On Pins and Needles: How to Use Pinterest to Market Your Business Online

It’s so deliciously addictive – once you get that vital Pinterest invite, you could just spend hours and hours searching through all those gorgeous pictures and creating boards that reflect who you are, and what you love. Well, you’re not the only one who finds it addictive. As of July 2013, Pinterest boasts a cool 70 million users. With that many people pinning images – using their desktops, laptops, iPads, iPhones or Android phones – this is an online marketing opportunity no business can afford to miss out on.

So how can you best take advantage of the Pinterest phenomenon? By planning and thinking ahead, before you ever post a single image.

“What?!” you say. “But it’s so easy! You just slap a few pictures of your products on a board, and voila! You’re on your way!” Not so fast, mon amie. The secret to true Pinterest success is having a well thought-out approach to its use.

What do we mean? Take a look at these tips for using Pinterest as an online marketing tool to find out:

1. Before you even take a single picture, determine who your Pinterest audience is. Who are you trying to attract with your images? Who is it you want to inspire to share your images with their own followers? As with any kind of social media marketing, you don’t want to use Pinterest for old-fashioned, blatant advertising – you want to create a connection, build a relationship. So it’s vital to have a clear understanding of who it is you’re trying to connect with.

2. Plan your boards strategically. Don’t create boards based simply on your store’s different categories of products – create boards that are aimed at those ideal customers you just identified. Boards that will show those potential customers that you get them, that you are like them, and that you offer things that will fill a gap in their lives. Tell an appealing story with your board, rather than simply using it as a list.

3. Be honest with yourself about your photography chops. If you are practically a pro at getting the perfect shot, then by all means, take your own pictures. But if you’re less than confident about your camera skills, don’t hesitate to hire a good photographer – or alternately, a good graphic designer. The image is everything on Pinterest. You could have the greatest content or product or service in the universe, but if it’s hidden behind a boring or nondescript picture, no one will ever see it.

4. Decide on a different image for every single page, product, or important piece of content you want to draw attention to. To get the full benefit of Pinterest, you can use it to promote different pages of your website, different products or services you offer, and different content you want to share. But each individual thing you want to get the word out about needs to have its own distinctive, attractive image, or it won’t be effective. You just can’t get away with using your company logo over and over again for each new whitepaper, or using a cliched graphic for a service you provide. Captions and blurbs will not sway people on Pinterest – the image is all that counts.

5. Add a Pinterest icon to your site, and add Pinterest share tabs to every single image on your site. Let people know you’re on Pinterest, and make it easy for them to share your pictures there.

Once you’ve got your audience determined, your boards planned out, great images chosen, and convenient ways in place for customers to spread the word, you’ll be able to jump into Pinterest and take off running. Let us know how it works for you in the comments section below!


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She is the founder & CEO of Zen Media. She has been named the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by FastCompany.com. Forbes, Businessweek, and Inc have all recognized her as one of the Top 30 under 30 entrepreneurs in the field of marketing. Shama has built a global audience and is known for helping brands succeed in the digital age. She is a bestselling author, an international keynote speaker, and has been named one of LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices in Marketing for four years in a row.



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