What Is Pinterest, And How It Works – Like Really Works!


Pinterest is a search engine. And this is something Pinterest does state on its website. Visual discovery.

Pinterest does not categorize itself as a ‘social network’ when you visit their ‘What is Pinterest?’ page. The majority of people think and associate Pinterest as a social media platform. When, in reality, the social aspect of the site is abysmal. The CEO of Pinterest Benjamin Silbermann said in an interview that “Pinterest isn’t a social network.”

Pinterest is a visual discovery platform and thus making it more of a search engine than a social network.

What Pinterest is all about

Pinterest is all about images and videos, all things visual a.k.a pins. Pins are the things you talk about when you use Pinterest. 

According to the CEO of Pinterest, Pinterest is about giving insipirations to people.

Google, as a search engine, gives you results in a text format and as links to websites. Pinterest gives you results in a visual form. Images, videos, people, products, boards, and pins are the things you can search for in Pinterest.

Pinterest is growing fast as a platform. In the year 2016, there were roughly 128 monthly active users, and when we got to the year 2019, there were already more than 300 million monthly active users. That is a growth of 234% in just three short years.


Pinterest IPO

In April 2019, Pinterest released its IPO. The company went public on the stock market and now trade under the ticker PINS on the New Your Stock Exchange.

How Pinterest works

When we understand that Pinterest is a visual search engine. We start to think of it a bit differently. Rather than finding people to follow or swaying people to support you. We focus on creating beautiful pins/images that attract our potential customer or website visitor.

Pinterest is about visual discovery, and so we must put our efforts on the image and getting that shown in people’s home feed.

The home feed (also called smart feed in Pinterest) is the first thing you see when you log into Pinterest, ideas that might be of your interest. The goal in Pinterest is to get traffic to your products, services, websites, and content. 

How you can use Pinterest

You can use Pinterest either by visiting Pinterest.com through your web browser. If you use mobile you the option to download the Pinterest app to your phone and use Pinterest that way.

Pinterest is free to use and does not require you to insert credit card details when signing in. When and if you want to place ads into Pinterest, then a credit card is required.

You can sign-in to Pinterest with your email address, Google account, or Facebook account. You can not use Pinterest without an account, so it’s a must to have if you want to use Pinterest.

Pinterest asks you a few questions and figures out your preferences so that it can personalize your experience inside the platform.

People use Pinterest for multiple reasons, such as:

  1. Finding inspiration
  2. Finding products and services
  3. To promote products and services
  4. To share content
  5. To get website traffic

How to use Pinterest effectively

You start by creating an account to Pinterest. When you have created your account, you can start using Pinterest.

Inside Pinterest, you can change your account settings, claim a website, enable or disable notifications, privacy & data, security, and apps.

Settings adjusted, it’s time to get familiar with boards, pinning, creating images, following boards, and using the search bar.

Below I will go into detail how you can use Pinterest effectively.

  1. Setting up a Pinterest account
  2. Settings
  3. Business account
  4. Pinterest analytics
  5. Creating boards
  6. Creating images/pins
  7. Pinning other people’s images on Pinterest
  8. Pinning images from websites (Pin it button)
  9. Following boards
  10. Group boards
  11. Following people
  12. Using the search bar on Pinterest
  13. Rich pins
  14. Ads

1. Setting up a Pinterest account

You set up a Pinterest account by visiting Pinterest.com website or downloading the Pinterest app to your mobile phone.

As mentioned before, you can use your email address, Google account, or Facebook account to sign in to the service.

Setting up a Pinterest account is a pretty straightforward process but what you want to remember is to set up your feed to include things you are interested in. This option is presented to you when you sign up to use Pinterest.


When you have created your account, a feed is presented to you. Including ideas/pins for you to discover. Remember that Pinterest is about visual discovery, and users are using the platform to get inspired.

Pinterest has mentioned that 98% of Pinterest users go out and try the ideas they find on Pinterest. What this means is that people are looking for products, ideas, and services from Pinterest.

This makes Pinterest a search engine first and foremost so you might want to use it from that perspective.

You should also think the reason you want to use Pinterest and what is the purpose of joining the platform.

For business purposes, it’s useful to know that out of the 300+ million users it has, around 70% is female users.

