Making Pinterest work for your site


March 15, 2012 by dannybishopcreative

Pinterest is the hottest new social media site right now. If you’re a guy, that might surprise you. However if you’re a girl, or you’re dating a tech savvy girl, that won’t come as any kind of shock – some reports place the female to male ratio of active users on the site at almost 6:1.

So what is Pinterest? Distilled down to its simplest, Pinterest marries the speed of twitter and the “like” button from Facebook and asks users to ‘pin’ products and photos they want to share with the world. It’s very much like the old corkboard I had on the wall of my bedroom growing up. That board had pictures of famous people I admired, clothes I wanted and quotes that inspired me all stuck on it with push pins.  Pinterest recreates that online in a way that allows your corkboard to be shared with the world.

A quick scan of Pinterest reveals how people are using it. Women have flocked to it! It’s become the way to share photos of shoes, skirts, dresses, earrings, teddy bears, cute pets and boys they’d like to meet. While the last three are of little use to most businesses, the rest are very interesting.

So how do you get people ‘pinning’ your products?

Most people who have a Pinterest account will have installed a bookmarklet that makes it simple for them to pin something they like off any page on the web. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t help things, or than you might not be maximizing your pin-ability.

When someone clicks on the pin-it bookmarklet Pinterest scrapes the page that the user is on for all “high resolution” images.  Pinterest’s definition of “high resolution” isn’t stated anywhere on their website, but it appears to qualify at least one dimension must be greater than 110 pixels and the other dimension at least 90 pixels.  To me, that’s a pretty low resolution image!

The other thing that’s important to note about Pinterest is the way it scales images. There’s some really… odd… decisions that the developers made when designing the pinterest interface. Every pin from everyone you’re following is laid out on the one page. They’re pack in one after the other left to right. Widths of each pinned item is fixed, but height isn’t. So when one row is filled, the next row starts and butts the next pin in the column immediately below the one above it. The result is a rather jumbled approach by the time you’re a few rows down.

But clever people will be able to use this to their advantage!

Pinterest will not upscale images that aren’t already as wide as its 192 pixel pin width (it will down scale images larger than this however).  But if your image is taller than it is wide (portrait orientation) Pinterest will allow you virtually unlimited height. If you have an image 192 pixels wide and 1000 pixels tall Pinterest will display it exactly that way whenever it appears.  Scaling that up, if your image is 386 pixels wide and 2000 pixels tall it will be scaled down, but not cropped, so once again it appears as 192 x 1000 pixels whenever anyone pins it. Since people can preview a higher resolution version of the 192 pixel width image before clicking through to your site.

Which leads us to the killer method of using Pinterest for you commercial products; make a new thumbnail image for all products.  Make it at least 192 pixels wide and as tall as you’d like. Don’t go crazy here. You’re not trying to annoy the hell out of people, but you are trying to make a statement!

Here’s an example of pinning an image of an Essendon guernsey. Rather than the usual 400 x 400 pixel image I took the back and front images and top-and-tailed them into an 800 pixel high image.  The result is a post within Pinterest that is big, without being insanely so.

Pinning the tall guernsey image

Pinning the tall guernsey image

Guernsey within Pinterest
Guernsey within Pinterest

Note also, adding a price within the description automatically creates a ribbon with that price across the top left corner of the image! That’s a very nifty added bonus from the Pinterest folks!

Here’s the code taken from the Pinterest Goodies page for adding a “Pin it” button on your website;

<a href="$zz.zz-price-here" count-layout="none">Pin It</a>
<script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>

Within this you can specify the URL of the page you want to act as a referrer (perfect for adding link tracking) and the URL of the image itself, making it easy to have the tall, non-standard image available to Pinterest fans without redesigning your website!

So get to it! Make your pages Pin happy now!

One last point: with women such heavy users of Pinterest, don’t expect bar mats and stubby holders to get massive traction. However women are sporty! So making sure your female apparel and equipment is ready for them to pin and share will surely see some great results for savvy digital types!


6 thoughts on “Making Pinterest work for your site

  1. mixhelle says:

    Good one Danny, the sizing is vexatious but you’ve cleared that up nicely.

  2. Lauriann says:

    Here’s something which I ‘truly’ don’t understand…

    Upon pinning an image — most times uploaded from my system — its full size displays on screen when hovered over, but once I edit the same pin to add a web address — by norm right afterwards — there’s no longer enlargement when hovering over that picture.

    I see no logic in this and less so since usually my images don’t come from the site I am citing as a reference to allow further information about ‘whatever’ I pin — such cancelling the illogical eventuality of an ‘interaction’ where the ‘reference site’ would impose some sort of own image size limits.

    Needless to say how frustrating this is given the effort — timewise — to look for pictures best illustrating what you’d like to pin on a platform by definition visual.

    • Hi Lauriann. This isn’t something I’ve come across before. Pinterest’s standard pattern is for people to use images from the site that’s reference. Perhaps they are imposing the restrictions due to the possibility of system abuse the method you describe introduces. Perhaps this is a limitation placed on the method by Pinterest in an effort to encourage users to pin images from the site, ensuring that there are no nasty surprises once a visitor clicks through? Just a thought.

  3. Lauriann says:

    Hi Danny, thanks for your comment.

    While I do understand your reference to abusive pinning — objectively misleading pinning, my case and/or issue shows that such reasoning cannot be systematically applied and thus defined as a ‘preventive’ rule.

    I have no doubt that I am not isolated in terms of the attention paid to the overall look of a personal account hence not dissociating usefulness from aesthetics.

    Briefly, it is not uncommon while browsing the net that a subject matter won’t be accompanied by an appealing and/or clear illustration and similarly a good enough picture by a comprehensive text or description — such instances, to mention only these, leading to the association of two separate sources in a same pin.

    As a matter of fact the option to edit the link of a pinned image is in this sense not only useful — essential — but tends to contradict the presence of a ‘voluntary’ preventive setting.

    Nevertheless, if such was the case Pinterest should focus on discriminating spam accounts from ‘healthy’ ones, instead of ‘drawing down’ the visual content of its site.

    It should be considered that for many ‘non commercial’ users — who will logically always be the majority — Pinterest acts as an open ‘scrapbook’ with all of its inherent visual selectivity, whatever the individual criteria. Thus the presence of a lot of personal pictures and art work with no other purpose than to share a visual pleasure — making picture enlargement all the more mandatory.

    Technically ‘sophisticated’ commercial scrapbook-like sites — as seems to have become the trend — already abound on the web, and for Pinterest to stand out from the crowd and not be assimilated to a mere additional ‘web catalogue’ is to enhance and thus promote a superior visual experience.

    I would add that, given the right long term decisions, Pinterest has the potential to stand as Twitter’s visual counterpart.

    Which in my view would be an achievement.

    • Thanks for such a considered reply Lauriann. I’m not sure there’s anything you’ve said that I would disagree with. I’m not certain Pinterest have discriminated in the manner I’ve proposed they have, it only seems to be a likely answer. Either way, I can’t but agree with you that there are few good reasons for the methodology you’ve described.

      One point though, is that it’s incredibly difficult for any social media startup to moderate effectively, so all of them tend to be over zealous with their automated systems for dealing with phishing,spam and deceptive conduct. Humans are pretty good at spotting the misuse of systems, but humans are expensive to employ in large enough numbers to beat the antics of the bots that infect their networks.

      Once again, thanks for your (great) comments.

  4. […] mostly I use Google Image search to find an image I can modify to work as a 192 pixel thumbnail. 192 pixels is the size of images in Pinterest’s RSS feeds so I’ve gone with that width to make my homepage layout […]

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