Pinterest: Pinning for profit

By J. Carlton Collins, CPA

Q: Our company produces hundreds of unique custom-made products for parties and events that we sell through our website. We want to generate additional sales using social media. What do you think would be the best approach for promoting our products through social media?

A: Your first impulse might be to create a Facebook page to promote your products, and that's certainly not a bad idea. However, the Facebook approach typically requires you to conduct additional marketing efforts to drive people to your Facebook page and generate page views. A better approach for leveraging social media may be to promote your products on Pinterest. Even though Pinterest has only about 73 million users compared with nearly 1.5 billion Facebook users, some studies suggest that Pinterest is a much more effective sales platform than Facebook, at least for some industries, particularly those targeting women. (A June 2014 web article published by eMarketer reported that 85% of all Pinterest users in 2014 were women, and an August 2015 web article published by Digital Marketing Research cites a report from September 2014 that 42% of all U.S. women online had used Pinterest.)

For example, virtually no bride today would plan her wedding without first consulting Pinterest for ideas. Pinterest is not a web store platform that supports product ordering, but hyperlinked photos and videos of those products and services promoted on Pinterest can lead readers to the relevant web stores where those products and services can be purchased.

Recently, Pinterest launched an option that allows you to create a business page (free) that can serve as a virtual storefront for promoting your company's products and services on the Pinterest platform. To create a business page in Pinterest, visit business.pinterest.com/en and click the Join as a business button, pictured below.

Pinterest for Business


Follow the
on-screen instructions for creating your business account, including inviting your Facebook and Twitter followers to also follow your business on Pinterest, if desired. Next, you will be asked to select at least five topics that Pinterest will then use to create your initial presence on Pinterest (e.g., I selected technology tips, gadgets, Excel, technology news, and cool technology as a starting point for my Pinterest business page featuring technology). Thereafter, you can further refine your Pinterest boards with your own posts and pins.

Pinterest differs from other social media websites in that you can only pin (or post) images or videos. You can't pin text (although each pin is allowed a text description) or links to webpages without an image; therefore, to use Pinterest to promote your products, you will need at least one (preferably high-quality) image (or video) for each product you plan to promote. Once your web store contains images (or videos), product descriptions, prices, ordering options, etc., browse to each webpage in your web store, copy that webpage URL, and pin it onto your Pinterest board. The resulting image displayed in your Pinterest account will automatically hyperlink back to your company's web store so Pinterest readers can easily order your products.

If you plan to promote services via Pinterest, you will still need an image (or video) to represent each service you plan to promote. One common approach to promoting a service is to create an image checklist of tips related to that service. For example, the company Good Accountants (a referral service for accountants) pinned the image pictured below summarizing the duties of an accountant or auditor as outlined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; clicking the image redirects readers to the Good Accountants website.

The concept of "image-driven promotions" takes a little getting used to, but it can be an effective way to drive customers to your website. Keep in mind that to make full use of Pinterest, you will want to use images and videos that are vivid, interesting, entertaining, or clever. Boring, lackluster product photos will likely not stand out, get repinned, or generate the interest you seek. The marketing world is changing fast, and I applaud your efforts to keep up with these changes.

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About the author

J. Carlton Collins (carlton@asaresearch.com) is a technology consultant, a CPE instructor, and a JofA contributing editor. Note: Instructions for Microsoft Office in “Technology Q&A” refer to the 2013, 2010, and 2007 versions, unless otherwise specified.

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