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Pinterest Is a Search Engine for Small Businesses

Last updated: 07-16-2019

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Pinterest Is a Search Engine for Small Businesses

Social media marketing is a broad term covering everything from targeting detailed demographics on Facebook to threading tweets on Twitter, shooting video, and rustling up audiences on YouTube.

Yet despite the constant conversation about social media marketing, one platform that’s often overlooked is Pinterest.

The platform has more than 250 million visitorsevery month with 84 percent of them turning to Pinterest specifically when they’re trying to decide what to buy. It’s popular with millennials, and it’s particularly popular with females. For any business, but especially businesses that target women, it shouldn’t be overlooked.

One of the reasons that Pinterest has such a dedicated, engaged audience is that it’s easy to use. Another important difference between Pinterest and other platforms, particularly for use in social media marketing, is that it operates more like a search engine than a social media site. Interaction with followers is less important than a steady flow of content properly keyworded. But like Instagram, and unlike Google, Pinterest is built on images.

Images are “pinned” to themed boards created by the user and can be shared or “repined” and commented on. And, since the platform tends to be both highly visual and instructional, adding text to your pinned images is often more impactful than the post caption itself in terms of audience engagement.

According to Lauren McManus of, a consultancy for bloggers, text should have no more than two or three fonts and colors, but should emphasize the important words.

“The headline has to be click-worthy,” she says.

Pinterest is also unusual among the social networks in delivering better results for pictures of objects than for pictures of people. Users are more likely to be looking for purchase or design ideas than for selfies of their friends.

Format is important too. Pins should have a 2:3 ratio and be no more than 1,500 pixels long. 

“Pinterest has said that they will cut off pins at 1,260 pixels,” Lauren says, “but if you keep the majority of the text in the top portion of the graphic, then there usually won't be an issue. Our longer pins from the past still perform well.”

Businesses should create their own boards that they fill with relevant pins. Those pins could be product images or even form a kind of mood board related to the services the business sells. Farmers Insurance, for example, has boards that cover family life but also places pins that look like print adverts and promote insurance policies.

The real challenge in using Pinterest, as for many social media platforms, is building the audience. One option is to join a group board, a place on which lots of contributors place pins. “Group boards with lots of followers are great for exposure,” says Lauren. “But niche group boards are also very important as relevancy is key in the Pinterest algorithm for associating content with yours.”

Businesses should avoid boards with a virality score below 1.0, though, which means that a pin is shared for every pin added. Tailwind, an app that brings pinners together, has also proved to be useful.

Group activity is one vital step towards audience building on Pinterest but so is a steady flow of new content. Lauren recommends posting at least once a week and as often as two or three times a week. “Once you build up an audience, you can slow down,” she says. “You can also freshen up older content with new graphics. That's a great strategy.”

And of course, repinning other people’s content gives your audience new content easily while spreading your views to others and increasing the chances that your own pins will be shared.

But it’s the keywords that are most important. Users on Pinterest search for images and ideas so keywording your pins and placing them on properly keyworded boards is vital for being seen and growing organically. It sounds technical but adding terms to images is still more fun than targeting demographics and can be no less effective for small businesses.

While it may be tempting to stick to platforms that are familiar there is a huge benefit to experimentation. Small businesses, particularly those selling goods online, should explore Pinterest as a great option to reach potential customers in a new and fresh way.

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As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Joel Comm to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Joel Comm is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Joel Comm. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

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