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The Ultimate Pinterest Strategy Guide For Events

By Nick Borelli
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Pinterest is more than a social media, it’s a search engine driving business from consumers to creative professionals. There are massive opportunities for event planners. Are you pinning to win?

This article features strategies and insights that should give you a new perspective on just what is possible with the power of Pinterest. You will learn Pinterest terminology, image optimization techniques, and strategies to modify your business and improve collaboration with your vendor partners and clients. This ultimate guide features strategies specific to different aspects of the industry that you can implement immediately. Talk about the sections that apply to you at your next team meeting, bring them up to your designer and make sure you are getting the most from this platform. It’s time revisit just how much Pinterest can offer the corporate event industry.

Read on to Find Out:

  1. What’s Unique About Pinterest for Events?
  2. Pinterest Terminology
  3. Optimizing For Pinterest
  4. Marketing on Pinterest
  5. Creative/Design Strategies
  6. Event Marketing Strategies
  7. Business Marketing Strategies
  8. Pinterest for Venues and Hotel
  9. Pinterest for Caterers
  10. Pinterest for Designers
  11. Pinterest for Audio Visual Companies
  12. Pinterest for Event Planners & Producers
  13. The Future of Pinterest
  14. 10 Essential Pinterest Accounts to Follow in the Event Industry
The Ultimate Pinterest Strategy Guide For Events
  1. Pinterest For Corporate Events

When it comes to the event world, Pinterest has been unjustly pigeonholed by many as the domain of either of the DIY or the social event planner. In the world of wedding planning, it’s impact has been a frequent topic of heated debates for the past 6 years. It is less frequently mentioned as a utility for meetings, trade shows, conferences, and corporate events. More than any other social media, Pinterest has been defined by it’s early adopters and has become synonymous with it’s less diverse (compared to other platforms) make up of users. It is a tool for creatives and list makers that applies to the entire MICE spectrum. It’s time to take another look at the potential of this social media juggernaut to see if your work will be enhanced by “Pinspiration”.

What Makes Pinterest So Different?

With every other social media platform adopting the most popular features of their competitors, Pinterest continues to standout as one of the most unique. There are over 75 billion images currently on Pinterest arranged and curated by a user base that is 77% female who are pinning through mobile 75% of the time. (Pew Research Center)

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Note the Gender Balance similarities between Planners and Pinterest users.

As someone who looks at the evolution of social media and its adoption demographics, that’s what I always think of when I think of Pinterest… it has a very specific group of users. Most demographics between platforms swing no more than 10% one way or the other but in many ways, Pinterest is an outlier. Even its users are split on its fundamental purpose along demographical lines. Women generally use it as a wish list for inspiration and men use it as a shopping cart of what they will buy. With 87% of its users admitting to have purchased a product because they saw it on Pinterest and 93% of users have planned a purchase with it, it’s become invaluable for B2C sales of commodities.

Pinterest isn’t just for women:

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  1. Pinterest Terminology

Boards. These are the digital equivalent to idea boards and the closest social media equivalent are Facebook’s photo albums. It’s general practice to group everything in the board alone the same thematic lines. Users can follow your profile or just your board so remember to make the boards something interesting enough that people might just follow that. It’s OK to be niche! When you post to your boards it will show up in the feeds of those who are following your entire profile too.

Pins. Pins are the images you add to your boards. They are the equivalent of a post but don’t require you to write anything if you don’t want. Pinterest has changed their terminology on their site and app to “save” versus “pin” on their buttons in order to make it that much more obvious to potential new users.

Repins. The closest equivalent from other social media is a retweet. This is when someone adds something you’ve pinned to their own boards. This type of engagement is the main metric to pay attention to for achieving your goals.

Promoted Pins. For a fee, Promoted Pins allow you to target specific user demographics to draw more attention to your pins for a specific length of a campaign. In Facebook this is called Boost Posting.

Likes. Very similar to every other social media’s like function. The main advantage of Pinterest liking is the ability for the user who likes a pin to find it later without having to add it to one of their boards.

Comments. Like all social media, this is where a user can interact with a person who pinned something. Commenting isn’t nearly as popular on Pinterest as it is on Facebook.

Browser Button. With the most popular web browsers, you can add a widget that will allow you to add images from pages you are looking at to your boards without having to log into Pinterest.

