General Social Media

5 Best Practices for Brands on Pinterest

April 5, 2013

It’s been a big month for Pinterest. In the past couple weeks, the internet’s third largest social networking site celebrated its third birthday and announced its first foray into providing more robust analytics for marketers.

Since launching in early 2010, Pinterest has ballooned in size to amass more than 30 million unique monthly visitors (per comScore). As popularity for the platform has grown, brands have made the site a key pillar to their content marketing strategies – and Pinterest has met marketer needs by rolling out a business toolkit and now analytics for verified accounts.

360i currently manages the Pinterest presences for more than ten large brands across several verticals, helping these brands become more discoverable in an environment where consumers are looking to capture and curate inspiration of all forms. As the site continues to evolve and become more brand-friendly, we’ve established a handful of core best practices for helping brands to connect with people on this revolutionary image-driven platform.

Here are our five best practices for brands on Pinterest:

1. Include rich descriptions along with your pins.

While it’s not clear which factors matter most when it comes to Pinterest’s search algorithm, we do know that descriptions matter. A lot. When pinning content, keep discoverability in mind and remember how consumers are using the platform: often to search and unearth new content.

When writing a description, use strong (common or popular) keywords, mention your brand name and utilize hashtags if you think they may help your discoverability—but be sure to not use them in lieu of an engaging description. “You shouldn’t write a novel; a couple of well-crafted phrases can more convincingly encourage a repin than a hashtag,” says Pinterest. The goal is to ramp up discoverability and entice repins while still retaining a conversational feel that’s true to your brand’s social tone of voice. (As a side note, Pinterest has yet to confirm rumors of plans to do away with hashtags, so use them until told otherwise.)

2. Keep Google in mind when naming your images.

Remember that your pinned images don’t just live within Pinterest – they are indexed by Google and other search engines, too. To maximize discoverability in the engines, make sure your image names agree with the search engine’s best practices for image nomenclature. Search success will require close collaboration between the content and SEO teams for your brand, as is the case with your content marketing across other social networks as well. Before pinning your images, name them using a descriptive file name, preferably containing terms for which you want your content to rank. Search engines will index your image based on its name, so make it specific and relevant.

3. Use calls-to-action sparingly.

User behavior should inform your strategy on any social network, especially Pinterest, given its unique position as a “save and return later” hub. Pinterest is about bookmarking content for later use, not for immediate conversation. Given this, calls-to-action (CTAs) and questions (e.g. “Tell us, what is your favorite chicken recipe?” or “visit our website to learn more”) do not have the same effect as they would on Facebook, for example.

In the occasional instance where using a CTA is appropriate, make sure that the directions you give are evergreen (your content might not be discovered immediately) and specific to the platform. Tune-in messaging, for example, might not prove ideal as content continues to receive views and engagement long after it was originally pinned. As for the popular “Pin this and read later” CTAs, these should be treated similarly to Facebook Like-bait. While this type of messaging performs well on delivering engagement, it should be used sparingly to avoid devaluing your brand’s image.

As Pinterest becomes more and more mainstream, marketers should continue to test “enticing conversation,” because even though it hasn’t yet become a noteworthy catalyst of engagement on the platform, it very well could in the future.

4. Focus on evergreen content.

Pinterest content is much less time sensitive than most social media content. While Facebook and Twitter (and even Instagram) are all about being in the moment, Pinterest is about planning for the moment. As a result, Pinterest content is prone to being re-pinned over an extensive period time – keep that in mind to extend the “repinnability” of your images.

An image like the below picture of Rachel Zoe is a perfect example of evergreen content. Being evergreen doesn’t mean that brands shouldn’t try to be seasonally relevant, though. There is certainly value in seasonally relevant content on Pinterest, as can be seen by users often beginning to pin for a season months before it arrives. It is simply a matter of producing seasonal creative inspiration that users can pin for later use, not content meant to convey a message (See second row of images for what to do, and what not to do).

5. Think before you pin.

Pinterest is unique because it’s intended to allow people to curate and elevate the “best” or most inspiring content from the site’s ever-expanding library of images. For this reason, brands should be choosy with the types of images they share. Is your content interesting when it comes to its aesthetic feel or subject matter? What value are you providing to those who might pin the content?

Pinning content that is borrowed from other social platforms (e.g. something you share with your Facebook community) won’t always work. If the target audience is generally the same across the two platforms, and the image is visually appealing, then cross-platform posting is a great way to maximize efficiencies across your broader social content program. However, if the audiences are vastly different or if the image is not particularly inspiring, then you should create new content that’s specific for Pinterest. As is the case with any channel, cross-channel content deployment is a great option for finding efficiencies, but should not be the default approach, as not all content is best suited for any and every channel and so should not automatically be posted any and everywhere.


Despite its massive appeal, Pinterest should continue to be viewed as an emerging platform – especially since its offerings specific to marketers are still relatively new. (Remember, Pinterest still does not have a paid model for brands). With more opportunities ahead, brands on Pinterest should adopt a test-and-learn approach as they seek new ways to become more sharable and discoverable within the platform.

Cover photo via Mashable