Compared to traditional marketing methods, social media has not been around for very long. For example, the ‘king’ of social media, Facebook, launched in 2004 and didn’t reach 100 million active users until 2008. However, despite its relative novelty, social media marketing is rapidly becoming the most cost-effective and powerful marketing strategy for today’s business owners.
One of the hardest parts of social media marketing is deciding where to start. Marketing experts have repeatedly told us that we “can’t be everywhere,” so the decision to begin social media marketing also involves choosing the exact places to target your efforts. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Periscope…the list of social media platform seems to grow every day. Since your results are dependent on your efforts and applying those efforts in the right place, choosing a social media platform to focus on is an important task.
While there are merits to every social media platform, one that is gaining steam right now is Pinterest. Is Pinterest right for your business? How do you get started and how can you best use it for your marketing needs? This complete guide to Pinterest marketing has all the answers you are looking for.
Why Invest Time in Building a Presence on Pinterest?
The first question is why should you consider Pinterest at all? Because of its beginnings, many people see Pinterest as a place for people searching for recipes and crafts – not exactly a hot spot for business marketing. However, over time Pinterest has become more mainstream and many major companies are using Pinterest for marketing. Some statistics that may interest you include:
- Over 1 million daily users
- 53 million unique U.S. users per month
- 35.6 million U.S. female users
- 6.6 million U.S. male users – however, there was a 120% growth in male monthly Pinterest users in 2015
For a social media site that is only 6 years old (launched March 2010), Pinterest has quite a following and is now being embraced by both men and women alike. In terms of referral traffic, Pinterest is second only to Facebook, meaning Pinterest pins have a proven record of driving people to your website.
The Power of Pictures
The power of Pinterest lies in the quote, “A picture is worth 1,000 words.” Studies have found that internet users are increasingly demanding visual content and social media posts that include pictures are more popular than posts without. In fact, “Content will demand more visual mediums” was one of Forbes’ top 7 content marketing trends for 2015. They predict that images will grow in popularity well into 2016.
Pinterest is, therefore, a perfect platform for any business that can tell its story in pictures. Some examples include:
- A restaurant that can share mouth-watering photos of its dishes.
- A fashion brand that wants to show off its clothing to people around the world.
- A painting or remodeling company that can win over new customers with past project pictures.
- A hair salon that can show off the latest cuts and styles.
- Any company that has a product that they’d like to share pictures of in order to increase sales.
Pinterest as a Search Engine
However, even if your business does not rely on images, Pinterest is a good place for you. For many users, Pinterest doubles as a search engine – meaning that people use Pinterest to find information from blog posts and product pages.
- 54% of Pinterest click-throughs are to blogs.
- 18% of click-throughs are to product or brand websites.
These statistics show that no matter what industry you’re in if you have a blog and/or a website then Pinterest can be a useful tool. Even unexpected industries have found a home on Pinterest; healthcare, insurance, higher education, manufacturing, software, and technology companies are all utilizing Pinterest for their marketing needs.
Pinterest – An Ideal Place for Brands
A final point about why you should consider Pinterest for your social media marketing needs is that users are particularly open to communication with brands and businesses and also not bothered by ads like users tend to be on some platforms (like Facebook). A survey found that 83 percent of Pinterest users say they’d rather follow their favorite brand on Pinterest than their favorite celebrity. 73 percent also say they are neutral or even positive about Promoted Pins, Pinterest’s advertising platform.
Perhaps we’ve convinced you that Pinterest marketing is a good strategy for your business to boost its <a< span=””> href=”http://congruentdigital.com/social-media-marketing/”>social media marketing efforts. If that is the case, you’ll want to know the basics of getting started so you can begin on the right foot.
This section will cover topics such as signing up for an account, creating a profile, making Pinterest boards and adding Pins. If you already know how to do these things you can skip ahead to our more advanced section on the different ways you can use Pinterest for marketing – but this ‘getting started’ section has tips for users at every level, so you just might want to stick around.
First at hand is signing up. Pinterest now has a special sign up page for businesses, which gives you more analytics and the ability to run ads, among other things. To sign up, just type your email, password, business name, type of business and website on this get started page. If you already have a personal Pinterest account but want to convert it to a business account, just log into your current account then click that same link to begin the conversion process.
