Often considered the DIY-hub of the internet, Pinterest, is a unique social media platform with more functionality than meets the eye. A deep dive reveals Pinterest’s intuitive nature, akin to a search engine for products with added SEO benefits.
What is Pinterest
Since its initial launch in 2010, a shared launch year with social media competitor Instagram, Pinterest has staked its claim as a platform with an undeniable long-game presence. Pinterest is one of the few platforms that has managed to cement itself in spite of the constant rise and fall of social media marketplaces.
Like its peers, Pinterest is a website and app with a primary focus on delivering visual content to its users. In this way, the platform has a similar basic makeup to that of its social media counterparts.
However, unlike others in its sphere, Pinterest is not built on a culture of hype and clout and does not rely on influencers to drive its market interface. Pinterest does not even require users, though the option is available, to cultivate a community of brands, celebrities, influencers, or friends, for the algorithm to function properly.
This is what sets Pinterest apart.
Rather than assume the same essential role as every other social media platform, Pinterest functions more like a discovery engine for trends, products, tutorials, and ideas around the web.
How Pinterest Works
As mentioned, Pinterest functions a bit differently compared to other social media platforms. Rather than encouraging users to craft a community or build a following, the platform’s primary purpose is to help users discover and organize content they love. Pinterest acts as somewhat of a visual library for web content.
Instead of focusing on keeping people inside their platform, Pinterest exists alongside and is propelled by external internet content. Because of this, Pinterest is constantly routing its users to different websites across the internet, making it an excellent marketing tool.
Still, the magic of Pinterest does not only lie in its unique design and algorithm. Rather, Pinterest is built on certain features that create an internet experience unlike any you’ll find elsewhere. Below, is an in-depth explanation of the platform features themselves which make Pinterest so special.
If you think of Pinterest as a search engine, Pins would be the equivalent of search results. These Pins are user or business generated visual-links, usually in the form of photos or even short videos, which reroute to various websites across the internet. In this way, these images serve as aesthetic descriptions for the web pages which they link to.
As long as it complies with Pinterest’s guidelines, there is no limit to what a Pin can be, meaning you will find anything from product reviews, recipes, direct product photos, magazine spreads, photography, and contemporary art.
Keeping with the same analogy, if Pins are the search results in this search engine, Boards can be likened to a user’s bookmarks or collection of webpages.
A Board is a collection of Pins, saved by the user, typically categorized with some sort of theme or headline. For example, a user might want to create a board specifically for vegan recipes, home decor, or travel destinations on their wish list. Like this, a board allows a user to easily group visually pleasing web-links, for seamless browsing and purchase.
Smart Interest-Focused Feed
Pinterest’s Smart Feed, unlike other social media, isn’t driven by the people you follow or your social interactions. Rather, it is more like a carefully designed SEO feed, which ranks pins based on four primary factors: domain quality, pin quality, pinner quality, and relevance. This is, yet again, another way in which Pinterest functions like a search engine.
Why Businesses Should Use It
Many businesses have discovered that Pinterest is an excellent tool that can be used to increase online visibility. The main reason being that Pinterest is constantly directing traffic to websites across the internet.
This beautifully organized web-library, as previously stated, was one of the main intentions for Pinterest in the first place. In essence, with Pinterest, not only does web-content look more desirable but navigating the far corners of the internet becomes instantaneously more digestible, too. So much so that up to 77% of Pinterest users say they’ve discovered new websites, companies, brands, and products through their use of the platform.
If you can grow an understanding of how exactly Pinterest can benefit businesses and learn to leverage the web tool with the right strategies, you will soon realize for yourself just how powerful of an e-commerce marketing tool this social media platform really is.
1. Pinterest Lets You Get In Your Audience’s Mind
Whether they are actively creating their own boards or simply following and contributing to others, Pinterest users are constantly curating collections of web-content they enjoy. Through this process, without even realizing it, users are creating a publicly accessible profile with a very direct and concise look into their personal interests.
In this way, this platform is like every digital marketers’ dream. Not only can you take cues directly from your target audience as to how you should market to them, but with constantly updating Boards, you are also able to stay on top of how your audience is evolving.
