People Who Should Not Try to Market in Pinterest

Who Should Not Use Pinterest

Marketing on Pinterest can drive direct buying or lead-generating traffic to a commercial website. A Pinterest business account can function as a branding and image-building site to improve customers’ ideas about a particular company and what it does.

Don't Pin

People who shouldn’t use Pinterest

I can help almost any business owner or marketing manager figure out how to use Pinterest for their business. Sometimes, though, I’ll hear someone in business say something that makes me back away from suggesting Pinterest as a marketing channel. I stay busy enough preaching to (that is, educating and assisting) the converted that I don’t need to drag anyone into the Pinterest fold who isn’t already curious about what Pinterest can do for their business.

Comments from people who are not good candidates for Pinterest Marketing:

Social media is a waste of time

On one hand, you are completely right. Most social media draws you in to a time sucking black hole that spits you out the other side, full of gossip and irritation or resentment at what your so-called friends have been doing.

On the other hand, everybody shops, scans, and looks for new ideas, content, and concepts, even the most productive and schedule-driven executive. (Bet me? Are you still using the first golf clubs you ever owned?) In part because Pinterest limits direct contact between users (except for comments), the site provides more “exposure to new” than “gossip.”

If you get all the “exposure to new” you need in some other way, then you’re right, you don’t need Pinterest.

Facebook (or Twitter) works better

It is interesting that sometimes the same people who say, “Social media is a waste of time” will then say, “Twitter works better than Pinterest.” See the “Logic” paragraph below.

If you are marketing successfully on FB or Twitter, keep doing it.

  • If you haven’t been successful on LI, FB, or Twitter, you might want to give Pinterest a shot before you bail on all social media marketing.
  • If your marketing includes before and after photos, you may want to look at Pinterest, because images don’t “disappear” as a timeline scrolls away.
  • It’s quite possible that the bulk of the challenges you’ve experienced with Facebook marketing are as much a fault of the platform as they are of your ability to use that platform.

Women don’t buy my products, or, Pinterest only works for clothes and recipes and wedding stuff

In other words—Pinterest’s users are women, and women don’t care about anything other than retail shopping.

If that doesn’t send off warning bells, then you are right, Pinterest will not work for you. Go directly to Jail; do not pass Go.

An exercise: list five elements of your products of service, as far away from babies and clothes and weddings as you can think of. Search for them in Pinterest (box in upper left). See what you find. Consider your stance.

Google’s analytics are better

Yes, they are. Pinterest’s analytics aren’t as good as Google’s.

Q: Did you buy a thumb drive before they could hold as much data as a removable hard drive?

A1: “No, I always want all my data with me.” Skip Pinterest.

A2: “Yes, sometimes I want to give away just a few files.” In other words, a thumb drive offers you features (portability, low cost) you can’t get in a removable hard drive. Similarly, Pinterest offers features Google doesn’t have.

A2.1 If analytics are critical to your business, so much so that you can’t afford to spend time on any system not measured by tools as robust as Google’s, Pinterest is not for your business and you should wait. (Of course, you might want to make sure your competition places the same weight on analytics.)(And understand, new tools are showing up all the time.)

A2.2 If you place such a high value on analytics, why is your business buying brand advertising?

You can’t search in Pinterest

You can. You simply can’t duplicate a search from day to day, you can’t figure out what gets the highest ranking, and you never quite know what you’re going to get on the P-SERP.

  1. This will change. Search has been solved. Just like the 4-minute mile, once any one person proved it was possible, lots of people could run a mile in less than 4 minutes.
  2. Who cares? Because Google ranks answers in a linear fashion, they can only provide one best answer. What if the question your business answers doesn’t have “one best answer?”

Google “mother’s day gift ideas.” Then check Pinterest for the same term.

Mother's Day Gift Idea Boards in Pinterest

Mother’s Day Gift Idea Boards in Pinterest

Information marketers who have built an entire business funnel around answering targeted questions will have trouble marketing in Pinterest. Businesses selling tangible goods and delivered services will find it easier.

Pinterest isn’t logical

No, it’s not. Isn’t that glorious?