2. Settings

From the settings menu, you can adjust your personal information related to your Pinterest account. You can customize notifications, privacy, and security settings as well as upload your profile image.

From the settings, you can also adjust whether you want to make your Pinterest account a business account.

3. Business account

If you change your personal Pinterest account to a business account. You can use Pinterest analytics which is super useful if you want to take advantage of Pinterest from a marketing and business perspective. 

4. Pinterest Analytics

If you create a business account, you can access Pinterest analytics. The analytics give you insights on how your account is performing and what type of audience you are reaching, for example.


You can enable and disable different filters to get specific data on the performance of your account. It might take a while before you see any real results with your account.

Analytics has filters for:

  • Content type
  • Claimed accounts (website, social media accounts)
  • Devices
  • Source
  • Format

Analytics is especially useful for analyzing the performance of your pins link clicks, link click rate among other metrics.

5. Creating boards

When you have your Pinterest account set up, settings in place, and you know what you are going to be using Pinterest for.

You can create boards by going into your profile and selecting the Boards tab.

You create a board by clicking the red + button ‘Create board.’

Create board

Select a name for your board. The name should include a description that says what the board is all about. If you name the board as Chocolate chip cookies, then the board should preferably include pins related to the topic and shouldn’t include things like car engines.

 You can also select the visibility of the board. Secret meaning that only you see the board in your profile. This is useful if you want to fill your board with pins first and then publish the board for others to explore and discover.

Board settings

You may want to set up your board before filling the board with pins. You can name your board again if there was a typo of some kind or you want to rebrand your board again. Board description should include a small summary of what the board is about. Also, include some keywords into the mix to make the board easier to find. 

If the board is about chocolate chip cookies, the category should probably be ‘food and drink.’

You can change the cover when you have pins on the board. Collaborators are useful when you want to create a group board where others can pin images for you. 

6. Creating images/pins

When you have your board created. You can start to include pins to the board. Select the + button, either the grey one on top of the board or the one with the red circle. Both of these options let you create pins. 

The pin is basically an image or a video. 

Recommendations for images

  • File type: PNG or high-resolution JPG
  • Max file size: 32Mb
  • Aspect ratio: Recommended 2:3 aspect ratio, or 1000×1500 pixels. If you have a bigger pin, it might get truncated.
  • Character count for the headline: Up to 100 characters
  • Character count for description: Up to 500 characters. Around 50-60 characters will be visible in people’s feed. Then a ‘Read more’ text appears instead of your text. 

Recommendations for videos:

  • File type: .mp4, .mov or .m4v
  • Encoding: H.264 or H.265
  • Max file size: Up to 2GB
  • Video length: Minimum 4 seconds, maximum 15 minutes
  • Aspect ratio: Shorter than 1:2 (width:height), taller than 1.91:1. It’s recommended that you create videos as square (1:1) or vertical (2:3, 9:16).
  • Character count for the headline: Up to 100 characters
  • Character count for description: Up to 500 characters. Around 50-60 characters will be visible in people’s feed. Then a ‘Read more’ text appears instead of your text.

‘Add the destination link’, this should point to the article, product, or website that is relevant or about the pin you have posted to Pinterest.

7. Pinning other peoples’ images on Pinterest

When you are browsing and viewing your home feed. You have the option to Save pins from your feed to your boards.

You may want to do this if you’re going to save interesting pins for further exploration. You may not want to pin other people’s pins to your boards if you’re going to keep your boards only for your content.

Boards can be seen as a store for other people. If you pin other peoples images to your boards, you are promoting their content and products. On the other hand, you are creating variation and interesting boards by having pins from other people.

People like to follow boards that have useful pins for them. If your board and profile are filled with only your own pins, then you could be limiting yourself a bit.

You can aim for a balance between having your pins and having other peoples pins. You can also go for a fully branded Pinterest profile that only has content from your site — promoting only your content. Making your Pinterest profile showcasing your business and brand.

8.Pinning images from websites (Pinterest save button)

You can add a ‘Pinterest save button’ to your web browser to make saving images to your boards easier. Without the ‘save button’ you would have to save the image somewhere and then publish that pin through a Pinterest user interface, which isn’t the most time-saving thing to do.


9. Following boards and pinners/people

When you are accustomed to pinning and discovering things from Pinterest. You might want to start following people or boards that are of your interest.