If that wasn’t enough, Pinterest Boards also give an in-depth look into how those in your industry are using and succeeding with Pinterest. A simple browse through your target audience’s collections will provide you with almost everything you need to craft a well-rounded and competitive strategy for marketing on the platform.
One way to do this is through Pinterest group Boards. These are collaborative Boards where businesses and influencers pool together and collaborate, to provide a space for users to browse everything they like in one place. From a business perspective, locating Group Boards followed by your target audience gives you direct insight into brands that are creating content people in that niche resonate with.
If you find it to be an effective tool, you can join a Group Board as a collaborator, or even start your own!
This is a Group Board for bloggers, with over 5,800 collaborators. With a quick glance through, you’re able to see the trends of the Pins, as well as which Pins are getting the most engagement. This is just one example of a Group Board, but every board differs in terms of niche, number of collaborators, and even followers.
2. Pinterest Lets You Generate Real Engagement
Social media engagement is one of the most highly sought after digital currencies in the present day, and with more than 320 million active users each month, Pinterest is no stranger to this exchange. But while engagement may be a desirable aspect of social media usage, not every platform has the same advantages.
Social media, though helpful, often creates a barrier between business and customer. For example, while a customer may engage with your account as a follower on an app, their engagement may not necessarily convert past the occasional comment or like. This is what sets Pinterest apart and makes it truly impressive.
The platform’s ability to route engagement directly to your business, by taking a user off of the Pinterest app and moving them to your website itself, is incredibly unique.
Take into account that most people use Pinterest with a purpose in mind – more often than not to create shopping lists or search for relevant ideas – it’s easy to understand how the engagement the app breeds are much deeper than a surface level comment or follow.
Buzzfeed is an example of a company that has learned to expertly leverage the linkability of the Pinterest platform. They send Pinterest users to and from the articles on their website with immense skill, effortlessly converting mindless clicks to genuine reader and viewership.
3. Pinterest Lets You Convert Better
Building off the last point, not only was Pinterest designed to consistently reroute traffic to your website but because of the intentionality with which the Pinterest app is often used sales conversions are typically much higher.
Almost as soon as a Pinterest user sees your product or blog within the app, so too can they read, purchase, and get involved with what you have to offer. The platform naturally gives way to this easy access, browsing, and ultimately purchasing of products.
Not to mention the added benefit of purchased ad space within the platform, much of which allows users to browse and purchase your products directly from within Pinterest itself. With fewer steps between interest and investment, the sales process can be easily expedited.
If all of that weren’t enough, studies show that Pinterest’s demographic makes up as much as 80% of the buying power within US households. For these reasons, Pinterest’s leverage-ability exceeds some of the other platforms most popularly used for business growth today.
Mission Hammocks is just one example of a brand that has used Pinterest to convert traffic. In a direct quote from co-founder Zack Wahl, he says “Pinterest is the number one traffic source to our website and has the highest conversion rate compared to other platforms because it helps people conceptualize how our product fits into their home”.
4. Pinterest Lets You Drive Targeted Traffic
Pinterest is not unique in that it is a social media that drives targeted traffic, but it is how Pinterest accomplishes this that makes it so special. As we’ve learned so far, the huge linkability of the app makes the process of generating leads much simpler, but the features that really support targeted traffic happen far before a user even clicks through your linked Pins at all.
To fully understand the process at hand, we must mention again that Pinterest is designed like a search engine. It relies on SEO and a specific algorithm to sort and prioritize the content it displays to users. Because of this, the biggest boosts in your exposure come from action steps you’re already taking for your business – outside of the Pinterest platform entirely.
In the same way that you utilize the right keywords and increase your domain quality off-platform, so too do you increase your relevance within Pinterest itself.
By utilizing these same strategies, you can create not just wide-spread exposure, but specific exposure to the viewers, consumers, and customers that matter.
For home and lifestyle brand Martha Stewart, Pinterest has become their number one referrer of traffic. So much so, that Pinterest drives more traffic to the Martha Stewart company than both Twitter and Facebook combined.
Final Thoughts on How Pinterest Works
As you can see, Pinterest is a well-oiled machine for both casual and business use. It is essentially a high-level digital marketplace disguised as a social photobook. As time goes on, it only becomes more intuitive for users, more useful for businesses, and more successful in its own right.