What is Pinterest + Understanding the Terminology

So we have previously covered why Pinterest is great for small businesses….

But what exactly is Pinterest? And how does it work?

Let’s talk about it!

The next few blog posts will be a series of bite sized ‘Pinterest 101’ posts aimed at Pinterest beginners.

We are going to step back to basics and cover what is Pinterest, how to understand Pinterest terminology, and step by step of how to set up a optimised Pinterest account so you can get started on your pinning journey.

 Before we go any further, you can check out these blog posts if you missed out on the why of Pinterest…

Otherwise lets get started.


What is Pinterest?

Firstly, lets start with what Pinterest is not. Pinterest is not a social media platform.

Yes it does tend to get lumped in with the other social networks, and sometimes that’s an ‘easier’ classification. However, technically it is not social media.

Pinterest is a visual search engine. I discussed the relevance of this in another blog post, so won’t delve much further on this aspect.

Pinterest is also often described as a huge content library. Or a giant inspiration/ideas board. Or a search and discovery system.

Essentially though, it is place where people go to to do any combination of the following;

  • find ideas, inspiration or information;
  • discover something new (whether it is a new product, a new yoga workout or to learn a new concept);
  • plan (events, purchases, milestones…and lives!)

This is made possible by the vast array and volume of content on Pinterest. There are over 240 billion pins (ideas) on Pinterest, and this is a rapidly increasing statistic! To put this into perspective, the current (2020) world population is about 7.8 billion people.

All in all, Pinterest is a pretty amazing place – for the dreamers, the doers, the planners, the information seekers, the individuals, the businesses – there is something for everyone.


Pinterest terminology - pins

Pinterest Terminology

For a Pinterest newbie, the Pinterest ‘lingo’ can sometimes be a bit confusing. So lets cover some of the common terminology and navigation basics so that you can find your way around the platform.

What is a pin?

A pin is a clickable image on Pinterest which links back to a third party website. For example it might link to a particular blog post, or a product in an online store.

The key elements of a pin are

  • the pin image – including the photo or graphic and any text overlay, headlines, branding elements etc on the image.
  • the pin title – the title of the pin on Pinterest. This is different to the headline copy on the pin image (although you could choose to use the same for both). The pin title allows for up to 100 characters and should include relevant keywords.
  • the pin description – the description of the pin on Pinterest. This is different to the meta description of the blog post. The pin descriptions should be completed using keywords, and should describe what the pin is about and where it leads id pinners click on the image. The description allows for up to 500 characters. However, generally only the first 50-60 characters show up in the feed so put the most important info first.
  • the pin URL link – the URL destination that the pin is linked to. This should be the most relevant link to the specific pin image. Ie it should link directly to the specific blog post or product listing as indicated by the pin – not just the home page or the shop page. Make it easy for the pinner  – they should simply have to click on the pin and be taken directly to what they are looking for (and not have to search your website to find the specific content)

Types of pins

There are a few different types of pins that can be created

  • Rich pins: display extra information on the pin (metadata). Rich pins stand out more in a feed and have a better SEO rating. There are 3 types of rich pins -article, product and recipe. I will delve further into rich pins in a later blog post.
  • Video pins: have a video uploaded instead of an image which plays automatically within the platform.
  • Promoted pins: are pins that businesses have paid to have promoted ie advertising.
  • Carousel pins: have multiple images attached which users can swipe through. They can be particularly useful for e-commerce business to share a variety of product images.
  • Story pins: are relatively new and not available to all users as yet (not currently available in Australia in 2020). They allow creators to add up to 20 pages of video, images + text in order to tell a story. Story pins are the one type of pin that does not have a 3rd party link.

Other Important Pinterest Terminology

A board is where a user saves pins that are of relevance or interest to them. Each board is a collection of pins, generally related to the same topic, and is created and categorised by the pinner.

Think of it as similar to a folder within the bookmarks on your internet browser – the difference being that the pinner is saving images (with links) as opposed to bookmark links. There are 3 types of boards:

  • Public board: A board that is visible on a pinners profile and has only one contributor. Only the board owner can save pins to this board, but other users can view the content on the board and save (repin) to their own boards.
  • Group board: A board that is visible on a pinners profile and has more than one contributor. Any of the group board members can save pins to this board, and other users can also view and save (repin) the content to their own board.
  • Secret board: A private board that is only visible to the board owner. This is where they can save pins that other pinners cannot see.

Pinning (to pin) is the action taken when a new pin is created and saved to a board. This could be when you create a pin for your blog post and save it to one of your boards, or when another user saves content directly from your website to Pinterest.

A repin is when a user saves an existing pin on Pinterest to their board. As opposed to saving directly from the website (which creates a brand new pin).

A search is the action taken by a user when they are looking for specific ideas, keywords, hashtags, people, boards. The search bar is located at the top of a users home feed.


Pinterest - get your profile working for you



Pinterest Profile Overview

Your profile is where users can see more details about your account and view your pins, boards and other details. A profile consists of

  • Profile picture: this might be a headshot, logo or some other profile picture
  • Profile name: the users personal or business name
  • Website link (for a business account)
  • About me: A short bio (160 characters or less) to describe what your account is about
  • From the overview tab users see an overview of your profile including all of the above, plus your featured boards (5 most relevant boards) and your latest pins
  • The boards tab on your profile displays all your (public) boards and any group boards you are a member of
  • The pins tab on your profile displays all pins that you have saved recently – in chronological order.
  • The activity tab shows all the pins that other users have saved directly from your website.
  • The followers and following tab, show all the Pinterest accounts that follow you, and the accounts that you follow, respectively.


Pinterest - what is a smartfeed?


Pinterest Feed

The above image shows what will display when you click the Home link in the top right hand corner of your account.

On the left hand side you will see a brief overview of your profile, and you can also click through to view your full profile from here. To the right of this is your smart feed (essentially a home feed). This is a collection of pins that include pins from your followers, pins that Pinterest thinks you might be interested in based on your profile + search history, and promoted pins.

If you only want to see pins from people you follow, then click over to the following feed. This is where you will see all the recent pins that the accounts you follow have saved (this may be their own pins and other peoples pins that they have saved). This can be a great source of content for when you are looking for pins to save – especially if you follow accounts within your niche.

At the top of the page you will find the search bar. This is the most used function on Pinterest and it is where users perform searches to find whatever it is they are looking for. Approximately 97% of user activity on Pinterest is search. This is why having SEO optimised content is so important – so that users can find your content in a search query.

The other key aspects to note are in the top left hand corner of the home view. The Analytics tab (business accounts only) is where you will find all the performance data and reports about your business account and review what is working and what isn’t. The Ads tab is also only relevant for business accounts, and is relevant if you want to run promoted pin campaigns (paid advertising).

Now that you are well-versed on the basics of Pinterest terminology, we will look at how to set up a Pinterest business account in the next post.

Or if you are keen to get started right away, then download my Beginners Guide to Setting Up a Pinterest Account 

Grab your FREE Guide, covering 26 tips to optimise your new Pinterest Business account.

Interested in starting a Pinterest Account for your business but not sure where to start? Grab my Free Beginners Guide to Setting up a Pinterest Account for Business for some great tips on setting up an optimised Pinterest account. Thanks for reading. Happy Pinning!

By Belinda Rigano

Belinda is a Pinterest Strategist and the face behind Your Social Bee. She works with heart centred women in business and helps them to grow their business using Pinterest and content marketing.

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