How to Use Pinterest to Attract Your Target Market

For those whose work lends itself to beautiful visuals, Pinterest can be an excellent place to cultivate a larger audience or customer base. According to Pinterest’s 2012 study on the State of Social Media Users, Pinterest is particularly popular amongst:

  • Women
  • Who are white
  • Under age 50
  • With some college education

If your target market meshes well with these characteristics, Pinterest is all the more important (if you have trouble determining which social media platforms are the most relevant to your personal target market, stop by our guide to making an educated decision).

In this guide, we outline how to:

  1. Find your target market on Pinterest
  2. Study the needs and behavior your target audience on the site
  3. Make content on your native website Pinterest-friendly
  4. Begin posting content
  5. Strengthen your ties with members of the Pinterest community, who may in turn promote your work
  6. Determine whether your efforts have been successful

How to Find Your Target Market on Pinterest

Determining Your Target Market

As tempting as it may be to say that your target market is very broad (or as many people describe it to us, “Well, everyone!”), it helps to have a more specific demographic in mind when addressing Pinterest.

Pinterest is based around inspiration, so it may help to ask the following questions when determining who you want to engage with on the site:

  • Why do people read/use/buy my work/services/products?
  • What specific interests or aspirations drive people to my site or work?

Only once you know the answers to these questions will you be able to find your target market on Pinterest. If you decide to pin random or broad content aimed at a very broad audience, you are not likely to gain traction or encourage people to click through to your site when you pin your own content.

Pinterest Categories

Finding Your Target Market

One of the easiest ways to find your target market on Pinterest is to drill down to specific categories (pictured to the right).

Should you be a history blogger, you might come to the easy conclusion that your target audience on Pinterest would be those engaged with the History category. If you sell cooking gadgets, your target audiences will likely be those who frequent the Gifts, Food & Drink, and Products categories. If you are an artist who creates a lot of fan art, you would do well to watch those who are active within the Illustrations & Posters, Art, and Geek categories.

Once you know what categories your ideal followers are likely to frequent, you can easily find those followers by seeing who has boards and regularly pins content within those categories.

How to Study Your Target Market on Pinterest

Analyzing a Pin on PinterestBefore developing a strategy for attracting Pinterest users both on Pinterest and your personal site, it is important to understand more about them. Allocate time to research your target market’s pins, boards, comments, favorite users, and needs, then utilize your findings to create a rough strategy and cheat sheet of tactics that are likely to spark interest and engagement.

How to Find Top Pins and Boards

Repinly can help you determine what is most popular on Pinterest through its listings, which include:

Repinly allows you to drill down to the pins and boards that are the most popular within a specific category, so start by analyzing the most popular content that is relevant to your target audience.

Learning from Your Target Audience’s Pins, Boards, and Comments

When looking at pins within a category that is relevant to your target market, watch out for:

  • Common subjects of pins: For example, whether a certain time period or figure frequently gets pinned within the History category, whether visual, vertical recipe guides are common within Food & Cooking, or whether a particular type of garment keeps surfacing in the Women’s Fashion category
  • Pins that get re-pinned: Look for common characteristics of pins that people tend to re-pin to their own boards
  • Pins that generate a lot of comments: Take note of what people are saying, as well as common characteristics of pins that generate buzz
  • Board curation: Look at names and themes of boards to determine how people view and mentally categorize content related to your work

Learning from Your Target Audience’s Favorite Boards and Pinners

When reviewing popular boards and pinners, take note of:

  • Frequency of publication: Get an idea of how frequently top boards are updated
  • Specific themes: Determine whether there are any common themes amongst the boards people love most
  • Whether successful themes are broad or specific: Find out if top boards that are relevant to your target market are about just one thing (e.g. fabulous gloves, welsh corgis) or are more general in nature (e.g. content revolving around a healthy lifestyle, inspiration for parents)
  • How many boards successful pinners maintain: Whether popular pinners maintain many bards or just a few
  • How “niche” popular pinners are: Whether top pinners within a category have boards addressing a wide variety of subjects, or whether they revolve around a centralized theme, such as fashion, food, or travel

Determining Your Target Audience’s Inspirational Needs & Burning Questions

Once you have a better idea of what your ideal followers like and engage with on Pinterest, you will be better equipped to determine their inspirational needs. Once you know those, you have everything you need to create boards, pins, and content that have high odds of success.

