Pinterest Marketing Tips: What You Can Learn From 20 Big Brands

Not sure what you're doing on Pinterest? These companies have it down and offer some useful marketing ideas you can use.

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By John Rampton

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Having a specific strategy for using Pinterest is still an entirely new realm, and it can help to have some inspiration from others who have blazed the trail for the rest of us. Pinterest-marketing experts such as Cynthia Sanchez of Oh So Pinteresting have helped show other marketers how Pinterest can be beneficial to their businesses.

For some companies, Pinterest can be a huge online marketing opportunity. To know how to make the most use of the picture-sharing platform, sometimes it's best to look at how larger companies are using Pinterest and getting it right.

The following 20 brands on Pinterest give us some insight into the type of content that makes users gain so many followers, as well as how your target audience's overall exposure to and perception of your brand makes an impact when building up a faithful online community.

Lowe's: specific boards about a single topic

Lowe's has almost 3.6 million followers and has built its presence by focusing on very specific boards about a single topic including, "Grillin' and Chillin' and "50 Projects Under $50". This type of specificity has helped Lowe's become one of the most followed brands on Pinterest.

Related: How to Keep Your Pinterest Boards Fresh, Fun and Relevant

Martha Stewart Living: more is better

The Martha Stewart brand, which includes magazines, a website and several product lines, has a huge Pinterest profile with more than 126 boards and almost 13,000 pins. This has helped them reach almost half a million followers. The board for Martha Stewart Living is teaching us that more is better when it comes to Pinterest. For large numbers of boards and pins, organization is key. Each pin needs to serve a purpose and be visually interesting.

Real Simple: know your brand

Real Simple magazine has about 340,000 followers on Pinterest and is so successful mainly because it has taken what the brand means to its readers to heart. Real Simple focuses on making lives easier and its pins reflect that. With boards like, "Easy Hairstyles & Accessories" and "Doable Fitness Tips & Ideas," its Pinterest profile makes self-improvement approachable.

Whole Foods: be creative with naming your boards

The Whole Foods chain of grocery stores in the U.S., U.K. and Canada focuses on providing natural and organic food and products to its customers and has a growing Pinterest presence, with more than 140,000 followers. When a brand has one main focus (natural food and products), it can help keep their Pinterest followers' interest if they name their boards creatively. Board names like "Cheese is the Bee's Knees" and "How Does Your Garden Grow?" lets users know immediately what the board is about in a lighthearted way.

Self Magazine: stay relevant with the times

Self Magazine is almost at 200,000 followers and focuses on improving the mind, body, and soul. For every season, it changes its bio to reflect something unique about it. Because the magazine has significant brand recognition, this change allows it to stay relevant while giving users an idea of what pins they will see.

Refinery 29: integrate web content with Pinterest

Lifestyle site Refinery 29 focuses on fashion and ties its website's content into its Pinterest board for its more than 206,000 followers. Besides pinning external content, the company also has created boards for relatef events or content on their website, including "R29 Beach House" and "Fashion Week 2013."

Related: As Social Media Becomes More Visual, a Tool for Analyzing Image Engagement

Today show: pin regularly

Whoever is in charge of the Today show's Pinterest board has been doing an amazing job of pinning on a regular basis. This keeps your profile's pins in the feed of each pin's category, thus growing followers and re-pins. To date, the TODAY show has over 23,000 pins and more than 106,000 followers.

Etsy: when promoting, think visually

On Pinterest, Etsy's more than 317,000 followers can see what types of products are available from Etsy's sellers, who sell everything from earrings to reclaimed retro signs. By visually promoting their own products, Etsy is able to increase sellers' revenues while also driving traffic to their website. Because it is an e-commerce site, followers can also be alerted when there are price changes on the site, another revenue increase.

Sephora: make sharing easy

Beauty retail giant Sephora has not only grown its own Pinterest following to almost 200,000 followers, it has made Pinterest sharing extremely easy on their e-commerce product pages, which has made a top ten referrer for its website. 

