pinterest save button to your website, which has been shown to increase saves five-fold. This makes it easy for visitors to your site to save your content to their boards, which leads to lots more sharing and visibility for your brand.

You should put a follow button prominently on your site to easily attract and gain new followers. The profile widget is another way to get people to sign on as a follower, offering a larger view of your latest Pins, which can be more effective at enticing people to follow you than a simple button.

Up your caption strategy

While Pinterest is absolutely one of the most visual of all social channels, the words you use in various places across the platform are also important. As Leon Lin explains: “Users come to Pinterest not to just browse beautiful images, but to find ideas that they can use in their lives. For instance, while an image of a vacation destination might initially grab your attention, it’s the text on the Pin that gives you context into what the image is about and helps you decide if you want to closeup or clickthrough on the Pin to find out more information.”

Put some thought into your captions so they provide useful additional information about your Pins. For example, rather than just saying, “Hey, isn’t this a scrumptious-looking cake!” you could write, “This delightful cake contains only gluten free ingredients.” For critical information such as a recipe being gluten free, consider putting it directly on the Pin, since many people will scroll without looking at the captions.

Text can be used not only to explain the image but as a call to action, whether that be “Try this DIY project yourself” or “Check out our spring sweater sale.” Design tools such as PicMonkey allow you to add text in a variety of fonts and colors, as well as effects to make your words stand out even more.

According to Leon Lin, the text you include can have a major impact on how many people see your Pins. “Text provides a signal that helps us understand the best context for surfacing a Pin. Specifically, we parse the text on Pins to understand which search queries a Pin might be most relevant for and which users we should recommend a Pin to. Just as Pinners use text to give them context about a Pin, Pinterest does the same, where text helps us better understand what the Pin is about and where are the most useful places to surface the Pin.”

Other places where your words will attract attention and help your Pins get noticed are your alt text, keywords, and hashtags. Alt text, or the additional information you add to an image that is invisible to the user, is what will automatically feed the description of a Pin, so you’ll want to include the right keywords. And when it comes to hashtags, don’t use them in the same way as you might on Instagram. Pinners don’t like a lot of hashtags in descriptions, so keep it to four or less, with one of them being branded.

Finally, another way to get noticed through words is by commenting on other people’s Pins. If you add a comment that is helpful, insightful, or just plain nice, people will notice and check out your board or website.

Time your posts

Timing is everything when it comes to Pinterest. Don’t just pin at random, but lay out a schedule and stick with it. Even if you have a whole bunch of beautiful Pins to share, dribble them out instead of doing a big dump all at once. Some experts suggest posting certain types of Pins on certain days. For example, Monday could be an instructional Pin day while Friday could be a product promotion Pin day.

Pinterest is the perfect place to promote things related to holidays and seasons, but you’ll want to make sure to post your content about 45 days prior to the event at hand. Here’s where a scheduling program could be a big help, so you don’t miss out on critical holidays and seasons that could boost your business. Pinterest recommends TailWind, but there are lots of others out there. Just be sure that whatever you choose is legitimate and dependable.

Does all that seem overwhelming? Leon Lin says: “The most important thing to remember is to Pin daily. And when you do it doesn’t matter, since there’s no time of day effect. The reason for that is because your followers on Pinterest will come each day to find new content from you, so you want to be able to engage them with new content each day if possible. And yes, it’s important to also make sure that you Pin different content each day. We keep track of Pins you’ve already Pinned in the past and try not to show users Pins that are very similar to what they’ve seen before.”

Now that you’re armed with so much fantastic info, it’s time to get Pinning! So take Leon’s sage advice and go forth fearlessly. Some focused effort and creativity is sure to take you far.

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Molly Shapiro

Before joining the PicMonkey editorial team as a senior writer, Molly wrote about topics as varied as politics, finance, global health, and online dating. As a fiction writer, she’s published two books, both available on Amazon through totally non-sketchy retailers. A midwestern transplant who now calls Seattle home, Molly firmly believes that the Space Needle is way cooler than the Eiffel Tower.