Trending Visual With Pinterest & Instagram! Making the Most of Your Content


At the end of February, I had the privilege to speak at SEM PDX Searchfest on the evolution of visual media on the panel, “Trending Visual with Pinterest and Instagram.” For those of you who were unable to attend, don’t fret. Today, we’re sharing highlights from the presentation to keep you up to speed.

Let’s jump right in!

We all know that visuals are becoming more prevalent across many social media channels and we have definitely seen a paradigm shift occur. In this blog post, we will cover what exactly that means for marketers, and what we can be doing NOW across these more visual channels. We’ll also assess some possible objectives, audience targeting, how we can optimize for discoverability, and seed for engagement.

These days, search engine results are vastly different from what they used to be. A search result back in the day would provide you with just 10 blue links, but now we are seeing rich universal SERPs featuring several forms of media.


The advancement in technology is putting high-grade sharing tools in the hands of consumers & brands making it easier and more fun to share content. Image and video based sharing are very important to consumers and brands. Imagery has proven to be extremely successful and a big part of daily life for many of us. People today want their information quickly. We don’t have a lot of time to be reading to keep up with daily news and information. It’s amazing what an image can say in a very short amount of time. Rich media helps users share, communicate, and consume content easily and quickly. There are so many mobile apps out there for video and image editing and the industry is only growing.

Let’s talk some statistics about these visually based channels. Instagram is obviously based on imagery and features the capability for each image to list a description, allowing marketers to include product pricing, product or service information, key features and benefits, and so much more.

The numbers don’t lie:


  • As of Jan. 2014, Instagram has 150 Million Users
  • 1.2 Billion likes and 55 million photos shared every day
  • Over 90% of users are younger than 35 and 68% of users are female
  • 13% of all US phone users are on Instagram


  • 70 million registered users
  • Shoppers spend more on purchases when referred from Pinterest—approximately twice as much as referrals from Facebook and Twitter.
  • Average user has household income of over $100,000
  • Used by more than 1 in 5 adults in the U.S., 84% of which are women.

Going back even just five months, we can see the optimizations Pinterest has made to the channel. What is really neat is that Pinterest is listening to what WE the consumers/marketers want out of the channel and are adapting it so we can get the best use out of it. They are also making Pinterest more personal for each of us with the launch of the “Interests Tool.” Let’s look at a timeline:


Pinterest Timeline2

If you haven’t already, you may start seeing Pinterest being integrated into actual physical product packaging with text such as  “Visit us on Pinterest” or “Follow us on Pinterest.”

I was at Target a few weeks ago perusing the furniture aisle and was shocked to find that Target was using tags next to certain pieces. One tag was labeled “Top pinned on Pinterest.” This is an incredible idea, letting people know that a certain product is a top pinned item (really popular/you should buy this). It’s really smart, especially for us impulse buyers out there wanting the latest fashions and furniture pieces.


So what does this mean for marketers? As we all know, Instagram launched sponsored videos and photos back in October of 2013. Levi’s does a fantastic job of personifying their brand through captivating imagery. Their images represent living in the moment, connecting with friends, and being adventurous. It’s not all about just blue jeans anymore. The goal here is to generate awareness through impactful content. Levi’s states that their company values are empathy, originality, and courage and that is certainly reflected through the visual content they publish on their social communities. To be smart marketers, we need to remember to be true to our brand, share our experiences, find beauty, and inspire others to take action.

Instagram Levis

Pinterest launched promoted pins back in October of 2013 to a limited number of large brands. They haven’t announced yet when they will open up the ads platform to more businesses but we just recently heard that Pinterest is asking for hefty spending commitments somewhere between $1 million and $2 million from prospective advertisers. CPM prices are looking to be between $30 and $40 according to a post on Ad Age, where they said three executives briefed on Pinterest’s ad pitch. The pricing here is really no surprise; Instagram sponsored is in this same vein, and so is Twitter sponsored # ($120k/day).  Advertising on the YouTube homepage is somewhere around $250k/day last time we checked.  WOWZA.


While no one knows when sponsored pins will be available and somewhat affordable for businesses, there are plenty of things we can focus on to be a successful business using these more visual based channels.

The first thing we need to do is answer a few internal questions.

What are your goals?


If you’re a Breaking Bad fan, you can probably relate to this: Walt really lost site of his goals. Perhaps if he had a clear set of KPIs, he would have stopped after a certain point, right? But he didn’t, he lost site of those goals, and we all know how Walt ended up.

