• Georgia Hatton

Pinterest - a level playing field for SMEs?

Think social media marketing and Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & LinkedIn (aka the ‘big four’) are probably the first channels that come to mind - not Pinterest. But Pinterest is one of the channels where it could be argued that smaller businesses are more on a level playing field with other larger businesses. Here we review what Pinterest is and how small businesses can use it to their advantage.


According to Statista, Pinterest has 316 million active users, compared to Facebook’s 2,449 million which for SMEs considering new channels for their social media marketing, has two implications:

  • Less competition for organic content

  • Lower and more cost-effective ad placements - ideal for smaller budgets

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a social media platform that allows users to save (‘pin’) images and videos directly to their profiles (boards). Images (or pins) are vertical in design and each one clicks through to a destination URL, so they are ideal for driving referral traffic to a website.

Users are served lifestyle content based on their interests. It is very much focussed on ‘discovery’ which is why it is one of the only platforms where people actively want to see and engage with advertisements.


These pinners are searching for utilitarian content that will actively improve their current lifestyle. According to Pinterest, 98 per cent of pinners admit having tried something new that they found on the platform. Inspiration, hacks and how-to guides flourish on Pinterest because of their useful nature, rather than their aesthetics. That said, imagery is still important but perhaps not to the same extent as Instagram for example.

Who can I reach via Pinterest?

According to Omnicore, Pinterest has 300 million active monthly users, the vast majority of which are women, and half of pinners have an income of £40k per annum. Their yearning for new ideas implies many might be innovators and early adopters, making it the ideal platform for launching new products and services.

How to create successful organic content for Pinterest

If you’re thinking about approaching Pinterest using the same content you’ve created for Instagram, then you’ll be disappointed with your results. As previously mentioned, pinners want to consume useful content ahead of pretty pictures.


If you want to get the most out of Pinterest, you could consider treating it as a search engine instead.

Treat a social media platform like you would Google? Akin to practises used in search engine optimisation (SEO), Pinterest can suggest keywords and keyword extensions based on popular searches that you can use to optimise your pins. By maximising your pin’s potential, you can climb up the rankings on Pinterest’s results page, earn higher click-through rates and drive a greater volume of high-quality traffic to your website.

So you’ve chosen the keyword you want to target on Pinterest and it’s time to create, upload and optimise your pin.

  1. Start by clicking the plus icon and choose to ‘Create a Pin’

  2. Upload your image, graphic or video

  3. Just like a web page title, add a title for your pin that includes your keyword

  4. Tell everyone about your pin in the description, treat this like a meta-description so include your target keyword again

  5. Add a destination link, i.e. the URL of your blog or landing page

And voila! You have your first optimised pin that refers users directly to your website.

Reaching your community through Pinterest

Once you've started to upload content, it's time to start engaging with other pinners. The first and most straightforward way is to simply comment on other people's pins - this direct engagement is more likely to engender two-way conversation which is perhaps the most meaningful (although can be quite time-consuming).

Another method is to ask your followers to upload photos to your pins. This generally works well for advice-based pins or where the pinner wants to highlight their individuality in their use of a product or a tip.

You may also benefit by joining group boards which have multiple contributors and are followed by many other pinners. By joining these communities you can share your own pins but it’s best-practice to engage with other people’s pins too.

How to run ads on Pinterest

Building an engaged following on any social media platform takes a lot of time and effort, and a lack of following can sometimes hinder the momentum of high-quality organic content. Investing in advertisements can be an effective way of kickstarting your Pinterest account.

Like most digital advertising platforms, Pinterest offers flexibility by giving quick and easy control over budgets and gives good opportunities for targeting different audiences. For SMEs, online advertising is ideal for those with smaller or more volatile budgets.

Pinterest has created its own eight-step guide on how to set up ads for businesses through its platform, and it’s very similar to other social media ads managers. Pinterest ads are effectively ‘boosted’ pins, in other words, you are paying to have your existing pin/organic content to be shown to your target audience.

Some examples of good practice:

At the time of writing, the three promoted pins pictured above are currently live on Pinterest and each one has an easily replicable characteristic than can be applied to improve the performance of any Pinterest ad:

Advert #1 shows Guinness being paired with a french crusty baguette, suggesting new ways viewers can try the product, as a lunchtime drink rather than a stand-alone one

Advert #2 displays a fitness and wellbeing plan, pinners will be drawn to the easily understandable and actionable guide

Advert #3 exhibits different coloured suitcases but it is its copy that has been optimised for Pinterest by replicating its language e.g. mood boarding is one of the main uses of Pinterest so will resonate with its target audience

Based on these examples, successful content or ads on Pinterest should offer new ideas and perspectives; include actionable insights; be tailored specifically for Pinterest users.

Of course, you don’t have to put budget against your pins but it can help give them a good start - with good quality content it doesn’t always need to be a big spend.

Although Pinterest might not be suitable for every small business, SME marketeers shouldn’t automatically dismiss this channel, as it can provide some valuable brand awareness, good engagement, and referral traffic without blowing the budget. Get pinning!

By Olivia Howlett,the first Gen’ Z to join Browser Media.

Marketing Island is an award-winning online marketing magazine set to inspire females in the digital industry.

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