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November 27, 2014

Pinterest Lessons from Its Influential Few

Celebrities come in all shapes and sizes. Some are groomed from a young age and grace television screens for decades. Others are self-made: investors and business owners who take ideas and run with them. Some – a growing number – start online.

Such is the case of Pinstars, Pinfluencers, Pinlebrities – the naming options are endless. Like others in their class – YouTube sensations, Twitter personalities and thriving Vinestars, Pinfluencers, or Pinterest influencers have well-established followings and are slowly but steadily leaving their mark across the world via Pinterest, the fourth most popular social network in the United States.

Who are Pinfluencers?

Unlike other social celebrities who gain status from lucky posts that go viral or real-life activities that make a splash, or at least generate a good story, online, Pinfluencers are regular Pinterest users who just happened to get lucky.

It all comes down to how Pinterest works. When a new user signs up or creates an account, they are given a recommended list of other users to follow. As the numbers would have it, early adopters of Pinterest made out well in this game. By having created a few of the first accounts, they were recommended more frequently. As such, their followings grew and – regardless of post types, interests or categories – they became network superstars.

According to HelloSociety, a marketing and talent agency designed specifically for Pinfluencers, there are approximately 400 early network adopters who now earn impressive incomes based on the fact that they registered for Pinterest early and maintained an active presence.

Why the Need for an Agency?

HelloSociety may not be the only talent agency for social network stars. It is, however, the largest agency for Pinfluencers. The need for the agency becomes apparent when the nature of Pinfluencers is examined in detail.

Unlike other networks, like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, which have real-life celebrities at the helm of most of the massive accounts and who have built-in talent agencies to represent them and maintain their accounts, Pinterest is different.

Boasting a predominantly female demographic, with only 31.8% male users, and with top categories that include Food & Drink, DIY & Crafts, Home D├ęcor and Holidays & Events, Pinterest doesn’t attract as many big brands and celebrities looking to cultivate a following as it does every day users who want to find ideas for their home, their dinner menu, collections and for niche interests.

This means, that, at their core, the top Pinfluencers in the world are average, every day users who are just looking to spark their creativity. They probably had little interest in amassing hundreds of thousands of followers and probably never even considered that possibility until they were already well on the way to it happening.

Soon, their Pinterest hobby became a sustainable income provider, allowing many Pinfluencers to leave their jobs while making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. The need for an agency soon became clear, leading to the success of companies like HelloSociety.

Where the Money Comes From

Sound appealing? Wondering where that money actually comes from? The answer might not be what you expect.

As HelloSociety CEO and Founder Kyla Brennan explained to re/code, most Pinfluencers who earn a living from their pins do so through endorsements. For instance, a pinner who builds a huge following around their fashion-related boards might attract an endorsement from Macy’s; Starbucks might be more likely to endorse Pinfluencers who focus on coffee recipes and experiences. The possibilities vary from one brand to another, however, endorsements remain an important source of income for the world’s top Pinfluencers.

Top Pinners earn around $250 thousand per year from endorsement deals. This business is also lucrative for the talent agencies and other companies that represent the Pinfluencers. Last year, HelloSociety earned $12.5 million in revenue with just 26 employees.

Put simply: there is money to be made through Pinterest. While it may not come in traditional formats, maintaining an active Pinterest presence and starting relationships with the right Pinfluencers can go a long way.

Lessons to Help Boost Your Brand’s Pinfluence

How can you take advantage of Pinfluencers? How can you get in on the commerce game? Take a few lessons from those who’ve already made a mark.

  • Avoid Traditional Advertising. While Facebook and Twitter are full of ads designed to draw in average users, Pinterest is different. Its ability to spread a brand’s message is more subtle, and, as such, requires less in the form of traditional advertising. Opt instead for more integrated forms of native advertising, either through targeted endorsements or Pinterest’s own ads.
  • Build Relationships with Pinfluencers. Do some research and find out who the top Pinfluencers in your niche are. Food companies, look for avid food bloggers who post their work on the network. Those selling kids’ goods could search for top Mommy bloggers and pinners. Follow these pinners to learn from their strategy, and try to forge a relationship.
  • Evaluate Your Pinning Strategy. Remember that these Pinfluencers did not skyrocket to fame overnight; they carefully built their empires with dedicated, daily curation and an authentic enthusiasm for what they pinned. Keep your followers’ best interests in mind (which means sharing lots of valuable content from other sites than just your own!) and you will steadily build your sphere of influence.

Influence on social media is changing as we know it. You no longer need to be Lady Gaga to grow an engaged following, especially on Pinterest. Today, brands and individuals can get ahead with a little social media savvy. Take a lesson from the Pinstars to take your brand to the next level.


Adrienne Erin writes twice weekly for SiteProNews about online marketing strategies that help businesses like Cleverpedia succeed. Follow @adrienneerin on Twitter to see more of her work or get in touch.