Warby Parker Pinterest follower numbers show how new Pinterest is

Pinterest for Businesses and Brands

This is the fifth post in a six part series on Pinterest.

What businesses should use Pinterest?

In order to determine if you business is a good fit for Pinterest, it is best to understand why Pinterest is so popular, and then try it out for yourself once you understand the basics.

Most businesses should be able to find a use for this network, but certain industries are a perfect fit for Pinterest based on the visual nature of their offering and what is already popular on the network. These industries include:

  • Art
  • Photography
  • Restaurants (anything related to food)
  • Weddings
  • Vacation Destinations
  • Tourism
  • Clothing
  • Home Decor

This list is far from comprehesive. After a few days on Pinterest you will likely see other popular pins as well as better evaluate if there is a way to incorporate your business into what is being pinned.

Business benefits of using Pinterest


But how will social media result in profit…

This is a common question in social media, and thankfully as more case studies are published, we are actually getting more definitive proof that social media can clearly increase profits with less expensive and more effective branding, advertising, customer service and by using social media for other business operations. That said, traditional social media networks (we have reached the point where Facebook and Twitter are traditional) are not known for leading to direct sales, especially in the case of first exposure to a product. I have made purchases after seeing just one tweet, but generally, like most consumers, I need to see references to a product multiple times, and then only when I have a significant need, do I make a purchase. Pinterest can accelerate that process.

Path to purchase

For retailers, the path to purchase from a social networks is no more direct than on Pinterest. “See it, like it, buy it” happens frequently (I once again cite the in-depth case study of my wife ūüėČ ). Even in cases where the path to purchase is not as direct, rarely do you have social network were linking to a for-sale items is done so frequently, you have clear social proof of the desire for the item, you see a picture of it, and where you are only one or two clicks away from being on an e-commerce site.

Perhaps the best gift idea solution ever.

Empathy is a big part of giving gifts. Some of us can put ourselves in the place of the recipient, and come up with something that they would uniquely like to receive. If you are giving a gift to a Pinterest user, you should never again be at a loss for gift ideas. I predict that in 2012, the use of Pinterest to come up with gift ideas will become a massive phenomenon, and this will naturally lead to Pinterest being THE social network that really drives consumer sales.

Drives significant traffic

In the sixth part of this series, I am going to provide further links and resources for exploring Pinterest, but I want to share a few now that stand out.

  • Pinterest is now driving more traffic to the Real Simple web site than Facebook .¬†(Link)
  • Warbly Parker, the hip but inexpensive eye glass retailer, reports that 11% of their social traffic is coming from Pinterest. 18% from Twitter.¬†(Link)
  • Like many early bloggers, Kate Bryan ran a blog that was based around her interests, but it never generated many readers. ¬†She blogged about her professions of hair styling and¬†jewelry¬†making, and also her craft projects. Hair styles are extremely popular pins on Pinterest. Kate started pinning her own work ¬†and rapidly started getting traffic. In five months she achieve over 14,000 new subscribers to her site as well as getting over one million page views from Pinterest. (Link)

These stories are obviously atypical (especially the last one), but they do point to the amazing upside that exists with Pinterest to drive traffic when original content aligns with viewer interest.

Natural audience segmentation

An honest assessment of my own personal network and @free readers who have signed up with Pinterest, shows that women dominate this network. @free followers on Pinterest are 95% women (compared to 58% on Twitter). And while age is difficult to determine, at least 80% of readers look to be under 30. If that age range is your demographic and what you offer has a visual appeal, you need to at least try Pinterest. As a 30ish male, I think Pinterest has long term potential in almost every demographic (most of us have some desire to collect things and ideas), but right now, this age range and gender is dominating.

Aspirational audience research

@free doesn’t follow back everyone who follows us on Twitter. It would be truly monumental task, but I made the decision to try to follow back @free readers who follow us on Pinterest. While reading thousands of tweets an hour would be difficult, quickly looking through pictures is much easier and also points to the aspirations of what part of the @free audience is interested in and what their goals are. If Twitter is what you are interested in or doing right now, Pinterest is a view into what you want to do with your life. Goals, dreams & fascinations are all on display here. As I shared at a recent Lawrence Social Media Club meeting, I have actually learned a couple things about my wife’s interests that I never would have known without Pinterest (and that is after being together for five years).

How should you use Pinterest for your business?


Compelling Images

At a minimum, businesses of all types should put an emphasis of having at least one visually compelling image on any piece of content they produce. This allows you and others to pin the image with a link to your content.

