What is Pinterest, what is it for and how does this visual social network work?

Pinterest strategy for e-commerce

It is possible that, unless you have an eCommerce or online business, you still don’t know exactly what Pinterest is, even though you’ve probably heard of this platform on occasion.
Therefore, if, in addition to knowing what it is, you want to know how it works, today I will explain it to you step by step so that you understand that perhaps this could be the missing piece of your brand’s social media plan.
Despite being a social network with more than 200 million registered users worldwide, it’s possible that you still don’t have an account or know all its advantages.
Precisely for that reason, I would like to begin this guide by unveiling its definition, which will make you understand the special appeal it has:

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is one of the largest visual social networks, in which it is possible to share images, videos, infographics and all kinds of content that are predominantly visual. In addition, most users who have an online project or are thinking of creating it use it as a “drawer of ideas”.
Its format allows you to organize, file and share your “pins” (publications) by topics, interests or hobbies, among other options.
Therefore, it is not a social network to use. Its unique style has liked a lot since its inception, hence its great success (especially in English-speaking countries), as it is one of the platforms with a higher rate of growth in recent years.
It’s likely that, although you didn’t know what Pinterest is before when you heard its name, you would have wondered why it’s called.
It is called this way because its creators have digitized the typical cork wall where you can hang photos with a pin. Hence its main feature: sharing multimedia content in the style of Instagram.
In other words, its name is composed, etymologically, by “Pin” (thumbtack) and “Interest” (interesting).

How was Pinterest born? A brief history of this social platform

Once you know exactly what Pinterest is, I’m sure you’re curious to know how this social network was born and originated, right?
To review its origins, we must recommend 2009, when its founders, Ben Silbermann, Paul Sciarra, and Evan Sharp, decided to start a new business, in which the first of them already worked in his company, “Cold Brew Labs”.
This is “Tote”, a fashionable iPhone app designed for women. When they saw that what they were basically doing was marking the clothes they liked the most and keeping them on their board to see them and buy them later, they thought that what is now Pinterest could be possible.
At the end of 2009, they launched their first “beta” version, a private network that you could only access if you had a prior invitation from one of its founders.
trends pinterest
They were gradually improving their creation, until 2011 when they launched it for the general public. The reception was such that in June of that same year, already had more than 10,000 active and registered users.
Good proof of this is this graphic that I show you, with the popularity registered by Google Trends from its inception until its final dawn at the end of 2011.

What exactly is Pinterest for?

Considering everything I’ve told you about this platform so far, I’m sure you already intuit at least what it’s for.
Certainly, it is difficult to delimit what Pinterest is for and how to use it within your strategy, given its multiple functionalities.
If you dig, surely you will find a great variety of additional utilities to these that I indicate you next, so much for particular users as for companies:

► Box of ideas for “better times”.

As I mentioned previously in its definition, it is a good platform to file an orderly wish list, as do some of the most prestigious online stores.
Therefore, users interested in buying clothes, furniture or other types of accessories, enjoyed collecting and sharing objects of desire, to have them archived for when “better times” arrived.

► You will follow styles and interests in common with others

Thanks to the existence of this social network, you will not follow people or brands, but rather styles, trends, types of information and themes according to your interests and your professional sector.
In other words, there are no “influencers” or “normal” users here, which is greatly appreciated.

► You can communicate with images

Pinterest is also ideal for telling stories through images, thanks to the famous infographics published by many of its users on their respective boards.

► Publish findings and news

This is an excellent digital service to disseminate findings that delight you for hours and hours, launched by other companies or brands in your sector, which could be interesting for your audience.
In addition, if you have a business with a presence on the Internet, you can also present your news here, which you want to give greater visibility online.

In short, it allows you to disseminate information and share it with your contacts through the option of “repin”.

► Sell your eCommerce products

The companies that have already decided to open an account in Pinterest have taken advantage of it and already opt for the promotion and sale of products through it, thanks to the great option of being able to accompany the image of a link to your Web, so that it directs traffic to the Landing Page of your interest.

► Get traffic to your blog

In line with the previous utility, if you have a Blog in WordPress or another digital platform, one of your main pretensions should be to gradually increase Web traffic to it.
A fantastic idea in this sense could be to upload to your board the cover image or, even better, the infographics with which you accompany this content and add the URL of your article.
In this way, if they liked what you contributed to it, they will be attracted to know the subject more in-depth, so irremediably will have to visit your Blog.
In this previous example, you can see how I created a Pinterest board within my our account, where I add the main images of each of the contents of my blog, along with its title and a brief description of what it will be about.
I accompany them with a link to the full post, for anyone who wants to consult them in detail.

How does Pinterest work and what can I do on this social network?

