Would you love to tap into the power of a social media site that can send you more referral traffic than Twitter? Bring you more leads than LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube combined? Convert more fans into paying customers who will easily share your content with their friends?
I know, I know. It sounds impossible, right? But, if you haven’t been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you would realize that I am not talking about some social media pipe-dream – especially if you have heard about the rise and rise of Pinterest.
Since launching in 2012, Pinterest has achieved all of the above and more. It surpassed 10 million users, faster than any other stand-alone site in history. It outstripped the traffic of Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined, and it is now capable of driving more referral traffic than Twitter. As of September, Pinterest became the 2nd highest referrer of traffic to websites (second only to Facebook). Got your attention yet?
What is Pinterest?
To use Pinterest for Business, you need to first understand what it is, how it works and how to make it work for you. Pinterest is a stand-alone Visual Social Network built around engaging visual content. Users share visual images from the web, by “pinning” them on to a series of virtual PinBoards.
“Pinners” can create, share, collect and repost information in picture, image or video format. This great video from MDG Advertising gives one of the most comprehensive overviews of Pinterest that I have seen.
Enough of the stats. Let’s talk strategy. Firstly you need to decide if Pinterest is the right fit for you – not all social media sites suit all business types. However, so far, I have not seen many businesses who would not benefit from a presence on Pinterest, especially with the use of some creative marketing, as outlined below.
With such huge potential for driving traffic, there are some must-know actions you need to take NOW in order to leverage Pinterest’s massive potential for referring customers to your business. Let’s call them the 10 Commandments of Pinterest. They are the 10 keys that YOU need to apply, in order to harness the referral power of this exciting, visual and fun social media platform.
The 10 Commandments of Using Pinterest for Business
#1 Plan for Pinning Success
As tempting as it is to jump in and start pinning, I recommend that you do the following first:
- Take time to set up your account properly. Think about what you will be using the account for. If you are a Public Figure, you will most likely use your own name, but if you own a business, set up an account in your business name, using your logo as an official business page. To set up your business account (or to convert your page to a business page) click here and click on “Get Started”. The process is fairly straight forward. You may need some help from your IT person to help you add some code to your server for verifying your website, but other than that, it is an easy process.
- Use the Pinterest Business Centre. You can access this site at any time by typing in business.pinterest.com. At this site you will find many resources including all the Pin It buttons for your browser and website, follow buttons, case studies and tools. It is a great site to come back to at any time. Pinterest has also created an awesome Pinterest for Business Guide, which you can download by clicking here.
- Ensure that you include key words in your description. Set up the links to your website and social media channels on your profile.
- Prepare Your Blog for Pinning. Install these tools from the Business Resource Centre:
- Pin It Button for Websites – on your website or blog. Embed the button wherever you have “pinnable” content – including your blog, content pages, and products for sale.
- Follow Me Button for Websites - on your home page, email footer and newsletters/email marketing.
- Pin It Bookmarklet on your browser to make it easy to pin from the web!
- Integrate with other social media platforms. Add Pinterest sharing buttons and apps to other social media platforms, such as Facebook. Give a Call-to-action to your Google+, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn Followers to follow you on Pinterest! Integrate, integrate, integrate!
- Link Facebook and Twitter. Facebook links only to your personal profile (not Pages), so you may find it better to link to Twitter for business posts. Post to Facebook selectively as relevant – all linked Pinterest posts are now featured in a Facebook “album”.
- Research what your ideal client is pinning. Search under Keywords and Categories on the Pinterest Dashboard. Create your boards with an ideal client in mind. Provide answers to their questions. Feed their inspirations. Solve their problems.
- Set up your initial “Boards”. Choose topics or categories that reflect your business values, culture, interests, products and services. Also create boards that will be attractive to your ideal client. What will they be dreaming about, pinning for later and researching on Pinterest before making a decision to buy (hopefully from you!). Be creative with your Board Names but also keep “search” in mind. Pinterest Board names are also searchable, so include key words!
#2 Check the Source Before You Pin
Here are some steps you need to take to Pin Ethically:
- Be Copyright Savvy. Read the fine print first!
