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6 Essential Criteria Your Pinterest Pins Should Meet Find out how to select content for your business's Pinterest boards that will help define your business and your brand.

By Karen Tiber Leland

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The following excerpt is from Karen Tiber Leland's book Ultimate Guide to Pinterest for Business. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

Just posting any old photo or video won't get visitors to follow your business's Pinterest boards. In general, you want all your pins to meet the following criteria:

Is it appropriate?
This may sound obvious, but, as Pinterest states, porn, nudity, graphic violence, attacks on groups or individuals, hateful speech or symbols and spam are all considered objectionable content. Also, be sure to think before you pin anything that might violate another's privacy or your own. A good rule of thumb: If you wouldn't want the image or information to appear on the front page of The New York Times, then it doesn't belong on Pinterest.

Is it interesting, cute, unique, beautiful or funny?
The only thing a visitor to your Pinterest account may use to determine whether they want to stay is their first glance at the pictures you post. Pins that are interesting, funny, cute, beautiful or unique stand a better chance of getting repinned. If visitors aren't intrigued enough by the image to go further, they may never get to your bio, click through to your website, or even read the description of the pin.

Is it on brand, message and target?
A cosmetic dentist's Pinterest boards probably won't feature photos of cute little bunnies -- but a veterinarian's site just might. Whatever images you end up pinning, they won't move your marketing forward if they aren't congruent with your brand and on message and on target for your audience. Don't waste your audience's time or patience with images that don't directly and specifically:

  • Make them happier, healthier or richer. GoGirl Finance has a board called "Personal Finance," which offers a host of "how to" pins on how to handle your money, including one on "5 Ways to Help (or Hurt) Your Credit Score."
  • Move and/or inspire them. The "Happiness" board from Passion and Positivity focuses on aspirational messages and images.
  • Show them how to do something better, faster, cheaper, etc. Fitness magazine has a whole board titled "Work Those Abs," with pins showing ways to get tight and toned.
  • Educate, enlighten, or entertain them. Dr. Mehmet Oz of Oprah fame has a strong presence on Pinterest, with more than 100,000 followers. His "Oz Lists" board offers educational information on healthy foods such as the "100 Foods Dr. Oz Wants in Your Grocery Cart" pin.

Spending your efforts posting things that help craft an accurate and powerful picture of who you are as a business and brand makes viewers want to engage with you.

Do your pins tell a story, with feeling?
Photos that evoke a strong emotion, tell a story or communicate a clear message make great pins. One way to evaluate whether your image has the right stuff is to think of a single word that expresses the idea, meaning, story or message you want to convey. Then take that word and find images that match.

The right size
While Pinterest doesn't limit the vertical size of the images you can post, it only allows for a horizontal width of 735 pixels. Anything wider will be resized. However, it's best to avoid a long vertical that requires visitors to scroll down to view the entire image. Instead, keep your vertical size to under 5,000 pixels. On the other side of the coin, images that are too small (under 250 pixels wide or deep) end up looking teeny-tiny and don't catch the eye.

The right mix
While there are no hard-and-fast rules about pin content composition, the general idea is to mix it up enough so that your boards are robust, not boring. While Pinterest is more art than science, a good rule of thumb for the percentage of pins that should make up your boards is:

  • 40 percent motivational. These are pins that uplift and inspire. They may be motivational quotes, moving images or beautiful photographs, but they create a desire in the viewer for something more, better, higher.
  • 40 percent instructional. Educational rather than promotional in nature, these are pins that show the viewer how to do something related to your brand or topic.
  • 10 percent product or service profiles. Pins that feature your products and/or services and promote your business have a place on Pinterest -- but they should not be the majority of your pins. Pins that feature offers, contests, specials and demonstrations of what you do belong in this group.
  • 10 percent about the brand. These are pins that tell your story, your company story and the story of your brand. Pins that profile your customers, feature people engaging with your products or services and highlight testimonials for your company fit into this category.

Karen Tiber Leland

Author and President of Sterling Marketing Group

Karen Leland is the founder of Sterling Marketing Group, where she helps entrepreneurs and executives build stronger personal, team and business brands. She is also the best-selling author of The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build and Accelerate Your Brand.

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