Once I’ve described what Pinterest is and what it’s for, I’m going to the end of the matter: how it works.
If you are just starting and have just created a Pinterest account for your business, I encourage you to do solo tests: before you follow anyone, do tests like upload pins, design boards, follow people you have as a reference in your sector, among other options.
At first, you may find it complicated because of its differences with other networks, but it is a very simple and intuitive platform, where you can do this series of things:

1. You can create a very visual profile for your business

You can insert and create boards, grouping them by the themes you are going to share and in which you are going to hang pins. Don’t create confusion. In other words, try to show at a glance what your interests are and related topics.
Put the hook board in first position, the one that best defines you. If you are a company, it will be the one for sale or in which you offer some kind of lead magnet or info product.
Thus, it will be more accessible to those who visit you, which will not be lost between boards.

2. You will give greater visibility to your infographics

The essence of Pinterest are the infographics you create, which give added value to your profile and make it can have more or less engagement.
All right, it’s more work, but it’s better to upload an infographic than a bunch of images. You will be more successful.

3. Tags and descriptions are the keys

Pinterest users perform many content searches. It is therefore essential that you add hashtags and describe what the boards and images contain in detail.
In this way, the person will find the content more easily.
If you also add the location with the map option, you’ll add great value to your videos and images, which will appeal to your followers.
Keep in mind that this location provides a plus of information to what they are watching.

4. Being active in it will have its reward

You are facing a network in continuous movement, so you need to update your content and interact with other users, whether they are followers or not.
In this sense, my advice is to use this platform actively. Do not limit yourself to enter and see if you have a new follower, but nourish your space with content.
Remember that Pinterest is like a room whose cork boards receive many visits.
If you are a company, it is a good tool for eCommerce, since you can advertise and sell at a glance what you offer.

5. Surround yourself with people from your theme

Interests and tastes are essential in this particular social network. Therefore, follow people according to them, whose theme is in line with yours.
You have to surround yourself with people close to you and there is no better way than to become their follower. In this way, you will be able to do Networking and strengthen your Personal Brand even more.

6. Comments increase your success at Pinterest

Comment on the most popular pins or those you like. Be brave and generous.
This will make the author satisfied and grateful and many followers or fans of the subject want to inquire about the information you share.

7. Collaborate with other users

At this point along the way, it’s time for you to start participating on other users’ boards. There are group boards, where you can share your opinion and your infographics.

8. Distribute your pins well

You need to head-categorize your pins in order for each interested person to follow your boards.

9. Designed to share with your community

The images in this social network have a certain format. What does this imply? It is designed so that the user decides to interact and share the information with other users.
In this way, this content harbours much more value and diffusion, so Pinterest has marked a firm footprint that is followed by many people.
From a certain profile, the user can “pine” images distributed on boards that he specifies.
In addition, the person can quickly follow images that interest him or thematic and “pin”. That is, to share them with his contacts.
These are the characteristics that make this social network ideal to show the universe what your business or brand does, its products and services.
And in an original, attractive and visual way.

In short, what advantages can Pinterest bring to my business?

All companies can take advantage of Pinterest, although if the products and services they offer are visual, they have part of the road travelled.
This is the case of sectors where the visual predominates: gastronomy, fashion, decoration, beauty, etc. But, bearing in mind this premise, it is possible that you are asking yourself: what if it is not my case?
You will always be able to give your boards and pins that attractive and visual aspect that the tool offers, adding to your more theoretical contents some explanatory infographics and with a slightly more pleasant touch.
If it’s a service: why don’t you take photos that illustrate that service? Or, what prevents you from developing an infographic that describes it?
To these advantages, I add the following, so that your presence in Pinterest gains points:

1. Visibility

If you’ve just created an eCommerce where you sell your own products, you can create albums on your Pinterest page, where you break down the catalogues of your products explaining, if necessary, part of how they work graphically.
This will give your products extra visibility.

2. SEO

Pinterest is profiled as one of the best social networks to increase the SEO positioning of your Web. If the image is well optimized and points to your page, you will gain more traffic than you imagine.

3. Virilization

Your content will be viral per se, as it is a social network used by more than 250 million active people by mid-2018.
In addition, it has an even greater growth than that harvested so far by Twitter, which is undoubtedly another of the most important social networks and known by the general public.

4. Target audience

If you make proper use of quality images, you will get a target audience that will help you know the tastes of your customers.
This will undoubtedly encourage you to make an optimal sales strategy.


Perhaps for you or your business is the great unknown of social networks, but as its creators point out, has become the “pretty girl” of the Internet, especially for some professional sectors.
The statistics speak for themselves: at the end of October 2016, there were 150 million active users per month.
Now that you know what Pinterest is and what it’s for, what are you waiting for to take advantage of all its benefits?


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ECN Team
E-Commerce Nation is The 1st B2B Web Media about E-Commerce in Europe. The team of E-Commerce Explorers help businesses to reach new potential market through delivering useful content. Let us know in comment if you enjoyed this content.