Weddings on PinterestFor example, let us say that you are a wedding planner who hopes to draw new clients to your  virtual wedding planning service.

You find that a huge portion of popular pins and boards revolve around DIY decorations and table settings, hence you discover that brides-to-be are looking for inspiration on those particular subjects. You also see that many women who are interested in weddings post, comment on, and re-pin content about gifting etiquette, hence you know that wedding gift etiquette is a burning question that you are very well-suited to address.

You take action accordingly by bolstering your virtual wedding planning service with guides to DIY decorations, examples of classy table settings, and tips on giving gifts to members of the wedding party. You then create boards addressing those subjects on Pinterest, which occasionally include pins linking to related excerpts from your virtual wedding planning service.

Whatever your focus may be, be sure to ask yourself:

  • What inspiration do my ideal followers seek?
  • What do my ideal followers find to be inspirational?
  • To what burning questions do my ideal followers want answers?

Once you have these answers, you can develop content and Pinterest strategies that address your potential Pinterest followers’ needs.

How to Make Your Website Pinterest-Friendly

An Infographic in Visually

Content on Visual.ly is very Pinterest friendly. Though Pin It buttons help, the site’s long, information-rich, and graphic-centric content is particularly irresistible to pinners.

Before you embark on a major Pinterest campaign, it is important that you optimize your site for the social network. Ideally, people who discover your work through pins (not to mention those who find your site via search or other means) will be drawn to pin additional content from your site to their boards without your making direct entreaties to do so.

You can increase the odds that a visitor will pin content from your site by utilizing a mix of qualitative and technical tactics.

Qualitative tactics to encourage pinning:

  • Share content on your site that can be summarized or introduced with a single image file
  • Create content on your site that answers your target pinners’ burning questions
  • Create content on your site that addresses your target pinners’ needs for inspiration

Technical tactics to encourage pinning:

For more tips on creating materials people are likely to pin, see our guide to creating Pinterest-friendly images.

How to Attract Audiences and Customers on Pinterest

Once you have determined your target audience’s needs and interests, optimized your website for Pinterest, and set up boards on Pinterest that are likely to be of interest to your target market, you are ready to begin pinning. Be careful; you will not build an audience by mindlessly pinning content from your site using the Pin It button and hoping for the best. To truly succeed on Pinterest, you will need to pin a healthy mix of content, be mindful of the manner in which you present pins, and actively engage with others on the site.

Pinning the Right Content

Before pinning anything, ask yourself:

  • Is this in line with the Pinterest strategy I created?
  • Is this in line with my brand?
  • Is this what my followers want?
  • What unique value does this provide?
  • What specific need for inspiration does this meet?
  • What burning question does this answer?

Only pinning content from your website can be damaging for several reasons:

  • You may appear to be overly promotional
  • Your boards may lack diversity and dimension
  • You may not be able to pin frequently enough to build a significant following

Though some business do quite well by pinning only their own content (these are mostly media publications that have a lot of high quality content), they are typically an exception. Very few widely-followed pinners (who are not major media companies) only post content that they created.

Optimizing Content You Post to Pinterest

Just as any online content must be optimized for search engines and social media sites like Facebook, pins must be optimized for Pinterest.

Use of Hashtags on PinterestTo increase a pin’s odds of showing up in on-site searches and category-based feeds, to build followers, and to encourage others to click through to your website:

  1. Include (naturally used) keywords in your descriptions: Let us say you are pinning a pair of diamond-soled shoes available for sale on your website: “Paul Simon would love these” will not help that pin be found, but “Black pumps with diamond soles” would, as people searching for “diamond” and “black pumps” would be served that pin amongst other results containing those keywords
  2. Adding pricing information: By adding a dollar sign to pins (e.g. “$50,000 black pumps with diamond soles”), you can make it more clear that the pin links to a product page, which might encourage interested buyers to click through (adding dollar signs used to add visual price overlays to images, however this feature is no longer active)
  3. Mention others: You can build a stronger relationship with followers (or casual users of your site that have easy-to-find Pinterest profiles) by mentioning them in posts (e.g. “@SimoneHSmith provided a great review of our black pumps with diamond soles. We love that they work so well with her diamond tiara and are so glad she likes them!”)
  4. Use hashtags: Hashtags (e.g. “black pumps with diamond soles #bling #luxury”) offer  yet another path through which your content might be found, as clicking on a hashtag in a pin’s description takes one to a search feed of other pins containing that hashtag; just be sure they’re relevant
  5. Properly categorize your boards: If you do not, content you pin is less likely to show up in category-based feeds
  6. Include URLs to your domain in your descriptions: While your pin should link back to the content’s specific page, adding your domain URL to a pin description can increase awareness of your brand and site

Following Others on Pinterest

Judiciously following others on Pinterest can yield a myriad of rewards.

