Pinterest came onto the social media scene in 2010 and took it by storm. The visual bookmarking site boasts 70 million users worldwide, and that number is consistently growing. Businesses have finally gotten on board and are finding inventive ways to engage with Pinterest users. Pinterest recognizes the trend as well, launching paid "Promoted Pins" which will soon be available to all Pinterest business accounts.
Whether your business has been busy pinning away, or you are still trying to figure out how to get results from the platform, you DON'T want to make these 15 mistakes.
1. Not linking to your other social media profiles
Bring your social media presence full circle by remembering to tell your followers and visitors where else they can find you on the Web. Pinterest’s account settings makes it a no-brainer to add your Facebook and Twitter profile so users can easily find you on these other social networks. This works across all your networks – let followers know you’re on Pinterest from Facebook and Twitter as well.2
Shame on Dunkin’ Donuts – they’ve got a super active following on Twitter and Facebook, but they don’t link to either on their Pinterest page!
2. Not including a Pin description
What could you say in four, 140-character tweets? Probably quite a bit. Pinterest pin descriptions can be as long as 500 characters, so say something interesting. Use keywords, related phrases and even hashtags to maximize your pin’s potential. You can also link back to your website or other social media pages where appropriate, which can drive traffic your way. Here, Starbucks has opted to forego the 500 words in place of a #hashtag #sentence, which is #impossible #to #read and doesn't let you know whether it's available, discounted, seasonal, or if it's even their product!
3. Mixing personal interests with business interests
If you’re a lifestyle brand, blogger or otherwise in a business where your business and personal interests closely align, this can actually work out well for you. If you’re a real estate agent, boards that showcase your favorite interior design pins are a great idea. However potential clients may not be interested much in your designer suits board. This is another reason its best to have your personal Pinterest account for personal boards and to create a business account for business-related pins.
Renewal by Andersen is a window-replacement company that has done an excellent job of keeping boards and pins relevant to its industry, with boards like “Dream Homes Wishlist” and “Windows Around the World”:
4. Using a personal Pinterest profile instead of a business profile
If you own a business, use a business account. Without a business page, you won’t have access to the very valuable analytics. You’ll also miss out on the Promoted Pins feature that Pinterest will roll out for all business users soon.
5. Not completing your business profile
The profile on your Pinterest account explains who you are and what you do. It also provides a link to your website, so visitors can learn more detailed information about your brand. You should also be sure to include your businesses logo. This is all about creating a consistent brand image. You look more professional and credible when your branding is consistent and your visitors and followers immediately know who you are.
Also as your pins are re-pinned across Pinterest, your branding will always appear.
6. Not linking to your product pages
If you want to annoy pinners, pin product images that don’t link to the product page when clicked. When a Pinterest user finds a product he or she is interested in, not being led directly to the product page is an instant turn-off. Most users won’t even bother hunting the product down out of sheer annoyance. This quick fix will keep your followers and visitors happy, and may even lead to an easy sale.
Also be sure to track your link with UTM codes or with a service like bit.ly. This way you can measure the performance of each link.
Urban Outfitters caters to a fun urban demographic, and their Pinterest is full of their own products. Each one links to the product page, with UTM codes to track clicks. Nice!
7. Pinning images that shouldn’t be on Pinterest
This is pretty simple. Avoid pinning images that are blurry, too small, too big or of bad quality. Remember, small issues like this make your brand look very unprofessional. Users expect you to get these minor details right every time. By the way, max image size on Pinterest is 235 pixels wide by infinite pixels high.
8. Having empty or incomplete Boards
Empty or incomplete Pinterest boards aren’t the biggest offense, but it’s just not a good look. It comes across as unprofessional, and even a little dismissive of the intent of the Pinterest community. Basically, having incomplete boards or boards with no pins makes it seem as if you don’t really care.
Cynthia Sanchez of Oh So Pinteresting suggests avoiding this by only creating boards when you have at least five images – one as the main image for the board and the other four as thumbnails.
As you come across pins that might work on the board you want to eventually create, “like” the pin instead, and then repin it to your board from your likes feed once you have five.
You could also just create a secret board and pin there until you have five pins and you’re ready to reveal it.
9. Thinking that B2B doesn't belong on Pinterest
You probably wouldn’t think that a company like Constant Contact would have much to do on Pinterest, but that’s actually quite the contrary. The marketing-heavy information associated with Constant Contact makes the explosion of infographics a great opportunity for this business.
