With more than 70 million users, Pinterest provides a great opportunity for companies to get in front of their audience. What do I mean? Let’s break down some basic stats about Pinterest users and brands on the platform. This data comes from a 2014 study by Ahalogy on Pinterest Media Consumption.

First of all, who are Pinterest users? Research shows that active users are young, tech-savvy and tend to have more of a disposable income. In fact, the most active users are who some marketers are referring to as Millennial Moms – young parents who grew up in the digital age. Additionally, Pinterest users tend to be early adopters who are looking for the newest thing.

Another important thing to note: most active Pinterest users like to see brand activity on the forum. This means that active Pinterest users are essentially sitting on the platform waiting to be marketed to.

Now for some hard numbers. Just over 22 percent of the US population is active on Pinterest (for the sake of the study I’m referencing, “active” means they use the platform at least once a month). What do we know about these users? In general, the most active users:

  • Are under the age of 40
  • Have a higher purchasing power
  • Use the platform on both weekdays and weekends
  • Are satisfied with their pinterest experience
  • Are women

Keep in mind, though, Pinterest is not just for women. Only around 14% of active users are male, but this number is growing, with men being 36% more likely to have joined Pinterest in the last 6 months compared to women. Male Pinterest users tend to:

  • Be single
  • Live alone
  • Own a home
  • Have a higher income compared to women on the site
  • Use Pinterest differently than women (they are nine percent more likely to pin from outside websites and 10% more likely to pin their own content)
  • Be more likely to try something new because they saw it on Pinterest
  • Have a higher purchasing power on the platform than women

Pinterest versus Traditional Media for Users

This same study we’ve been looking at found that active Pinterest users tend to read more magazines than non-readers. However, it also indicated that this is starting to shift. Active users watch less TV each week than non-users, and they’re also moving away from magazines and catalogs, with 43% using Pinterest in place of magazines and 49% in place of catalogs.

What’s even more striking, though, is that Pinterest is beginning to replace traditional search engines. In fact, 39% of active users tend to choose Pinterest over other search engines, such as Google. Pinterest has strength over Google in some of the top categories such as food, fashion and decor, making it almost more of a visual search engine than a place to find “pinspiration.”

Purchasing Power of Pinterest Users

Now that we have an idea of the typical demographics on Pinterest, let’s talk about purchasing power before we get into marketing best practices.

Data from AddShoppers shows that a whopping 38% of total shares for merchants happens on Pinterest – that’s higher than any other social network. To add to that, 34% of total clicks, 8% of social sales and 10% of revenue comes from the platform. With a conversion rate of 0.46% and an average order value of $155.56, it’s easy to see that sales are happening on Pinterest.

I’ve already mentioned that active users tend to have a higher disposable income, but what do they do with it? 38% of active users have made a purchase because of something they saw on Pinterest. When you break it down further, the numbers get even higher – 43% of moms who are active on Pinterest have purchased something because of a pin, and 53% of daily users have purchased something because of a pin.

Another interesting finding was that active users are actually very open to brand marketing on Pinterest. In fact, 83% of active users would rather follow their favorite brand than a celebrity. However, only 27% of users reported actually following a brand on Pinterest, which is where the newly-debuted Promoted Pins feature becomes important. Users are open to promoted content, as long as it provides value to them. In fact, 73% of active users and 72% of daily users said they were neutral to positive about promoted pins, and those that expressed negative feelings about paid content tended to be concerned that ads would disrupt the organic sharing the platform is known for.

Marketing Uses and Best Practices

Now that we’ve gained insight into how people are using the platform, let’s go through some organic and paid ways to reach active users. Here are our top five tips for marketing on Pinterest.

  1. Use Pinterest to watch and closely follow trends. For example, let’s say that I own a cooking blog. I can use the platform to come up with new recipes and content for my blog. From my own personal Pinterest use I’ve noticed a lot of the people I follow are planning food that is paleo, or “clean eating” recipes. By noticing that, I can see the value in creating a series of posts devoted to paleo-fying the most popular recipes on my blog.
  2. If you’re a PR professional, use Pinterest to help find journalists to pitch. We all know the importance of pitching to the right person. Suppose I have a cutting-edge product that I think would be perfect for Mashable, but I’m not sure who to pitch it to. If I can find Mashable journalists on Pinterests, I can search through their boards to find the person who would be most interested in hearing more about my product.
  3. Build your brand on Pinterest. Begin by identifying your brand essence. Then, use Pinterest to visually represent this. For example, if I represented an airline that only flies to exotic destinations, I would dedicate boards to photos of exotic images, vacation tips, travel tips and other similar topics.
  4. Position yourself as an influencer through content creation. Pinning content from others is definitely important, but don’t forget about the value of your own content, especially when it comes to marketing and amplifying yourself. Create valuable, original content, then find a way to promote it visually. You could create an infographic, visually provide a tutorial, pin a featured image, or even create a graphic with an article’s title.
  5. Use the platform to keep track of ideas and plan events. The Pinterest cliche is that it’s all about planning weddings, but there is a good reason for this – Pinterest is a great way to organize inspiration. Secret boards are especially useful for this. Use them to make a list of articles and sources, share things internally, store ideas for outreach, or collectively strategize for a new client.

A few other best practices:

  • The best captions are between 200 and 300 words and include solid keywords.
  • Don’t use short links because Pinterest may flag them as spam.
  • Be wary of hashtags. They can help provide context, but they aren’t available on mobile, they aren’t all indexed, and they may redirect traffic away from your site.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of Promoted Pins.
  • Image characteristics are important. One study found that the best photos have a reddish-orange color with multiple dominant colors and medium lightness. They also have an aspect ratio between 2:3 and 4:5, are less than 10% background, have a smooth texture, and don’t include faces.