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How Brands Can Get Involved on Pinterest

Kirsten McNeill is a Coordinator on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group. Follow @kirstenmcne

With its U.S. traffic skyrocketing to more than 10 million visits, $37 million raised in funding and an unconfirmed valuation of up to $200 million, Pinterest is now one of the top 10 social networking and forum websites. The 2011 recaps and 2012 trend predictions almost all included social content curation as an important continuing trend.

The top social networks are now connected to many third party platforms (websites, streaming services, magazines etc.) making it easy for us to share content with anyone, on any platform, from any location on the web. We (as consumers) can now curate content ourselves, while relying on our own networks of friends, family, industry etc. to provide new content for us to consume and share. It is especially convenient when the content is in an easily digestible form, such as a photo.


Pinterest is the hot new social network that brands and consumers alike are starting to pay attention to, as they should. New data from Monetate shows that referral traffic from Pinterest to five apparel retailers experienced a 389% increase from July-December 2011.

A fellow SMGer invited me (right now the site is still an invite-only social network) and I’ve been playing around with it for the last couple months. So far I’m quite enjoying it; the user experience is very friendly and I find myself checking back daily. Pinterest is an image-based platform, where you can create unique online pinboards, such as “Yummy Food,” “My Dream Style,” “Home Decorations” and “pin” photos accordingly. Pinned photos can come from three places:

1)   Directly uploaded from your phone or computer

2)   Anywhere on the web – it makes it really easy for you to do this by providing a browser plug-in. I have a ‘Pin it’ button on my Bookmark bar that will populate all the images on a page, making it easy for me to select what I want to pin

3)   From within Pinterest – if another user has posted something that I find interesting, I will “Repin” it

From blogs to brands, the Pinterest presence on owned channels is just getting started. Many blogs now include the Pinterest badge on their site, right up there with Twitter and Facebook. Making it easy for visitors  to “Pin” their content or follow them on Pinterest.

Retail, fashion, beauty and food brands have obvious tie-ins that make Pinterest a natural fit. Take brands such as West Elm, Travel Channel or Nordstrom who have seamlessly made the move onto the Pinterest platform. However, other industries will have to get creative in order to leverage Pinterest to benefit their online efforts.

Brands can add a Follow or Pin It button on their owned properties to encourage ‘pinning’ their content which leads to increased awareness of their products and potentially influence or guide purchase decisions. It’s like a magazine, where you see something you like and you fold down the page.

So, how else can brands leverage this shiny new social network? When thinking about adding value to the community, first you need to think about who makes up the community. What would they like to see and pin?

How can brands get involved creatively?

Run a contest

Executing a contest on Pinterest will create buzz among the Pinners and provide a great opportunity to build visual interactions with consumers. A great example of a contest done on Pinterest was the ‘Causes I Love Contest,’ where participants were rewarded with prizes for the best boards and every time a photo was pinned to a board, the company partner would make a donation.

Build Your Brand Profile

Create boards to visually portray your brand personality. Show your transparency by creating boards that give consumers an inside look at your company. Doing so can lead to deeper connections with consumers as they can see what your company culture and values are. A great example of this is Whole Foods Market. They’ve  created a series of boards to show what they support: “We’re Used to Reusing!” “Strength,” “Whole Planet Foundation.”

Pin Relevant Industry Content

Don’t be a billboard ad! We need to make sure that our boards are not strictly promotional because users will see that and likely not follow you. Instead, sharing photos from others in the industry that complement your own photos and enhance your boards will keep your profile community based, opposed to just a promotion center. A brand doing a good job of this is HGTV. They have created boards such as “Every Single Holiday” that combine photos from their website as well as other blogs to complete the board. This helps to develop relationships with the pinning community interested in the specific industry.

Pinterest is a great place to keep up with the market and obtain some insight into what your target market (mostly female, according to the stats above, but that could change!) is interested in. You can get a sense of what your demo is interested in by taking a look at what is being pinned, repined and what people are saying in their comments.

There are many ways for brands to great creative and offer great content for the Pinterest community to pin and share. Just make sure you’re adding value to the community and not just pumping marketing material out—you don’t want a gang of angry Pinners at your door. 🙂