Content, Contests, and Creativity: Seven Lessons on Using Pinterest

Pinterest offers its users a unique experience: to organize and share the things that catch their interest. The third most-used social networking site, Pinterest’s unique pinboard format capitalizes on people’s need for beauty and being able to create, share, and connect.

“Our goal,” states the Pinterest website,  “is to connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting. We think that a favorite book, toy, or recipe can reveal a common link between two people.”

When focusing on the number one goal of interacting with the customer and potential customer as a person with interests–rather than a statistic, many companies are finding website traffic and sales naturally follow.

Here’s a look at seven ways to engage your audience.

1.  Know your audience

Perhaps the most publicized Pinterest campaign to date, the lesson from Kotex is the most basic marketing lesson: research your audience, know what they like, and talk about what they want to talk about.

Kotex researched 50 influential Isralei women on social media and issued them a challenge.  They each received a custom gift box and were asked to share it on Pinterest and other social media outlets. The small cost of 50 customized gift boxes yielded a whopping 2,284 interactions, and 694,853 impressions, reports Smoyz, the ad agency behind the “Women’s Inspiration Day” campaign.

What works:  Kotex appealed to its audience individually and the results resounded across social media sites.  It also doesn’t hurt to find influential people, give them a sample or gift, and invite them to review your product.

Kotex Pinterest Campaign

2.  Appeal to creativity 

People yearn for ways to express themselves and Pinterest is a creative outlet.  This spring, Guess launched its “Color Me Inspired” campaign and asked Pinterest users to create boards with at least five images based on one of four spring colors. Pinners could use images across the web in one of the four colors and were told to title their boards “Guess My Color Inspiration.”  The results, monochromatic eye candy, included collections of clothes, shoes, makeup, home décor.

What works:  Guess’ campaign shares a lesson any company using Pinterest should heed: People would rather be listened to than marketed at.   The customer-created pinboards reinforced Guess’ trend-setting collections without copywriters having to say a word.

Guess Pinterest Campaign

3.  Browse to win, with 6,060 followers, engaged pinners with what every mom wants for Mother’s day: MLB apparel.  Followers were asked to create a board with at least four products from for the chance to win the pinned products.

What works:  Directing traffic to your website for a virtual online scavenger hunt not only brings in website traffic, it brings in engaged visitors.  And hey, while browsing for products to pin, why not get Mom an Oriels scrum T-shirt instead of a toaster?

MLB on Pinterest

4.  Spread the optimization

Life is Good engages pinners with feel-good messages and charming stick figures.   The Massachusetts-based clothing company that uses the tagline “Help Spread Optimism” engages customers through upbeat messages, pictures from T-shirts, and news stories of their cause, the Life is Good Kids’ Foundation.  A recent contest asked pinners to find ten products on the Life is Good website that show what they like to do.  Contestants aiming for a prize of ten Life is Good products needed to tag each entry with the phases “life is good” and “do what you like” preceded by hash marks.

What works:  Having followers browse the website increases brand awareness and the overall positive vibe of Life is Good.  Asking contestants to use a specific phrase with each pin increases reach and ranking for a very affordable contest prize.

Life is Good Pinterest Contest

5.  Eye-popping ideas

Pinterest is about sharing common ideas and interests. Anything about animals, food, travel, parenting, inspirational quotes, or home organization will often be well received.

Modern Parents Messy Kids has a devoted following of 22,864. Brilliant colors, organization ideas, clever DIYs, and fun games, and useful partentling tips keep pinners pinning.   Followers naturally go to the website for continuation of the pinned idea and even more related ideas. The coordination of Pinterest pinboad and website make browsing ideas—and products pleasant. Patterns can be purchased for a modest fee ($3 for the knitted hot air balloon pattern).  Modern Parents Messy Kids even has an online bookclub where guests post comments.  Website visitors can buy or download the book from Amazon. (This month’s selection: Buddhism for Mothers of Young Children: Becoming a Mindful Parent by Sarah Naphtali.)

