As Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Snapchat become increasingly saturated melting pots of branded content, the one social media platform that may hold the most potential for your business seems also to be the hardest to crack: Pinterest.
The crucial difference between Pinterest and other social platforms is that users actually go to Pinterest for the express purpose of receiving marketing messages. Unlike other platforms, where users go primarily to connect with friends instead of brands, Pinterest users are specifically looking for products, hacks, and ideas to make their lives better—so they are in the best possible position to receive your marketing messages.
If you are currently eyeing Pinterest for its untapped marketing potential, focus on these eight critical components of growing your business on Pinterest.
1. Invest in Image Quality
If you truly want to be successful at growing your business on Pinterest, this cannot be overstated: Image quality matters! Without impressive, high-quality images, any Pinterest strategy that you attempt will be destined for failure.
If you’re taking a DIY approach to image creation, invest in a high-quality DSLR camera, as well as a light box for product images. And if you intend to make Pinterest a long-term marketing strategy, working with a professional product stylist and photographer may be the single best investment you could make.
2. Focus on Lighter Images
Did you know that lighter, brighter images get repinned twenty times more frequently than darker images? The layout of the Pinterest platform makes lighter images more eye-catching and appealing, meaning they’ll be less likely to get skipped as users continue to scroll.
Keep this tip in mind when styling Pinterest images for your business. Use white or light backgrounds for product images, turn up the brightness for lifestyle shots, and minimize shadows wherever possible.
3. Customize Image Sizes to Pinterest Format
The aspect ratio that you use for images on Twitter, Facebook, or at the top of your blog—typically wide horizontal shots—simply won’t work for the Pinterest platform. Pinterest allows varied image lengths, but constrains all images to a width of 736 pixels. This means that attempting to pin a horizontal image will leave you with a very small finished post on the Pinterest platform.
Aim for an ideal image size of 736 x 1102 pixels for Pinterest, occasionally using longer or taller images when the situation fits. If you’re primarily pinning featured images for from your blog, consider creating a secondary featured image at the bottom of each blog post that is tailored for a Pinterest layout.
4. Keep It Anonymous
Your audience uses Pinterest to dream about their own lives. Future brides picture themselves in that wedding dress. Aspiring homeowners see themselves in that kitchen. But how can users visualize their own perfect reality if the first thing they see is a stranger’s face?
With this little bit of psychology in mind, it’s no wonder that images without faces get 23 percent more repins than those with faces shown. To help your target audience keep dreaming and keep pinning, use creative angles to showcase your content without showing faces.
5. Plan Your Time Wisely
You already know that timing of posts matters on every social media platform, but it’s important to note that best timing practices for posting to Pinterest are very different from other platforms. Along with consistent late evening hours, HubSpot actually recommends 2:00 am-4:00 am EST as a strong posting time on this platform, and insists that Saturday morning is the single best time to post.
6. Simplify Your Copy
More so than any other social channel, Pinterest is first and foremost a visual platform. The length of text that will show below each image is even shorter than a tweet, so you have just a few quick and descriptive words in that space to get your message across.
This means, while the copy below your image shouldn’t be overlooked, it is in no way the focus of your Pinterest content. Keep the first few words brief and useful, then include variations on keywords to help your image be found.
7. Experiment With Instructographics
Is there a particular way to use or style your product that could be explained to your audience in a visual way? If so, consider experimenting with what team Pinterest calls “instructographics.” These typically multi-paneled visuals, which tell the user how to do or make something, are some of the most wildly successful posts on Pinterest.
Depending on your brand, you may need to involve a graphic designer to create high-quality instructographics. However, if you can break down your “how-to” into clear visual steps, working with a grid layout template on Canva or a similar visual platform can help you to achieve a similar result.
8. Don’t Make it All About You
Just like with any other social media platform, turning your Pinterest efforts into a never-ending stream of self-promotion will eventually turn your audience off. As you build your Pinterest boards, include a mix of content from other users whose values and subject matter align with your own. In the best case scenario, you’ll be able to create a mutual sharing of content with like-minded partners, which may eventually result in mutual brand advocacy.
Growing your business on Pinterest requires a unique strategy, completely distinct from any other social platform. But if you commit the energy and resources to create top-notch images and use the platform as it was intended, it has the potential to become your single best social media source for new business leads.
Meredith Wood is the head of content and editor-in-chief at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business loans. Prior to Fundera, Meredith was the CCO at Funding Gates. Meredith manages financing columns on Inc, Entrepreneur, HuffPo and more, and her advice can be seen on Yahoo!, Daily Worth, Fox Business, Amex OPEN, Intuit, the SBA and many more.