What are you measuring?

We need to understand what we are measuring. We can easily set up proxy’s for success but unless we clearly define them and they are clearly defined to the entire team, we can’t really determine what success is.

Your business objective will drive what metrics you measure for success. Do you have branding objectives? Then views may be what you’re after. Do you want to build an engaged community? Then subscribers or followers may be what you’re after.

The same rules apply across all social channels.

  1. Great content
  2. Target audience
  3. Connected user base
  4. Optimization for discoverability
  5. Budget to seed engagement

Content is the tie that binds. It’s what brings us together and it stems from a common interest or need we share.

Content is also the center of everything. It is the voice and personification of a brand. Companies will spend hundreds and thousands of dollars each year to have a well baked editorial calendar churning out quality content. It’s obvious that an investment like this requires a sound strategy.


So we need to take the strategic approach and define the purpose, how it fits with other marketing objectives, and what are the primary KPIs and goals.

You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. A great story transcends the medium used to tell it, given a great storyteller.


Think about how you can repurpose what you already have out there across different channels to build upon your content strategy.

  • Blog Posts
  • Journal Articles
  • Infographics
  • Presentations
  • Training Materials
  • Historical Photos

Sometimes our clients ask us things like, “Should we be on Pinterest? We’re a dental company, or an industrial engineering firm.” The answer to that depends on the business’s goals and depends on how you plan to use the channel.

Constant Contact-Email Marketing is a B2B business that effectively uses Pinterest. They are often talked about for being so successful, and they should because they do an awesome job. They have 21,000 followers and about 100 boards. They showcase a board about life at their company, featuring images of their office spaces, employees drawing in that personal connection and humanizing their brand. They also have boards that highlight tips on email marketing via videos, infographics, etc.


They even created a Valentine’s Day board, which relates to how you can show love to your valued customers. One tip to note here is that we want timely content above the fold. So once Valentine’s Day is over, they should move their board down to the bottom of the page. Constant Contact Email Marketing also ties in their other channels such as YouTube, showcasing educational videos they have posted on there. If someone chooses to click through to their YouTube channel,that is great for them- keep people on your content longer by driving them to your other social channels.

So how can your business be successful on Pinterest?

  • Tap into the lifestyle and interests of an ideal customer or client
  • Share the Story Only Your Business Can Share
  • Revisit Mission Statement

We need to embrace the power visual has to persuade and inspire our communities like Levi’s. Take a look at the mission statement and revisit why your company is awesome.


Even if you’re not currently using Pinterest, your audience may be using it for you. If you want to know which content from your website has already been shared, type the following URL into your address bar

and switch out for your actual site. This will show you anyone who has pinned anything from your website onto Pinterest. Use it as competitive intelligence too by typing in competitors’ websites and reviewing what others like about their website. Use this to evaluate your content strategy and get ideas.

Let’s take an example company, Alliance Truck Parts.


They don’t have a Pinterest account. But… people are on Pinterest talking about them. People are saying things like “Alliance Truck Parts sponsors NASCAR.”


People are also pinning directly from their website.


Do some research and find out what people are pinning from your website and use it to help build your content strategy. Alliance Truck Parts probably didn’t think their audience was on Pinterst or maybe that Pinterest wasn’t a viable marketing channel, but clearly using this tactic can help them identify people who are brand enthusiasts on Pinterest.

Target Audience & Connected Users

Keep in mind that success will be determined by the research and relationships you build well before content is published. You have to find your audience in other social communities, hang out with them, offer value, and a natural result of that would be users engaging and sharing your content without you asking them to.

We can also take advantage of Pinterest’s “buying intent.” 70% of brand engagement on Pinterest is generated by users, not brands. (Digitas)

People often pin and like images that they want to buy now or in the future.

Not only are people creating boards for items they would like to purchase, they are specifically using Pinterest to search for items too.  People could be out there advocating your services, products, or content.


Engage! Get out there and build community! By linking to people you can expand reach, build reputation, and promote your business.

If someone comments on one of your pins, replies back, asks questions to start a dialogue and perhaps make a friend, that’s an even better brand advocate!

Remember to not only pin your own content but to also have a mix of re-pinned content that is complementary and not competitive to your brand.

Humanize Your Brand & Go Behind The Scenes

Who is your brand’s ideal customer? What do they like? What do they do?