That’s what it’s all about; finding opportunity and capitalizing on it. Most B2Bs think they have no way of connecting with potential clients through Pinterest and abandon the idea, but a little creativity will have you pinning away.
10. Abandoning your brand’s profile
This is a good example of why it’s important for brands to really consider which social media platforms work for their brands, which don’t and how to use them. The issue of profile abandonment comes into play when businesses don’t know how to continue using their accounts. Instead of deleting the profile or closing the account, the business simply abandons it, leaving followers and visitors wondering what happened.
This is what happened with Barnes & Noble, as Wishpond points out:
In their case, Pinterest would have served as a wonderful source of engagement if Barnes & Noble had better understanding of the platform and a strategy to follow through with. It’s OK if you make the mistake of tackling Pinterest the wrong way. Admit defeat, and while you re-strategize, at least delete the profile.
11. Not using quality images
Pinterest is all about the visual experience. Bad images of your products don’t fit in with the experience that Pinterest users expect. Your product images are competing against some of the Internet’s most appealing and captivating photos. We discussed earlier how boards serve as places of aspiration for Pinners. If your images don’t inspire or motivate, they don’t belong on Pinterest. Wishpond spotted these dull images from CVS:
It’s understandable that a store like CVS won’t have the most appealing product photos, but the simple, one-word descriptions make this example completely inexcusable. The images could certainly take just a little Photoshop editing to make them more attractive and less cheap looking. A quick, but captivating product description would do a lot to make CVS’s pins fit better within the Pinterest experience.
On the other end of the spectrum, check out organic gardening supplier Safer Brand’s Pinterest board:
So nice! The photos are professional and inspiring.
12. Not including prices on your product Pins
Pinterest users are planners and dreamers. Most boards on Pinterest contain goals, wishes, and things to be made or purchased. Most users who create wish boards plan to make purchases in the near future so it makes sense, as a business on Pinterest, to make the planning phase easy and solidify your brand as part of the final purchase by providing prices for the products you pin.
Since Pinterest pins that include prices get 36 percent more likes than those without prices, it would be silly to make this mistake unless there was an incredibly good reason for withholding price.
13. Not verifying your URL
Most businesses on Pinterest don’t realize the benefit of verifying their accounts, but it’s easy to do. You may be wondering why you need to verify your account on Pinterest. Legitimacy goes deeper than flashy, professional images. Verifying your account makes it easy for users to know that the link they will be following corresponds with the page they were viewing.
Prebiotin was smart to verify the URL for its Pinterest account. Supplements are a competitive market that also happens to be full of scammy, fake products. The verification lets visitors and followers know Prebiotin is both committed to transparency, and that they are a legitimately the owners of this Pinterest page.
Having a verified URL on your business Pinterest account also gives you access to the site’s free analytics platform. The analytics will help you develop a more solid strategy, instead of just aimlessly pinning and repinning. You’ll know what part of your Pinterest strategy is working, what isn’t and which of your pins users are repinning the most.
The verification process is really simple. Just upload a bit of code to your website’s root. Those who are using a self-hosted WordPress CMS may want to check out plugins that make the verification process very simple. There’s just really no reason not to verify your account URL.
14. Not using social media best practices
In my last post, I wrote about staying social on social networking sites. This applies to Pinterest as well. While Pinterest isn’t focused as much on comments, this doesn’t mean you just get to churn out pins and avoid interaction. There are still opportunities to engage with your followers and potential customers. Also, remember to appropriately space your pins and follow a consistent pinning schedule that works for your business.
15. Having no mobile Pinning options
“Pin It” hover buttons are popular among brands and bloggers as a way to increase engagement with site visitors. However, how often do you see pinning options when you’re perusing your favorite sites on your mobile device? Your answer is likely to be never.
Mobile Pinterest use has surpassed desktop use, so it’s a smart and logical move to make your images pinnable from mobile devices. Also with the mobile first design initiative, mobile-pinning access keeps with the idea of designing with mobile users in mind first.
Leverage the power of Pinterest to visually engage your audience. Being successful on Pinterest is about thinking creatively, maintaining consistency, and avoiding the common pitfalls that can hurt your business' success on the platform.
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What mistakes have you witnessed on Pinterest? Share your thoughts and stories with the community in the comments section below!
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