The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Pinterest Ads

Since the inception of social media, there has been a seismic shift in the ways those sites are used. In the early days, sites like Facebook and Twitter were nothing more than a place to connect with like-minded people in order to share pictures and the occasional funny video. Social media sites are now the place where business owners go to reach and engage with a huge audience.

What is it about social media that makes it so alluring for businesses to advertise their products and services? The ability to be in total control of their content and who sees it is up there, as is the opportunity to engage and put a “face” to a brand name. That said, those things, as great as they are, tend to pale in significance when compared to the ability to reach tens of millions of people with a single post. While Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram get a lot of attention when it comes to advertising on social media, they are certainly not the only game in town.

Pinterest is quickly becoming a go-to for a lot of businesses looking to reach a massive audience without breaking the bank. The number of users actively using Pinterest each month is now over 250 million, which is a staggering number of people, so it’s no surprise that more and more advertisers are making the move to Pinterest each day.

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Signing Up for Pinterest

If you already have a Pinterest account, you are just a couple of steps away from setting up your first ad. One thing to note here is that you need to have a business account in order to place ads on Pinterest. There is no additional charge to have a business account and you can change your personal page to a business one with the click of a button from within Pinterest. That said, it might be a good idea to keep your business and personal pages separate, but that is entirely up to you.

Once you have your Pinterest business account up and running, you can then start placing ads. The cost is relatively cheap, and you are able to set a budget that works for you. Pinterest usually has a nice little discount in place for those placing an ad for the first time, which usually comes in the form of a certain amount of ad dollars for free when you spend a set amount. Once you have decided to place an ad on Pinterest, it’s time to start thinking about what you should and should not do.

Pinterest Ad Do’s and Don’ts


  • DO continue to bid regularly — Like many other forms of online advertising, Pinterest ads require you to bid on specific keywords. While this may sound rather drastic and pricey to those of you unfamiliar with the process, the reality is that it’s quite straightforward and not as expensive as you might imagine. The beauty here, at least in terms of pricing, is that you are only charged for the ads that are clicked on. While this certainly makes it easy to advertise on a budget, never simply settle on your keywords and bids. If you have an ad that takes off and gets re-pinned regularly, the bid price for certain keywords may drop. Check in regularly to bid on new keywords and get the most for your money.
  • DO target wisely — This is an incredibly important element, as it could end up saving you a good deal of money over the long haul. Let’s imagine for a moment that you run a small local business that operates in a specific region. Why would you set your ads to target the entire world? Sure, it’s cool that someone in Germany clicked on your ad and got a kick out of it, but that click cost you money and it went to someone who cannot buy from your business. Know your target demographic and set up your ads accordingly.
  • DO use keywords sparingly — With Pinterest ads, you have the option of adding as many as 150 different keywords to your ad. While it can be tempting to go keyword crazy, the result is that you often end up with text that seems unnatural. People can sniff out keyword stuffing in a heartbeat, and those that do will not click on your ad. Sure, it won’t cost you any money when your ads are routinely ignored, but you are defeating the purpose of running ads in the first place. The goal is to get people to click, so get those keywords in there, but do it in a way where the copy sounds natural. People on Pinterest respond better to creativity than they do to keywords.
  • DO use a call to action — Pinterest does not allow you to put a glaring call to action in your promoted pins, but you can still get them in there. The key to doing so is to make them an organic part of your overall ad. For example, you could include something like, “by downloading our free guide…,” This is certainly not an overt CTA, but it does let the person seeing the ad know what they should do once they click on your promotional pin.
  • DO pay attention to analytics — There are going to be ads that perform better than others, which is why you really need to pay attention to the data that each ad delivers. If an ad is underperforming, don’t be afraid to go in and tweak the text, and certainly think about changing the accompanying image. Since it is the image that generally catches the eye first on Pinterest, an ad that is not doing well may be suffering due to a less than flattering image being used as part of the ad. If you pay attention to the results with every single campaign, you will soon be able to create ads that sell on autopilot.
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  • DON’T use hard sell tactics — The fact that Pinterest is against obvious calls to action within ads should be seen as a clear sign that they are not fans of the hard sell. Pinterest has always been more about creativity than anything else, which is why you need to be a little more clever when you are placing your ads. If all you want to do is put up a picture of your product with “BUY ME” as the text, you are going to have zero success. Take a look at some of the ads that show up on your pages to get an idea of what a good Pinterest ad looks like.
  • DON’T use horizontal images — You may very well be sitting on the best horizontal image that anyone has ever seen, but the harsh reality is that it will not work in your Pinterest ad. The way in which pins are displayed is far better suited to vertical ads. If you try to use a horizontal image. You are going to be forced to crop it, which generally does nothing but make the overall ad look messy and confusing. Similarly, flipping the image to make it fit into the vertical slot is not going to work. You are not going to grab the attention of your target audience if they cannot immediately figure out what it is that they are looking at.
  • DON’T add hashtags to your text — If you have spent any amount of time on Twitter, you will almost certainly be aware of the important roles that hashtags play in getting your page and tweets seen in a hurry. While hashtags are considered #cool on Twitter, the same cannot be said for their inclusion in Pinterest ads. It should be noted here that there is no rule about using hashtags on Pinterest and you are certainly free to do so, but just be aware that they are viewed rather differently there. Pinterest is a place for artistic types, and they tend to view hashtags as a bit of an intrusion, not to mention a little spammy. Yes, using hashtags might make it easier for people to find your content, but that does not necessarily mean that they are going to click it. The general rule of thumb on Pinterest is that hashtags are best left on Twitter.

Getting Started with Pinterest Ads is Easy

In the time that it took you to read this piece, you could literally have had a Pinterest ad up and running. It’s always a good idea to start out with a smaller budget until you get an idea for what people are going to respond to. Even if you have success right off the bat, don’t be afraid to change things up, as you may be able to do even better by simply changing an image or adding some different keywords into the mix.


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