Creating a Profile
Next you’ll want to completely fill out your Pinterest profile. Like other social media platforms, a non-existent profile or one that is poorly created will reflect badly upon your business. To edit your profile, log in then click Edit Profile in the top right corner, next to the settings symbol. The elements of the profile that you should fill out include:
- Business Name – You are limited to 37 characters. Use abbreviations if needed, but remember to spell out the main, important words of your business because it will help searchers find your page.
- Profile Picture – Use your business logo so people can quickly identify your brand. Profile pictures are square and the size is 165 pixels by 165 pixels. Larger images will be scaled down, but you may have to resize your logo or alter things so it looks correct.
- About You – This is a short description of your company. It is also searchable so use keywords for your business and industry. You are limited to 160 characters – make them count!
- Location – A place to list your city and state so people know where you are located.
- Website – A link to your business website.
A final step of completing your profile is to confirm your website. When you do this, you will be able to see web analytics such as how your website is doing on Pinterest and what people are pinning. It will also list your logo next to all pins that people save from your site, a nice little bonus that can increase brand awareness. This page explains how to confirm your website, which involves adding a tag to the <head> section of your website’s index.html file.
Making Pinterest Boards
Now that you have your profile filled out, it’s time to start filling your Pinterest page. There are two terms to understand. One is “Pinterest board” which is basically like a folder that will hold related items – then inside the board, you will have “pins,” which are individual pictures and links (the stuff you are sharing).
To get started making Pinterest boards, return to your profile. As a tip, you can always go back to your profile by clicking your Pinterest picture (your business logo) which is found on the very top right corner of every page on Pinterest.
Once there, underneath the profile information, you will see a plus sign and the words Create Board.
To create a board, just click that button then fill out the listed information. The most important things you need are:
- Name – Create a name for your board – what will this group of pins be about; how would you summarize what people will find inside this board? Board names are limited to 100 characters – BUT, only 26 characters will visibly show in the title so you really should stick to 26 characters or less. Boards are searchable, so use keywords that will resonate with your customers, words they will likely search for.
- Description – A description tells people what the board is about. Remember, Pinterest operates like a search engine, so use best practices of SEO. You are allowed up to 500 characters – be descriptive and use keywords that your customers may search.
- Category – All Pinterest boards are categorized so users can easily find boards on the same general topics. Choose the one category that best applies to your board.
Remember: when you are creating boards you are doing it for your customers and fans, not to be self-serving. If all your boards are centered on your business or product, your page will be pretty boring.
While it is okay to have some company-focused boards (</a<>for example, a board with pins of your products or services, or a board specifically for your blog posts) you want to think in more general terms of what your audience will be interested in.
A principle we rely on is, “Make your Pinterest page a destination.” Make it a center for information on topics that matter to your business, your industry, and your customers.
Don’t get carried away making too many Pinterest boards from the start. Carefully plan your board topics and names then fill them with pins as you go. The Pinterest board will display four pictures – one large picture called the Cover Image and three smaller pictures. Fill your boards with at least four pins (although more is better) before you move on to create more, so the board will look complete in your profile.
You can also edit your board in the future as needed. Once the board is created, just hit the Edit button underneath. You can change the name, description, and category. You also can (and should!) periodically change the cover image of your board so you’re using the best pictures to capture attention and so your page remains fresh.
As we mentioned, once you create Pinterest boards it’s time to add pins. You’ll want to add at least four so when someone is viewing your profile the board looks complete; however, adding more right from the start is a good technique. Taking your time to fill each board with ten pins will give you a complete and professional looking profile in no time.
We will talk about some different ways to add pins in the Pinterest Tools section below, but you can typically get started adding pins with social media share buttons. Most websites (we hope yours too, but if not, we will cover that below) have social share buttons to share content to popular social media platforms with the click of a button. Make sure you are logged into your Pinterest account, then click the Pinterest share (often located at the top or bottom of an article). This will open a small window which allows you to choose the board where you want to place the pin, and alter the pin description if desired.
