Tailwind Blog

Pinterest is NOT a Social Network [Why it Matters to Marketers]

Published by
Alisa Meredith

In an interview with Fortune magazine, Pinterest co-founder Ben Silbermann  said of the platform, “I think that’s a very different thing than a social network. The objectives of the two are different. On a social network, you upload photos for other people to like. Pinterest, on the other hand, is self-serving.”

Truth! Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram are where we curate the best versions of our lives. Pinterest is where we find inspiration and plan to create the best versions of ourselves.

Pinterest is where we find inspiration and plan to create the best versions of ourselves.Click to Tweet

Pinterest – Leaning Into Search and Away From Social

If you signed up for Pinterest years ago, you were asked to follow several accounts. As the platform evolved, WHAT you connect and engage with became much more important than with WHOM you connect.

Our home feeds are no longer filled with Pins from all the people we follow. Instead, you’ll see a mix of “picked for you,” Promoted Pins, and Pins from people you follow.

The current Pinterest home feed.

For many of us, the latest changes to the home feed display only images and Rich Pin data. So, you cannot see who Pinned an image unless you click on the Pin. Love or hate the changes, it’s clear that Pinterest wants us widen out to explore and discover ideas from new people.

Pinners do use the platform as a search and discovery engine. Its 200 million monthly active users perform 2 BILLION searches a month and 97% of searches on Pinterest are unbranded – meaning the searcher isn’t looking for a particular brand and may be open to discovering YOURS.

Pinterest Has Some Social Features – But It’s Not a Social Platform

Recently, Pinterest removed the ability to “Like” Pins, taking away the easiest way to engage with a Pin. I used them to thank people for Pinning my content, which was a little bit social!

While Pinners can still follow people or boards and can comment on Pins, I would argue that those are not truly social actions. How many genuine comments have you seen on your Pins lately? How closely do you pay attention to who has followed you?

Messaging on Pinterest is a handy feature that allows you to send a note or a Pin within Pinterest and some do use it, but it’s more often used as a means to share a Pin than have a conversation.

Pinterest “Tried It”

What about “Tried it”? Isn’t that social? You know, it is a bit. Recipe Pins is where you’ll see the most genuine feedback. It’s helpful for the people deciding if they want to make it, the recipe creator, and to the person who leaves the feedback.

I know I’ll never remember which low-carb poundcake recipe I made if I don’t leave a Tried It. And if I made a tweak to the recipe, this is the perfect place to note that. If someone else finds it helpful, that’s great – but that’s not why I’m doing it!

You won’t generally see a lot of back and forth on these reviews, which is why it’s kind of a social feature, but doesn’t put Pinterest into “social media” territory.

Understanding How Pinners Use Pinterest – a Must for Effective Marketing

Pinning is largely a solitary activity. Pinners are collecting for themselves – what interests them, what they want to try. As regular Pinners (not as marketers or bloggers), they don’t particularly care if anyone follows them, saves their Pins, or clicks to visit a website.

They’re looking for ideas and products that inspire to action. They’re not looking to learn about you, your office, your employees, or your workplace. That’s for later on in the sales cycle – and not for Pinterest at all.

Let people find you because of your inspiring content. Build trust by continuing to provide value. Then make sure your website allows for a smooth transition from Pin to page. That means a beautiful and engaging Pin should link to a beautiful and engaging web page.

The best way to understand the mindset and behavior of a Pinner is to become one yourself. If Pinterest isn’t somewhere you’ve spent a lot of time, choose one topic that interests you. Create and fill a board dedicated to that topic. Trust me, it’ll be fun. 😉

The best way to understand the mindset and behavior of a Pinner is to become one yourself.Click to Tweet

Pay attention to how you find relevant Pins, why you choose to click one Pin instead of another, and what makes you save a Pin to your board. Most importantly, take notice of what makes you click on a Pin to visit a site.

Likely you’ll start to notice that you don’t care who Pinned a Pin. Rather, the Pins you’ll click or save are some combination of relevant, helpful, beautiful, and inspiring.

You’ll also find that you’re not there to learn about a particular brand or company (remember, 97% of Pinterest searches are unbranded). So you’ll discover brands, products, and ideas that are completely new to you. This is the fun of Pinterest – and the reason that every product and brand has a chance to succeed here.