- Check the Source of the Pin. This is so important. When re-pinning, click before you repin to see if pins are sourced to a legitimate website. If content has been “re-sourced” with a false URL to another site, don’t repin it – report it or leave a comment. Give credit where credit is due!
- Add a watermark. When pinning original content, consider adding a watermark of your website or logo to your image, to preserve pin integrity. This way the image will always stay connected to your website, and will continue to promote your brand, no matter what!
#3 Pin Strategically
This is the fun part. Now you can really get pinning!
- Pin across a range of Boards. Add pins gradually, and start new boards as you feel necessary. Be creative with your board names, captions and pins, but remember that Board Titles and Pin Descriptions are searchable on Pinterest, so use searchable terms in your pin description. It also saves me going crazy if I can’t remember where I saw something and I can search for it based on keywords.
- Follow, Follow, Follow. Start following users and/or individual boards that are of interest to you. By following and engaging with users (see Commandment #4) and repinning their content, you will begin to build your own community of followers.
- Add a little “Richness” to your pins. Previously we could simply add the price (ie $9.99) into the Pin Description and Pinterest would automatically add a price banner to the Pin. This function is no more. It has been replaced by the bigger and arguably better Rich Pins. These are (in Pinterest’s own words) pins that “include extra information right on the Pin itself”. At the moment, there are 5 types of Rich pins: movie, recipe, article, product and place.
Rich Pins may be more ideal for established or larger businesses at present, as to install them, you need to do some “tech prep” on your website. This involves installing meta tags, and applying to Pinterest to have them approved. If you are a business wanting to showcase movies, recipes, products, books or geo-tagged locations… Rich Pins are worth looking into!
- Add weblinks to your descriptions. The more information about the source of original pins (preferably your website) the more longevity your pin will have for brand awareness. Edit the pin and add the correct permalink to blogposts so they can be traced correctly. And check that your pin-links work!
- Space Your Pins. Don’t do a pin dump! Pinterest is unlike Facebook and Twitter where the feed-time is limited. Pins will remain in view for days or weeks due to the cyclical nature of their exposure. Pinning for a few minutes a couple of times per day is enough to get you started. Work up to a few times a week. Consider using a tool like Viral Tag to schedule your pins. If you are a bigger company, software like Curalate might give you the comprehensive visual marketing analytics (as well as Tumblr and Instagram) firepower that you need.
- Time Your Pins. Take note of the times when your fans are pinning – be flexible, and if all else fails, 2-4pm and at night are popular for pinning according to Pinterest. Weekends are too, in my experience.
#4 Be Social
Pinterest is Social. If you want build relationships and get noticed on Pinterest, be social. Treat it just like any other social media platform:
- Comment and Like. Just as you would on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or GooglePlus, be sure to comment on and “like” the pins of other users and businesses. Pinterest have recently made the comment section less visible until someone comments, reflecting the fact that “likes” and “repins” are really the cornerstone of this platform. Pictures really do speak louder than words!
- Use Names and Tag. Use @tags to notify the user you are engaging with. Use hashtags (#) to highlight keywords. By using names and tags, you will be a step ahead of the large majority of Pinterest users with respect to engaging with other users. Remember, Pinterest is searchable, as are hashtags on this platform.
- Track pins from your website. In order to be social and say thanks, here is a great “ninja trick”. Type in the following link (using your own url): www.pinterest.com/source/yourwebsite.com and it will show you all the pins/repins made direct from your website. Let’s use Amy’s website as an example:
- Say Thank You. This is one of the most under-used social actions on Pinterest. Regularly check your Re-pins. Go to the board of the person who has repinned your pin and make the effort to thank them for repinning. Just like RTs on Twitter, or Shares on Facebook, the Repin is a valuable thing. Don’t let it go un-noticed.
- Please note: Pinterest may suspend your commenting privileges if you are deemed to be doing “heavy commenting” (ie for autobot/spam reasons). Be aware and prioritise or space out your comments.
#5 Produce Visual Content
Ask yourself this: How can I create content that is visually engaging and “pinnable”? Think of the image as the 1st Impression. Make it count! And remember, 80% of all Pins are Repins, so tap into the action with your own, original content and be in the 20%! Tweet This.
- Choose great images for your blog. If you have interesting, engaging, quality images, your content is more likely to get pinned.