Pin descriptions can be up to 500 characters, and like everything else, they are searchable so the rules of SEO and the importance of keywords applies. Some research has found that 100-200 characters is an ideal length – enough to be descriptive and properly use keywords, but not enough to be overwhelming.
When adding pins, you want a mix of your own content/pages and content from other sites. Remember, the goal is to make your Pinterest page a destination! Although we know your business’s content is awesome, your followers will want to see a range of the best ideas and articles on the given topic. This means you should be looking up interesting articles and information from a variety of places and pinning it on your boards.
You can also add pins to your boards by repinning things that other users saved to their own boards. Use Pinterest like a search engine to find pins that are relevant to your board topics. When you find one that you like, hit the Pin It button to repin that picture/article/URL to your own board.
As we mentioned before, you can have some boards that are solely for your own content – perhaps a products or services board, a board for your blog posts, a board (or multiple boards) for project portfolios, a board about your employees or your work in the community, etc. But you should also have boards on the general topics that are of interest to your business and your audience.
When pinning – remember that a pin may have a ‘home’ in more than one board. You should always put your pins in the most logically related places, but when possible you can add the same pin to a couple boards to give people a better chance of finding it. When pinning in multiple places, it’s a good practice to stagger your pins (such as pin to one board today, but wait a few days or a week to pin it to the next location).
When we pin company-based content – like a blog post or a new portfolio picture – we like to add it to a company-specific board but also to at least one general, topical board. The reason? Some people may just be following specific boards, so placing your content in a few spots (but not too many) will allow more people to find it. By pinning to different boards on different days, you are also catching a different Pinterest audience that is online at the time.
An example to demonstrate our point: say you are a clothing designer and you have designed a new dress. You can add a picture/URL of the dress to your “Our Designs” board, which is a board just for your company content. However, you can really get more action out of that pin if you add it to other boards too – for example “2016 Fashion Trends” and “Dresses We Love.” These would be general boards where you add your and other third party content. Having a variety of content sources keeps the boards fresh. The board topics are also more likely to be searched for than the “Our Designs” board, and more people may be interested in following these boards because they are more general in nature. Multiple locations for the pins, and multiple audiences, will mean a bigger reach.
Measuring Pinterest Results
Of course, you’ll want to measure your Pinterest results as you go. Progress is motivating, but it can also identify things that work well or indicate that Pinterest isn’t the right platform for your business. Our general advice on measuring Pinterest results:
- Give results time to happen.
Everyone wants instant results, but building your Pinterest account will take time. If you’re going to try Pinterest out, make sure you’re ‘in it for the long haul.’ Give it a few months before you make a decision to quit.
- Set realistic goals.
What ‘success’ on Pinterest means will vary by business, but however you define it, make sure you are realistic with your expectations. You’re not (likely) going to get a ton of followers overnight or see a sudden spike in traffic because of a pin, but that doesn’t mean you’re not making progress. You may want to wait a month to get a ‘baseline’ idea of how your page will progress to help you choose realistic goals for the future.
- Results are directly correlated with effort.
You’re not going to get gains unless you put in the time – and if you are doing things properly, the more time you put in the more results you will see. The time you devote to Pinterest should also be factored in when assessing your results and goals. If you’re only spending 15 minutes per week, for example, don’t expect to see big results.
In terms of results, there are a number of ways to measure the impact of your Pinterest page. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Repins – This means that a person saw one of your pins and decided to save it on their own Pinterest page.
- Likes – This means that a person saw your pin and hit the Heart symbol, indicating they like the pin.
- Comments – People can make comments on your pins.
- Clicks – This is the number of times people click the link in your pin, to visit the website from which the pin came to get more information.
- Follows – This means a person choose to follow you. They can choose to follow all of your boards or they can choose to follow specific ones – either way, this person will count in your Following stats.
- Web traffic – You can use various tools like Google Analytics, Jetpack Site Statistics, or Pinterest Analytics to see the number of people who are visiting your page from Pinterest.
- Site pins – This means someone went to your website and pinned something they saw.
Some of these results need to be gathered from external sources (such as Google Analytics or Jetpack), but you can get many of them right on Pinterest. First, your followers and following statistics are displayed on your profile page. Next, you can look at individual pins to see the number of likes, comments and repins. Finally, information on likes, repins, follows and comments is displayed in your News section. It looks like a speech bubble symbol – it is located in the upper right corner next to your profile link (business logo) and displays a number if you have unread news.