Secret Boards. These are just like any other pinboard but can only be seen by you or those you choose to collaborate with. Lots of potential here for sharing with clients or for internal purposes. Great for project driven work.

Buyable Pins. If you have an ecommerce element of your business, make sure to look at the buyable pins option. People purchase items from you directly through Pinterest.

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  1. Optimizing For Pinterest

Before you create your specific Pinterest strategy, you need a foundation to build on. Designing your own images to save to your boards is the most optimal way to take advantage of people finding you and being re-pinned. Make sure your designer sticks to your visual style guide for cohesive branding.

When working with a designer here are a few areas to consider:

  • Profile Picture: 165x165px (will mostly be seen at a truncated 32x32px)
  • Board Display: 4 smaller thumbnails at 55x55px and one larger thumbnail at 222x150px. The large thumbnail for your board is where most people will click so choose an enticing image.
  • Pinned images are scaled to 236px wide and a variety of heights are acceptable. The minimum recommended width is 600px.
  • Taller pins stand out. The best aspect ratios are between 2:3 and 1:3.5 (width to height).

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While Pinterest users are often actively searching for product-based solutions, there is a reason they chose not to do this by shopping on websites. Showing the objects of your images in active use is just as important as an product shot. For many in the event industry, this means you should show your contribution to a live event in the midst of a celebration instead of just a pristine image prior to guest arrival.

Lists images are one strategy that takes advantage of what makes Pinterest users different from Facebook and Instagram. Facebook’s feed algorithm actually penalizes images with text overlay that exceeds 20%. On Pinterest, words like “recipe” are amongst the most searched. Pinterest users want images with copy on top of them in order to provide some kind of memorable value. This is why infographics and lists are so popular on Pinterest. If you have tips explaining the value of what you offer, consider organizing them into images that show before and after or even designs that point out all the pieces and parts that go into a design. Just remember that the point of the image has to be of value to someone else and not just show off what you did.

Watermarking

The single most important action you can take to gain leads from Pinterest is the inclusion of watermarks on every image you create or own. Images get pinned and repined at all hours of the day across the world back and forth for years after posting them. The last thing you want is someone to fall in love with something you created and to then take it to a competitor and have them put it together instead of you. Do whatever you can to breakdown the barriers between a potential client and contacting you. In fact, creating a watermark that includes your URL, phone number and website should be your policy before uploading any of your own work to Pinterest. I can’t stress this enough, your images may lose their original copy context as they move about online so always watermark your work!

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Pinterest is a Search Engine

Pinterest is almost always put in the category of social media but I believe it has more in common with Google than with Facebook. While Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube all have their versions of feeds, they vary in the frequency in which their search function is used. They mentality of the Pinterest user is what makes it so exciting for businesses. Their users go there because they WANT something. It’s the hunter and gatherer instincts fueling them. Your strategies should be about providing the fastest and most optimal results for their searches even if you don’t believe they will purchase your services. Providing value first and realizing that everyone searching for something isn’t necessarily looking to buy right then but if you can earn their trust, there’s a strong chance they will come back or influence others to use your services.

Treating Pinterest more like a search engine means you needs to write copy for image titles and descriptions the same way you would tackle SEO in a blog post. Resist the urge to include details that have meaning to only you and your client and focus on what your pins might represent to someone looking to be inspired. Leave out the dates and names and focus on themes and venue names.

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Information you need to make decisions and optimize performance is a search away.

  1. Marketing on Pinterest

Pinterest can be used for a variety of different reasons but for business most use it as part of their marketing strategy. Branding and lead generation are the two ways to divide your marketing goals with Pinterest which means keeping to a level of consistency for your strategies and featuring strong calls to action. Something very different with Pinterest is the fact that pins with prices listed get 36% more likes than those without.

Inclusion of pricing is something that will hurt you on other platforms due to a combination of algorithms that see it as spam (Facebook) or users being turned off by salesy copy. This is why Pinterest acts more like a search engine than most social media sites/apps. For many in the event industry, inclusion of pricing even on their websites is problematic. To take advantage of this behavior, consider the inclusion of pricing ranges or “starting at” prices. Again, Pinterest is a strong platform for commodity buying so service-based companies should adapt to get their full marketing potential.