You can do this easily by navigating through a pin to the pinner and then either following all of the users’ boards by selecting the follow button on the right side of the users’ profile. 

You can also select individual boards to follow if everything you see is not for you.


10. Group boards

If you remember the collaborators part from the board creation part. Group boards are precisely those. Group boards are a bit different than normal boards. You can request to join a group board and if accepted in. You can start pinning to that board too (within the rules mentioned in the board), and everyone collaborating to that board will see your pin.

Group boards are useful for high exposure (if and when there’s a lot of people collaborating in the board) very fast. However, group boards can become very annoying very soon, if people start to pin images that you don’t want to be pinned into that board. 

Group boards can be useful if you like to gain exposure to your profile and content. But it can be a bit annoying to own one. 


11. Using the search bar on Pinterest

You can use the search bar to search for your pins, product pins, videos, people, and boards.

To activate the above feature, you first have to type keywords or a search query to the search bar for the menu to appear on the right side of the search bar.


12. Rich pins

Rich pins are pins that have more options and data included with the pin. There are four types of rich pins currently:

  • Article
  • Recipe
  • Product
  • App

You can apply and activate rich pins by adding meta tags to your websites ‘<head>’ tag.

You can get the meta tags by searching Pinterest rich pins and getting the needed meta tags from the Pinterest developers site.

You apply and activate rich pins only once to your website, and then every article or blog post has a rich pin feature in them. Meaning that if you have an image in an article and that image is pinned to Pinterest. The pin has rich features accompanied by the pin.

Rich pin on recipe could have, for example, service size, cooking time and ingredients already attached to the pin without you typing those to the description part of the pin.


13. Ads

When you have a business account on Pinterest. You can use ads to promote your pins and content in your profile. 


You can create five different ad campaigns in Pinterest

  • Brand awareness
  • Video views
  • Traffic
  • App install
  • Conversions

Each campaign works a bit differently. And while the features and targeting are not yet as precise as Facebooks Ad manager. Pinterest still offers an excellent selection of targeting, such as language, location, device, keywords, audience interests, etc.

While the campaigns are currently “limited to five different types”, there’s space for more campaign types to come.

Final thoughts

It feels like now that the company went IPO, they can truly grow. They introduced ads a few years ago and considering the growth the platform is having. It’s pretty safe to say that exciting times are coming to Pinterest. 

The user base is vast, and more and more men are finding the platform useful to their online business. While the majority is still female users (around 70%), men are starting to see the benefits Pinterest offers.

Pinterest is an excellent platform for content creators as creating pins for articles and then sharing them on Pinterest is something of an easy thing to do. Especially if you a 3rd party scheduling service like Tailwind.

Pinterest tries to leave the social network naming out of their business and focus on visual discovery, making Pinterest an alternative to Google. In a different way, of course. 

10 Strategies To Promote Your Business On Pinterest


How to use Pinterest to promote your business

You might be wondering how you can tap into Pinterest and how to promote your business on Pinterest. I’ve collected ten strategies that will get you started with Pinterest.

These strategies are a bit advanced, so if you are not familiar, what is Pinterest or even how to use it. You might want to get familiar with the platform first and then get back to this article.

Pinterest is mistakenly considered a social media platform when, in fact, it’s more of a search engine. These strategies are based on the fact that users search inspiration, ideas, products, and services from Pinterest, and so we focus on those things in this article.

10 Strategies on how you can promote your business on Pinterest

  1. Pinterest content strategy
  2. SEO (Search engine optimize) your Pinterest boards 
  3. SEO your Pinterest pins
  4. SEO your Pinterest profile
  5. Using 3rd party services for automation
  6. Follow the Pinterest best practices
  7. Use rich pins when possible
  8. Use Pinterest Analytics
  9. Use Pinterest ads
  10. Use Pinterest shop the look pins

1 Pinterest content strategy

There are roughly 300 million monthly active users on Pinterest. 215 million of those are international users, and the rest are U.S based users. Currently, 70% of users are female.

In 2019 home decor, DIY and crafts, education, entertainment, and art (in that order) were the most popular categories on Pinterest.

Based on these facts, it’s easy to say that Pinterest is a fantastic place to promote your content if you fall into one of the five mentioned categories.

