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So I’ve been toying with Pinterest for a few months now.

And while it’s often branded as the Internet’s fastest growing “referral engine” or “recommendation engine”, I’ve really only seen it serve out its purpose on one theme: the individual.

Let me explain.

Pinterest works when people find your own Pins relevant. Sure, you can spend hours and days populating your own “Boards” with stuff you like. But in the end, all you ever want is to be notified that someone else either Liked or Repinned your Pin(s).

Unlike Facebook or Twitter, where there’s the luxury of posting messages as well as videos and photos (thus increasing your chances of friends or strangers liking what you posted), Pinterest is all visual-based.

Having said that, I revert back to my original question: can Pinterest work for your business?

When I’m talking about integrating Pinterest with a retail business, I’m obviously referring to pinning images of the products you sell, plain and simple.

There’s a few answers here – a checklist if you will, which I think can help determine if it’s an effective tool for your retail business. The important thing to remember is that your Pins will have a good chance of being Liked or Repinned if they speak to people individually.

(Note: Having a lot of followers, just like any other social media tool, is helpful – but this checklist should be considered before worrying about your headcount)

  1. Is your Pin cool/unique? Are you selling something that someone’s going to say, “Wow! I’ve never seen this before” or “Wow! I love it!”?
  2. Is your Pin a quality, original image? Sell the sizzle AND the steak, unless the product easily satisfies #1. Don’t Google search your images. Take your own.
  3. Can you write a great caption for your Pin? While it’s not the main seller, many people read it to learn more about the product your Pinned. Don’t ignore this market segment. Be creative.
  4. Is your Pin strictly product placement, or does it truly embody what your business is about? Don’t Pin your entire SKU inventory – just the ones that set your business apart.
  5. Does your Pin trigger any of the following: Hunger, Coolness, Inspiration, Memories, Sexy (Fashion), Dreams/Goals, Cuteness, Useful/Handy

You could probably think of a few more triggers that compel you to Pin something, but that should be a good starting point.

Please note that if you are simply a reseller of mass-produced merchandise (in other words, your Pin could very well be Pinned by other users who Googled for the same thing), Pinterest might be less effective for you.

Again, think about the unique factor.

That said, if you think your retail business satisfies the points above, then here’s a list of business types that should consider Pinterest for their marketing:

  • restaurants
  • fashion, clothing & apparel
  • arts & crafts
  • jewellery & accessories
  • furniture & home furnishings
  • tech & gadgets
  • toys
  • special interests (e.g. vegans, sustainability, sports)

Service-based businesses, don’t be dismayed (before & after photos will work well here):

  • tattoos, nail art & other body art
  • hair/makeup
  • home renovations & landscaping
  • autobody and car tuning
  • wedding photography & event planning

Are you seeing a recurring theme here? What do all these types of businesses serve?


Keep that in mind at all times, and Pinterest could very well work for you.

Here’s a neat little infographic from Maxymiser deconstructing Pinterest: