How New Pinterest Lens Opens Up the Platform to More Industries and Businesses

By Jason Hawkins on April 12, 2017

Pinterest recently unveiled their new “Lens” feature for all iPhone and Android users in the U.S. to experience, and it certainly has the potential to be a game changer for both consumers and businesses alike. The button that can be found within the spyglass icon directs users to a red camera, and all they have to do is tap it to either access their camera roll or take a new photo of something they see in the real world. After doing so, Lens performs its magic and quickly suggests a variety of other pins similar to the photo that was taken, or selected. The search is purely visual, so no typing is required.

No surprises here, this makes it extremely quick and easy for Pinterest users to find what they’re looking for, or possibly to be inspired by something they would never think to search. And for businesses? Because some of these pins are considered “purchase” pins, meaning that they lead to an item that can be purchased through a link, this could revitalize e-commerce for businesses. If you haven’t had a chance to check out Lens, this article by Business Insider explains the step-by-step process for how to use the new feature, but this article covers your next step: What does this mean for small businesses and marketing?

pinterest-16 Must Have Tips for Businesses Using the New Pinterest Lens

While Pinterest is currently a pretty popular search engine and social platform, it definitely trails behind giants like Google, Bing, and Facebook, partially because it hasn’t been around as long as partially because it doesn’t have the searching capabilities that some of the other big name sites feature. Many industries, B2B specifically, also shy away from the network because it is seen as a more creative platform. Pinterest Lens could change that—a feature that definitely sets it apart from the competition.

Use the Information to Better Understand Your Audience

Lens is going to help Pinterest learn, and remember, more about its audience and what they like. It already suggests pins that it thinks users might be interested in viewing, but now customers will have a hands-on chance to teach Pinterest about their likes and dislikes, thus enabling the platform to better anticipate what people want to see. In a world where we don’t often have a ton of free time to spend searching for the perfect product, most likely users will appreciate this intuition and respond by turning to Pinterest the next time they want to get inspired, search for a product, and/or make a purchase. This is great for entrepreneurs who will able to collect new data on customer behavior, habits, and interests and use this information to better target their marketing efforts.

It’s Less Expensive to Advertise on Pinterest than on Google

Because the popularity of Pinterest in general is probably going to increase, this will also make the site a more desirable advertising platform. This could be great for businesses that take advantage of this in the beginning while Lens is still being tested in the beta phase. It’s currently cheaper to advertise on Pinterest than it is on Google, but this will most likely change as Pinterest sees an increase in traffic. By getting in with Pinterest advertising now, you’ll be ahead of the competition who may not want to invest their AdWords money until the new feature has been tested further and all the kinks have been worked out. You’ll be taking a risk, but it might just be worth it in the long run.

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Currently, Pinterest is a great platform for advertising because not all the pins posted are “purchase” pins; meaning, some are just for creativity and inspiration whereas others lead directly to websites where users can make a purchase. Because there’s not much of a distinction between the 2, advertisers are able to take advantage of the trust of users and blend in seamlessly. In addition, the Lens feature will eventually lend itself to more data for ad targeting. I foresee search ads being linked to real world objects in the near future. Better to take advantage of this cutting edge technology now.

Think of Pinterest as a Search Engine Through Photos Instead of Type

Customers can use Lens to find your products on Pinterest. All they have to do is snap a photo of something in the real world that they see and are interested in, and Pinterest will provide them with a list of similar products- some that will be for purchase. A smart entrepreneur will figure out how to optimize Pinterest to ensure that it’s their products that show up on that list of suggested pins, making it quicker and easier for customers to discover your business and fall in love with your stuff. After all, it makes sense that people will soon be more interested in searching via pictures than typing out a search, right?

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Remember: Pinterest Engages with User’s at a Unique Point in the Buying Process

This new form of visual searching will decrease the barrier between customer searches and purchases; it will encourage customers to make more impulse purchases because there will be so few steps between seeing something they like and being presented with an option to buy it. A user will see a product in real life that peaks their interest, snap a photo using Lens, and be automatically presented with a list of similar products they can buy immediately (and again, you want to make sure your company and products appear on that list). This seamless process enables Pinterest to engage with users at a different point in the buying process than other search engines, and there’s no doubt that this will result in more conversions for those small businesses who know how to optimize this feature.

Use Lens to Research Your Competition in a Different Way

Searching with Lens isn’t just for consumers, however. As a business owner, you can also use Lens to research your competition. Try taking a picture of one of your products to see what else comes up. Is it merchandise belonging to one of your competitors? If so, take notes on what they’re offering and how they’re marketing it so that you can learn from their success and figure out how to make your stuff stand out. It’s also a good way to keep tabs on current trends in your industry so that you can ensure your business is always on the cutting edge.

Promote Your Less Popular Products Via Lens

Pinterest Lens also gives businesses a way to promote their other, less popular products. The feature is able to isolate products within an image, so this means that a consumer can snap a photo of a person wearing a jacket and have a variety of pins of similar jackets appear on the site. But if that person is also wearing shoes, and a handbag, or any other type of accessory, chances are Pinterest will recognize those items as products in the photo as well. Entrepreneurs can take advantage of this by placing some other products they want to promote in a photo with a popular product. This is a great way to sneak in some extra advertising and possibly increase conversions on some products that might not have otherwise engaged a consumer.


Lens is still being tested, and it’s definitely far from foolproof, but it’s potential for success is undeniable. Have you had a chance to experiment with Pinterest Lens? How do you envision the feature working for your business? Comment with your ideas in the section below!

All screenshots taken by author March 2017

About The Author

Jason Hawkins
Jason Hawkins /

Jason Hawkins is the CEO & Co-Founder of The Miami SEO Company. He has over ten years of experience in search engine optimization, conversion rate optimization and lead generation. His core responsibilities include identifying ways to increase value of services rendered, training staff on advanced SEO topics, and A/B testing internal processes to consistently improve client return on investment.