Practical Ecommerce

Pinterest: Tap Shared Interests for Ecommerce Sales

How many times have you purchased a product just because one of your Facebook friends did? Likely, your answer is, “Not very often.”

As retailers, we make a mistake to think that people rely exclusively on their social graph — the network of friends on social networks. More often, they rely on what is known as the “interest graph” — people who share the same passions and interests about a product or service.

One of the secrets to successful social commerce sales is to utilize social technologies and platforms in ways that tie into people’s interests and passions. A good example of this is Pinterest. Although the site could be considered a social network, it does not rely on the social graph as the impetus for the activity that takes place there. Instead, it emphasizes the interest graph.

Here are 10 ways you can use Pinterest to tap into the interest graph to promote product sales.

1. Hold a “Pinterest Lottery”

Ask users to “repin” numbered images you have posted. Each week, select an image and enter those who have repinned it into a drawing for a special prize.

2. Run a Pinterest Sales Promotion

Run a sales promotion in which you vary prices based on the number of times a product image is repinned. Ecommerce fashion retailer Gilt held such a promotion. Rather than requiring a minimum number of people to commit to buying a product to unlock a special offer, all that was required was that a minimum number of users repin a product image.

3. Publish Your Product Catalog on Pinterest

Use a series of curated and themed boards to promote products in a way that aligns with people’s interests. That’s exactly what jewelry retailer does with boards that go by titles such as “Wedding Details,” “Nail Polish Love,” and “Chocolate Cravings.”

4. Ask Pinterest Members to Pin Favorite Product Images

Encourage customers to pin images they find on your ecommerce site for a chance to win the product itself or gift cards for use on the site. An outstanding example of this is a 2011 campaign by retailer Lands’ End. Called “Pin It to Win It,” the brand asked followers to browse its Lands’ End Canvas website and pin their favorite items to Pinterest for a chance to win gift cards valued at $250.

5. Make it Easy for Site Visitors to Pin Products

Pinterest offers a “Pin it” button that can be placed on every product detail page of your ecommerce site.

6. Repin Images from Pinterest Members to Your Company Page

This serves to provide inspiration, attract attention, and support social sharing. In turn, this could lead to interest in the product images you’ve posted, as well as to the products themselves.

7. Pinterest is Not for Products Only

Service businesses can use Pinterest to promote items like reports, infographics, images associated with blog posts, and so on. Internet marketing company Anduro Marketing uses Pinterest to pin infographics on topics such as social media strategy and search engine optimization, for example.

8. Pin Videos to Pinterest

Pinterest isn’t just for images. Video content works just as well. Consider creating boards for product-related videos, customer testimonials, or behind the scenes looks at your company.

9. Share Pins on Other Social Networks

Attract attention to your Pinterest company page by sharing pins on other social networks where you maintain a presence. Do the same with pins from your customers that you have pinned to your page.

10. Make Your Customers’ Lifestyles Top Priority

Pinterest provides a blank canvas for creative expression, which demands that merchants go beyond a product-push mentality and adopt a social mindset that puts the interests of consumers first.


Sites like Pinterest are tools to help people discover, evaluate, and decide based on their shared experience. Therefore, from an ecommerce perspective, selling through people’s interests and passions is smart business. Identify communities of interest rather than demographics, and sell with offers adapted to them and relevant to their passions. This simply makes for an easier sell.

Paul Chaney

Paul Chaney

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  1. Paul Chaney October 17, 2012 Reply

    Toni, I had not heard of that site, so thank you for bringing it to my attention. I’ll have to check it out. Another site that fits this genre is, which turns Pinterest boards into online stores. I’m sure we’ll see more of the same in the near future.

  2. Itai Raveh October 17, 2012 Reply

    Hi Paul, great article. I’d also like to add that embedding pinterest within a website should be a strategic priority and filter right down to the product and technical development elements. Looking at point (5) above, many sites, including ours until recently, are not pin friendly as image formats are not compatible with pinning [members could not render images for the pin it function].

    The use of social sharing tools of any kind should be deeply embedded into a company’s culture – it’s about taking the generic share tools and integrating them with the site’s UX to fit into the site’s overall context and function, with a unique call to action. For example, in the context of a social gifting site, rather than just having a “share” call to action next to the products, why not have a share button calling the members to “get friends’ opinions on the gift” – enabling them to ask friends via Pinterest, Twitter or Facebook. With a simple text addition that fits the context, sites should be able to take a generic share button and make it their own built-in, mini social sharing feature.

    Lastly, on the point of “selling through people’s interests and passions is smart business”, is a great example of how to integrate the two.

  3. Paul Chaney October 21, 2012 Reply

    Very good advice Itai and, considering you are steeped in the social commerce space with Ventribe, it’s well taken too.

    When it comes down to it, social sharing just makes good business sense. However, retailers have to have a "share, not silo" mindset. If they do, then the technical implementation is a "devil in the details" thing.

  4. Lisa Wheeler October 29, 2012 Reply

    Thanks for all these helpful tips! Another great article I read to help retailers on Pinterest is available at about how companies are using different tactics like price information recently made available through Pinterest to better market to consumers. Thanks again!