How to get the best out of using Pinterest

It’s Thursday and as promised, I have a new series for you!  Welcome to the Social Media Series.  Now, it won’t be as long as my Blogger Series and I am admitting right now I am no expert.  Also, this will not be on ALL social media because I’m not on all of them.

I have been asked by people about using social media for boosting exposure and building a brand.  Now I came late to social media.  I mean I joined some of them in 2016 and let them just gather dust for a while. 

However, I have started to make a concerted effort last year to learn what works and what doesn’t.  So this is what this series is about.  Things I’ve learnt, things that have helped me (or hindered me).  Hopefully, some of this will be useful to you guys too 🙂

Title Image: The Social Media Series: How to get the best out of using Pinterest. Image: Social media icons

What Pinterest Isn’t

Okay, so we are going to start off with Pinterest.  Now technically Pinterest isn’t a social media platform, but everyone kind of ties it in with social media so it’s just easier to drop it into this series.

Not social media?

Yup, it’s not.  Think about it, it’s not really the place to “be social”.  One issue people have when trying to build up their Pinterest is by treating it as a social media platform.

What Pinterest Is

Okay, so if it’s not a social media platform, what the heck is it?

It’s a bookmarking site and a search engine.  It is designed to store information you want to check back on and also it’s a search engine that allows you to search for specific content stored there.

What is your Pinterest Purpose?

Pinterest is still extremely popular with an apparent 200 million active users (as of 29 July 2018).  That is a lot of people who could be engaging with your brand, your books, your website/blog.

What you want to gain from Pinterest will affect how you use it.

If you want to use Pinterest as a business tool (remember, writing/authorship is a business) then you need to create a system to make it work for you.

When I first started using Pinterest, it was for personal use.  I would pin everything I liked and use it as a resource library for me.  That was it.

After I noticed I was gaining some referrals to my website from Pinterest, I started to look at it in a different way.  I shifted my purpose to be more business focused.

Let’s look at some stats

Why would these be important?  Remember how we are meant to know our target audience?  Stats can help with that.

Half of the adults from 18 – 34 use Pinterest at least once a month. 

93% of active Pinners said they use Pinterest to plan purchases

(source: SproutSocial – 2018)

Women tend to dominate the Pinterest landscape, but 40% of new signups are men. That’s a 70% increase in year-over-year growth. Also, a not insignificant one in four American Pinterest users is men.

(source: Hootsuite – 2018)

By knowing where different demographics of people spend their time online, makes it easier to focus our marketing efforts in the right places.

Get started on Pinterest

Firstly, don’t just join Pinterest because everyone else is on it.  Make sure it is something you think will be worth your time and effort.  It can take a lot of work to build up but it does drive a great deal of traffic.

Business or Personal Pinterest Accounts

When I started I had a personal account because that is how I used it.  However, I shifted to a business account (which is free) the moment I changed my purpose for it.

Business accounts are designed for marketing as they come with extra features like Analytics and allows you to create Ads etc.

If you already have a personal account you can have this converted over.

Profile

Let’s start with the profile.

Picture

Include a picture or avatar on your profile.  To increase your branding, I would recommend using the same avatar/image you use on your other platforms.  It makes it instantly recognisable as you 🙂

Name

Like the picture, I think keeping your Pinterest name something already connected with you such as your blog name, your real/pen name works the best.  This just makes it easier for people to find you.  But this is just personal opinion.

Description

On your profile, you get to put a description.  Use it!  You get 160 characters and you should use them all.

Make your description clear about who you are and what visitors can expect on your boards.  People who find you may scan over your description and it needs to keep them interested enough to check out your boards.

Here’s mine:

Screenshot of Ari Meghlen's Pinterest Profile Description

I started by stating exactly what I am.  Writer.  Artist.  Blogger (these are also good keywords).  Then I mentioned a few of the things I’m interested in.

All these mentions show people what they can expect to find on my boards.  Do I have more things?  Yes.  But these are clear and cover a range of interests.

I also included my Twitter handle.  It doesn’t let you use a hyperlink but giving people another platform where they can find you, can help to drive traffic there.

Claim your website

Having a business account means you can “claim your website”.  This is where you verify it.  There is a section in your profile settings that explain how to do this.

Once your website has been verified, it will appear on your Pinterest homepage, as a link and will have the verified tick.

