Don’t worry, you are not the only person who has Googled, “What is Pinterest? How does it work? And what’s the purpose of using Pinterest?”
Maybe you randomly signed up for Pinterest a few years ago because a friend sent you a recipe, you followed a celebrity, blogger or website you love reading or perhaps you’ve only spent a few minutes on the site.
Since launching in March 2010, a lot of people have asked this question. Probably even more since Pinterest went public in April 2019 and everyone is now wondering, “What’s Pinterest and should I buy their stock?”
Perhaps you think Pinterest is just that site with all the photos, that it’s confusing and maybe kind of silly. You wonder, “why do I need Pinterest? Why should I care? Why would I use Pinterest when I’ve got Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram?” And let’s not forget Twitter and Snapchat.
So, what makes Pinterest so special? What makes it unique that it’s worth having yet another app downloaded on your phone for? Why do you need yet another social media site? And why should you care?
Before I get to whether or not you should use Pinterest, first things first.
What exactly is Pinterest anyway?
In an online space dominated by giants Facebook on the social media side and Google on the search engine side, it’s not always clear where Pinterest belongs. Or is it more like Instagram?
Is Pinterest a social media site or a search engine? The answer is kind of both.
In their own words, “Pinterest is a visual discovery engine for finding ideas like recipes, home and style inspiration, and more.”
Think of it as if Instagram and Google had a baby. Seriously that’s the easiest way to understand it!
You’ve got the emphasis on sharing pretty pictures and videos like on Instagram, which are known as “Pins” on Pinterest, and the mechanism of discovery and search just like Google. But, with one exception (and it’s a good one!).
What is the purpose of using Pinterest?
The purpose of using Pinterest is simple.
There’s one thing that really makes Pinterest special and worth using. A way of doing things that Instagram, Google, and every other site just does not have.
Pinterest’s power lies in its ability to curate, catalog, collect and categorize ideas and images elegantly into “boards” (which are functionally folders in Pinterest-speak).
Albeit a folder you actually want to look at because it’s filled with your dreams, wishes, goals, who you aspire to be, projects you plan to complete and so much more. What might shock you is that 98% of Pinterest users, known as “Pinners”, actually try the ideas they find on Pinterest.
If you’re looking for a simple answer as to why you should care about Pinterest, there’s a big one for you.
- If you’re a pinner, you’ll not only get inspired but be confident enough to try new things that you discover.
- If you’re a blog or business, you’ve got an engaged audience waiting for you to help them better their lives with your ideas, products, and solutions.
As a pinner and a Pinterest business user, I have experienced this from both sides. I use Pinterest to find ways to make my life and myself better but also do the same for others by sharing my own blog posts and products from my personal development blog It’s All You Boo (see below).
Pinterest Is All About Saving For Later
And that’s the major functionality difference that sets Pinterest apart from the rest, they understand user experience and they’re all about helping you save things for later.
Not just that, but in a way you’ve always wanted to save it – with images!
Okay, I know what you’re thinking, “I can just bookmark something I find in Google, why would I need Pinterest for that?” You technically don’t, but you want to.
Here’s why, when was the last time you actually enjoyed having to look at your bookmarks? I don’t know about you but my bookmarks are a mess.
Just yesterday I could not find that homemade Tzatziki recipe I love. You can bet money that if I’d just saved it to my “recipes I love board” or “Greek food” on Pinterest I’d know where to find it in two seconds.
We want to save things for later, organize them in a way that makes sense to us so we can actually find them when we’re ready to try them. Pinterest gets that!
Pinterest not only understands delivering the best user experience, but they also understand user behavior.
Now, this is the point where you wonder, “But, is Pinterest for me? Should I be using Pinterest?”
Who is Pinterest for? Who uses Pinterest?
Pinterest is not just about home decor, DIY and recipes, even though that’s what it’s app store description says.
A huge misconception out there is that Pinterest is somehow just for women. Nope, that’s not entirely true, although the majority of users are women (80%), 40% of new Pinterest signups are men!
So, stop thinking that Pinterest is just for millennials and moms. Not that it’s not, but there’s content for everyone on Pinterest.
Let’s take a closer look at what the statistics say.
Who is actually using Pinterest?
A look at the Statistics
There are 291 million active Pinterest users every month. And 1.5 million businesses on Pinterest.
According to Statista, 34% of 18-29 years old and 35% of 30-49-year-old U.S. adults use Pinterest.
It should be no surprise that 50% of millennials use Pinterest every month. Not just for ideas, but for making purchasing decisions too. That’s on par with Instagram!
But pinners aren’t just from the United States, but also other countries around the world. With 50% of Pinterest users hailing from around the world, and 80% of new sign-ups are outside the US. This is not surprising since Pinterest is available in 30 languages, including Arabic, Danish, French, and Spanish.