When creating boards in order to draw attention to your services, offering practical value is the only way to gain momentum with Pinterest. The words “DIY”, “Cup” and “Recipe” are the most popular words for pinning. This tells you a lot about user behavior. With Facebook or Twitter, the most popular search terms are always things in the current popular culture and that’s why news agencies are always turning to them for what’s “trending”. Pinterest success comes from organized value over topical engagement. There is an element of “set it and forget it” that will pay dividends in a way that a post you made on Facebook two months ago never will. The right image and value proposition in accompanied text is much more important than the timing of your posts. Make sure you give people something that will impact their lives for months and years to come.

Advanced Pinterest Board Strategies for Event Professionals

Here are some advanced Pinterest strategies you and your team can adopt today to reach your marketing, client retention, team synergy, and creative goals. Pinterest is a very visual and creative tool that can be used for a variety of reasons and purposes. Discussing these at your next team meeting might be just the inspiration you were looking for.  

  1. Creative/Design Strategies

Team Member Design Challenge

Show off the creative abilities of your team by having them each create their own event design using images on their boards. Modify the game by giving them themes, palates, or limitations. Declare the winner by either a qualified judge or through democratic means (number of repins or board follows).

Event Guides

Search terms:

Tablecloth size, stage light types, psychology of color, event checklist, site visit, sustainable event, table, diagram

Keep all the fact-based figures and best practice based images in one place concerning every element of the production of an event. Treat this like a repository for all the important go-to bits of information you use every day.

Client Boards

Once you secure a client, create a board for you to collaborate on. This can be a secret board, if you’d like. This board will help greatly with meeting prep and to have a better shared understanding of sensibilities and goals by creating a common visual shared language.

Team Member Board

Help your team gel better and get to know each other outside of their professional roles. Invite team members to share images that mean something special to them with descriptions that give it context. Before long, you will have a unique mosaic that shows a range of different interests. Awareness of these interests will help form bonds and break down barriers.

  1. Event Marketing Strategies

Conference Attendee Board

If you attend conferences, you know how daunting a task it is to try to accomplish all your goals while attending. Networking, education, visiting trade show booths… there’s almost too many opportunities. Create a pin board for everything you want to accomplish and order it chronologically. For more visual-based learners, this might be more valuable than a checklist. Use the conference website for image options as well as searches for places you want to see while in town.

Destination Specific Boards

A must for DMCs and conference organizers! Highlight the city hot spots and secret highlights only locals know about. Give potential visitors a curated look at your host city in order to build excitement for their trip. When possible, take your own pictures in order to use your watermark. Consider a custom branded image frame too.

  1. Business Marketing Strategies

Trade Show Booth Design

Search terms:

Trade Show +

banners, floor, design, success, sales, marketing, steps, attendees, tips, elements, etiquette, mistakes, best practices, innovations, furniture, mockups.

Have everyone on your trade show exhibiting team added as a collaborator. Give them the assignment of pinning elements of the exhibition process with the deadline of your first planning meeting. Use the pins in your meeting flow to get ideas for design and workflow for optimal team member buy-in and diversity of ideas.

Vendor Appreciation

Search terms:

Vendor's company name plus pins of vendor’s images from their website.

Highlight the best of what your favorite vendors have to offer as a way to let others know that you are aligned with excellent service providers. This will also let your vendors know that you appreciate them. If possible, use images with your vendor’s watermarks. Make sure at least the company name and URL is in the copy of each pin.

Marketing Research

Search terms:
Infographic +

social media, email, website, lead generation, content marketing

Marketing +
Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, algorithm, copywriting

Remarketing, adwords, SEO, direct mail, programmatic

Marketing opportunities are changing daily and it seems impossible to keep up,especially with social media. Add infographics and terminology images to a board so they are available for your internal marketing discussions in a way that is much faster to absorb than reading reports.

Pinterest Strategies by Event Industry Focus

  1. Pinterest for Venues and Hotels

If you are a hotel operator, event venue coordinator, or in venue sales, Pinterest should be a must for your marketing goals. Here are a few boards you should consider putting together.

Design Themes. Let your guest know that the neutrality of your space means it can take on any number of drastically different looks. Show range by choosing boards for the most transformative designs. Make sure to also have a board that is based on the empty spaces too so they can see the blank canvas.