Here’s mine:

Screeshot of Ari Meghlen's verified website

Boards

There are three types of boards on Pinterest:

  • Public boards
  • Private boards
  • Group boards

Private Boards

These are boards you can mark as secret so that only you can view them.  It is recommended that at least some of your more personal boards be marked as secret.  That way people who visit your Pinterest page don’t have to sift through a large number of boards, not for them.

Private boards are also good for prepping boards.  So before you launch a board, you might want to make it private until it’s ready.  (Eg get it set with at least 5-10 pins, get a cover image and description written)

Group Boards

These are boards set up by people where others can join and pin to them too.  They are usually for marketing, and there are loads of different group boards for different topics.

Most group boards have rules and guidelines about what can and can’t be pinned as well as how often you can pin in a day.  These sorts of boards can be good for exposure as many have large numbers of followers.

Public Boards

These are the default boards you create, where anyone can view them.

Now, there is a lot of speculation as to how many boards you should have.  From what I’ve read, some of the biggest Pinterest accounts with followers that topped over a million had less than 40 boards.  Others have over 100 boards.

Again I think this is a personal choice, though my recommendation is to have at least 20 – 30 boards.

Mix up your boards

Think about the type of boards you want.  Things that your followers / readers will like.  Board ideas for writers:

  • Blog posts on writing
  • Aesthetics on your book
  • Landscape inspirations
  • Character boards
  • Books your love

Create a list of boards that you think can attract your target audience, and remember they should give value.

However, while it’s important to create boards to connect with your brand, to be part of your marketing plan, do add in some personal ones.  As writers, people want to know about us as well as our work.

Having some personal boards that show other interests can really help.  This doesn’t often work for more traditional businesses, but for more artistic ones it can be very useful.

So share a few hobbies.  For example, I have a board where I pin vegetarian and vegan recipes.  I’ve already met some other writers who are also vegetarian or vegan and we can swap recipes via Pinterest.  It’s another way to engage.

Also, you don’t have to cram everything into one or two boards (in fact, don’t do this!).  Most topics can be broken down into separate boards.

I have several boards specific for writers:

Screenshot of some Writer boards on Pinterest

So rather than having one board just for pins specific to writers, I have broken them down into separate, narrowed-down boards.

Board titles

When you create boards you need to give them titles.  My biggest piece of advice is to make them clear.  Remember, Pinterest is a search engine.  So, by all means, give your boards cute or funny titles, but make them clear.

You may have a hilarious title, but if people can’t find your board, or don’t recognise it for what it is, it’s not worth the few minutes chuckle you get.

Almost all of my boards have pretty clear boards.  For example, I have one called Book-y Nook: Reading List

I like the term Book-y Nook, but it’s the “Reading List” part that will get me found in searches.

So do take some time to think carefully about your titles.

Descriptions

Each board has a space for a description.  Use it!  These should also include keywords but as with most things, you need to make it organic.

Here is my description for my Writing Tutorials board:

screenshot of pinterest board description

Cover Image

Make your boards stand out with a “cover image”.  When you don’t have a cover image, your board looks like this:

Screenshot of pinterest board without a cover image

Below are some of my boards with image covers.  The cover image is selected from one of the pins within the board, so make sure to add several pins and then select the best one to be the cover.

Screenshot of boards with cover images

With a cover image, they stand out more, especially if you choose an eye-catching pin.

Board placements

You can move your boards around and reorganise them.  Either have them in alphabetical order or have the boards on top, the ones you last saved to.

I recommend using the Drag and Drop feature and choosing your board arrangement carefully.  Important boards should be placed in the top two lines and preferably in the centre of those lines.

This is where people instinctively look.  So the boards you want to drive the most traffic too should be placed there.

Pins

Create your own pins

When creating your own pins, here are some things you should consider.

Tall – Tall pins work the best on Pinterest, with the apparent optimal being 600px wide x 900px high.  These look better on Pinterest and are often pinned more.

This is why I use tall graphics in my blog, so they pin better. 🙂

Website – If you are making pins to drive traffic back to your website, I highly recommend including your website address on the graphic.

You might pin the graphics and add the correct website address links in the relevant box, however, if someone repins it and changes the link (it happens), people can at least still find you via the address on the image.

I have visited many a blog by using the website I found on the pin graphic itself after finding the link had been “hijacked”.

Quick note on shortened links – don’t use these as they are often seen as spam by Pinterest.  So make sure you use the full URL.