Another way to measure results is Pinterest Analytics. This is only available for business accounts, which is why we suggested that you sign up with a business account or convert your personal Pinterest page into one.
When you visit your analytics page you will see stats about your Pinterest page, including:
- Profile – This includes the number of impressions, repins and clicks your Pinterest profile gets.
- Audience – The average monthly viewers and average monthly engagement. You can also change the date to see trends over time and learn more about your followers’ demographics and interests.
- Website – If you connect your website (and you should!) you will also get impressions, repins and clicks for all pins that link back to your site. This is not only the pins you have added to your own Pinterest account but ALL of the pins linking to your site that other people have saved as well.
This short video will tell you more about using Pinterest Analytics to analyze your business’s Pinterest results.
So far we have talked about getting started with Pinterest and measuring your results. However, there is so much more Pinterest can do – and many capabilities are made possible with Pinterest tools, from Pinterest or third parties. Once you’ve gotten the hang of Pinterest using the information above, we suggest exploring these tools to streamline your Pinterest management or to access additional capabilities.
We mentioned this above but in case you skipped that section, we wanted to reiterate that Pinterest Analytics is a powerful tool to get statistics on how your Pinterest page is performing and how your website as a whole is performing on Pinterest. A very helpful aspect of this tool is the Audience Analytics. This section will allow you to look at the demographics of your Pinterest audience and to research their interests – the type of board topics they are interested in and boards that feature your pins.
In our section on adding pins, we mentioned that you can use the social sharing capabilities on most sites to pin your favorite pictures and articles. But what if a site doesn’t have social sharing for Pinterest? The best way around this is to add a Pinterest button to your browser. Pinterest has installations for Chrome, Firefox, Explorer, Safari and Microsoft Edge. When you install the button, it places a little Pinterest symbol in your browser toolbar. When you find something you want to pin, there’s no more searching for the share button – just hit the Pinterest button in the browser bar and proceed with pinning.
Adding the Pinterest browser button helps you to easily pin content from any website – but have you made it easy for people to share your own website content on Pinterest? There are many plugins that will place social sharing icons on your website; make sure you choose one that allows people to share on Pinterest too. One option is Share This, which works with your website, WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Blogger, Type Pad, Tumblr, email newsletters and even mobile apps.
You can also make your website more Pinterest-friendly by adding a Pinterest widget. The Pinterest Widget Builder will allow you to create code to add a pin it button, a follow button, a pin, a board, or a widget of your Pinterest profile. You can add the code to your website’s sidebar, inside page content or anywhere else you see fit.
The most important part of creating a successful Pinterest page is to remain consistent. At the very least, you need to set up one day a week to add new pins and interact with followers, but it’s even better if you can pin every day. Buffer makes this easy to do with the ability to schedule your pins in advance. You just connect your Pinterest account and then plan out your pins ahead of time – so in one hour’s time, for example, you’ll have pins coming out all week. It also offers analytics on your scheduled pins so you can gauge performance. Buffer offers a free 7-day trial, then plans start at $10 per month.
If you want some more flexibility with pinning, but don’t think you’ll need a scheduler, the Pinterest app may be for you. With the app you can pin content anywhere, anytime – you no longer have to wait until you get back to the desktop to pins something. It also allows you to pin pictures that you take with your phone. The Pinterest app is free. We linked to the Apple version above, but here is a link to the Android version.
PinGroupie is a website that allows you to find group boards. Group boards are boards where multiple people are allowed to pin. If you find an applicable one and are accepted, you will be able to add pins to that board. The benefit is that group boards allow you to reach a wider audience and they often have a lot of followers. The drawback is that some group boards are old (with non-responsive owners) and some are hesitant about adding businesses for fear that you’ll use the board for promotion instead of adding informative pins. Although getting accepted into group boards can be difficult, if you can find a few group boards to pin in, it can definitely help your Pinterest efforts.
Another similar site that lists group boards is Board Deck.
