Writing for Pinterest: Why it’s important and how to do it


What do you mean, writing for Pinterest? It’s all about the images isn’t it?

Well, not entirely. Like any social network, the way you write is really important if you want your content to be noticed and shared. Or in Pinterest’s case, Liked, commented upon and repinned.

And as Pinterest is now the third biggest driver of referral traffic to websites – more than LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+ put together – just a few tweaks to the way you present your content could see a big leap in visitors to your site.

Here’s what to remember when writing the words that go with the images and videos you’re pinning.

Credit your source

Let’s get the essential stuff out of the way first. When you’re pinning content from other people or organisations to your board not only is it polite to give credit, but it also helps you avoid any awkward copyright issues later on.

Pinterest’s own three tips for best practice are:

  1. Pin from the original source
  2. Pin from permalinks
  3. Give credit and include a thoughtful pin description.

They have recently updated the design so that the source of the image is always displayed, with a link back, but it doesn’t hurt to add some extra info. What other content have they got which might be of interest – more galleries, interviews, blog posts, videos? Be generous – they created the content you’re using, so big them up in return.

And when your own website is the source you have no excuses for not doing this!

Add an informative, enticing caption

Rolling Stones logo on PinterestLet’s go back to Pinterest’s third point about adding a thoughtful pin description. This is what most people don’t do, because they’re busy and it’s fiddly and oh, is that the time?

So if you can add a good caption to your pins you will be head and shoulders ahead of most of your fellow users on Pinterest.

Imagine you’re searching a certain term, like Rolling Stones logo, and you find dozen of pins of the same image. How do you decide which one to pin? All the captions just say ‘Rolling Stones logo’. If just one of these had extra information – like who designed it and in what year, or had asked a question in the caption which generated an interesting discussion – your decision would be easy.

Add in as much compelling information about the image as possible. What keywords are people searching for which means they will find your content? You can hashtag them just like in Twitter to make life even easier. If you leave the keywords out it reduces the chance of your content being found.

Think: what is it, where is it, who’s in it, who made it, what year did it happen, what was the outcome, what makes it so great you had to pin it to your board? And take a moment to check that the facts are accurate and that you’ve spelled everything correctly too.

So who’s doing captions well?

Oprah on PinterestAnn Romney may be new to social media but she knows how to personalise a caption, for example I love this Uncle Sam hat cake or Our delicious cake from yesterday’s July 4th celebration!

And Porsche fill their captions with loving detail about the cars which only increases the drool factor and makes their images more repinnable.

IKEA tell you exactly what’s in their images, with a subtle use of adjectives which makes you hanker after their products.

Oprah gets 9 out of 10 for giving her book club titles a solid caption telling you a little bit about the plot and the emotional impact it had on her, thus prompting lots of comments. She’d get full marks if they all included the title and the author in the caption (like in this example) as this will make her content even more likely to be found.

Give your boards interesting names

Pinterest boards: Cool stuffDo a search for boards called Cool Stuff (right) and see how many come up. Then do the same for Lovely Cakes and Makes Me Laugh. Loads, aren’t there?

If you want your boards to stand out you’re going to have to give a little more thought to the name.

If you’re stuck, take a tip from Red Magazine, who are good at taking a simple idea and giving it a more compelling twist to involve the reader a little more. So it’s not ‘yummy food’ it’s What to eat tonight. And it’s Easy to steal decorating ideas, rather than the more pedestrian ‘home’ or ‘decorating’.

Veiled Rebel on PinterestI like what jewellery designer Veiled Rebel has done with her boards (right), which have names like Mint Mania, Pin Uppity and Stripe Nation. It’s like an enticing range of make-up shades or confectionery – all intended to arouse your curiosity enough for you to check out her boards and give her a follow.

I also like the title of ad man Dave Dye’s board “They met. Here’s the proof“, featuring images of unexpected celebrity pairings and using the title of the board to imply that there’s some great content here.

Or the way that design Kate Spade names her boards on a theme, such as Dress colorfully, Think colorfully and Celebrate colorfully.

And art director Jesus Diaz has no doubt picked up lots of followers for his boards Good design goes to heaven; bad design goes everywhere, Typografreak and You call this work? purely on the strength of their titles alone. Good! Because if you don’t catch attention in the first place you’re not going to build up that audience.

Fill in your profile detail

People often pin but not necessarily follow. Maybe they’re doing it from their smartphone on the fly and can’t be bothered to check you out. Perhaps they have checked you out and don’t think your boards offer anything interesting them. Or maybe there’s nothing in your biog which tells them about who you are and what you’re about.

Just as with any social network it’s really important to fill your profile with interesting, accurate information. If you’re a brand make sure it’s friendly but accurate, and remember that the Pinterest audience is global – so don’t assume people already know who you are and what you do.

Nike FootballLast thing – if it’s a personal site, be as quirky and abstract as you like. We’re not telling you what to do. But if you do want to get more followers then offering a simple outline of who you are, where you’re based and what your interests are acts as a great introduction.

Don’t, however, go down the Nike Football route, who give a slightly too factual explanation: “Welcome to the Nike Football Pinterest fan page. The primary objective of this fan page is to collect and share Nike Football images / video and drive traffic through to nike.com/nikefootball.” OK, got it!

How often should you post?

OK, so this isn’t strictly in the category of writing for Pinterest but as an aside, we’ve learned it’s best to post little and often rather than dump a massive load of content in one go and forget about it for a month. As we all try and work out where Pinterest fits into our social media schedule this is the temptation, but for the user it means that suddenly their feed is flooded with your images.

Out of those images they’re only going to repin one or two, otherwise it looks a bit, well, keen.

Also, if you post infrequently it means if people missed your original content dump, they’re never going to see what you’ve pinned. Doing it little and often means that you can capture different audiences and hopefully get repinned each time.

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2 thoughts on “Writing for Pinterest: Why it’s important and how to do it

  1. Sue, thank you so much for providing so much detail in one hit! I was blissfully unaware, despite having a Pinterest account that it had reached No3, and I really hadn’t got the hang of it yet!

    I really must now get to grip with the semantics so I can derive the most benefit from your article.

    “Why have I not found a donkey yet”?

  2. Pingback: How captions, descriptions and tags can bring your content to life | Sweet Retweets

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