The perks of following others on Pinterest include:

  • An easy means of keeping track of pinners and boards who influence your target audience
  • A flow of content that you can re-pin to your carefully-curated boards
  • An opportunity to comment on others’ pins and develop a closer connection with influential pinners
  • A way to track customers, important followers, or clients whose Pinterest accounts are easy to find
  • The opportunity to conduct some market and trend research to see what is hot within categories relevant to your niche

We do not recommend:

  • Following others just because they follow you
  • Following people indiscriminately with the hope that they will follow you back

Doing so is a waste of time and will remove any value your personal Pinterest home feed might have were you to only follow those who are relevant to your work and target audience.

How to Build Stronger Relationships on Pinterest

Ideally, your activity on Pinterest will not only drive traffic to your site, but help you cultivate a loyal base of viewers/readers/clients/customers who will not only passively follow your pins but promote your content amongst their friends and followers.

Thanking a Pinner for Pinning Your ContentTo build those value relationships:

  • Create group boards and invite your top followers to contribute to them: This can lead to more vibrant, frequently-updated boards and gives fans of your work a new opportunity to participate
  • Respond to comments people leave on your pins: This shows you care and are actively listening
  • Comment on others’ content: Again, this indicates you care about their interests and opinions, and prompts others to wonder about you
  • Like others’ content: Though less powerful than leaving a comment, liking someone else’s pin is nonetheless a sign of support that may help to get you noticed
  • Re-pin others’ content: Re-pin others’ content while giving them a shot out by mentioning their username using the “@” symbol
  • Thank others for posting content from your site: When you discover that someone has pinned your work (more on that below), thank him or her in a comment on that pin

How to See What Others are Pinning From Your Site

There are three very simple ways to see how successful your Pinterest efforts have been:

  1. Analyze Pinterest traffic using Pinterest’s analytics tool
  2. Analyze traffic from Pinterest to your site
  3. Review pins from your domain

Using Pinterest Web Analytics

Pinterest web analytics (which is available those with a business account and have verified their websites through Pinterest) shows:

  • How many people pin content from your site
  • How many people view content pinned from your site
  • Most recently-pinned content from your site
  • Most repinned content from your site
  • Most clicked content from your site

With knowledge of your most popular content and which days see higher engagement, you can refine your timing and posting strategies to make them even more effective.

Tracking Visits from Pinterest via Site Analytics

You do not have to have a Pinterest business account to analyze the efficacy of your efforts on the site.

Using your website’s analytics tool, keep track of traffic to your site via Pinterest. Obviously, upward trends indicate that you are making good progress, however your analytics can reveal far more about your Pinterest campaign than overall growth. Keep an eye out for specific sources of traffic (e.g. a single pin) that end up yielding a large amount of traffic. Should an influential person have pinned your work, it may be worth it to reach out to him/her or have a look at his/her general audience to see if your work might be piquing the interest of a target market you had not yet considered.

If traffic from Pinterest mostly comes from certain types of posts (e.g. you sell chocolates online and a large proportion of Pinterest traffic comes from pins related to your geek-themed boxes), consider creating more content (e.g. more geek-themed products in your online shop) to optimize pinners’ apparent interest.

Tracking Pins from Your Domain

To track pins people make from your domain, use the following URL:

http://pinterest.com/source/YourDomain.com

This can give you a more qualitative overview of the content people pin from your site. In addition to thanking pinners for pinning your content or providing other fun insights and thoughts as comments, have a look at the types of descriptions people are adding to your content, the boards to which they are pinning it, and any comments on those pins left by friends and followers.

The more pins people create, and the more positive comments you see, the more successful you know you have become.