In July 2019, Pinterest - the popular app and website for "pinning" visual content – launched support for Video Pins along with a video tab, filter, and analytics dashboard for brands. Pinners with business accounts can now publish videos to attract clicks, views, and attention from browsers in the Pinterest feed.

With around 300 million users, Pinterest is one of the largest destination for browsing visual content. Although it's not quite as big as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, Pinterest's Video Pins launch represents a huge opportunity for marketers and media companies that target the Pinterest community. Unlike Promoted Video Pins (which launched last year), businesses can now publish Video Pins for free, unlocking an organic channel for reaching customers and building brand affinity online.

Two example video pins in the Pinterest feed

On Pinterest, people want to be excited by fresh new ideas and inspired to create fun things in new ways. With sound, animation, and a timeline, videos can stick out in the Pinterest feed, attracting attention and engagement. However, Pinterest's content editing tools are limited. You'll need to create your Video Pin and trim, crop, and optimize elsewhere before publishing the MP4 on Pinterest.  

If you want to promote your business, a Pinterest Business account can unlock tons more potential for audience reach and engagement. Brands and businesses who publish videos on Pinterest will likely get even more views, engagements, and clicks since there is relatively less video content on the platform. After a recent disappointing earnings call in Q3 2019, Pinterest's CEO emphasized that the company planned to continue investing in and promoting videos on Pinterest.

In this article, I'll tell you what Video Pins are, how to make them, and how to use them to get traction for your business on Pinterest. I'll also describe best practices for Video Pin design and technical specs for Video Pins. This tutorial makes use of Kapwing, a free online video editor, for any post-production edits.

Video Pin Specs

As of 2019, the technical spec for a Video Pin is:

  • File Type: .mp4, .mov or .m4v
  • File Size: 2GB max
  • Encoding: H.264 or H.265
  • Length: 4 seconds - 15 minutes, although Pinterest CMO said at VidCon that most videos should be shorter than 2 mins.
  • Description: up to 500 characters long, though only the first few lines will show in feed
  • Aspect Ratio: Pinterest accommodates most aspect ratios, from landspace (16:9) to vertical (9:16). However, business profiles will get more attention if Video Pins are cropped to 9:16 or 2:3 because they will take up more vertical screen space in the Pinterest feed.

Publishers can get the latest technical requirements for a Video Pin on Pinterest's Help Center article on Video Pins.

What are video pins, and who can use them?

Pinterest started implementing its video player in mid-2016, allowing business accounts to upload videos of any length to help draw users to their brand. In mid-2019, Pinterest announced at VidCon that brands with a Business Profile can now upload videos directly to Pinterest rather than importing them from other platforms like YouTube or Vimeo.

Video Pins work just like any other pin. The publisher can add a title that appears on users’ feeds, descriptions that give users more information, and outbound links to your personal or business website. When a user clicks on your Pin, they'll open the viewer with more information about your Pin below the title.

A single video pin includes a description, thumbnail, title, and outbound link, as well as a video.

Since Pinterest only  allows business accounts to post videos, you’ll need to have one set up before you can start showcasing your video content. Opening a free business account involves claiming your website; check out Pinterest's set of instructions in their help center.

Why post video pins?

Video Pins allow users to watch the full video from within the Pinterest app or website rather than being taken to YouTube or another website. According to Pinterest’s Chief Marketing Officer Andréa Mallard, Video Pins get more engagement on Pinterest than static image Pins.

On the Pinterest website, Pinterest users can refine their search to show only video results. This video filter doesn't seem to be available yet in the Pinterest iOS app, although users do see Video Pins in the regular search feed.

Pinterest users can refine their search to show only video results. 

The greatest benefit to video pins is their wealth of information. In-depth tutorials on Pinterest generally rely on external webpages that users are directed to from the pin – a standard image pin simply can't convey enough information. With video pins, however, all necessary steps can be included in the pin itself. While this is a terrific feature for desktop users, who can stay in their Pinterest tab while they explore their feed, it also helps mobile users, who may not want to go to a third-party site to see a full tutorial.

How to make the perfect video pins for your business:

I'll go through the 5 main things you should keep in mind in order to make the most of your video content on Pinterest. Every Pinterest audience responds differently, so some experimentation is necessary to develop your own brand's best practices, but here are the most important things to you need to know to get started:

1. Know all your options and restrictions

To know what you should do, you need to know what you can do. Here are the required specifications and restrictions of Pinterest's video posts:

  1. Your video must be an mp4, mov, or m4v file type. Kapwing's videos always export mp4 files, which are recommended by Pinterest.
  2. Video pins must be under 2GB in size and under 15 minutes long. This shouldn't be an issue, especially since video pins work best if they're more concise – around 20 seconds is optimal.
  3. Pinterest supports all of the most common aspect ratios, but there are a couple restrictions you should know about. While you can use horizontal (no wider than 1.91:1) or square videos, vertical videos give you more space on users' feeds. The tallest aspect ratio you can use is 1:2, and your video can be no taller than 1560 pixels. Pinterest recommends a 2:3 aspect ratio as standard, but 9:16 may be a more convenient option, since it's standard for vertical video recordings, Instagram content, and many phone screens.
Pinterest lets you use all sorts of aspect ratios – the taller, the better.