Keep Pinning as a user so you don’t forget the way they think and the way they Pin and your Pinterest marketing will succeed!

Longing for a Sense of Community on Pinterest?

Pinterest group boards do provide a way to collaborate on Pinterest. A board owner invites one or more Pinners to add to their board. Any Pin added to the board may appear in the home feed of any Pinner who follows any of the board collaborators. This is a great way to expand your reach on Pinterest. Some Pinners also use group boards to find high-quality content to share on other boards.

Introducing Tailwind Communities!

Tailwind Communities allow any Pinner to create a group of like-minded bloggers. Each Community Member adds in their own best content, or content from another blogger they wish to support. All Community Members share out content that is relevant to their own followers. Large or small, new or established, the activity of each Pinner in the Community contributes to the success of the group.

The Communities dashboard allows Community Leaders and Admins to see if Community Members are actively sharing other members’ content. If someone doesn’t follow the rules, Leads and Admins can remove them from the group. Even if the Community is public, they won’t be able to rejoin if they’re not a good Community Member.

Community chat allows Community Members to communicate within the Tailwind dashboard. You never know what kind of collaborations may result – on Pinterest or beyond!

This short video explains how they work:

In Conclusion

While Pinterest is often called a “social network,” its social features don’t change the fact that it is a visual search and discovery platform and that Pinners use it for solitary inspiration and planning.

As a marketer, understanding the difference between Pinterest and social networks is essential. The best way to reach this understanding may be to use it yourself! ?

But, if you want to make your OWN Pinterest marketing experience a bit more social and you’ve been looking for a way to build more community on Pinterest, join a Tailwind Community today!

If this was helpful, please Pin me!

Alisa Meredith

Alisa Meredith is Pinterest Product Specialist at Tailwind — — your new Marketing team, helping you create social media designs, schedule posts, and optimize across Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest with one easy-to-use social media management tool.  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.

View Comments

  • First time in a year of receiving Tailwind newsletter that Ive opened to read. It was truly a gem and timely in my stage of learning about Pinterest marketing, preparing for my gemstones jewelry business to launch next year. Hereon I will read every newsletter. I certainly relate to the behavior of a typical pinner which clearly illustrates Pinterest marketing process IS NOT like FB or any social plaftorms and the Video on Tailwind Tribes is very clear that I need to find my tribe, join and contribute as my main marketing platform. Now I've decided to set aside a day to read up and make a list of actions I must undertake to leverage Pinterest as a marketing channel. THANK YOU ALISA! Fantastic article.

  • Very innovative and inspiring article, thanks a lot !!! It makes me want to give Pinterest (and Tailwind) another try. ;)

  • As a person who wants to learn more on Pinterest and the usage of Tailwindapp, I love what you said here:

    "The best way to understand the mindset and behavior of a Pinner is to become one yourself."

    It goes straight to my heart.

  • Hi Yael, I'm sorry you're disappointed with recent changes to Pinterest. I can't think of any network that isn't using an algorithm to try to show people what they'll be interested in - there is just so much content out there! Fact remains that many people do use Pinterest to plan purchases and it's working for a lot of people. It can be hard to keep up with changes, but that's what (to me) makes marketing fun!

Published by
Alisa Meredith

Recent Posts

What is Marketing Automation? (+ How it Works)

No matter what you do for your customers, getting the word out about your products…

January 12, 2023

Marketing Automation Strategies to Improve Your Business Workflow

One of the most powerful outreach tools for businesses is marketing automation. This allows businesses…

January 12, 2023

What are the Benefits of Marketing Automation?

For all businesses, especially small to medium-sized ones, marketing takes a toll on your schedule.…

January 5, 2023

15 Jewelry Marketing Ideas and Tools to Skyrocket Your Business

There are many ways to market your jewelry business and stand out from the competition.…

January 5, 2023

How to Market a Clothing Brand in 10 Easy Steps (with Examples!)

The fashion industry is an evolving and high-value market. According to Research and Markets, the…

January 5, 2023

How to Create a Successful Email Newsletter

Learn Newsletter Tips and Best Practices for Your Small Business With so many working from…

January 4, 2023