What works:  Great ideas showcased in stunning pictures is a sure draw.  Moving visitors from the pinboard to the website happens gracefully as followers look for related ideas.  Modern Parents Messy Kids does what Pinterest is intended to do: share ideas and beautiful things.  All while providing a great experience in browsing creative ideas.

Modern Parents Messy Rooms6.  Content—and plenty of it

Fashion retailer, Nordstrom, boasts over 180,000 followers on Pinterest. That number is up an astounding 40,000 since last week. With thousands of original pins of fashion-forward products, recipes, ideas, events, inspirational quotes, Nordstrom’s following is among the largest on Pinterest.  West Elm and Mod Cloth are also leaders, each with nearly 60,000 followers.

What works:  Original pins and catchy photographs reinforce Nordstrom’s already strong brand name.  Sparse copy puts the focus on the look of the picture and leaves the marketing to the site, linked to each pin.

Nordstroms on Pinterest

7.  Define yourself

Why does Nordstrom have so many followers?  Because Pinterest is about allowing users to define their own style.  Re-pinning others’ content and pinning original material onto organized boards helps define—and share—your company’s image.  Use recipes, products, pictures (gardens, cute animals, and travel are most often re-pinned),  DIYs, and quotes to define—and share—your own style.

What works:  Be genuine and don’t forget Pinterest is a social medium to interact with people who have common likes and interests.  If you have enough great ideas in one place, you’re certain to garner followers who share your interests, and that’s entirely the point of Pinterest.


The Pinterest Effect 2012 – The Effects of Pinterest on Business

My biz partner, Matt Siltala, just returned from Search Engine Strategies (SES) San Francisco 2012 where he presented on Pinterest and the effects it can have on a business.  His presentation below includes several case-studies for review, along with some Pinterest-leveraging tools and data that can help you use Pinterest to the max.

9 thoughts on “Content, Contests, and Creativity: Seven Lessons on Using Pinterest

  1. Anton Koekemoer says:

    Hi Andy,

    Yes – Defining yourself and your style on pinterest is important for having
    followers with the same interest and affiliate field of business. This is an important aspect to a user who visits your profile – Have relevant
    and specific boards instead of cluttered space and images is important for having
    them follow your activities, not only on pinterest , but the other social media
    channels as well.

  2. Brian Hayes says:

    Great post,
    Found it at right time as I am not able to put my thoughts into words but this tips will now help me to put it in words thanks

  3. Goerge Mathew says:

    Pinterest is great tool to share anything. And after reading post i feel like savvy to use Pinterest. I like this post really helpful to everyone.

  4. joseph12 says:

    the most publicized Pinterest campaign to date, the lesson from Kotex is
    the most basic marketing lesson: research your audience, know what they
    like, and talk about what they want to talk about.Thanks for sharing it.

  5. john smith says:

    Nofollow has ne’er stopped one instance of comment spam.
    they do not even appear to examine any longer, they simply leave the comment,
    sometimes machine-driven anyhow. It takes a lot of effort to examine for
    nofollow than it will to post a spam comment.

  6. Akash Agarwal says:

    a attractive name that plays on words and a mechanic
    that appeals to a broad base of users. Thanks for sharing this lessons of using pinterest.

  7. John Carter says:

    It’s really a useless conversation to go into the specifics of to fix any particular elements in PPC or landing pages etc…there are so many ins and outs to online marketing nowadays that the most important thing you can do as a business owner is start working with a company that really knows what they are doing, has solid communication, and is able to work with you to make sure key metrics are being measured and more customers are being sold your products at the end of the day. Honestly, this stuff changes every day. Also, are you willing to work hours every day to block the bad keywords, block the bad sites, create and experiment new display banners, and research new keywords? Most business owners burn out trying, I tried to keep up with it for a while, but i ended up calling Simon after one of my friends referred me to have his team setup some remarketing for my shopify store. Doubled my sales in under 90 days. Simon’s number is 219-733-4687, I’m always willing to pass along a referral to someone who takes pride in what they do.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *