Leveraging Pinterest: How “Pinnable” Is Your Content?

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You can’t get far online right now without coming across an article about Pinterest, the hot new visual bookmarking tool. Pinterest’s growth is explosive, and content creators and “brands” are scrambling to figure out how to “leverage this channel” (hate the buzzwords).

Most advice focuses on creating a presence on Pinterest and pinning your own products or content. This is a mistake. The real strategic opportunity is in optimizing your content for Pinterest.

Pinterest Basics

The majority of Pinterest users use a browser bookmarklet when pinning new content, and when you click on most sites, you see an array of the pinnable images available and their sizes:

You choose the image you want, choose your board, add your notes and it’s pinned.

When Pinning Doesn’t Work

Problems arise when a site just isn’t optimized for pinning. You can’t pin anything from a Flash site, which is still a favorite of many high end retailers, so that is a completely missed opportunity.

“Unpinnable” Images

More subtle problems arise with product sites that offer nifty image preview tools. In this example on Schumacher, a provider of high end textiles and wallcoverings, they have a javascript image tool that prevents the images from being detected by the Pin It bookmarklet. If you are a savvy user, you can click on “switch to JPG view” and be able to pin that image, but most people will not know to take that extra step.

Some large blogs seems to have problems with structure and/or volume of images. On Pioneer Woman’s Tasty Kitchen, I tried to pin the image from Cookie Dough Dip. What I got was a barely functional browser, empty image slots, and a few images from a different post entirely:

Click to Enlarge

Optimizing Your Site

The best way to test how your site “pins” is to set up a Pinterest account, grab the bookmarklet tool, and try pinning a few of the things you would like to see pinned and review the results. This is also an opportunity to browse around and see what type of images are being pinned in your market sector or niche. Pinterest is an extremely visual medium, so pinners generally are looking for the largest and most appealing images possible.

If you are a blogger, does your post offer some type of featured or lead image? Many list/resource posts typically use many smaller images and lack a good featured image to pin. If you use WordPress, remember that you can create a featured image that is available but doesn’t actually have to be used in your post.

Using the “Pin It” Button

Pinterest offers a button that you can add to products, posts or pages that allows you to prepopulate the image, link and description of what is pinned. The button code on their site has you prefill this information one pin at a time, but with a little tweaking or a knowledgeable web developer you can modify this into a dynamic share type button.

If you are using WordPress, there are several articles and plugins to reference:

If you are using the Genesis Framework, Brian Gardner has an excellent tutorial on how to add “Pin It” buttons to your theme: Genesis Framework Pin It Tutorial

For other content management systems, check your documentation and forums or talk to your web developer. (Sidenote: When researching tutorials for this, I found many tutorials that either don’t work or have you making individual buttons for each post. Read carefully as you embark and focus on tutorials that actually have a track record with WordPress or javascript. Poor or slow code is worse than no Pin It button)

If you are a content creator, success on Pinterest will mean making an investment in understanding Pinterest users, their tools, and how “pinnable” your sites actually are!


Related Post – 13 Ways to Get More Pinterest Followers

Diane Kinney
Diane Kinney is a web designer and developer with 15 years of experience online and a strong interest in social media and results driven websites. She owns the web design firm The Versatility Group and blogs at Gidget the Geek.
Diane Kinney

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  • http://dirtyseagulls.org Dirty Seagull

    I have been using pinterest for a while now and I cant believe the Traffic that it brings me

    • http:/socialcolleague.com Jonathan

      I’m with you on that.

      We used it for a couple of clients and they reporting a literal surge in traffic in a matter of hours.

      Great stuff.

    • http://www.jumbocdinvestments.com/ ChrisCD

      Does the traffic convert for your goals though? 1000; 10,000; 100,000. It doesn’t matter if they don’t contribute to the goals of the site unless the goal of the site is just a huge traffic number.

      Did you get more sign-ups, ad clicks, sales?

      cd :O)

  • http://fuzzywuzzyanipals.com/ Wendy

    Great post Diane! I have been using Pinterest for my personal things. I know that some people do Pin their own products and I think that would be fine IF they limit it. I just don’t feel comfortable pining my own sites.

    I have also been trying to make sure that all of our sites have “Pinable” images. In fact I just took some pictures with my camera and will be posting them in some articles so, maybe others will want to pin them.

  • http://www.blog-expert.fr Sylvain

    Thanks for the tip: it looks like a great “hot” bookmarking tool, and I’ll give it a try.
    I suppose it is highly relevant for all e-commerce websites.

  • http://gps-golf.net GPS For Golf

    I will have to take a look at Pinterest and evaluate what it can do for traffic.

  • http://www.prospectmx.com/ Jonathan Bentz

    Any image heavy industry would make sense here. Might not be the best for generating leads in our industry, per se, unless you have a couple great infographics on your site. But for any industry where “sizzle” sells the steak, webmasters will want to make sure the pinnable image is prominently located on a webpage, potentially right next to a conversion button.

  • http://www.mswoods.com Mike Woods

    Would it be a waste of time to post photos of Indianapolis, IN and the surrounding communities if my goal is to get people searching for homes for sale on our local Indianapolis real estate website?

    • http://theversatilitygroup.com/blog Diane Kinney

      Mike, that is a tough call. Creating a board that showcases the community, especially with a focus on community features and beautiful images may get some uptake. Keep in mind that search inside Pinterest doesn’t work particularly well, so must traffic is driven socially, be friends repinning or followers seeing each others’ pins.

      I would not assume it was going to pay any short term dividends and maybe make it something you cultivate over time, and possibly put a feature on your website that links to the board on Pinterest.

  • http://www.ramkrshukla.com Ram Kr Shukla

    Most of the time images are unable to pin when images are structured by Javascript

  • http://www.polepositionmarketing.com Annalisa | Pole Position Marketing

    Thanks, Diane! I found the “Using The “Pin It” Button” particularly helpful.

    I’ve been wondering about copyright issues and Pinterest. If people are pinning someone’s original artwork and not giving credit, it seems it could create problems for artists.

    Ram Kr Shukla mentioned that if an image is structured in JavaScript it can’t be pinned. Is this something that requires a programmer?

    • http://theversatilitygroup.com/blog Diane Kinney

      Annalisa, images that wrapped in javascript probably can’t be pinned. A typical scenario for that would be a javascript image viewer like I mentioned in article on that wallpaper site. If your images are being handled that way, you do need to talk to your programmer about options.

      Remember that you can always test pinning your own images or images on sites you work on with your own Pinterest account and see how they are handled.

  • http://prima-restaurant-equipment.com Joshua Moxon

    Thanks for the article. Fun to read.

    Quick comment on unpinnable images and site optimization

    One more limitation of the bookmarklet is that it does not scrape images that are put in via the css background-image property. In order for the bookmarklet to find your image it must be contained within the html markup in an tag. So if you have a design that utilizes pinnable images, make sure they are not displayed using the css background property.

    • http://theversatilitygroup.com/blog Diane Kinney

      You are absolutely right Joshua, it will never pick up background images. Independently of Pinterest, you should never use background images for images you want to optimize or get indexed.

  • Sara

    Found this post by googling “make images pinnable” so I could tell a site I like how they should do this. So thank you.

    Update: since you wrote this post, the retailer you referenced above as being unpinnable, Schumacher, has made their posts pinnable and added a Pin It button. (I checked, because I wanted to try out the “switch to JPG view” solution you suggested. Now it’s irrelevant on that site.) Thought you’d like to know and maybe update the post.