How Brands Can Use Pinterest

UPDATED ON 01/26/12 AND 02/24/12.


Pinterest is digital bookmarking website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections, and discover collections created by friends and other users.

Pinterest popularity has sky rocketed in the past few months—Pinterest had 11 million unique visitors per month in February 2012, a 240% increase since December 2011 (

Other interesting Pinterest demographics:

  • Pinterest is used primarily by women (90% of user base, as estimated by comScore) ages 25 to 34.
  • According to Alexa, Pinterest appeals more to educated Caucasians under the age of 35 who have incomes between $30,000-100,000.
  • Approximately 77% of visitors are in the United States.
  • Pinterest accounts for 3.6% of referral traffic to websites (Twitter is 3.61%)


Pinterest is not right for every brand. However, if your brand has stunning imagery and develops unique products, Pinterest might be a good fit for you. Following are some verticals that can leverage Pinterest:

  • Apparel  – men’s, women’s and children’s
  • Food/beverages, especially recipe driven
  • Architecture
  • Interior design
  • Wedding themed
  • Technology
  • Sports
  • Healthcare
  • Personal Care
  • Home Improvement/DIY Accessories
  • Pets
  • Kids products/toys
  • Travel


At the initial launch of Pinterest, the link included on each pinned page was a “do-follow” back to the original source page, which means that it passed link weight and therefore SEO value. Then, towards the end of January 2012, as was to be expected, Pinterest instituted a “no-follow” on those links, most likely to keep people from spamming the site for link juice. However, there is still one SEO benefit from using Pinterest for a linking strategy.

Each pin comes with accessible embed code for users that want to add that image on their own website, blog or social profile. The embed code can found on each pin (see image below), and can easily be copied and pasted into the HTML of other sites.

Pinterest Embed Code

When you embed the code into your website or blog, at the bottom of the image you will see “Source: original source URL,” which passes direct link juice back to that page.

Pinterest Link Source

These links will vary in quality depending on the sites they are embed in, but the value here is much stronger than the original links that were found on Pinterest, because they could come from multiple root domains (should multiple people embed on their sites). The downside, however, is that users must embed code, which means they really have to like the image to put in the effort and they must have a basic knowledge of HTML. In other words, the imagery has to be very high quality for users to go through the effort to embed or learn how to embed.


In mid-February 2012, copyright issues were raised having to do with users posting content which they did not create. To address these issues, Pinterest posted information about copyright infringement and created an “opt-out” code that can be placed on any site, and will notify users that the site doesn’t allow pinning. Flickr is one site who has added the opt-out code option to their user settings, allowing Flickr users to choose whether they want their content pinned.

Pinterest has also instituted a 500-character limit on pin descriptions to prevent full blog posts from being copied. Pinterest says it complies with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s takedown procedures of content as well, and has always encouraged users to credit the originator in the pin description.

Websites that do allow pinning have the option of adding a “Pin It” button to their product pages and images. This is a simple way to give permission for the content to be shared.

Before adding the opt-out code to your site, keep in mind the potential benefits of allowing users to pin your images—awareness, link weight, referral traffic and engagement.

When you are pinning images that you did not create, be sure to check for licensing guidelines. If it’s not copyright protected or has a creative commons license, be sure to credit the original creator in the description as a courtesy. This is the general rule for crediting the creators online.


  1. Create a Pinterest profile for your brand; add a logo, short description and links to your website and Twitter account
  2. Create boards and start pinning; maintain active profile by pinning brand products and other relevant images that customer would be interested in; see Best Practices for more tips
  3. Re-pin, like and comment often
  4. Add pin buttons to your product pages, allowing users to easily pin something to their boards:
  5. Add a “Follow us on Pinterest” button to your website (near other social media links and/or on your community page):



  • For each original image you pin, you must add a description, which should contain key phrases in an authentic way.
  • You can tag any of your followers in this description by using the “@” symbol followed by their name, similar to how you tag on Facebook.
  • When re-pinning, the original description is automatically carried over; however, you can write a new one if you’d like.
  • Be conscious of the boards you are pinning to. Selecting relevant boards helps others become more engaged with your brand’s content and Pinterest activities.


