Lizzie Sibley, community marketing manager at Pinterest UK, outlines how small businesses and brands can use the platform to really get their content noticed.

What exactly is Pinterest?

Contrary to what most may think of the platform, Pinterest doesn’t categorise itself as a social network. Instead, it sees itself as a “visual discovery tool” which people use to plan projects around interests and passions.

“We would compare ourselves to a search engine. People use us to ask questions, to solve problems, to find out more information. We are not taking on the big guys because what we do is slightly different. We’re very good at answering ambiguous questions that don’t have a direct answer,” Sibley explains.

For example, people use the platform to ask, ‘What shall I wear this evening?’ or ‘What should I cook for dinner tonight?’

There are 100 million users globally, Sibley says. Around 45% of these are international and 80% use Pinterest from their mobile.

Pinterest has also recently launched ‘Buyable Pins’ which allow users to buy things directly from the platform; a useful tool for businesses.

Pinterest as a search engine

A year ago, the platform launched what it calls guided search. This is where a user inputs a search term, i.e. ‘white shirt’ and it suggests words associated with the term.

This is handy for seeing what words are associated with your area, or brand and provide content based on this. For example, if you search for ‘retail business’, ‘plan’, ‘ideas’, ‘online’ and many more appear below to help people drill down what they’re searching for.

A post on Pinterest (or a pin) is not an image. As Sibley explains: “It’s a visual bookmark and should link to a source where the image came from.”

In addition, Pinterest doesn’t ‘crawl’ its site the same way search engines like Google does as the content is curated by “humans with interests and passions”.

Do many people use Pinterest?

There are 100 million users globally, Sibley says. Around 45% of these are international and 80% use Pinterest from their mobile. A third of millennials (16-35-year-olds) are on the platform.

According to Sibley, people are using Pinterest for really everyday things: “Everyone who’s ever got married in the last few years has probably used Pinterest. We are a planning tool and it’s one of the biggest days that most women and men plan in their lives.

“But it’s not our biggest category. Redecorating your home, that’s a really big category. DIY, planning any other sort of event or party, even buying a new car or taking a holiday; this is how people are using it so think how your brand inserts itself into the user’s particular moments,” she advises.

Tips for using the platform

It takes mere minutes to set up an account, and you can then request that it gets transferred to a business account, with which you can use analytics to see how your pins are doing.

Don’t just treat the site as an Argos catalogue, and don’t just pin your products. Instead, Sibley says, think of creative ways to present them such as ‘lookbooks’ for fashion and lifestyle related content. One example of how it’s really well used is online marketplace Etsy.

Content on Pinterest is evergreen, so you can pin anything, at any time. People will just find it when it’s relevant to them. Sibley says seasonality is huge on the platform and Christmas was even trending at the end of August. It’s worth building your content around anything seasonal from pancake day to Valentine’s Day to fireworks night.

Other tips include:

  • Get your clients and customers sharing your content
  • Make sure descriptions under pins are really detailed as this will act as the way people find your content
  • Hashtags are almost useless on Pinterest, so don’t use them. Stick to well-written, detailed descriptions
  • Be positive with your language and your message. Sibley says: “Pinterest is a happy place! Including a positive sentiment on your pin really helps engagement levels.”
  • Don’t make pins look like banner ads, Pinterest is a very personal place
  • Two-thirds of content on Pinterest is brand content
  • Use ‘lists’, text overlays and include really clear calls to action. Let people know what will happen when they click on the pin
  • Use vertical pins: With 80% of mobile traffic, you’ll have lots more ‘real estate’ on someone’s device if you use vertical pins
  • Avoid amateur content. Use a tool like Canva to create unique, high-quality pictures

It’s also worth knowing that 85% or content is consumed via search rather than your homepage. People rarely land on your Pinterest homepage, so take that into account when pinning content, Sibley says.

And don’t delete pins or boards as someone may have linked to them. Instead, change the name and content inside if you must.

For more Pinterest business tips, visit its dedicated business resource centre.