“I get Facebook. I get Twitter.
I’ve tried, but I don’t get this… Pinterest thing.”
I’ve heard this and similar statements many times at networking meetings, online and from my clients over the last year.
Let me see if I can shed some light for you.
So you have a Pinterest account, because you’re in business and you know that you need a social media presence. And you’ve pinned some of your things. But you feel like you’re only hearing crickets, huh? You feel pressed for time and you’re not sure if you’re “doing it right.”
With Pinterest, the key isn’t in pinning a lot or camping out online for a long time. It isn’t really about making sure your boards are mass-full of stuff you might not even like that much. And it isn’t about pinning just your own stuff.
The key is actually in engagement and being choosy. And being yourself. Only instead of sharing status updates, like on Facebook and Twitter, you are sharing things. Usually things that are somehow edifying.
How do I get followed??
Follow people! While Pinterest is mostly visual eye-candy driven, with more pinning and less conversing going on, it is social. So no one will really see and follow your boards if you don’t ever follow anyone else. Unless you’re the Dalai Lama, or Oprah.
You have to participate to reap the benefits. It’s like the lottery – you can’t win if you don’t play.
Now, even though Pinterest has by nature been less chatty than other social media outlets, it doesn’t mean the environment isn’t evolving. Pinterest now has messaging capabilities too. How much it’ll catch on, I don’t know. I think one of the reasons for Pinterest’s success is actually because there’s not so much chatting going on. How popular and helpful the new features will be remains to be seen. I’ve chatted a little – and don’t get too hung up on it right now. Though I always respond if someone leaves a message. That’s an important rule anywhere.
Put your Pinterest link on your website and anywhere else you are that you can put it! Seriously. Same for any other social media links too. This is really overlooked for some reason.
Who to follow??
Just as you want to be choosy about your pins, be choosy about your follows too. Start with following your friends. You can follow all their boards, or just some of them. I recommend that you only follow boards that interest you. And reserve the right to unfollow anything at any time.
Are you already on Facebook or Twitter? Start looking for the Pinterest boards of the people you follow on FB and Twitter. Chances are you will find their pins interesting because you’re already following them for some reason. Then look through those accounts who are following you on Facebook and Twitter too. Especially the ones you’ve followed back. You’re just carrying on the relationship started elsewhere to a new visual platform.
From there, start paying attention to the people of complementary mind. From a marketing point of view, look for your ideal audience or your tribe in general and follow them. For instance, if you sell crochet patterns, follow other crocheters and re-pin their most interesting pins. It’s a nice complement, but it also alerts them to your presence. But also, don’t be afraid to follow other crochet designers. Chances are, their specialty under the crochet pattern umbrella is different from yours. But connected together, you can both use your crochet powers to draw crocheters who’d be interested in you both.
What to pin??
Don’t pin anything you don’t particularly like or find interesting yourself.
Collect useful articles – everyone online needs good information. Collect recipes – everyone eats. Collect humorous things – everyone appreciates a laugh. Collect quotes and sayings – everyone appreciates a poignant phrase. Collect your passions – someone else out there likes it too! Collect holiday inspirations – whatever floats your boat. Just remember that if it feels fake though, no one will follow. Only pin it if you really like it. It’s supposed to be your collection!
You can pin from the people you follow, or you can search for a subject and see what you find. It doesn’t even have to make sense if you are open to discovery. A simple nonsensical search for “hairy trees” gave me this street art result: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/428475352022205859. Pretty cool, huh?
Be choosy. Think about pinning in terms of “Wouldn’t this be great?” If you don’t really think it would be great, then don’t. Just don’t.
When to pin??
You don’t have to pin every day, or even every week. But you must pin if you want your Pinterest account to perform. So take 15 minutes when you think of it and go look for good stuff. The goal is to be choosy, not spend tons of time and not even to spend regular time. Unless you’re in the mood.
This isn’t blogging or tweeting. This is collecting. So just like successful antique shopping, you want to make sure you spend time doing it, which helps you better understand the market and what’s going on, and then you flow with it. Some days you’ll find only a couple interesting things. Others, maybe a treasure trove. Let your heart sing, but pretend you’re on a budget when you’re trying to decide what you like most.
What about my stuff??
Yes, you should definitely pin your own stuff to your Pinterest boards. In fact, you want to be the first to pin them if at all possible. Though I advise you to wait a few days after you’ve published before you pin. (It helps your pin show up in feeds more prominently if whatever you’re sharing has already gained attention elsewhere first.)