- Pin different types of images. Include photos, infographics, videos and text. Don’t discount text. A great font on a simple background, does a “pinnable- image” make!
- Pin SlideShare Presentations. Just like video, SlideShare embeds right into your Pinterest boards, yet very few people feature Slideshare decks on Pinterest!
- Pin Videos. Video is the most under-pinned visual format on Pinterest… but the most engaging! Be one of the first in your niche to use Video.
- Use Image Creation Tools. My favourites are: Canva, PicMonkey, Instagram, Pixlr, and Tweegram. Snagit or Skitch are also excellent tools for adding effects to images and video. Pinstamatic is also a useful tool for creating simple images. For beautiful looks-like-a-designer-did-it phone app text-based images, then you can’t go past WordSwag. It’s only available on the iPhone at present, but it is highly addictive and puts beautiful typography in the hands of everyone…no matter how creative you are. Use whatever program helps you to make an eye-catching picture or text image to share on Pinterest. My personal favourites out of all these – the 3 tools I can’t live without for image creation – are Canva, PicMonkey and WordSwag. Get creative with them! See Commandment #9.
- Keep it Simple. The more simple, visual, clear, and succinct it is, the more it will get repinned. Make pinners want to click on your pin!
- Experiment with Size. Taller pins are more noticeable in the newsfeed. Currently, the ideal pin width is 735 pixels without restriction on length. These dimensions are subject to change. Also, bear in mind that just because you can go really long with your infographic, it doesn’t mean you must. Experiment with different lengths. You can read more about this and other aspects of a “pinnable” pin here.
- Create Infographics. An infographic is a graphic, eye-catching visual representation of information, data or knowledge. Consider investing in having an infographic designed to provide information useful to your core audience – it makes for a highly “repinnable” image. You can read more about how to create infographics here. Oh, and here is one we designed for you:
#6 Remember to Create and Curate
Use your boards to share great content of your own as well as that of others – or put simply, create as well as curate content.
- Don’t just self-promote. Have a balance of your own content and the content of others. Showcase the lifestyle/beliefs/interests behind your brand, as well as your products, services, blog posts, events, designs/portfolio, and behind the scenes fun with your team. Be creative!
- Showcase Other Pinners. Feature brands or businesses that you admire, that you work with or that you want to work with. Pin videos, blogposts, tips, quotes, websites, slide presentations and videos from others in your field. If you are a community group, promote your members and their businesses.
- Become the go-to-source for information. Providing how-to information, training videos, infographics, tutorials, tips and ideas from your own business as well as others will establish you as an authority in your niche. Establish your Pinterest Profile as the one to follow!
- Find and create fresh pins to share. There are 5 feeds you can follow: Preview (Explore Interests), Homefeed, Popular, Everything, Gifts, Videos and Places Boards. Visit Everything and search under keywords relevant to your target market. This helps you find new content to repin that isn’t already circling around your current followers. Also pin directly from websites – this creates “new” content. Remember.. be in the 20% creating content for 80% of us to share on Pinterest.
- Learn from other brands who pin successfully. There are some great brands pinning on Pinterest, including Whole Foods Market, Oprah, Mashable, Daily Grommet and more. All of them have one thing in common. They create and curate content, and they showcase the “lifestyle” around their brand rather than merely self promoting:
#7 Promote Creatively
While Pinterest began as a platform to organize and share the things we love, it has huge potential for promotions, competitions and selling products. As always, the key is to add value and engage. Promote creatively and respectfully (and check Pinterest’s Terms & Conditions). Also be sure to check their guidelines for running promotions and Brand Guidelines for using logos etc.
- Use a “Call-to-Action” in your Pins. A call-to-action pin description sees an 80% increase in engagement.
- Use Pinterest to promote (and conduct) a competition. Give a call-to-action to enter your competition on a pin and promote through your blog and other networks. Check the competition guidelines for what you can and can’t do. And don’t ask people to pin the competition rules. This is a “biggie” according to Pinterest among other “Don’ts”. Be very clear about entry requirements and follow what Pinterest says you can and can’t do. There are many options, so use your imagination and check out what other brands have done before you. Pinterest’s competition guidelines have evolved and are super easy to follow. Of note is their request that you do not call your competition a “Pin it to Win It” contest, and that you do not require people to pin from a selection of images to win. Here is a summary:
- Think outside the square. Create buzz and viral sharing. Allow users to post on a competition board. If you run an event, have an events board – allow attendees to post on the board and announce it at the event. Or have a board to showcase your team/culture that staff can post on. Merge online with offline interaction. Kotex ran perhaps one of the most exciting and innovative campaigns yet, with their Women’s Inspiration Day Promotion.