If you want to know more about Pinterest users, who they are, how they use the platform, Pinterest has this fun tool that shares stories about real Pinterest users, click here to check it out: Pinterest Stories.
Not only are a lot of people using Pinterest, but they’re also spending 14 minutes per session. And 85% of Pinterest users access Pinterest via the mobile application.
So, basically, everyone is on Pinterest except you and your blog or business. No worries, you’re so not late to the Pinterest party, you’re right on time!
Your Business needs to be on Pinterest
That means if you’re a brand, blog or business, that means Pinterest is a huge potential audience for your content and creations. To learn more about this, read my post on “Why Bloggers Need Pinterest.”
Think about this, over 75% of the pins being saved every month by users were created by businesses.
Don’t believe me? Sounds too good to be true? The statistics back this up as well – with 87% of Pinterest users purchasing a product thanks to Pinterest. They’re not just saving pins for later, they’re buying them later.
Want more Pinterest statistics? Check out this article on Pinterest statistics.
What content is available on Pinterest?
Pinterest has over 175 billion pins and 3 billion boards, and more being added every single day.
Sure there are food, decor, travel and wardrobe ideas, but also everything from inspirational quotes to business tips. Whether you’re into DIY and technology or personal growth and spirituality, there’s content waiting for you on Pinterest.
Or if you’re a blog, brand or business, there are potentially millions of users waiting for what you have to offer them!
According to that same Omicore report, “two-thirds of pins represent brands and products.” Meaning if you’re looking for things to buy or add to your wishlist Pinterest is basically the world’s biggest shopping magazine.
Pinterest is your own personal magazine
Except, this magazine is personally curated to fit your interest, your tastes and what you want!
On Pinterest, all the pins you’re most likely to be interested in are auto-populated every time you visit the home feed (aka the smart feed).
Every time you use Pinterest, there’s a fresh and endless supply of blog posts for you to read, interesting articles, products to check out and things to save for later. (Which you should do because you may not see them again because new pins every time remember.)
You’ll see these curated pins on the first page immediately after logging into the Pinterest website or the app, ready for you to discover!
The Pinterest Algorithm curates content
Pinterest is in the business of showing users what they want to see! That’s in basic terms how to algorithm works to show the right Pins to the Pinners who actually care about it.
Full disclosure, I am in no way a computer anything, I do not have a technical comprehension of the complicities of algorithms (Pinterest’s or otherwise). That being said I do have a working knowledge of what it does and how it works.
The algorithm is always working to show you the most relevant pins in your Pinterest smart feed. It’s smart because it knows what you want! And no two users will see exactly the same pins here.
This also makes your experience on Pinterest entirely unique, because it’s based on your behavior on the platform, taking into account things like:
- what type of content you’re into
- what accounts you follow
- what pins you’ve clicked on
- what pins you’ve saved
- what topics you search for
And probably a combination of data and general behaviors observed based on your demographics, location, aforementioned behaviors and so on.
Pinterest is a way to discover ideas and find answers
Right there on their signup page, Pinterest invites you to “find new ideas to try.” This platform is the embodiment of “stumbling upon something great” or “falling down the rabbit hole.”
Every time you log into Pinterest, you never know what you’ll discover. With new content being added each and every day there’s literally always something new to try.
No more getting bored, or not knowing what to do. A new hobby, passion or fashion obsession awaits you on Pinterest.
But Pinterest isn’t just for happy accidents, it’s a powerful search engine. And with over 2 billion monthly searches users are going to Pinterest for answers.
Pinterest is also a Search Engine
Think about that, after Google and YouTube, Pinterest has the most number of searches. People go to Google for mostly text-based content, YouTube for videos and Pinterest for pictures (well ya know – Pins!).
So, of course, Pinterest has search functionality built right into the platform. With the Pinterest search bar, you can type in whatever topic you’re looking for. Seriously, give it a try!
Being intuitive it even guesses what you’re searching for and then suggests similar search results for you with your results.
Plus, Pinterest also has ideas for you and shares trending topics.
Pinterest Search Engine Optimization
Now, this part is important for any content creators trying to get found on Pinterest. If you want your Pins to be discovered on Pinterest, you need to optimize them for SEO.
The basis of SEO is using keywords to help search engines like Pinterest and Google understand what your content is about, so they can show it to the right users.
Listen, without keywords search engines have no idea what content is actually about. In the absence of keywords, they only have images to work with, and in Pinterest case, that’s a unique capability (that you’ll learn about below).
SEO ensures that when you and I search for what we’re looking for, we actually get what we’re looking for. So, when you search for “best vacation ideas” you actually get “best vacation ideas” and not something else like shoes.
Content creators need to know SEO
If you’ve got a blog, brand or business and want to get found on Pinterest, you need to incorporate SEO into your Pinterest strategy.