Pin your stuff, but don’t forget that so much of social media culture is about sharing cool stuff you find. This is more true about Pinterest than any other platform. Pinterest is an eye-candy world, but people avoid accounts that seem stuck on themselves. Unless they are cooks or teach instructionals or something. Or like I said before, unless you’re Oprah. And that’s only because she’s already built that platform and established herself. She doesn’t have to work at it so hard anymore.
Pinterest is about imagery, so pay attention to the quality of your images. And if you created the image and own the rights to it, always put your watermark on it. When you create graphics for social media sharing, be sure to make your name, or book title, or website (or Twitter handle or something like that) a permanent part of the actual image. The goal of pinning your own stuff is for those images to be shared onward, but you want your website or something embedded so that people 6 connections later can easily find you again, whether the original link stayed attached or not! Especially for things like Pinterest. Even if you don’t use Pinterest, a lot of other people do! And while Pinterest defaults to including the link where an image can be found, people can over-ride that and replace the original link with another.
So optimize your images so they funnel back to you no matter where they end up or how they might be shared or scraped. 😉
Wait, but you don’t have very much stuff of your own to pin, you say? That’s OK. If you pace it out, you can repin your own stuff again and again. Just be tasteful about it. No one wants to see tons of you pinning yourself.
How to pin from the web??
Download the Pinterest browser app for easy pinning across the web. Anytime you read or see something awesome, use your Pinterest app to pin it to one of your boards. When you click that little “pin” button, it will pull up a menu of available photos to use for that link. Choose a good image (I prefer the larger images) and include a description. It doesn’t have to be detailed, but the more useful the description, the better.
Some people use a lot of #hashtags in their pins. I don’t think this is very helpful. Try not to use more than 3.
An important note – pinning is not only about the image you pin, but the link where that image was found. You want to keep those two elements paired together. When you pin from a website, ie. from a blog, be sure you pin from the article page and not the home page.
For instance, I have my blog set up so you can read something like the 10 most recent posts I’ve published – right from my home page without ever having to click on the link to the actual post. Others set their blogs set up to show the first paragraph of an article, and then you have to click the link to read the rest of the article. Either which way though – usually a featured image will be on that front page, associated with that article. However, if you pin that photo from the home page, then the link for the home page is what Pinterest will pick up, not the link for the actual article. This can lead to confusion down the road. Because another year from now, the most recent posts displayed on my front page are not going to be the same as today. So when someone follows the link in the pin and they come to my site, they’ll be hard pressed to be able to find the image and the link it belonged to ever again.
Lastly, a quick note on the wishes of website and image owners. While most people love for their stuff to be pinned, not everyone does. Photographers particularly, for obvious reasons. Whether you agree or not, be sure to respect their wishes if they have obviously stated they don’t want their images pinned.
Be nice. A simple rule, but sometimes people forget. And don’t be afraid to link your Pinterest account to Facebook and/or Twitter. You can always choose when not to share your pins, but people who are on social media will enjoy the variety of your shares. The visuals you choose will give them insight into you and your brand.
Here are the bullet points I want you to walk away with:
- Pace the pinning of your own stuff.
- Pay attention to the quality of your images.
- Watermark your own images!
- Follow your tribe and develop connections.
- Pin other people’s things.
- Pin from the correct page link.
- You don’t have to pin every day, or even every week.
- Link to other social media.
- Give people a reason to follow you.
- Always be choosy. Always be you.
Start with these in mind and you’ll be well on your way to building a presence that will build your platform and pay you back down the road.
What will improve your social media performance has everything to do with your social behavior and how influential you are. Developing that comes with time. At first you start out like a stranger in a new land who can’t get a date. But you just get out and meet people, pick away at it and before you know it, one person turns into two and the tiny growth turns into more exponential growth.
But you won’t find dates if you never leave the house. Desirable ones anyway…. 😉
So get out there and take the time.
Take 5 minutes, take an hour, but take it. Be choosy. Find your tribe. Develop connections. Pin more than just your own stuff. You’ll thank me later.
I hope this helps!
Social Media how-to can be a huge, huge study and one that’s constantly evolving. It’s a wave you have to be in to ride. By no means is this article a comprehensive treatise, so consider this simply Jules’ Cliff Notes for Pinterest. It’s my opinion, but based on my years of experience and well… at least some success. 😉
Until next time….
Need help? Have questions? Feel free to ask them in the comments below!