Home decor is huge on Pinterest, and no wonder, people like to watch beautiful decorations and pick ideas for decorating their home.

Also, education and art are at a high spot when it comes to interests. Education especially falls to the blogging scene, and many bloggers around the world are creating pins/images to be pinned and shared through Pinterest.

When you are thinking of creating a content strategy for Pinterest. Remember the current demographics and the top categories. This information alone will give you a running start to Pinterest domination.

2 SEO (Search engine optimize) your Pinterest boards

So many misunderstand the main point of Pinterest. It may have started as a social media platform. But if you think about it. Pinterest has no real social element built into it. Yes, you can follow people and get followers. But you can’t really interact with people the same way you can on Facebook.

So, in reality, Pinterest is a search engine more than anything else. And for that reason, we have to focus on SEO and to get those followers to our boards.

You do that by having the right SEO for your boards.


Pinterest boards

Rather than telling you all about how to create boards and how to change the image and all those things (things you can relatively quickly figure out yourself). We focus on board optimization.

First, you have to describe what your board is all about. Use one to two sentences for this. Then you want to populate the rest of the characters you have left with keywords.

Keywords are words that users type into Pinterest’s search bar to search for things.

Use keywords that describe your board the best. Using keywords like knitting on a board that is solely about budgeting and money. Isn’t probably the best idea.

So use keywords that are relevant to your board and make the characters count.

3 SEO (Search engine optimize) your Pinterest pins

As with Pinterest boards, the same goes with your pins. Pins are basically images that you publish or post to Pinterest.

You pin your images to the boards mentioned before. So having your Pinterest boards optimized is crucial, but so is your pins descriptions.

Shortly describe what your pin is about or explain what is behind the pin (when someone clicks the link associated with the pin). Then populate the rest of the description field with relevant keywords. 

Remember, Pinterest is a search engine, so keywords really matter. Keywords help people find your boards and pins.

If for example, you create an educational blog post about fall 2020 fashion trends. You would like to use an image that has something related to clothes and a text related to your blog post. You could use the same headline that your blog post has, for example.

4 SEO (Search engine optimize) your Pinterest profile

Now, there are a lot of people who just optimize their pins and boards, but it’s also useful to optimize your profile.

Instead of just stating your name or something related to you or your company name. You can actually populate your profile with keywords that are relevant to the products or services you provide. When users search for things on Pinterest, there’s an option to search for people too. 

Having keywords in your name, you have a chance to show up in someone’s search results.

5 Using 3rd party services for automation

Now it would be a real burden to do the pinning by using Pinterest’s own system to publish pins to your boards.

Luckily you have an option to use an official 3rd party service called Tailwind. Tailwind is a scheduling and publishing service that started with Pinterest and is now already expanded to handle Instagram scheduling too.

Tailwind is my preferred tool when it comes to scheduling pins to your Pinterest profile. Tailwind also enables you to schedule pins from other users boards, and it also has a feature called smart loop. Which is super useful when you want to schedule your posts in automation and recurringly.

Tailwind is priced around $9.99/month (billed annually), which is, in my opinion, a reasonable price. Considering the amount of time you can save by using the scheduler.

Automation and scheduling in a loop is a lifesaver when you want to scale things on Pinterest.

6 Follow the Pinterest best practices

While it would be nice to go with the flow and do things your own way. It’s crucial to know what are the few guidelines Pinterest recommends to keep in mind when using their service.

#1 Image size

Currently, Pinterest recommends users to use 2:3 (for example, 600 x 900px) dimensioned images when creating pins. This recommendation comes from the fact of making your home feed (smart feed) easy to read and scroll through. If you go over these dimensions, the pin may be truncated.

#2 Make your brand shine

Pinterest recommends you to promote your brand by placing your product or service at the front and center. Try to avoid using abstract or lifestyle imagery (posing with lambos) that doesn’t showcase your brand the best way. 

#3 Context

As Pinterest is about images, make sure the image helps people understand what your pin is all about. People do click the pins and click-through to your content to learn more. So if the image and the content behind are not the same. It’s a no-go practice.

#4 Showcase your logo

Around 3% of pins are branded. So add your logo to the pin to make it stand out as a professional service or product. It’s suggested that you keep the logo subtle and avoid the lower right corner (since there will be Pinterest product icons).

