The "Let it Faux" board on the Focus on Faux Pinterest page


What is a Picture Worth?

By Tammy Adamson-McMullen

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Pinterest has a lot to say and a lot of followers saying it. The image-driven social medium, which considers itself more of a “search and discovery” service, has 100 million active monthly users. These users have created more than 130 million home and decorating boards alone, by some estimations, and it’s anyone’s guess how many images all of these boards contain on a given day.

A few other unique facts:

1) Pinterest users on average put up 5 million pins a day.

2) Nearly 42 percent of all women who are online use Pinterest. (Business Insider)

3) Reportedly, anywhere from 71 to 80 percent of Pinterest users are women. However, male usage is increasing, with men comprising more than 33 percent of new signups. (

4) Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social medium platforms among millennials, who use it more than any other social media platform to buy. (Center for Marketing Research University of Massachusetts Dartmouth)

5) Brand images without faces are 23 percent more likely to be repinned. Only a fifth of all Pinterest photos have faces. (

6) Colorful photos have 3.25 more repins than photos with only one dominant color. (

7) The half-life of a pin is 3.5 months, meaning it takes 3.5 months for a pin to get half of the total engagement it can expect to receive. A tweet? Only 24 minutes. (

8) Longer photo descriptions are better received. Some sources say 100 to 200 words are best; others, 200 to 300. But the fact remains that less is not more when it comes to describing what browsers are seeing.

Faux finishing is especially well suited to Pinterest.


As with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media platforms, Pinterest is free, and the profile is easy to set up.

Pins are easy to create, too, as the program hand-holds users through the process of uploading a photo from their own computer or from the Internet and creating a description to accompany it. A finished pin, which looks amazingly similar to a small paint card, typically includes a colorful photo; a description of what is in the photo; a URL link or two connecting the photo to its original source or possibly to a company website; and a link to the pinner’s own Pinterest page.

Users also can create topical boards to help categorize photos on their home pages. A baking company, for example, might have boards labeled as “Wedding Cakes,” “Cupcakes” “Cookies” and “Breads,” along with corresponding photos of their creations. Faux finishers might have boards labeled “Marbleizing,” Venetian Plasters,” Trompe L’oeils” and “Murals.”

One of the ways users connect on Pinterest is to repin photos from other users’ pages and boards onto their own, similar to the “sharing” function on Facebook. This creates the possibility that a pin can go “viral,” meaning it becomes repeatedly repinned, and might even jump the Pinterest platform onto Facebook or Twitter, if browsers share it further. On any given day, 80 percent of Pinterest usage is composed of repins.

Because colorful, interesting and evocative photos are more likely to grab the browser’s eye, pins that show well-executed room sets or products in installation are more likely to be repinned. Not surprisingly, style topics are especially well-suited to Pinterest, and home and decorating topics are among the most popular. recently posted the Top 10 Pinterest pins at the end of 2015, and five were decorating-related.


What is the point of all of these photos? According to Pinterest, the original point was just to visually bookmark what was on the Internet. But Pinterest over time has become one of the most popular social mediums for users to share ideas with one another, from creating the best school lunches and latest hairstyles to deck and patio designs and attractive home remodels. There is virtually no topic, particularly in the area of “style,” that you won’t find pinned somewhere on Pinterest.

In a May 18, 2015, Pinterest blog article, Tim Kendell describes how the “typical” user engages with Pinterest. “Imagine this: To unwind at the end of a workday, a Pinner explores their home feed, discovers a camping tent they like and saves it to a board. This inspires them to plan a backpacking trip, using Pinterest to research hiking trails and campsites and figure out exactly where they can buy that tent,” Kendell writes. “Time and again, our research has revealed that this scenario reflects typical pinner behavior. People do tons of different things on Pinterest, but most simply, it’s about discovering, saving and planning what to do next.”

This search-and-discovery aspect of Pinterest is often seen as consumer-driven, but it has value for professionals, too.

Do you want to browse ornate ceiling medallions? Pinterest's photo supply seems endless.

Do you want to browse images of ornate ceiling medallions to gain inspiration for an upcoming project? Simply type “ceiling_medallions” in the Pinterest search bar (connecting the words for a better search), and then scroll to your heart’s content because the catalog of pins on this topic is nearly endless. The pins will have been created by faux finishers; retailers selling stencils and paints; manufacturers of ready-to-install medallions made from plaster, aluminum, etc.; consumers who have photographed medallions on their travels; and many other sources. If a photo especially strikes your fancy, you might continue on to the creator’s home page or a linked website to see additional projects to inspire you or, if contact information is provided, contact the creator directly.

But besides serving as a catalog of ideas, Pinterest also has become an accepted business marketing tool. The social media giant promotes this angle heavily on its website by publishing success stories of businesses that use Pinterest.

One of the stories is from interior designer Heather Cleveland. Heather was introduced to Pinterest by clients who showed her pins of design concepts they wanted to incorporate into their homes. Now a Pinterest devotee, Heather uses Pinterest as a way to nail down client preferences, to access vendors and other sources, and to showcase her work to potential clients. On this last point, Heather notes that potential clients often “vet” her on Pinterest, where they can see what amounts to a photo portfolio of her work.

The “portfolio” value of Pinterest can’t be overstated. Where else can you showcase project photos to so many engaged viewers? And do it with a $0 price tag? More than any other benefit, Pinterest offers unlimited exposure to the businesses who use it wisely. And given the repinning feature of the platform, that exposure can build over time.

However, there are a few caveats to keep in mind:

1) As stated earlier, photos should be colorful and descriptions between 100 and 300 words for best effect. Also, photos need to be in a vertical format—horizontal formats don’t upload well and will be too small—with a dynamic foreground.

2) Try to pin and repin on a daily business to gain followers and ensure repins.

3) Even if you don’t pin every day, don’t neglect pins on the weekends. Saturday afternoons are particularly valuable. (

4) Last but not least, make sure each pin has a link back to the company’s website to ensure click-through.

Many businesses will tell you that they’ve received some benefit from Pinterest, including the editors of Focus on Faux. We use Pinterest to gain insights into what faux finishers are doing in the field and to find unusual projects and products to share. For us, a photo truly is worth a thousand words, (although we try to edit them down for you, our readers).

Happy pinning!