Isn’t it funny that marketers spend so much money and time learning about passion and story, and lizard brain, and neural and interpersonal networks, and multi-dimensional systems, and behavioral economics, and neurosocience, and then we take everything we’ve learned and stuff it back to a text-based SERP, organized in linear fashion?

Thirty minutes in Pinterest can tell you more about what your real-people clients and customers think and follow and how they organize information than your favorite keyword tool.

That said, if alogical processes drive you crazy, Pinterest is not a good place for you to be.

Need to talk?

If you find yourself questioning your certainty that Pinterest won’t work for your business, give me a call.

Pinterest Business Accounts

Great news, businesses using Pinterest for marketing don’t have to pretend that they’re “people” anymore!  Pinterest released a Business category of accounts today, and you can either create a new account under the Business type or convert an existing one to the business category.  Add a snippet of code to your business website (root directory) and get verified, and you’re set.

Mostly, nothing else changes, but putting yourself in the business category means you will receive different education material (short term) and business marketing opportunities (longer term) in the future.  You also get to use two very cool new widgets that allow you to display pins and boards on your own website, in real time (NOT screen shots!).

Rather than rewriting what a lot of more well funded bloggers have already written, I’ll simply refer you to Hubspot’s article about the change.  I expect they will keep it up to date as / if anything changes in the near future.

Two nifty new widgets are available from the Business Pinterest pages:

Pinterest Business Widgets

New widgets for Pinterest business users allow you to display pins and boards in your website, in real time.

Those last two are fun:  you can embed either a board, or your 30 most recent pins, in any page of your website.  You can embed each board on a related page of your website, if some of your boards relate specifically to work you create.

For my Karen Tiede Art Rugs account, I’ll be linking each color board to the appropriate page showing rugs in those colors. See the Purple Rugs page for an example of how it will work.

Karen Tiede is a rag rug weaver and reluctant social media marketer who discovered Pinterest for Business and lived happily ever after. Now she weaves recycled t shirts into beautiful rugs and teaches people in the portfolio professions how to use Pinterest to market their work.

Martin Brossman & Associates is a Raleigh based firm providing social media training, workshops, management, talks and advising to micro businesses, small and medium sized businesses, professionals, associations and communities. Contact

Getting Started on Pinterest: Understanding What’s What

Now that you’ve found out how to setup your Pinterest profile in the earlier post: How to Use Pinterest: Setting up Your Pinterest Profile let’s get more familiar with Pinterest and understand what’s what.

Pinterest Lingo

A pin?  A pinner?  Repin?  English please!

Here are some definitions that you might want to know:

Pin: A image or video uploaded or added via the Pin It button

Pin It Button: A button that you may see on websites that you can click and pin it to one of your boards

Board: A set of pins

Pinner: A person that uses Pinterest and pins things

Repin: A image or video that a pinner reposted to one of their own boards

Like: A pin that a pinner likes, but is not posted to any of their boards.  It is displayed in the “Like” section of their profile.


Pinterest Homepage

After you logvin, you are brought to the homepage where you will see pins by the pinners you follow.

On the left you will see suggestions for friends to follow from Facebook and you will also see recent activity from the pinners you follow that have repinned, commented, or followed any of your pins or boards.


The menu below the Pinterest logo has different links to view the Pinterest site in different ways.

Pinners you follow + Everything + Videos + Popular + Gifts

The Pinners You Follow link simply returns you to the homepage. (See below.)

The Everything link displays pins from all the categories listed when you hover over the Everything link. You can click on a specific category to only show pins in that particular category.

The Videos link displays the videos that are posted.

The Popular link displays the most popular pins.

The Gifts link displays items you can buy from the prices listed when you hover over the Gift link.  You can click on a specific price range to only show pins that are in that particular price range.

On the top-right of the screen there are three links: Add +, About, and your name.

The first link you will see is the Add + link.

If this is clicked, it will bring up three options.  The options are Add a PinUpload a Pin, and Create a Board.

Add a Pin

After Add a Pin is clicked, you need the URL of the site you want to pin something from.

After entering the URL and clicking Find Images, a box is displayed with images from the site that you can choose from.  After you find the image you want, you can use the dropdown box to choose the board to pin to, add a description, and also post the pin you post to your Facebook profile.