Nearby Locations of Interest. Pin pictures of restaurants and local opportunities within walking distance. Help them choose your hotel versus others by giving them details of what their entire experience could be.

Amenities. Pin pictures of your pool, workout spaces, lobby, gift shop, etc.

Event Types. Pin boards dedicated to weddings are a must for any venue based on the core demographics of Pinterest but also include boards with networking events, awards galas, and other event types your venue is well positioned to host.

  1. Pinterest for Caterers

The cornerstones of Pinterest are searches for fashion and food. As a caterer, there are a variety of ways to be found and give value to potential clients.

Recipes. This will be the most powerful way you can use Pinterest. The words “DIY”, “Cup” (as in the unit of measure), and “Recipe” are the three most searched words on the platform. Consider breaking out a few different boards dedicated to recipes and using eye-catching watermarked photos in addition to the copy.

Themed Presentations. Show that you have an eye for design by sharing photos of your stations, buffets, and presentations in a variety of different themes.

Picnic/BBQ. Caterers know that this is a very different style of event that doesn’t often fit with the look of your website collateral if you are stressing chic and elegance. That said, if these are events you can create, Pinterest might be the venue to show off what you can do because potential clients might give up on the idea of DIY once they see how well you present this style of cuisine.

Drinks. Seasonal drinks and their recipes are some of the most searched for pins. Show off your bar division by creative depictions of ingredients alongside the finished product.

Holidays. Seasonal, religious, and national holidays are times where Pinterest users look for inspiration for their private parties. Exciting them about what you do will position you well for when they are either an influencer or tasked with securing a caterer in their professional lives.

  1. Pinterest for Designers

This might seem like the most obvious profession to adopt Pinterest… and it is, but there are ways you can stand out from the amateurs and endear yourself to the most discerning pinners.

Boards Based on Events of Different Scale. One of the biggest criticisms of Pinterest’s effect on the industry has been warping expectations. Potential clients bring their pins of events they have been inspired by but don’t have an appreciation for different budgets. By offering examples of your work at different scales (stick with scale as terminology and not price) you give potential clients a better understanding of what your range of offerings are.

Client Inspiration Boards. The other major criticism of Pinterest’s effect on event design is a client who stifles the creativity of the designer by bringing too many specific examples to a meeting. True professional designers don’t want a client who tells them every exact piece of décor item they want and where. Change the game by asking them to collaborate on a board with them by including unrelated items that inspire a feeling they are looking for. Get your clients to get less specific and focus instead on emotions and color.

Show your Creative Process. This is the single biggest gap I see between Pinterest users and Design firms… they forget to use Pinterest how real users do. While it’s important to display your work, your clients are choosing you for your creative talents. Let them peek into your world and how you see things. By showing them what impresses and inspires you, they will connect with you on that common ground. David Beahm’s board, “Stuff that makes me go “Cool!” is a great example.

  1. Pinterest for Audio Visual Companies

Two different distinct audiences will be interested in what AV companies pin – B2B and B2C. Create boards that appeal to direct consumers by focusing on the end product. For those who sub-hire you and are industry insiders, make sure you have boards that respect their knowledge base.

Room Transformations. Everyone loves a before and after shot. A board showing a variety of spaces that you’ve transformed will show off your impact to an event as well as the scale you can work in. Show a range. If you only show large-scale events, understand that potential clients for smaller events may come off with the idea that’s all you specialize in.

Services. Event AV companies differ greatly in what they offer. There’s a split between specialists and larger firms that have everything under one roof. Regardless of which type of outfit you are, reflect that by giving each of your main service pillars their own pinboard. While audio is harder to show off in photos, you can mix up pictures of audio boards and back of the house stations with the end result of performers or presenters on stage. If you offer stage design, make sure to have a pinboard dedicated to what you can create.

Gear. While this may very well be your least popular board, those who are interested are a much more educated group. Let those who are more researched know what brand and level your gear is at so they have a better understanding what types of investments and training your company has made.

  1. Pinterest for Event Planners & Producers

Multi-day conferences often have more going on than you can keep track of! Your attendees might be putting together their own boards for this trip so make it easy on them.

Presenters. Consider adding all your speaker’s headshots with quotes concerning their presentations as well as when they are presenting. Include their websites when possible.

Host Venue. Pin images of your host venue and any additional venues that will be utilized by attendees.