#5 Using text overlay on pins

Where Pinterest differs from Facebook is that it’s somewhat recommended to add text to your images/pins (especially when you Pinterest to promote your business). By adding text to your pins, you can tell more what the pin is all about if the image wasn’t already giving that away. Text overlays work well as it improves the click-throughs as people know what they will get when clicking your pin and viewing your content through the pin.

7 Use rich pins when possible

What are rich pins?

Rich pins are pins that show more context about the content behind the pin. That extra information is directly available in the pin. 

There are four types of rich pins

  1. App
  2. Product
  3. Recipe
  4. Article.


If you have an app available in the Apple app store, you can create a pin that has an install button directly inserted to it. This way, people can download your app without leaving Pinterest.


Product-based pins show the real-time pricing of your product and where to buy it. Making the customers decision to purchase your product or service that much easier.


Rich pins make the recipe pins include the ingredients, cooking time, serving size, etc. that you used to cook that delicious dish that you are showing in your pin.


Article pins help users save stories that made an impact on them. Each article pin shows the headline, the source of your pin and the story as a description.

You can apply for rich pins via this link.

Rich pins are added to your site once, and then the rich pins will work for your whole site. So you only do the validation process once.

8 Use Pinterest Analytics

Pinterest offers you analytics in the same way as Facebook offers you audience insights. While Pinterest’s data is not yet as comprehensive as Facebook’s data is. It still provides you enough information to create your content strategy and business decisions inside the platform.

With every platform out there, it’s crucial to know what type of people use the site, what are the demographics, categories, interests, location, and device they use.

All this information is then used to plan your Pinterest strategy for your business.

There are four main topics to check from Pinterest:

  • Demographics
  • Categories and interests
  • Location
  • Device

Demographics in Pinterest

While the majority of users in Pinterest are female. There’s a growing trend of men joining the platform to utilize the power of Pinterest to drive traffic to their services, products, and content in general.

When you are planning on promoting your business on Pinterest, remember that most the users are female, and most of them are young.

Categories and interests

As mentioned before, in the content strategy part of this post. The top 5 categories in Pinterest are:

  1. Home decor
  2. Diy and crafts
  3. Education
  4. Entertainment
  5. Art 

When creating and promoting your content. These are the top categories and interests that are currently having the top spots.


This can be accessed from your own audience insights, and the graph will be populated by your decisions on the platform. Currently, the chart shows that the majority of my audience is based in the U.S.

This information will slowly build for you when you use the platform to promote your content.


Around 70-80% of users use Pinterest via mobile. Android and iPhone have the top places. So when you are promoting your business in Pinterest, take the fact into consideration that mobile purchases are not yet the mainstream way of buying stuff. 

You can promote your products and services using Pinterest ads and target only web users to reach those desktop users more effectively.

Use Pinterest ads to promote your business

Pinterest ads are relatively new on Pinterest, and you can experience that by not having so vast features and options available to you as in Facebook, for example. Also, the userbase is significantly lower than on Facebook. 

But these platforms act differently and should not be directly compared against each other. 

Facebook is a social media platform, and Pinterest is a search engine more than a social media platform.

As you can see from the image below. The Envato service is promoting their content, and it looks slightly different than the other pins by having an arrow and promoted by information attached to it.

There are so far five different campaign modes you select to promote your business:

  1. Brand awareness
  2. Video views
  3. Traffic
  4. App install
  5. Conversions

The campaign pretty much works the same as in Facebook ad manager. Pinterest still lacks that highly targeted features that Facebook offers you. However, what you can take advantage of is that the ad platform is new and so the costs of showing your ad are also low.

It might not be a long time before the platform is filled with new digital marketing agencies, and feed space for organic pin visibility will get limited. However, the way Pinterest has organized the pins and the size guide and all. There’s a lot of space to be filled, especially on the desktop version.

Use Pinterest shop the look pins

This is a feature on Pinterest that is highly suitable for fashion and home decor products. 

People can find and buy your products right through the Pinterest app. Shop the look pins have white dots placed in the top of the pin that calls out different parts of the image for a closer look.

For example, if you have a fashion image where a woman is wearing, skirt, hat, purse, etc. You can sell each of those items by having a white dot placed on top of the clothes and accessories.

When the customer is ready to buy from you, they can just click through the Pinterest app and buy your products right there and then.

