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Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. The big three in social platforms, and in social advertising spending. But, there must be other platforms for marketers. I’ve already written about the unique opportunities presented by Snapchat, but it suffers the same downfalls as the big three. Sure, enthusiasm for large user bases is founded, but people don’t want to engage with ads on these platforms. Why not develop a marketing strategy that focuses on a platform used specifically to plan purchases? Why not Pinterest?

Pinterest was founded about seven years ago, but only launched its advertising platform in 2014. Similar to Snapchat’s current ad rollout, Pinterest’s platform was initially only available to large corporations (and large bank balances). In 2016, Pinterest opened their platform to anyone who has a business account. Promoted Pins, similar to promoting a post on Facebook, are just like regular Pins, only you pay to have them seen by more people.

I am an avid “Pinner”. Pinterest is always my first stop when brainstorming for a new freelance design project. Further, I currently have a board compiling things to do in NYC this summer, and a shared board with my friend for James Bond “inspired” cocktails. What’s my point? People come to Pinterest to discover, not to communicate with their network like other social platforms.

Benefits of the platform

While monthly user numbers (175 million of last count) are less than the “big three”, these are truly engaged users. 93 percent of Pinners use the platform to plan purchases, and 87 percent of Pinners have already made a purchase after seeing a product on the platform. The income demographics of Pinners is also interesting. 40 percent of Pinners make more than $100,000 per year, and the average order value of sales coming from Pinterest is $50, the highest of all major social platforms.

Pinterest Ads

Most importantly, ads actually look and feel natural on Pinterest. Yes, the “big three” have sponsored posts that appear “seamlessly” in your feeds, but users aren’t stupid. We know these are ads. On Pinterest, 75 percent of Pins already feature products from businesses. Unlike any other platform, Promoted Pins don’t interrupt or distract your experience; they add to it and help people discover new products and services. Not only that, with the launch of buyable Pins, you can purchase a product without ever leaving the app.

Another key benefit of Pinterest is longevity. Content is not fleeting like it is on Snapchat or Instagram. Pins last forever. If I save a business’s Promoted Pin, my followers will see this in their feeds, driving additional sales. This process is repetitive, and helped by the recycling and discovery nature of Pinterest.

Although there are clear benefits, Pinterest posts require more work, detail, and creativity. Marketers need to write concise copy, include relevant hyperlinks and package it so users want to save the content and actually return to it later.

Pinterest analytics

Pinterest AnalyticsPinterest has recently launched a new metric feature that allows marketers a window into individual post performance. This tool presents itself as an icon on your business’s Pins that break down engagement by clicks (clicking to go to external site), impressions, “close-ups” (when you click on a Pin from your feed), and number of times a user pinned it to one of their boards. Pinterest also has a way for you to track conversions. Similar to Facebook Pixel, a Pinterest Tag is a snippet of code that you put before the closing body tag. This will track purchases or sign-ups of your site, referred from Pinterest.

How to get started

First thing’s first. You need a business account. This can be done by creating a new account, or converting an existing account into a business one. Obviously, to promote Pins, you need to have some (otherwise, get cracking on making new content!). Pinterest has advertising guidelines but it’s nothing drastic, and very much in line with other platforms. One graphic tip from me, use a vertical aspect ratio for your Pins. They take up more screen real-estate, especially on mobile.

Promote pin

Next up, is starting your campaign. Like other social platforms, you need to pick your company’s “goal”. The three goals Pinterest offers are building brand awareness, boosting pin engagement, and drawing traffic to your site. Next up, you select the Pins you want in your campaign, and targeting filters (location, gender, device, etc.).

Finally, you need to pay for your campaign. Pinterest uses a second-price auction model for its advertisements. What the heck does that mean? Basically, it just means you only pay the amount needed to top the next highest-bidder in your niche. Say you want to “splurge”, paying $2.00 for every 1000 impressions; you may end up only paying $0.13, depending on other marketers bids.

Campaign example

UNIQLO is a Japanese fashion company. When launching its new LifeWear line, it wanted to demonstrate how it could be part of your everyday life. One of the major parts of Pinterest is the DIY following. UNIQLO crafted 16 DIY hairstyle pins, pairing them with items from the LifeWear line. While I am no fashion or hair-style aficionado, this campaign illustrates the way your business’s Pins can be embedded smoothly into a user’s feed.

Pinterest campaign example


It may not offer you the close-to billion monthly users of the big three, but Pinterest offers you something far more valuable: users who are there to search, discover, and save new products and services. Why advertise on a platform where users don’t want to see your ads? Promoted Pins make too much sense. I’ll ask again, why not Pinterest?