Pinterest’s revamped private messaging system gives retailers more options for directly connecting with influential and active Pinterest users. ZOG Digital‘s Heather Smith laid out three strategies for turning those Pinterest activists into customers for Internet Retailer.


Retailers should already know that Pinterest is a powerful tool when it comes to connecting with consumers, especially women. With the release of Pinterest’s revamped and upgraded private messaging system, retailers have more options to directly connect with influential and active Pinterest users and to encourage those consumers to make purchases.

The retail power of Pinterest comes from its user base, with one-third of women in the U.S. using the social site according to Pew Research. This is important because women make up the majority of online retail purchases — 58 percent according to a study by the Center for Emerging Female Leadership. These women on Pinterest can be directly tied to retail sales. A study from Piqora showing that each pin by a user was worth roughly 78 cents in sales for the brand featured. Sprouts Insights research showed that consumers are 10 percent more likely to buy a product they see on Pinterest compared to when they’re exposed to the product on other social networks.

The new tool is an upgraded version of the old “Send a Pin” feature, which was popular but limited. Now pinners and retailers can keep a conversation going by interacting with pins through the message feed, save pins for later use, re-pin suggestions directly from the message feed, or send entire boards to contacts. The upgraded feature also allows for group messaging, something not previously available.

3 Proven Strategies for Retailers

Now, with the addition of this upgraded private messaging tool, retailers have more options to expand exposure and reach on Pinterest:

  1. Build Relationships with Pinterest Influencers

Brands can identify influencers on Pinterest using two main metrics: followers and activity. Retailers should focus on creating relationships with users who are active daily on Pinterest and have a large following. Once identified, retailers can use the direct messaging tool as a point of contact with the influencers. This initial message should be personalized and friendly, not transactional. After a relationship is established, the brand can work with the influencer to create a board about the brand on the user’s page, or even invite the influencer to create a guest board on the brand’s page. Both options connect the brand and the influencer, turning this selective group of users into brand advocates, expanding the brand’s reach to a wider audience.

  1. Create “VIP” Consumer Groups

These VIP groups can consist of Pinterest users that interact most often with a retailer’s board or have featured the retailer’s products on their own boards. Using the group messaging feature, a retailer could even create tiers, with different tiers of influencers getting unique rewards. Brands can collect this information and then send these pinners exclusive offers, giving people an incentive to interact and re-pin a retailer’s posts. With each interaction and re-pin, the brand’s post gains exposure, increasing its chances of leading to a sale.

  1. Respond Directly to Consumers

The private messaging tool should also become a customer service option for retailers as well. Brands can respond to comments and questions on Pinterest in a private manner, much like what can be done with private messaging on Twitter and Facebook. But, with Pinterest’s private messaging options, retailers can send pins to users, helping provide direct, quick, and actionable information to users.

The ONE thing Retailers Must Avoid: Spam

While private messaging can be a useful tool for retailers to expand reach, brands must avoid overuse because it can be seen as spam and have a negative impact. The system, which is limited to people and brands that follow each other, is meant to be intimate, not a bullhorn. Brands that overuse the feature, or lack tact when it comes to the content of the messages, will not see the positive impacts of these tactics. Retailers should selectively use these strategies, choosing only the most influential Pinterest users to connect and partner with.


The options for retailers when it comes to taking advantage of Pinterest private messaging are huge. By using private messaging to create relationships with influential Pinterest users, retailers have the ability to dramatically extend the reach of each pin, which in turn creates more opportunities for pin-related sales. Retailers should focus on creating quality relationships with highly followed and highly active pinners and use those relationships to forge a team of brand advocates on Pinterest. Those brand advocates could become the most effective way to spread new products, share new pins and use Pinterest as an ROI-producing platform.

ZOG Digital is an independent digital marketing company based in Scottsdale, Ariz. ZOG Digital’s services include search engine optimization, social media marketing, paid advertising, and design and development.

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