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 🙂
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. Unlike social media sites were things you post have a finite life as they vanish down timelines, things put on Pinterest are there forever (unless removed manually).
It is designed to store the 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 this 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.
Let’s start with the profile.
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 🙂
Like the picture, I think it’s best that you keep 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.
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.
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.
There are three types of boards on Pinterest:
- Public boards
- Private boards
- Group 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)
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.
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:
So rather than having one board just for pins specific to writers, I have broken them down into separate, narrowed-down boards.
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.
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:
Make your boards stand out with a “cover image”. When you don’t have a cover image, your board looks like this:
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.
With a cover image, they stand out more, especially if you choose an eye-catching pin.
You can move your boards around and reorganise them. You can 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.
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”.
A 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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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:
Other things to consider
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 from getting malware or viruses.
Do you use Pinterest? What are your tips for using Pinterest?