Pinterest – the social media network where users can create digital pinboards of images they find inspiring – is an odd duck in the social media field. Unlike other social media networks, usage didn’t spread from the coasts in – quite the opposite, in fact. Users are 80% women with a high percentage coming from the center of the county.

But most of all, Pinterest is different because it is about images rather than text – and not just any images. Pinterest is not the place for standard design and stock photography; to gain traction, you need beautiful and engaging images. It’s a whole new ballgame. Lastly, Pinterest requires careful curation of images that are not your own; it’s not the place for non-stop self promotion. So how can you make the most of Pinterest to grow your brand?

Is Pinterest really right for your brand?


Pinterest is ideal for e-commerce sites and businesses that have a highly visual aspect. It’s also ideal for local businesses that have a good understanding of geographic SEO optimization (Pinterest can help you rank quickly for local keywords). But if you don’t have the budget or time to create original pinnable images (such as infographics and photos), it might not be right for you.

Update (or create) your social media best practices to include Pinterest


Even though Pinterest is visual, it IS a social media network. You need to use your brand’s social media standards on the site as well, and if you don’t have a best practices policy in place, you might want to start that before launching a social media initiative.

Be willing to invest time and money


Only 20% of content on Pinterest is original; the rest is created through “likes” and “re-pinning” other people’s images. This means as a brand you need to be willing to dedicate the time to setting up boards and searching Pinterest for content to share. Experts say the ideal number of pins to share each day is 10-15. The money part is all about creating original images – whether it’s new original photographs created by a staff member or a professional photographer, or fun images created by a graphic designer.

It’s not just about the pins – it’s about the community


Because Pinterest is so visual, it’s easy to overlook the social aspect. But as a brand, you can engage your community on Pinterest in a variety of ways: host a contest, launch group boards for your customers, and keep your fans apprised of offerings and deals. So while yes, it is about the pretty picture, it’s also about who is VIEWING that picture.

Know what makes a pinnable image


The ideal size of a pin is probably smaller than you expect. In the Pinterest stream, an image is 238 pixels wide and it expands to 735 pixels wide when clicked (height can vary wildly, with some pins being very long). On mobile devices, it’s even smaller. So your image needs to be clear and easy to figure out at a small size, because you want the viewer to not only click to see it bigger but also click over to the website it’s hosted on. In addition, you can increase your click through rate by having some basic text on the image explaining the link.

How are you using Pinterest for your business?