Description – When you create a new pin, the below dialogue box.  Drag your image into the relevant space, drop your URL link into the website space and then write the description.

You have only 500 characters here, so make sure you take the time to write a clear, concise description of the pin/website page.

Screenshot of a create pin dialogue box

About Hashtags

Pinterest isn’t social media so hashtags don’t really work like they do on Twitter or Instagram.  You can add the odd one or two, but it’s not really necessary and any more than that will actually have a detrimental effect on being found in searches.

Credit sources

When adding pins that are not your own, make sure you include source details/credits and link back to the original website.

Pin different mediums

Don’t feel that you only have to pin articles or blog posts, you can pin videos and podcasts too.  Take a still from them or create a specific graphic pin to use and then link that to the video/audio URL.

Pinning  Frequency

There are different schools of thought on this.  According to Coschedule (2017), it’s recommended to pin at least five times a day.

Some say, don’t go above 10 pins a day.  However, according to Tailwind (which, incidentally, draws data from over 100k accounts) states that 50 pins a day should be your limit. (great for serial pinners like me!)

Use Analytics

As mentioned, the business account gives you analytical information about how well your pins/boards are doing.

Make sure you use it.  Check to see which pins are popular, check to see which boards are getting the most visits.  Use this data to increase the frequency with which you pin into these boards.

Pinterest is not really about engagement in the sense of comments, it’s more about visitors and pinners.  You want people visiting your boards, your pins and repinning.  After I made a change to my Pinterest strategy, my views rocketed.

These are my current stats as of writing this article.  It actually dropped recently because I have been making some changes.

I hid several boards while I worked on them and my figures dropped because of this, but that’s fine, I will continue to monitor and they should go back up again.

Pinterest stats

Since I made a more concerted effort with Pinterest, I have seen the effects it’s had on my blog.  You can guess which month I made the ramp up in:

Screenshot of blog stats graph

Other things to consider

Don’t spam

Pinterest will penalise you, including closing your account, if you spam.  That means if all you are doing is pinning your own stuff, you’re spamming and everyone hates them.  Try not to fall into this habit.

Like other platforms, you should be sharing a variety of content.  I make sure to pin one of my blog posts every day, but I also pin a lot of other content that is not mine.  In fact, I could do with ramping up a little more with my own (just not too much!)

Get the Pin It button on your browser

You can add a “Pin It” button to your browser so that if you are on a website you like you can “pin” the contents.

It will allow you to select whichever image on the page you want as the Pin and then select your board.

Use blog share buttons

Most blogs have share buttons at the end of the posts, make sure you have the Pinterest button activated.

Also, when you are checking through blogs, use it too, and save those articles you like to a reference board.

Use a Scheduler

Spending time on Pinterest is awesome, but for pinning your own pins especially connected to your blog or website, I highly recommend you use a scheduler.  This lets you spread your pins out and take more time to work on the descriptions etc.

I use Buffer for scheduling all my social media and it has made such a difference to my productivity.

I am still ramping up using it for Pinterest, but it’s definitely made a big help.

Make sure your Anti-virus is on

Just as an FYI, some pins on Pinterest have had their links hijacked.  Some are done for marketing purposes, so you click on an article about blogging and the link takes you to some crappy website that is not connected to the image or blogging and is just trying to sell you shit.

However, some links are also malicious.  They are rare but there will always be shitty people around who ruin things, and it happens on Pinterest too.

Make sure your anti-virus is there to catch any bad links to stop you getting malware or viruses.

Free stuff!

I’ve made you a quick Pinterest Checklist you can download. 🙂  Remember, you can check out my other free downloadables.

What are your tips for using Pinterest? Share them in the comments below.

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Thanks to everyone who actually read all the way through this.  If you enjoyed it, then consider pinning it 😀 

Happy writing

Signature & logo of Ari Meghlen

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19 thoughts on “How to get the best out of using Pinterest

  1. I swear you are the most informative person I have ever met. I am saving this and studying it.

    I have an account and I play around with it every Saturday while watching football. Yes, you can see my priority. I already have 43 followers and I haven’t even broken a sweat.

    Now I’m wondering, what if I break a sweat? What if I study what you have supplied and go as far as I can?

    Huge thanks on this. It is amazing what you do.

    • lol Aww thanks Bryan, I appreciate your kind words. I do like sharing informative posts. I like that if I can help just one person on something they were stuck with, then I’m happy.

      I do think Pinterest is still a greatly underused asset.

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