Click here to see Kotex’s video about their innovative promotion on YouTube. Kotex achieved 2,284 interactions and 694,853 total impressions from their innovative campaign based on sending “inspiring women” gifts based on their own Pinterest Boards. What can YOUR business do to get creative on Pinterest?
#8 Don’t Neglect SEO & Referral Traffic
Keep SEO in mind when setting up your pins, but remember that the magic comes from referral traffic via Pinterest and not the direct links to your pins. The most important “link” Pinterest will give you, is the link to other users. Build relationships and the people will come…as well as the SEO.
- Set your pins up to be noticed. Use keyword-rich and eye-catching captions, and add hashtags and urls to your descriptions.
- Think in terms of incoming and outgoing traffic. What content will bring users to your site, what action do you want them to take when on your site (how will you entice them to stay?), and what content do you want them to take away with them?
- Understand Search. Pinterest search shows up Pins, Boards and People who have chosen keywords in their title. Target your account description, pin descriptions and board names to suit. Use the maximum space to describe your business in the “about” section of your profile – you have 200 characters, so use them. Enter your website and social media links. Use it to potential!
- Pin original images and content from your website where possible – as it should be the place where you want traffic to go! Use permalinks and not the url when pinning blogposts.
#9 Use Tools
Take advantage of the awesome Pinterest Tools available! As outlined in #1, be sure to grab the Pin It Button, the Follow me button and the Pin It BookMarklet Button for your Browser . These can all be found at the Goodies Page on the Pinterest Site .
The following tools are super-useful for leveraging the power of pinning:
- Canva - As mentioned above there are many Visual Content Creation tools, but my favourite right now is Canva. Not only is Canva a DIY Graphic Design Tool that makes image creation easy for everyone, but they have awesome templates. You can create images of all shapes and sizes, especially social media. They even have Pinterest specific templates.
- Other Image Creation Tools – As well as Canva, be sure to check out PicMonkey, Instagram, Pixlr, Pinstamatic and Tweegram. Snagit or Skitch are also excellent tools for adding effects to images and video.
- The Pinterest Mobile App Simple but effective for pinning when you have a spare few minutes! Also helps to spread the timing of pins out throughout the day by being able to pin quickly while on your mobile phone. Warning: Addictive.
- Viral Tag is a great low-cost tool Pinterest Management Tool for brands that allows you to schedule pins and provides more comprehensive reports. Other higher-cost Pinterest Analytics tools favoured by larger brands for their marketing and analytics functionality include Tailwind and Curalate.
- Pin Alerts is a tool for tracking the images pinned from your website (or even your competitors websites). Each time a pin is shared from your site, you receive an email alerting you.
- On your mobile, be sure to make use of the Instagram App (Instagram is a photo creation tool and a photo editing tool in one program) as well as my two favourite apps: WordSwag and Over. Both of these will allow you to create beautiful typography quotes and tips.
#10 Research and Measure
As with all other social media networks, it is vital that you track your success with Pinterest:
- Track your “Recent Activity”. Located on the LHS and RHS top of your home page – look at recent followers, who you are following, likes, pins and boards.
- Research the Pins, Boards and Brands that get results. Click the Pinterest button and search via keywords – under pins, boards and people. Use the findings as a guide for future blogposts and pin titles. Work out what works!
- Check your Website Google Analytics. Look at referral sources from other sites (including Pinterest) and take note of the keywords that people are searching for when they find you.
It is not just big companies reporting great stats– in recent months my own social media blog/website plus the websites of clients have revealed Pinterest to be the 1st and 2nd highest source of referral traffic from social sites – sometimes passing Facebook. Now do I have your attention?
So, what about you – Have you started playing with Pinterest? Have you seen results in your referring traffic, sales or brand exposure? Any tips to share?