Upload a Pin





After upload a pin is clicked, you choose an image or video from your computer.






After you find the image or video you want, you can use the dropdown box to choose the board to pin to, add a description, and also post the pin you post to your Facebook profile.





Create a Board






After Create a Board is clicked, you simply fill out the information and you have your own board you can put pins on.








You can also allow someone else to pin on your board.







On the top-right of the screen the second link you will see is the About link.  If you hover over this link you’ll find a menu which will direct you to all the information about Pinterest as well as a Help and Support page if you just can’t seem to figure out what to do on Pinterest.

The last link you will see on the top-right of the screen is your name. If you hover over your name you’ll find a menu which will direct you to finding friends, different parts of your profile, your settings, and logging out of the site. You can invite or find friends by using an email account or your Facebook account.  If you click on your name it will take you to your Pinterest profile.

This is where you’ll find how many followers you have, how many you’re following, your boards, pins, likes, and activity.

You can also edit your profile and change the way your boards are displayed here.


You can also choose your main board cover from any of the pins you posted on that particular board.


You may also want to describe what your board is all about and select the category the pins of your board fall under.


Now that you know all of that, you can start pinning. I hope you found this information helpful and it’s enough to get you started. Happy pinning!

Kia Tinsley is a software consultant with a degree in Information Systems and Operations Management from UNC Greensboro, and worked with us for a long summer internship as a Social Media Intern with Martin Brossman & Associates.

Martin Brossman & Associates is a Raleigh based firm providing social media training, workshops, management, talks and advising to micro businesses, small and medium sized businesses, professionals, associations and communities. Contact

Pinterest and Copyright Law, for Pinners

Basic copyright law

The basics the parts of copyright law that affect your actions on Pinterest, from a US perspective.

  • “In the public domain” means, “the creator has been dead for 70 years.” It does NOT mean, “on the internet already.”
  • Once created, any “original work of authorship” is copyrighted. The copyright is almost always owned by the person who created the object. In some very limited and specific cases, the person who paid to have a work of authorship created owns the copyright, called “work for hire.”
  • Copyrights can be registered with the US Copyright office for $35 and when they are registered, the owner acquires additional, more powerful rights, including the ability to sue for damages.
  • If your URL doesn’t end in *.edu, assume that “fair use” does not apply to you.
  • The Digital Millenium Copyright “Safe Harbor” provision applies to the host, not the user. In other words, it protects content sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest, but not you, the pinner or poster of copyrighted content to those sites.
Copyright for Pinners

Copyright for Pinners (in the United States)

For additional information and the actual text of the law, spend some time at the US Copyright Office’s website. It’s very user-friendly and pretty clear.

Applying Copyright law to your Pinning activity

Trace the source

Whenever possible, pin from the original source, rather than repining. Tumblr is almost never going to be the original source, and neither will When you trace to the original source of a pin, you can often get a sense of whether the creator has allowed, tacitly or explicitly, sharing and pinning.

  • One professional photographer on Flickr publishes the links to the picture to make it easy to link and provides information about how he wants to be credited in that flickr account.
  • Because Flickr has an easy-to-use copyright and permission labeling system, you can be reasonably sure he’s happy to share with credit, the images that are on Flickr.
  • A different photographer has a separate gallery of 30 different images labeled “Pinterest share.” In this case, I’d feel comfortable pinning from that gallery, and far less comfortable pinning any of his other work.
  • When you trace the source to a websites with a “PinIt” and/or a “follow me on Pinterest” button, you can feel comfortable about pinning an image. Understand that the website owner is nonetheless the owner of the content. Do not change the URL or modify the image and give as much credit to the site in the caption as you want to type.

If you don’t have time to trace a pin, “Like” it to save it until you can come research the original source of the image (using Google Image search).
If you find a site does not appear to support pinning, consider “Liking” the image to save it without it appearing on your boards. (Not clear if this would be considered a copyright violation that would charge to you.)

