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 few months, 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 2 years ago, 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. 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. 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:
- 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!
Install the Pin It Button on your Blog!
- 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”.
Linking Facebook and/or Twitter to your account gives your pins more exposure. Choose which pins are posted out on an individual basis.
- 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. Be creative with your Board Names!
Winner of Best Australian Blog 2011 (Nikki Parkinson http://www.stylingyou.com.au) showcases her brand, culture, interests and blog posts. Her Boards capture her “real-girl guide to fashion, beauty and life”.
#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!
From Pinterest’s “Pin Etiquette” Guidelines – Credit Your Sources!
- 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!
Note that the website is also on the pin!
#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.
- 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.
- If you sell products, add prices to your pins. Type the price (ie $9.99) into your Pin Description and Pinterest will automatically add a price banner to your pin!
By including prices in their description, Roots Canada highlight their products. The Price Banner is added automatically.
- 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.
- 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.
Edit your pins before publishing – Be creative (and cheeky!) with your descriptions. Include key words. Correctly enter your links.
#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.
- 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.
- 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), and it will show you all the pins/repins made direct from your website. Let’s use Amy’s website as an example:
A quick search at http://www.pinterest.com/source/amyporterfield.com displays a long list of pins & repins from Amy’s blogposts.
- 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.
Track Repins. Say thanks!
#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!
- 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 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.
Oprah is leading the way by using Video effectively on Pinterest – many boards contain video of her own shows and interviews, as well as those of other thought leaders.
- Use Image Creation Tools. My favourites are: Instagram, Pixlr, and Tweegram . Snagit is also an excellent tool for adding effects to images and video, and I have just discovered the wonderful Pinstamatic. See Commandment #9. Use whatever program helps you to make an eye-catching picture or text image to share on Pinterest. Be creative with them!
- 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. Your pin can be 554 pixels wide without restriction on length, but up to 5000 pixels high.
- 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. 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!
Oprah showcases the “lifestyle” and core values behind her brand better than anyone.
- 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 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 fresh pins to share. There are 5 feeds you can follow: Pinners You Follow (default feed), Everything, Videos, Popular & Gifts. 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.
- 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.
Daily Grommet showcase their products “of great utility, style or invention that haven’t hit the big time yet”. Their boards include competitions and a clever “video of the day” for featured products.
#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).
- 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. Make the competition dependent on pinning, repinning, commenting or liking. Add keyword, category or hashtag requirements, or have the entrants email you a link to a board they create. The options are limitless! Yasso has done this well with their Pin-it-to-win-it contest.
Yasso asked their fans to create a “Yasso Frozen Greek Yoghurt” board, then email Yasso a link to the board to go in a draw. The Board with the most followers won a bonus prize.
- 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 a 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. Remember to add categories to your pins.
- 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. 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! Check some of them out here .The following tools are super-useful for leveraging the power of pinning – I have featured one tool to help you pin on the move, one to help you track your stats, and one to help you create eye-catching pins!
- 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. Warning: Addictive.
- Pinerly Pinerly is a content management dashboard for Pinterest users that includes tools that allow you to track pins via campaigns, and access statistics. It also suggests Pinners to follow and the best times to pin. Scheduled pinning will be released soon. Worth checking out!
- Pinstamatic I just LOVE Pinstamatic. It allows you to design funky “original” pins including quotes, website clips, music/audio, twitter profiles, calendar dates, map locations… and even has its own photo filter like Instagram. Now we have no excuse for not creating our own content on Pinterest!
#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 of your home page – look at recent followers, likes, comments and repins.
- 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 has revealed Pinterest to be the 2nd and 3rd highest source of referral traffic. 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?