By Helen Kruger (@Lanikruger)

There is little doubt that Pinterest is THE social media network of 2012. Suddenly it’s in every social media blog, is creeping into Facebook feeds and has been touted as the new social media addiction – all while brands are still trying to work out what it means for them.

Launched in March 2010 Pinterest is now the 3rd most popular U.S. social networking site after Facebook and Twitter1. It’s rise has been meteoric: 866% growth in unique visitors in the 6 months to Feb 2012, 50% growth in traffic from Jan to Feb 2012 and an average of 1.36 million users daily2,3. And with a company goal to “…connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting…” it seems they intend to keep growing.

Unlike most start-ups Pinterest’s growth hasn’t come from a young male geek following; instead, its strength is in women. 68.2% of users are female, 50% have kids and 50% are aged between 25 and 44 years3. A staggering 97% of Pinterest’s Facebook fans are female3.

So what actually happens on there? The site is built on the belief that “…a favorite book, toy or recipe can reveal a common link between two people…” Acting as a virtual pin board it allows users to ‘pin’ and share images from the web they find useful, inspiring or interesting. And it is addictive! Browsing through other users’ ‘boards’ leads into a labyrinth of images, photos, ideas, recipes and products you can’t do without.

Reflecting its origins as a crafting and fashion site Pinterest’s top three categories are Home, Arts & Crafts and Style & Fashion. However it is the fourth category, Food & Drink, which is the one to watch. By far the most shared category it generates 50% more ‘repins’ than anything elseand is rated their main area of interest on the siteby 70% of users 4,5,6.

Pinterest is seen as a source of inspiration and discovery, which means it delivers a very high conversion rate. It generates more referral traffic than LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube combined and almost a quarter of users have purchased something they have seen on someone else’s board3,6.

But while there are exciting opportunities for brands that can align with users’ interests, Pinterest should be approached with moderation.


Some guidelines:

  • Don’t treat your account like a sales catalogue. Set up boards on interests relating to your product but pin images of your products sparingly and, instead, add value with related topics. For example a winery may pin images of recipes to go with their Shiraz, or images of tourist attractions near their cellar door.
  • When you do pin your products make sure you add a price banner. This is done by including a $ or £ followed by the number amount in the description.
  • Make it look appealing! Pinterest is visual medium so if your boards and pins don’t look beautiful no one will look twice.
  • Use the Pinterest Goodies on your website. The Follow Button invites people to follow your Pinterest account and the Pin-it Button invites people to pin images from your site. Codes for both can be found at
  • If you want to check whether people have pinned something from your website, or any other site, go to

Used innovatively Pinterest offers brands a uniquely powerful platform to engage customers. To show you just how powerful, we will leave you with the Kotex campaign – an impressive example of personalized marketing.

The Tools

How to Set-Up a Business Account7

In the social media space it is worth registering your brand name and claiming the real estate, even if you don’t intend to use it yet.

  1. Pinterest is still invite-only so you need to either be invited by an existing user (the fastest way) or request an invite on the login page Let us know if you need an invitation so you can start pinning
  2. Sign up is via Facebook or Twitter but as Pinterest won’t accept a Facebook page the only option for businesses is through their Twitter account.
  3. In Settings enter an email/password login so future logins don’t have to be through the Twitter account.

Glossary of Pinterest Terms

  • Pin: An image added to Pinterest. It can come from a website or an upload of your own images.
  • RePin: Adding an image that is already on Pinterest onto your own board. The original pinner is credited as the source of the link and credit is retained no matter how often it is repinned.
  • Board: A collection of Pins. Boards can be created for any topic and there is no limit to the number of pins they contain.
  • Bookmarklet: Install the “Pin It” button on your bookmarks bar so you can pin directly from the web without going through Pinterest.

A note on copyright: This aspect of Pinterest is still contentious. There are questions around whether a brand could fall foul of copyright law by pinning images that they do not own or reference properly. If you have any concerns it is best to seek legal advice before proceeding and where possible reference where you get your photos from if they are not your own.

If you love food and wine – join in the fun and follow Trish’s Food and Wine Boards –


1. The 2012 Digital Marketer: Benchmark and Trend Report, Experian Marketing Services








Further Reading 8 Best Practices for Food Brands on Pinterest