When you’re doing SEO correctly, your content will organically (meaning without paying) rank higher in the search results. On Pinterest, that means that your Pins linking to your website will show up at the top of results.
Hashtags are a Thing on Pinterest too
Everyone knows that hashtags are huge on Twitter and Instagram (not so much on Facebook, but they try) and they are a thing on Pinterest too!
Hashtags more or less work the same on Pinterest too, although the exact hashtags might not appear on each platform.
For example, a hashtag that trends on Twitter, won’t necessarily be used on Pinterest.
By clicking on hashtags you can find related content, discover other accounts to follow and see the newest pins being saved on the platform.
In the hashtag’s feed, every pin is displayed sequentially, with the newest pins at the very top. Hashtags have a real-time feel, displaying how long ago each pin was saved.
You can also search the descriptions of pins (the 500 max character blurb that accompanies the Pin) more hashtags to explore.
On Pinterest, Hashtags Help with SEO
That’s not all – on Pinterest hashtags also help the platform to understand what content is actually about.
If you’re a content creator, learn more about Pinterest SEO and how to use hashtags properly in pin descriptions, I encourage you to sign up for my FREE PinPerfect Masterclass.
Pinterest SEO is especially important if you’re planning to create rich pins for your own content.
Rich Pins let you know more
On Pinterest there are pins and then there are Rich Pins. What sets them apart is the abundance of extra features and information Rich pins have to offer users.
Creating Rich Pins is one of those exclusive features only Pinterest Business acounts have. But, as a user, you get the benefits of interacting with product, article, recipe and app pins.
There are four types of Rich Pins:
- Product pins let you shop right on Pinterest, showing you the price, availability and where to buy.
- Article pins share more about the outlet, the author and a helpful description of the story you’re reading.
- Recipe pins show you serving sizes, ingredients and cooking time right on Pinterest.
- App pins allow you to click to download and install applications right on Pinterest.
Pinterest is a pioneer of Visual Search
See an image of something like a jacket or piece of furniture and what to know more about it? Hate seeing something fantastic that you want to buy, but not be able to find it?
Enter Pinterest’s Visual Search Tool, an insanely powerful (and fun) tool that searches all the images on Pinterest to find you a match.
Forget having to Google endlessly and scrolling pages and pages of results for that one, specific product you want.
Simply click the little square with the magnifying glass at the bottom right-hand of any Pinterest Pin to use the Visual Search Tool. Then, it’s as easy as click, drag to select and search.
Use the Pinterest Lens in Real Life Too
With Pinterest, there’s less typing, more finding.
And that applies to real-life too! The Pinterest app comes equipped with the Pinterest Lens, which lets you find matches for things you love anywhere in real life.
See a bottle of hot sauce you want? Or even a pair of earring? The Pinterest Lens can help you find it, so you can buy it (or make it if that’s your thing).
Seriously, it’s a game-changer and makes finding what you’re searching for so much easier. Get the app, and test it out asap. I used it to find anything from bbq sauce and ginger beer, to nail polish and a mug.
To use the Pinterest lens, open the app, then click the camera in the search bar, frame what you’re looking for, then click the circle to search.
Product Creators Need to Have Rich Pins
After testing the Pinterest lens on everything from nail polish to barbecue sauce it’s clear that there is a huge opportunity to creators and marketers of physical products on Pinterest.
For only one product did I find a Rich Product Pin letting me know how much it costs and linked to purchase it from Walmart.
Seriously, if you sell physical products you need to have Rich Pins for your products on Pinterest. Create a business account, upload your product images and help Pinners find you and buy from you.
Back in 2018, Pinterest celebrated “600 million visual searches every month across Lens.” You can only imagine how many more users are looking to find a match today.
It’s a no brainer and a win-win for both users and businesses. Get on it!
What is Pinterest and How Does It Work?
Be honest, you’re a bit excited to start using Pinterest now, aren’t you?
Whether you’re just an average pinner looking to discover new ideas or a content creator excited to connect with a receptive audience, it’s clear that Pinterest offers a unique experience.
It’s so just not yet another social media app, but perhaps the app you’ve been waiting for.
Pinterest is Whatever You Need it To Be
Now that you know what Pinterest is and how it works, you can decide how to use it, how it fits into your personal or professional life. With so many functions and features, the uses are endless.
For Pinners, Pinterest is anything from your personal magazine, your self-curated cookbook, a wishlist, your shopping list or even your party planning notebook.
For businesses and blogs, Pinterest is a vehicle for driving traffic to your website, building a dedicated following, creating brand awareness and even selling your products.
If you’re ready to get started, you can head right to Pinterest.com to create a free account or download the app in the App Store or from the Google Play Store.
If you’re ready to get started with Pinterest for your blog or business, sign up below for my PinPerfect Masterclass.