Your video post isn't just a video, either. It also needs to include:

  1. A title, no more than 100 characters long, the first 30 of which are shown in users' feeds.
  2. A description, up to 500 characters long, the first 50 of which will be shown in users' feeds. Users will also have to click to expand descriptions over 200 characters long.
  3. A link to your site, which should direct users to a relevant page, rather than just your homepage.
  4. A thumbnail, which needs to have the exact same aspect ratio as your video.

To optimize your content for the Video Pin format, you can use video editing software. We recommend an online video editor called Kapwing. With Kapwing's free Studio, Pinners can enter the exact aspect ratio you want for both your video and thumbnail, adjust your post's size in pixels to accommodate any file size restrictions, add eye-popping and descriptive text, convert your video to the correct file type, and reframe it to optimize your post's space in the feed.

2. Make the perfect thumbnail

When you upload a Video Pin, Pinterest also prompts you to upload a thumbnail image for the Video Pin. The only limit to your thumbnail is its aspect ratio: it needs to be the exact same as your video. Other than that, your thumbnail is a canvas that you're free to create in any way you want. But if you want some help getting started, here are some tips.

Make sure your content is tall and includes your logo, some text, and a description. 

Most Video Pins automatically play when they scroll into view, but the user will see the thumbnail if they've finished watching the video, if they're on a slow network connection, or if there are other Video Pins that appear on screen (Pinterest only plays one video at a time). Once someone has clicked to your Pinterest Business Profile, the Video Pin thumbnail also appears in the Profile header collage and on your profile.

Example of many Video Pin thumbnails appearing on screnen

If you don't upload a custom Video Pin thumbnail, Pinterest will default to the first frame of the video. Make one using this free Video Pin thumbnail maker.

When designing the Video Pin thumbnail, consider how to make it on-brand, visually consistent, and clickworthy.

  • On brand: Since people will often see the video thumbnail before they watch the full video, businesses should consider including brand fonts, colors, and images. Making a habit of this sort of subtle branding can increase your brand awareness, make your pins look professional, and help users identify your pins in the future. But be sure to avoid the bottom edge of your video, since that's where Pinterest adds informational tags, and the top right corner where Pinterest shows the duration of the video. If you're using Kapwing to edit your thumbnails, it's easy to add a transparent overlay of your brand logo anywhere on your image.
  • Visually Consistent: Video Pins with consistent visual themes can help build your brand better than pins that look a lot different. If your business uses specific colors in your logo, maintains a particular pattern or style, or sticks to one font type, then keep these things the same from one thumbnail to the next. It will make your pins look more professional and will make it easier for your audience to recognize your brand once they become familiar with your style.
  • Clickworthy: Like other Pins, you want your Video Pin to stand out to attract clicks, attention, and engagement from viewers. Consider adding a GIF as your thumbnail; with a short animation, you can communicate more, preview the action to come, and stand out from static thumbnails. Kapwing can help you convert a section of your Video Pin to a GIF and add a text title. If you're posting a process or tutorial video, make sure to lead with what the final result will look like to entice viewers.  

3. Tell a story

Try to make your video more than just a simple step-by-step walkthrough. Put yourself in your audience's shoes, and add personal touches where you can. And if your pin is little more than a simple, straightforward tutorial, make sure to show the steps with some level of detail. Your video should make good use of its format and use actual video clips, rather than low-framerate GIFs or a series of pictures.

One common technique for Video Pin publishers is simply speeding up their videos, so viewers can see all the steps and learn all the techniques without needing to watch in real time. Crafts, recipe, fitness, and home furnishing Pinners often use this "hyperspeed" technique to visualize a transformation. You can use Kapwing to speed your videos up to anywhere between 1.15x and 4x speed, so your users can learn quickly.

4. Make the most of your text

Video Pins under 20 seconds long tend to be the most successful, and many users watch Pinterest videos with their sound off. As a result, publishers should include text annotations, titles, and captions to give the audience context without relying on audio.

Here's some added text to show you how to use your added text!

Adding simple text animations can spruce up step-by-step instructions, and flashy fonts and colors can make your video more interesting. In the Kapwing Studio, you can use the Subtitler tool to add elegant, customizable subtitles anywhere in your video, and you can use the Text tool to add fully custom text.

5. Show Your Product or Project in Action

This one is pretty straightforward. Pinterest has reported that users tend to watch videos for 32% longer if they show the final product in use. If you're making a process video or tutorial video, start off with the final result instead of diving right into Step 1. Pinterest is an aspirational platform, and the best Video Pins entice the viewer by showing them what they could make if they follow your tutorial video.

A great first few seconds of video – it shows the final product, how it works, and includes a logo.

It's good to bookend your video with action shots: show your audience a preview of the final result at the beginning of the video, and then show it being used, worn, or working at the end!


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