In early May, Pinterest lifted its ban on affiliate links in pins—huge news for publishers and advertisers alike. Pinterest emerged as an online destination for consumers looking for new trends and products since its creation in 2010, and with over 100 million monthly active users and worldwide reach, it represents a massive opportunity for players in the affiliate space.
Pinterest users have always been able to pin images from sites that contain affiliate links, but just over a year ago users were banned from embedding affiliate links directly in a pin itself. This tactic was one of the primary ways pinners could generate revenue, as they could potentially earn a commission from any merchant partner they directed a user to. However, rampant spammer abuse led Pinterest to ban the practice.
Improvements to Pinterest’s spam-detection capabilities paved the way for the reintroduction of affiliate pins, but it’s important for publishers and advertisers to understand the new landscape.
Here are some tips and general information for pinners and brands looking to capitalize on this re-emerging opportunity:
Affiliate Pins Don’t Get Special Treatment
Pinterest employs an algorithm to automate the selection of pins users will see in their feed, similar to many social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. The algorithm uses several factors in its calculations, but the presence of an affiliate link is not one of them. Affiliate pins are treated just the same as pins with regular URLs in both the Pinterest feed and in Pinterest’s search functions. Additionally, if a pinner wants to give an affiliate pin extra visibility, they can promote the pin through Pinterest’s Ads Manager, just like other pins.
Ensure Your Pins Don’t Look Like Spam
Pinterest’s enhanced ability to detect spam pins is great news, but it also means that pinners should take precautions to ensure their affiliate pins aren’t inadvertently flagged as spam. One of the guiding principles is that the image in a pin should be consistent with the destination of the pin. For example, a pin with an image of a throw pillow on a couch should not redirect to a vacation booking site.
Additionally, pinners who use link shorteners to make affiliate links more attractive may want to reconsider using them on pins. Additional redirects of the destination URL can signal to Pinterest that a link isn’t what it claims to be.
Make Proper Disclosures
Pins with affiliate links should have an FTC-compliant disclosure that makes it clear that purchases made through that pin will result in compensation to the original pinner. Publishers should also confirm that the advertisers they’re working with allow their affiliate links to be posted to social networks so they don’t violate the program terms within that relationship. It’s best to read and follow Pinterest’s Acceptable Use Policy.
Mobile is King
It’s no secret that consumers are now spending the majority of their digital time on their mobile devices, and 80% of Pinterest’s traffic is generated through its mobile app. This means that when users click on affiliate pins, they will most often be taken to the mobile version of advertisers’ sites. An engaging, user-friendly mobile experience, with simple checkout options will help increase conversions.
Keep Pinterest “Beautiful”
Regardless of the content you choose to pin or your motivations, successful pinners adhere to Pinterest CEO Ben Silberman’s guiding principle: make (and keep) the site “beautiful”. Simply put, the best pinners find the best of the web, regardless of subject matter, and there are some simple tactics from a presentation standpoint that you can use to help improve the performance of your pins.
- Pinterest users generally prefer lifestyle images of pins rather than the typical sterile picture of a product against a blank background. Brands with more compelling images of their products may find that those products receive more pins (and more traffic from Pinterest) both with and without affiliate links.
- Since pins are organized into columns, users generally prefer vertical or portrait images rather than horizontal or landscape images. Pinterest offers suggestions and tips for increasing engagement on pins in its guide for businesses, How to Make Great Pins.
- Text overlays, styled images, and strong descriptions help users to engage with a pin. Good board and pin descriptions can also help with likes, re-pins, and follows to gain visibility through Pinterest’s heavily-used search function.
- Power users may want to consider scheduling services that help manage the cadence of your pins.
With time, additional insights regarding the performance of affiliate pins will undoubtedly surface, but the information above should serve as a solid guidepost for both pinners and brands looking to capitalize on this looming opportunity.
CJ Affiliate by Conversant operates the affiliate marketing network formerly known as Commission Junction. It is the affiliate network used by 177 of the Top 500 online retailers in North America, according to Top500Guide.com.