This feature is not only limited to the Pinterest app and mobile. You can also use this feature on Pinterest’s website too. 

Pinterest Statistics For Online Businesses [2019]


While Pinterest is not the most popular social media platform among online users. Facebook and Instagram holding the top spots, it’s still a platform to consider when doing social media marketing.

Where Pinterest differentiates itself is that it’s a visual search engine, whereas Facebook and Instagram are places of “socializing.”

Pinterest is kind of a social media channel, but in reality, it’s more of a search engine like Youtube and Google.

Pinterest uses so-called pins “images” to provide results for users. Google provides articles, and YouTube provides videos. So from this perspective, Pinterest is covering the search for images, creating itself a spot in the search engine ecosystem.

When it comes to statistics, it’s easy to say that the platform is constantly growing and evolving to become another marketing channel for online business owners and info product owners.

Below is a list of Pinterest statistics for you to think about when you are planning your content marketing strategies and next steps to grow your audience.

Pinterest statistics 2019

300MCurrent monthly active users on Pinterest
28%Of users are based in the U.S
72%Of users are international users
51%Of weekly Pinterest users use Pinterest to make a purchase decision
64%Of Pinterest users find ideas, products or services from Pinterest
57%Of monthly users use Pinterest weekly
90%Weekly Pinterest users use Pinterest to make a purchase decision
83%Of 25-54 aged women in the U.S is reached by Pinterest
70%Of Pinterest users are female
50%Of new sign-ups were men in 2018
80%Of new sign-ups are international user
75%More pins were published in 2018 than in 2017
85%Of users use Pinterest on mobile
98%Of users go out and try the ideas they find on Pinterest
279%Increase in visual searches on Pinterest between years of 2017 and 2018
59%Of Millenials have discovered products on Pinterest
55%Of Pinterest users use Pinterest for product research
97%Of Pinterest searches are unbranded
$1Of ad spend averages $4.3 gross return on Pinterest
27%Of global marketers are using Pinterest for promotion
51%Of female Pinterest users have found new brands from Pinterest
14.2 minIs the average time spent on Pinterest
200+Billion pins are already published to Pinterest
2000Employees are working for Pinterest
2+Billion searches are done monthly
175+Billion pins saved
4+Billion Pinterest boards created so far
3rdMost relevant brand in the U.S according to Prophet Brand Relevance Index 2018
5%Of all referral traffic to websites comes from Pinterest

Pinterest demographics

Pinterest is a massive platform for content marketers, and it’s estimated that 80% of Pinterest users are female and around 20% of users are male

It has been studied that the percentage of male users is increasing and by the year 2022, there’s 70% of female and 30% male users using Pinterest monthly.

What can be identified from this growth is that the platform is maturing and soon the user demographics will be even further balanced to a 50/50 split between male and female users.

Pinterest users

Pinterest is used mostly by women, and while the platform attracts more men every year. It is still dominated by female users. 

The platform is used mainly through mobile phones, and there are roughly 300 million monthly active users on Pinterest

From those 300 million people, 215 million are international, and 85 million is U.S based users. 

2016 the platform had somewhat 128 MAU (monthly active users), and by the year 2019, there’s around 300 MAU. That’s a growth of 234% since 2016.

It’s estimated that the amount of U.S users on Pinterest will grow 121%, from 72 MAU to 87 MAU by the year 2022.

Thoughts on Pinterest

While Pinterest is still somewhat of a small platform considering the user base of Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. The platform is growing steadily and now that the IPO happened.

There’s a bigger focus on getting the ad revenue to the company. Which means more marketers are jumping on board and have started to promote their content through Pinterest.

Facebook is a very matured platform when it comes to targeting specific individuals and re-targeting potential customers with ads. Now, that Pinterest is getting to the same game, it’s only expected to grow as a company as more and more content marketers start to pump money to Pinterest ads.

That’s it!

These are the statistics for Pinterest marketers and content creators to use for future marketing strategies.

Pinterest has a lot of potential when it comes to content promotion, and now that ads are also an option, it’s expected to grow as a platform even further.

While the user base is still small compared to the other big players in the market. Pinterest differentiates itself from the other social media platforms by being more of a search engine than a social media platform. Just like YouTube. While considered social media platform, it’s also a powerful search engine.

Sources for statistics