How Does Pinterest Work? Pinterest 101


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how does pinterest work

How does Pinterest work? I’m so glad you asked! Pinterest is a giant Pinboard (think old-timey cork board with push pins) for all the ideas and products people like to save.

Although it is often referred to as a social media channel, Pinterest is actually more of a search and discovery engine with a few social aspects.

Oh, and it is a LOT of fun. Pinners spend hours looking for ideas! But, they’re not JUST hoarding those ideas. The people who use Pinterest are doers and buyers. They try new recipes, experiment with DIY projects, collect money-saving tips, and plan everything from remodels to purchases and parties.

Read on to learn all the basics of how Pinterest works. Here’s what we’ll cover:

How Does Pinterest Work for Users (Pinners)?

People use Pinterest to save ideas, products, to collaborate with friends, and to bookmark things to read later. Pinning is typically a solitary activity where Pinners browse and save ideas and products that will help them improve the quality of their lives, their work, health, and even their wardrobe or hairstyle!

It’s different from truly “social” networks where people share information and images about themselves and their personal or professional lives.

Facebook and Instagram are about presenting the best version of you to the world.

Pinterest is for inspiration to transform yourself into the best version of you.

Instagram is about presenting your best self to the world. Pinterest is inspiration to become it.Click to Tweet

How Does Pinterest Work for Marketers, Businesses, E-commerce, and Bloggers?

People save and click on Pins up to 90 days before they are ready to act. What all this early planning means for marketers is that their products and services can become an option for consideration very early on in the buying process.

With 75% of all the content on Pinterest coming from brands, people are very open to branded content as long as it is useful and attractive.

Product Pins allow Pinners to purchase right inside of Pinterest. You’ll need a Pinterest catalog that pulls from your product feed to take advantage of these.

Pinterest is the number two driver of social traffic to websites. When you and others share Pins that link to your website content, you’re adding more and more opportunities for people to find you and come to your website.

There’s no reason to feel like you’re too late to the game, either. While some well-known brands are having great success with their Pinterest marketing, 97% of all searches are unbranded – meaning even a relative unknown can be discovered by new customers who are ready to buy!

What is a Pin on Pinterest?

A Pin is a visual representation of a product or idea which someone saves for later use on a Pinterest board. Each Pin is composed of three elements:

  1. An image
  2. A link (usually)
  3. A title
  4. A description

When someone clicks on a Pin, it will enlarge to show the full image and description. If they click again, they will be taken to the link associated with the Pin – usually a blog post or product page with more information than can be included on the Pin. Your Pins can be saved to other boards owned by other Pinners.

What is a Pinterest Board?

A Pinterest board is a collection of individual Pins. Pinterest boards are a way to organize ideas.

For example, you might create boards to organize ideas about a bathroom remodeling project, a vacation or trip you are planning, books you want to read, or recipes you want to try.

Pinterest boards are always owned by one Pinner, but they can be shared. A shared board allows pins from other Pinterest users.

How do group Boards work on Pinterest?

Shared boards are commonly called “group” Boards. They’re useful for collaborating and getting feedback from friends, business partners, clients, and family. Not sure which outfit is best for your high school reunion? Your BFF can chime in and even add her own Pins as suggestions.

Secret Boards and the Pins on them are visible only to you and anyone with whom you share the Board. They’re perfect for planning surprise parties, sharing research, or for any other “just between us” purpose!

A Pinterest Profile can hold up to 500 boards – though it’s hard to imagine how anyone would keep track of that many boards!

What is a Pinterest Profile?

Your Pinterest Profile holds all your Boards, your Pins, and all your settings. Some of the information that appears publicly include:

  • Your username: appears as the words after https://pinterest.com when you go to your profile.
  • Your first and last (optional) name or business name: appears in bold letters at the top of your profile.
  • The “About You” and website URL also appear prominently on your profile.
  • Follower and Following counts.
  • Your picture.
  • Showcase boards: choose between one and five boards to create a moving slideshow at the top of your profile.

How Does Pinterest Work When I Follow People or Boards on Pinterest?

When you follow a Profile or a board on Pinterest, you’re telling Pinterest you want to see more of that. So, their Pins will start to appear in your home feed. These signals you give to Pinterest also allow it to show you “picked for you” Pins it thinks you may like.

Follow on Pinterst
If I “Follow” AirBNB, I will see some of their Pins in my home feed, and Pinterest will know I’m interested in travel and will show more travel Pins in my feed.

What Does it Mean When Someone Follows Me on Pinterest?

See above. 🙂 It’s great to have followers on Pinterest – your Pins will likely get more exposure and the social proof can be powerful, but Pinterest doesn’t serve up everything that is Pinned by the people and boards you follow in the order it was Pinned. Not anymore.

Also, your Pins may be seen by people searching – whether or not they follow you.

Followers are good – but traffic from Pinterest is better. Try not to worry too much about your follower count and make sure your Pins are optimized for search instead.

Pinterest Feed
How does Pinterest work when you follow people? In the Pinterest home feed, you should see a mix of Pins from people you follow, Pins picked for you, Pins chosen for particular boards, and Promoted Pins.

How do Pinterest Saves or Repins Work?

You can Pin an image from around the web, or you can “Save” an image that’s already on Pinterest to your own boards.

Pinterest Save button
Click the big red “Save” button to add the Pin to one of your boards.

How Does Pinterest Work If I Have a Business Account?

If you’re using Pinterest for your business, you should have a business account. You can convert a personal profile into a Pinterest business account to get detailed analytics on the performance of your account. and to advertise on Pinterest. It’s free to have a business account and aside from enabling analytics and the ability to advertise, it functions the same as a personal account.

Pinterest Analytics

How Can I Make Pinterest Work for My Business?

So many things! Pin regularly, have a strategy, utilize group boards, and Tailwind Tribes for greater reach, and keep an eye on your analytics.  If you’re a blogger, here’s how 8 successful bloggers get traffic from Pinterest.

A free trial of Tailwind for Pinterest is also a good start.

More Pinterest 101 Articles:

Pin Me!

what is Pinterest and how does it work

Alisa Meredith is Pinterest Product Specialist at Tailwind — a Pinterest marketing tool,  scheduling tool, planning tool and analytics platform. She is a sought-after speaker and teacher on Pinterest and Promoted Pins in particular, having spoken at Social Media Marketing World, Agents of Change and appearing on The Art of Paid Traffic and Social Pros podcasts. Alisa has invested heavily in becoming an expert in her craft – realizing (and loving) the fact that the learning never ends!  She lives in coastal North Carolina with her pampered pets Pepe the couch potato Cavapoo, and more cats than she’d like to admit to.

2 thoughts on “How Does Pinterest Work? Pinterest 101

  1. Hi Alisa!
    Thank you for the rich info!
    I got the information I was looking for above and beyond, and got it presented in a very appealing and interesting way! Pinterest sure has a lot to offer to its users.
    Certainly a great read.
    Cheers
    Jaylene

    1. Hello, Jaylene!

      Thank you so much for stopping by – and for taking the time to leave a note. Much appreciated!!

      So glad it was helpful to you. Happy Pinning!

      ~ Alisa

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