“Will Pin For Pay”: How Small Businesses are Adapting to Pinterest

Tully Taylor and I researched and analyzed how the wave of positivity about Pinterest was affecting small business owners, and we found that the lines were clearly drawn. They either love it, or they hate it. So, we decided to present you with the facts and decide for yourself: Is Pinterest a pro or a con for small businesses?


1) It’s easy to use. You simply create an account and start pinning! Its also easy to install the “Pin It” button to make sharing from other sites easy and legal.

Small business owners ranging from niche companies to commonly used products had only positive things to say about their experiences on Pinterest. For example, Carl Christensen, a photographer, in New Hope, PA, reluctantly joined social media at the request of his wife, but he now boasts 50% of revenue from online sales. Similarly, freelancer Allena Tapia suggests making Pinterest a working tool for any company (such as using pin boards for marketing meetings, office decor/remodeling etc) to engage and interact with your audience in every aspect of life.

BONUS: Hubspot even offered an ebook to show businesses how to better use Pinterest for profit.

2) It’s cheap, visually appealing to customers, and allows businesses to engage with their audiences. Nina Hendy, of Start Up Smart, wrote that a main benefit of Pinterest was, “… like the established social media platforms, Pinterest is ideal as a marketing tool for start-ups given that it’s low cost and relatively hassle-free.” She went on to back up the praises for Pinterest saying, “Early research backs this up. Content sharing firm Shareaholic says user numbers prove that Pinterest is experiencing a phenomenal take-up, already driving more referral traffic than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined.”

3) It’s working for small business owners in nearly every market. Fox Small Business Center reports, “‘Pinterest has generated 6% of our total referrals,’ said company owner Sam Delijani. ‘Whereas Facebook generated only 2% of our referrals in the same month.’ While the last thing an entrepreneur may need is to manage yet another social media site, some have easily incorporated a Pinterest strategy into their marketing plan.”

On the other hand, not everyone believes that Pinterest is helpful for small business marketing.


1) Flickr banned the “pin it” function to better protect copyright and ownership of original work. Could other larger companies be next? Terms of service need to be followed in order to prevent copyright infringement and possible repercussions for you and your company. (If you don’t give credit, you could end up in a nasty legal battle costing you and your company money.)

2) It’s difficult to make your brand visible in the mass amounts of pins/material being generated daily. Jason Keith, of The Small Business Blog, warns, “Like every other social network, there is a tremendous amount of clutter being shared. The trick is getting content to be shared quickly and frequently, thus increasing the chances of someone acting on it. The first step is assessing whether or not you have the type of website that can handle e-commerce.” He continues saying, “While sharing content can be effective, if there isn’t a “impulse buy” tied to it, you likely won’t see the return on the effort.”

BUT even Keith’s bottom line stated, “At the very least, Pinterest is worth checking out. Hit the site, poke around and see what it’s all about. Like every social networking site, it never hurts to have a familiarity with it and how it works. Whether or not it will drive traffic or revenue is another story and a decision best left to each individual business.”

In the end, decide for yourself if your small business is the type that can benefit from visually stimulating your customers, and the devote time accordingly.


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