Ellen DeGeneres: do what you do best

Comedienne Ellen DeGeneres is her own brand, built around her daily talk show and books. She has almost 264,000 followers on Pinterest, mainly because she sticks to what she is known for: comedy. All her boards surround funny tattoos, babies, pets and other interests she has talked about on her show, such as vegan recipes. She's not trying to create boards about DIY or cruises. Her Pinterest board sticks to what she knows and it works.

The Knot: feature what's most creative

Wedding website, magazine and social community The Knot is the go-to resource for engaged brides that are planning their wedding. Its Pinterest profile, which has about 44,000 followers, was a must-have for the brand, as its entire concept was built on inspiring its users. Brands that have products and services that focus on creativity and inspiration need to have a Pinterest board as part of their marketing presence. Users are beginning to expect their favorite brands to be online. 

Related: 3 Ways Pinterest is Shaping Its Future

L.L. Bean: be mindful of customer habits

L.L. Bean's impressive 5.6 million followers must like its approach: to not focus on their products, but rather what its target customers like to do. This means the boards cover everything from "Outdoor Fun" to fishing. By giving the impression that L.L. Bean customers like a certain set of activities, its target audience will feel like L.L. Bean would work with their lifestyle.

Country Living: don't forget to customize

Country Living magazine does something unique on Pinterest that almost no one else does: custom board covers. Not only is this extremely visually appealing, it also helps almost 300,000 followers see at a glance the types of pins they will find on the Country Living boards.

Image Credit: Olivia Frescura

Birchbox: engage your customers

Beauty sample subscription service Birchbox has almost 1 million followers on Pinterest, mainly due to the sense of community it has built. Birchbox has several group boards that allow other Pinterest users to add pins, thus leading to a great sense of community and engagement.

Everyday Health: be sure to link back to your website

A lesson we can learn from a major brand that's doing something wrong: Everyday Health may have more than 3.8 million Pinterest followers, but it doesn't list its website on its Pinterest profile. This may be costing the brand large amounts of website traffic. Be sure to complete the bio section, as well as linking and verifying the brand's website.

Jetsetter: populate your boards with pins

Travel deal and guide site Jetsetter has about 4.6 million followers and has a fair amount of pins on each board. When first starting a board, pin at least 20-30 pins to it so it doesn't look bare. Boards that don't have at least five pins to cover each of the preview spaces makes the entire profile look unfinished.

Sarah Fogle: be consistent

By having a successful DIY blog, Sarah Fogle was lucky enough to become a featured user by Pinterest to new users when they signed up. This has helped her grow to more than 3.7 million followers. While there is no concrete way to become a featured user, good pins, a steady following, and regular use can help increase your odds.

Popsugar: try creating sub-profiles

Popsugar Fitness is an example of when a sub-brand has more followers than its original profile. Popsugar Fitness, which hosts content at, has three times as many followers (more than 154,000) than the Popsugar pinterest board. This type engagement proves that sometimes sub-profiles can help better segment content and make profiles more successful. Many brands and news sites have separate profiles for each country or major department of their brand, and it works.

Nordstrom: be transparent and accessible

This major department store has more than 4.5 million followers and is utilizing its bio space in a unique way. It not only gives the names of the social media team managing the profile (thus personalizing their brand), it also gives their main customer service phone number in case customers have questions or issues with their products. This helps make Nordstrom seem more accessible to its customers, growing trust and positive brand identity.

Mashable: make the experience fun

Mashable proves that blogs and websites can be successful on Pinterest. With almost 1.5 million followers and thousands of pins from its website on other users' boards, Mashable not only promotes its content graphically but also makes it easy to share it by including several graphics in their blog posts. 

John Rampton

Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Entrepreneur and Connector

John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor and startup enthusiast. He is the founder of the calendar productivity tool Calendar.

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