Pinning your own images

You can always pin images you created (as long as you’re not taking a picture of something that is itself under copyright protection, most often “art.”) The Pinterest app for your smart phone makes it easy to pin-on-the-run

  • I found one image of a chair that was painted with a copy of a famous work of art that is not in the public domain. (Da Vinci & Michelangelo works are in the public domain; Klimt’s work is, Picasso and Pollack are NOT.) I did not pin the image. The copy of the painting ON the chair is, probably, a violation of the artist’s copyright
  • If you paid a photographer to make the image (realtors!?!, interior designers with portfolio photography, brides), make decisions about who owns what and who can pin what when you sign the contract.
  • If you are the photographer, start discussing Pinability of your images in your contracts.

Pinning with the PinIt bookmarklet

  • Use caution; consider whether the website owner is likely to benefit from the Pin / additional traffic; consider where you are pinning the image (what type of board?). Paste the URL in the caption as well as in the “Link” field. Use a helpful caption, rather than “cute” or “awesome” or the useless “.”, which gets you past Pinterest’s requirement to put something in the description field.
  • IF you have any doubts, email the website owner and ask for permission. As a group, photographers have a mixed response to Pinterest. Some feel they will lose sales; others believe that additional traffic will bring them more business. It’s their call, not yours.

In one case, I emailed a website owner and she told me she loved Pinterest, had an account under her own name which wasn’t the name of her studio, and simply hadn’t figured out how to put the PinIt button on her website yet. Now we’re following each other. (And I saved her email…)

Stock Photo, National Geographic, and other blocked websites

Pinterest helps website owners who don’t support sharing to block pins from a site. Many of the stock photo websites installed this code, as did the National Geographic website.
Pinning when you have to do something devious to get an image from a blocked, unpinnable website is the same as shoplifting.
Some clients may be more aware of this application of copyright law than you are. Like grammar, getting it right is invisible and getting it wrong offends. (That is, a client who recognizes that you pinned a protected image is more likely to put you in the “shoplifter” bucket than a “clever person!” bucket.)

Researching images

Use “save image as” to save a copy of the image to your hard drive, then drag that image to the Google Image search box. Google will tell you where that image has been used. If Pinterest is the only source, you don’t need the pin.

Review all pins occasionally

When you get more familiar with Pinterest, take 10 minutes to look at all your pins. Make sure they all have links and that those links are legitimate.

  • I missed some curse words in URLs when I first pinned, and I have since deleted those pins.
  • You’ll develop a feel for images that should be credited differently. Beautiful, well-photographed images that are “uploaded by user” on an account that is not full of user-created beautiful images are suspicious.
  • If you’re not sure about a link or a credit, delete the Pin. Something better will show up.


If you don’t want to play, put the “don’t pin from here” code into your website.
Search Pinterest regularly for your important images. Pinerest has a clearly defined system for removing pins that should not be on the site. Use Google image search to keep track of your own work—drag an image to the Google Image search bar, and Google will tell you what sites have used that image.)


If you do want to play in Pinterest: add the follow me and Pinit buttons to your website.
Pin your own images to your own boards as a starter. Although Pinterest claims to not be about self-promotion, it also wants to see user-created content. Distribute your images across different boards, depending on your subject matter.
Decide whether watermarks are worth the trouble: it depends on your industry and your skill at adding watermarks to your images. (Photoshop will add watermarks, as will an app like PicMonkey.)


Pinterest is a fabulous tool for sharing images with your clients, your friends, and friends and clients you haven’t met yet. Share your own images, and images that have been clearly “permissioned,” and you’ll be fine.


I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
I am not a lawyer, so I have hired them, and I have learned this: Intellectual Property (IP) Lawyers have a different focus than family practice lawyers. If you need to know more about IP law in a hurry, hire a lawyer who specializes in IP law. IP Lawyers cluster around research centers and universities.

Karen Tiede is a rag rug weaver and reluctant social media marketer who discovered Pinterest for Business and lived happily ever after. Now she weaves recycled t shirts into beautiful rugs and teaches people in the portfolio professions how to use Pinterest to market their work.

Martin Brossman & Associates is a Raleigh based firm providing social media training, workshops, management, talks and advising to micro businesses, small and medium sized businesses, professionals, associations and communities. Contact