Sponsors. Sponsors should all be included with copy explaining how they are contributing. URLs are always welcome by sponsors.

Trade Show Exhibitors. Depending on the size of your show, this might be a lot of manual work but will be considered added value for your exhibitors. Make it easy on yourself and get more credit through recognition by asking each of your exhibitors to give you a photo to pin and 3 sentences of copy. Recommend they include contact information as well.

Community Collaborative Event Board. When it comes to events focused on education and sharing, some of the biggest challenges are show tangible value from attendance and continuing the momentum of excitement about the topics going beyond the event. Group boards that invite attendees to collaborate on takeaways from the event, additional supplemental resources that enhance the experience, and even pictures of presentation slides are a very real value to attendees. While inviting everyone from a major conference to pin might be unwieldy, selecting a few pinners who represent different types of attendees is an excellent way to diversify the saved materials to boards. Breaking down the barriers between organizers, presenters and attendees in order to find a unified common ground where everyone is an event participant should always be a goal.   

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A Pinterest Event Group Board

  1. The Future of Pinterest

I’m not one to put much stock in software platform speculation and especially social media companies. Social media platform product roadmaps have many paths and they respond to other competitors, development of new technologies, and evolving user behaviors. That all said, Pinterest has announced it is developing a camera search function that will allow consumers to take pictures and Pinterest will search it’s 75 billion images to help you find where to buy it for yourself. This type of technology has been attempted by Amazon and Google to different degrees with little success. The software itself just hasn’t been sophisticated enough for users to latch on in the demonstrations by those two tech giants but Pinterest believes the company they are working with has cracked this problem.

What will this mean for events? While this is primarily aimed at retail outlets to work with Pinterest to drive users to their stores, there could be some event related applications. Designers will have a much easier time finding eclectic items when they are inspired. Rental companies rarely advertise during events that the furniture is from their collections but now attendees would have an easier time finding the suppliers. For anyone who traffics in commodities, this could be a big deal.

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A mockup of what this technology might look like.

  1. 10 Essential Pinterest Accounts to Follow in the Event Industry

EventMB. All the articles you’ve come to love organized by category for easy repining, plus the most exciting event startups.  

Eventlinens. Creative Coverings is a national (US) linen rental and sales company who’s over 2,000 pins are meticulously organized into fabric lines, themes, and colors.

Commanderhotel. The award-winning Sheraton Commander Hotel has over 1,000 pins organized to give their potential clients the tools they need to have the event of their dreams.

Pattishock. One of the most well-respected consultants and academics specializing in hospitality and events, Patti’s has over 100 boards covering all aspects of events.

Revelrydesign. Based in Los Angeles, Revelry’s Pinterest features boards highlighting their clients events, design collections, and productions both intimate and large.

Justbars. Just Bars is an event rental company that specializes in customizable bar units with Pinboards that show you that bar design has no limits.

Velvetchainsaw. Consultants working on evolving conferences. Lots of inspiring ways to innovate on multi-day educational events and trade shows.

Bggatering. Creative displays and themes from this internationally recognized culinary leader.

Sashasouza. Event designer and author, Sasha has thousands of followers and pins for her very curated Pinboards. She uses Pinterest collaboratively with her clients to fantastic results.

Afrrentals. AFR Furniture Rentals has an absolute must follow Pinterest account for event pros. Boards feature design concepts with custom corporate branding, trade show booths, how their furniture is made and even community outreach.

Click here for other event industry Pinterest inspiration.

In Conclusion

Pinterest is a Swiss army knife where many other social media platforms are becoming very specialized. Pinterest is focused on driving the best search results for its users to be inspired or to buy. The results based metrics for this platform’s success as well as its very specific demographics make it a much easier to justify investment for businesses who traffic in creativity and innovation. When you look at Pinterest as more of a tool and less as a communications platform, you will find that your business may have ways to adapt its functions for enhancing your processes. If you’ve written off Pinterest as only valuable for the marketing of weddings or social event planning, I’d urge you to reconsider because it’s actually a lot more business focused than Facebook.

 

about the author

Nick Borelli
Nick Borelli is the President and Strategist for Borelli Strategies which focuses on consulting, coaching, and management of digital marketing for events and event companies. He is also an international speaker and the International Marcom Chair for the International Live Events Association.  
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