Adapt to the medium

@free is about providing the best of what is free, but it is also about curation in general. In the case of Pinterest, I started by pinning the best permanently free offers. I was working up a list in Trello to create a page on the @free web page to list permanently free offers, but I thought it would also be helpful to put this informaiton on Pinterest. While I will continue adding these free offers over time, I quickly became aware that it wouldn’t be enough content to keep @free active on Pinterest. Because of that, I experimented by re-pinning other useful, fun and interesting pins our readers shared. While the free offers do get repinned, I have found that the highly curated content (we post around 1 pin for every 100 we see)¬†that doesn’t revolve around free gets the most repins and likes. There is certainly the danger of confusing your branding by doing this, but at the same time, you have to adapt to the networks and what makes it so powerful. AMD is active on Pinterest, but not surprisingly is it is difficult for them to compete with normal pin topics that are going to be much more popular and of interest in comparison to pictures of new computer chips.


What resonates with your followers can be unexpected. Once you exstablish a tone for your account, consider experimenting with a few types of pin ideas to see what resonates. With @free, a DIY cinder block bench was our most repinned pin, and I didn’t expect to get more than a few re-pins.

Make it a process

Consistentcy is a key component of any social media plan. Whether you are one person running a small business or have a larger organization, you need to make sure new services  allign with your goals and fit into your work flow. This could be as simple as planning to use Pinterest a certain number of times a week or committing some of your free time to pin. In terms of staffing, Pinterest is one of the more enjoyable social networks, so you are likely to find a few people in your organization willing to pitch into the effort.

First mover advantage

Despite millions of users on Pinterest, very few brands and businesses have signed up, and of those, very few are active. Remember when I mentioned the traffic Warby Parker was getting from Pinterest? You might have thought they had a massive number of followers. As you can see to the right, as I write this, they only have 211 followers. The newness of businesses on Pinterest presents a unique circumstance were your business can be one of the first to actively use this already established social network.

If you are a business using Pinterest, feel free to post a link to your page in comments. I would also appreciate it if you also put at least a line or two about your experience so far.

5 thoughts on “Pinterest for Businesses and Brands

  1. katherine hershey robertson

    I really enjoyed reading your articles about pinterest. i started in oct or nov and am now an “addict”.
    I have a small board for my photography and included the link as you asked . So far, i don’t have anything for sale, but hope to gain exposure.

    I also love to take photos in shops and stores i visit and quite frequently post images on these stores in stories on my blog and now on pinterest. of course, i am doing this for free. i should be asking for trades of goods, etc. but just shoot out of my love for the stores, in interesting places i go.

    I have been blogging since 2006 and hope that all of my efforts at self promotion on my blog, website, and now pinterest might lead to some photo assignments involving travel… i am sure i am perhaps overly ambitious in my expectations, but maybe someday my social media attempts will lead to something profitable..
    i pinned your blog on my daily blog board and will continue to follow your stories as i am such a fan of Pinterest!

    many thanks,

  2. katherine hershey robertson

    I also meant to mention that i too have only 253 followers
    having been on P for about 3 months. In the past week or so, I have noticed some of my friends on facebook ,with virtually no boards, going from 0 to 99 followers in a day. I work on my boards every day, sadly, for about 2 hours looking for interesting images that are not often seen, going back in the archives of many blogs looking for good images to pin. So, i think going through your facebook friends list seems to be the wave of the future and perhaps why some people have hundreds or thousand of followers and hardly any content. I am going to do an experiment and go ahead and reluctantly follow everyone in my facebook list and see if i rapidly go from 253 followers to hundreds….katherine

    1. Josh Davis Post author

      Hi Katherine,

      Thanks so much for posting your comments. I know it can be difficult to develop and audience, and then turn that into actual income, but I think what you are doing with local shop owners makes sense. I don’t know that you are looking for advice, but you might also want to consider going to local social media meetups and/or meeting involving other businesses. It sounds like you offer a lot of value in what you do, and sometimes a few more connections can lead to gigs.

      In terms of all these new people getting so many followers on Pinterest so quick, it has been reported that Pinterest is now auto following all your Facebook friends when you signup using Facebook (this is a newer development). And they also email those friends letting them know that you are on Pinterest. This practice is questionable since users aren’t opting in, but it is likely why you are seeing your friends rapidly get followers as they signup for Pinterest.

      Thanks again for your comment,


  3. Cristian

    Inside fashion brands world there’s a new entry on this social network: Blauer USA http://pinterest.com/blauerusa/

    They are testing Pinterest boards. The news is that they’re using pictures and images that comes from other sources (pinning/repinning), to associate them to brand values and vision.

  4. Steve

    I’m at http://pinterest.com/crosspollinate/

    I’ve only just started using it but I’ve seen instantly that people had pinned some of our stuff. I appreciate that it’s a place where a brand such as ours can express who we are without having to have original content. Others can discover us through shared interests and aesthetics.

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