Pinterest Logo

This article is a product of getting into Pinterest and clients coming forward saying, “What is Pinterest?”. In fact, there is a lot to learn from Pinterest and it is worthy of analysis which I will get to below. According to ExperianHitwise, Pinterest is now the #3 social media site behind Facebook and Twitter. It is also the #16th most visited site in the USA, so it is not something you should ignore.

Let’s have a look at what Pinterest is, why it’s different, who uses it, what makes for the most popular pins and how to optimise websites for the best Pinterest exposure.

What is Pinterest?

“Pinterest is a pinboard-style social photo sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, hobbies and more. Users can browse other pinboards for inspiration, ‘re-pin’ images to their own collections and or ‘like’ photos. Pinterest’s mission is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting” via a global platform of inspiration and idea sharing.”

Pinterest Screenshot

Why is Pinterest different?

Pinterest is an excellent site for inspiration and ideas and it is also a very cool community filled with artistic souls. ‘So what?’ you might be thinking, I already belong to ten of those and I don’t have time to read all the blogs and articles as it is… so here are four reasons why Pinterest is different:

  • Pinterest uses a new type of social interface to drive traffic and it is linked to Facebook and Twitter.
  • Pinterest appeals to both the general public and to the art & design crowd
  • Pinterest is an excellent marketing tool
  • Pinterest is the first of similar sites and it signals a shift in Internet marketing, viewing and usage.

Pinterest challenges most social media and current computer trends. It’s fast, beautiful, visual and easy to use. Just as so many sites are opting for utility over beauty, Pinterest invites users to think visually and appreciate beautiful things every time they enter the site. Most importantly, it saves you time especially when researching.

Pinterest is Beautiful

Who uses Pinterest & why?

The social king pings of the moment, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, take copious amounts of time to interact with. Twitter, at least got the speed part of the equation right. Time intensive social media such as those mentioned above, is fine for college kids or even unemployed professionals, but neither group is exactly the demographic most businesses are targeting. According to Alexa, Pinterest users are predominantly female between the ages of 25-34.

Facebook in particular has an interface that is purposely constructed like a series of rat holes to keep viewers on the site as long as possible. This is a carefully chosen strategy to increase the ratings of Facebook in the SERPS. However, it isn’t user friendly and one of the top reasons people leave Facebook or refuse to join, is: Facebook takes too much time.

In contrast, Pinterest is easy to learn and quick to use. The visual interface is stimulating to the brain and it invokes almost an addictive response in users. This is appealing to both the art crowd and to general users. Males, although they do not currently make up a large section of Pinterest viewers, could in the future due to the male affinity for visual stimulation. In addition, from a conversion perspective a buyer interested in shopping for anything, can quickly assemble a Pinterest shopping list on the site and come back to it for comparison-shopping when ready to buy.

On a side note, there is now an app that turns Facebook into a Pinterest-like board.

A look at how to use Pinterest

Chairs on Pinterest

A quick search & compilation of ‘dining room chairs’ took exactly 6 minutes to create.

This included creating the board, searching, and selecting products from Pinterest and Google search. This is a busy buyer’s dream. The introduction of this type of fast, visually based shopping platform could spark a small ‘revolution’ in how websites are designed and constructed; especially for large online retailers.

Designing with Pinterest in Mind

Pinterest pulls photos from a website and then provides a link back to the source. The use and reuse of these photos as they are repinned may not be in accordance with the photo usage agreements that were established with the photographer or photographic copyright holder. But legally, the responsibility of pinning and copywrite infringement exists with the pinner, not the site owner or Pinterest.

However, in reality the photographers will come after the site owner rather than Joe Pinner for compensation related to copyright infringement. Large clients need to clarify the ownership rights and contracts with their photographers in the event that they start to see an up tick in profits from Pinterest photo pinning and re-pinning. There are also ways to block images from being used as pins.

Clear, beautiful engaging photos are the backbone of Pinterest… but what makes for a good pin?

What makes for a popular ‘pin’?

Clients looking for pins by the community should have several excellent photos available for pinning on every page of their site, keeping in mind that great photos, logos, infographics and memes are the most popular pins. Pinterest’s own search engine includes a “popular search” and a quick examination of the most popular pins reveals the following:

Sample: 500 Most Popular Pinterest Pins by Type

  • Photos: 317 total pins; includes most categories.
  • Meme / infographics: 129 total pins; includes anything that has text/and or visuals in the pin.
  • Practical: 36 total pins; are how to posts, excludes food.
  • Ads: 10 total pins; professional marketing ads or brand logos as pins.
  • Celebrity: 7 total pins; excludes celebrities used in memes.
  • Video: 1 total pin.

Sample: 500 Most Popular Pinterest Pins by Category

  • Black and white photos that didn’t fit into another category: 14 pins
  • Color photos that didn’t fit into another category: 47 pins
  • Memes / infographics that didn’t fit perfectly into another category: 97 pins
  • Food and Drink: 64 pins
  • Home design: 47 pins
  • Nails and Hair: 31 pins
  • Fashion / jewelry / clothes: 30 pins
  • Love / Wedding: 35 pins
  • Crafts: 34 pins
  • Garden: 22 pins
  • Practical: 15 pins
  • Pets: 19 pins
  • Children/baby: 11 pins
  • Ads: 10 pins
  • Celebrity: 7 pins
  • Tattoo: 6 pins
  • Health and sports: 7 pins
  • Car: 3 pins
  • Tech: 1 pin

The data above is only a single sample. Furthermore, it is seasonally influenced by seasons, such as Spring when weddings and prom are popular topics. Similar samples would need to be collected over time to establish valuable data but even one sampling is revealing. For example, health and fitness is surprisingly absent in this particular sampling.

Promotional Products

Tips & Pin Optimisation

Pins that generate comments and are physically longer, dominate the Pinterest site. The five-column format naturally favors vertical orientation of both photos and memes. The majority of both in the most popular section are vertically oriented. Comments and lengthy text increase the page space accompanied by any pin making it more likely to be repined and shared by other viewers. Consequently, adopting and using vertical formats into web designs, where pinning is desired, makes sense.

Even though ads make up only a small percentage of the most popular pins, many were presented as logos. For example, Trader Joes’s logo is one of the most popular pins on the site. Each time the logo is pinned it is an endorsement not only for the store but also for the designer of the logo – if it is credited by the pinner.

Also check out these 40 interest Pinterest boards for designers.

Over To You

I’d love to know if you are using Pinterest and what value you get from it? How have you optimised your site for Pinterest, if anything? Got any other Pinterest tips to share?