Virgin America Airlines is a great example because the imagery they share across Instagram showcases “behind the scenes.” For example,  an image of the friendly pilots that we might not normally see while getting on a plane. They also make the imagery about the consumer and their journey and not so much about the brand. The image below is of a passenger wearing a sombrero, drinking a margarita! It looks like a party on the plane, and I want to be there.



This is a smart tactic that many businesses can employ with their own customers. Go behind the scenes and highlight the fun parts about your business.

Are there any Beaver fans out there? Oregon State University does a fantastic job showcasing their school pride and everything orange. Looking through their Pinterest account, you get a real feel for the college. They mix in really fun boards with very informational boards as well. This is a university and they go beyond showcasing their athletics and academics. They integrate why Oregon is an awesome place to be in the summer, job opportunities, fun things to do, and they even go out of the box by creating a board all about recipes involving orange.


Optimization & Discoverability

Is there a best time to Pin on Pinterest? Or any other social channel for that matter? The answer is completely dependent on your unique situation. We’ve seen a lot of different information out there that states that Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays tend to be more popular days to pin. Also, in the early mornings, right around the lunch hour, and then in the later evenings are the best times to pin. But we need to consider time zones as well. Where does your audience live?


Some things to consider:

Take email alerts- instead of deleting them each time you get an email with an update. File them in a folder and once you have enough time, analyze the time stamp and look for trends. This will let you know who is engaging with your brand at specific times of day.

Monitor your Pinterest feed through the day and see how often new pins enter your feed. This can give you insight into when people are engaging.

Use Pinterest as a resource for keyword research just as you would Google or Bing for what keywords to use in your board and pin descriptions. Start typing in relevant keywords to your business and see what Pinterest returns as commonly searched for terms. Consider using these keywords across Pinterest in your pin descriptions and board titles and descriptions for the best chance of being found when people are searching for these terms.


Pins show up in the search results. This is another reason why it is important to use keywords for a better chance of discoverability. We tested searching Google and Bing for keywords like accounting and dental humor, and a number of keywords across many different verticals and Pinterest results are among the first search results. This is a testament that Google and Bing place high value on social channels and may be useful for showing up in SERPS.


Rich Pins! Oh wonderful, rich pins. They allow you to add extra details to your pins to make them more useful.

Product Pins let you include real time pricing, product availability, where you can purchase the item, and even get notifications when a specific product drops in price. If you are a product-based business, we highly recommend looking into this further. Pinterest pins that include prices receive 36% more likes than those that do not. (Shopify) Pinterest accounts for 25% of retail referral traffic. (Rich Relevance).


The newest rich pin that Pinterest offers are place pins. Place pins let you include a map feature to boards. Each pin can have an address and phone number. AIMCLEAR likes to use the place pin feature to visually showcase where we have traveled to conferences and speaking engagements around the world.


Here are a few other ideas for how to use place pins:

  • Tourist travel info: Showcase restaurant and other attractions locations
  • Multi-location businesses: Show people where your company is located
  • Hotels: Show people which restaurants, attractions, expo halls are located near you
  • Photographers, architects, artists: Where are your art and designs located?

Budget to Seed Engagement & Measure

Cross-promote your content!

Likely you already have a content calendar in place and you share in other social channels like Twitter and Facebook. Certainly consider adding Pinterest and Instagram into your social sharing arsenal. If you pin or Instagram something, share it on Twitter and Facebook too! Why not take advantage of getting that content in front of more people?

Users have the ability to cross promote your pin or Instagram photo in other social channels within the platform making it extremely easy to cross promote.


If you haven’t done so already, consider creating a Facebook page post ad for a pin. You can target certain psychographics to make sure your pin gets in front of the right people on Facebook, driving traffic from Facebook into Pinterest. This tactic can garner you psychographic qualified Pinterest followers. Measure the effect of cross channel paid organic social psychographic distribution.


Lastly, after all the work you are doing in the more visual channels, we want to make sure we are measuring the effects of our efforts. Pinterest does have native analytics for business accounts. You can measure visitors and clicks to your website, impressions and reach of your pins in feeds and search results, repins and repinners, and pins and pinners.

If you want further metrics, there are a number of great apps out there that are either free, have a free trial only, or free accounts but offer limited access. For in depth data, you may need to pay a pretty penny for it. We have listed a few apps below, so do some research to find what is going to work best for your business.


So keep in mind, to find success across these newer visual platforms you have to use what fits best for your business objectives, find your desired audience, interact with them and provide them awesome content to digest, in order to find profitability and success whatever that may be for your business.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed!

© Antonio Gravante – Fotolia

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