  • Each board you create must be linked to category already on Pinterest.
  • You can allow others to contribute to your boards, but they must already be one of your followers.
  • Each board should have a theme, all content posted to that board should relate to the theme, which creates a better user experience and increases likelihood of others following your boards.
  • Create boards for product types, styles/trends, seasons/holidays, or other categories that are relevant to brand.
  • Provide a description of your board and include keywords to increase findability and improve user experience

Liking and Commenting

  • Likes and comments are not carried over when a pin is re-pinned.
  • Comments should be relevant to the pin.
  • Refrain from including advertising or self-promotion in comments.

Image Quality

  • Since Pinterest emphasizes pictures over text, having high quality photos is important.
  • Make sure your photos can be pinned; sites in Flash do not allow photos to be pinned.
  • Ensure that photos are tagged correctly on your site, so that they index properly within Pinterest.

Tagging Others

  • As previously mentioned, you can tag any of your followers in this description by using the “@” symbol followed by their name.
  • When re-pining content, including a tag is a good way to recognize the user who posted the content before you.
  • Tagging is also a way to show that your brand is engaged with content already on Pinterest.

Following Others

  • Because Pinterest does not currently have a large brand presence, it is recommended that brands only follow users who follow them.
  • To avoid being seen as “that spammy company that ruined Pinterest,” brands should not seek out users to follow.


  • Self-promotion is severely looked down upon on Pinterest; therefore, you should mix relevant non-branded imagery into your pins and engage with other pins that make sense to your brand.
  • Do not pin your corporate logo or other purely marketing imagery; this will certainly not generate engagement.

Content Inspiration

  • Search Pinterest to get ideas for creating new branded content.
  • Make note of which pins receive the most comments, likes and re-pins to understand what content might have the most success on your assets.

Blogger Outreach

  • Several bloggers have already added Pinterest to their repertoire of social media assets they update on a daily basis.
  • Search for relevant terms in Pinterest and sort through boards to identify any bloggers.
  • Connect with bloggers through any contact information provided in profile or on connected website.

Look Book/Wish List

  • Create a board that is a gift guide or look book with prices and tags for each product.
  • Encourage customers to add these items to their holiday wish lists and share with family/friends.
  • Use for various holidays, events, seasons and life occasions (e.g., Christmas, Valentine’s Day, weddings, summer vacation, back to school, etc.).


View other brands that are actively using Pinterest, each in unique ways.

Happy pinning!


32 thoughts on “How Brands Can Use Pinterest

  1. Pingback: Quora
  2. I think it’s very useful for brands, particularly in travel. Time will tell how it affects the bottom line but I run a travel site and rather than just re-pinning nice pictures, we have decided to use Pinterest solely as an adventure holiday shop window, each board categorised around the themes of the trips we aggregate on Much Better Adventures. Every picture is a trip that can be booked direct and is priced and linked. Here is our board: if you’d like to see an example of how Pinterest could work very well for the travel industry. – Sam

  3. I don’t quite understand this point: To avoid being seen as “that spammy company that ruined Pinterest,” brands should not seek out users to follow.

    I see a lot of brands reaching out on pinterest and following people who have similar boards / interests and post really cool things related to their brand.

    As a pinterest user I would see it as a compliment if a brand I like started following me, because that would indicate that they seem to care about what I post.

    For example, I love Deus Motorcyles out of Australia. If they started following me to see what custom builds I post, I would be flattered.

  4. Aran – I agree. I absolutely would be flattered if a brand I like followed me. It’s the brands I don’t particularly like, or those that use Pinterest (and other social networks) for one-sided marketing rather than engagement, that would seem spammy.

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  6. Research found that taller images works better on Pinterest. There is a great, free tool called canva where you can make “Pinterest friendly” images in seconds. Great article btw.

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