Okay, Canva isn’t a Pinterest tool specifically, but if you want your content to perform well on Pinterest, you need to have good visuals. Canva allows you to design images to use on your website and in your blog posts, which you can then pin for better exposure. Canva makes it easy to create stunning graphics, but it also helps you add branding elements to your images, like your company name, logo, website URL or blog post title. Canva even has a template for Pinterest graphics, which allows you to create an image of 735px x 1102px, the ideal size for Pinterest pins.
A final tool to mention – which is currently available to some but if you’re not included you can join the waitlist – is Pinterest’s new ads platform called Promoted Pins. This platform allows you to promote some of your own business pins to an audience of your choosing. We’ve had the opportunity to preview Promoted Pins. The system allows you to choose a pin, choose the desired action (clicks or engagement), select your bid and daily budget, customize your audience, and then measure your results. Since social media advertising is predicted to explode in the next three years, this gives you another option for targeting your potential customers beyond traditional platforms like Facebook.
Making Your Website Pinterest-Friendly
So far we’ve talked about what YOU can do to get your Pinterest page up and running. However, your Pinterest success is also dependent on how much other people promote your business on their own Pinterest pages. If you want this free and powerful publicity, you need to make your website Pinterest-friendly so people can easily share your content. Our top tips include:
Start – and Maintain – Your Business Blog
A blog will get you results well beyond Pinterest – it will help your website show up in search results, establish you as an expert in your industry, and give you content to share on your other social platforms. However, blogs are particularly important for Pinterest because (as we mentioned in the Why Pinterest? Section), people use Pinterest as a search engine to find information and to discover blogs. The best pins on Pinterest are informative, so although you can have pins for your products or services, they won’t give you the kind of impact on Pinterest that blog posts will.
Make Sure Every Page Has Images
With Pinterest, you don’t just share a URL. Your pin is actually a picture from the web page you are pinning, and clicking on that picture will direct the Pinterest user to the site in question. Therefore, in order to pin your pages, you must have images on all your pages. Going forward, make sure each blog post or new page of your site has, at least, one, high-quality image. You can also revisit your old blog posts and add pictures to make those posts usable on Pinterest.
Add Social Sharing Buttons
Next you want to make it so simple to share your content that it can literally be done with the click of a button. In our Pinterest Tools above, we mentioned tools such as Share This, SumoMe, and Digg Digg. There are other plugins as well. These plugins will add various social media share buttons (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc) either at the top, bottom or side of the page so users can share on the platform of their choice.
As an alternative (or addition) to having an array of share buttons, you can add a Pinterest “Pin It” button when a user hovers their cursor over any image on your page. If you use WordPress, search the Plugins section to find a number of options, or try out the SumoMe Image Sharer. Please note that the downside of these plugins is that the Pin It symbol only appears when the person hovers their cursor over the image. For a more visible solution, choose a general social sharing option like those discussed above.
Promote Your Pinterest Page When Possible
After the basics listed above have been implemented, you can continue to promote your Pinterest page on your website by finding ways to remind your audience about your Pinterest presence. If your website has a sidebar, consider using the Pinterest Widget Builder that we mentioned in the tools section to create a reminder – either a Pinterest Follow button where people can follow you with a simple click, or a Pinterest Profile widget that will display a preview of your profile.
You can also add widgets as additional visuals in your blog posts. For example, if you write an article about how to choose paint colors, you may include a widget in the blog post that links to your Paint Colors or Paint Tips Pinterest boards. You may also add a call to action at the end of your post by urging people to check out your Pinterest page.
Using Pinterest in Your Marketing Strategy
We’ve covered a lot of topics in this Pinterest marketing guide, and you are free to pick and choose the tips and tools that will work best for you. However, some of you may be overwhelmed by all the possibilities that Pinterest offers, or may be thinking, “This is all nice, but how does this help me with marketing my business?” To help you out, we’d like to offer a list of 10 recommendations that take the tips and tools we’ve talked about and condenses them into an actionable plan.
1. Join Pinterest – Today!
Enough of the worrying about whether Pinterest is right for you. Your curiosity has led you this far, now is the time to just jump in and give it a try.
2. Get Your Profile Page Set Up First
Don’t think about strategy at first. You need to get a complete profile page, including a list of at least 5-10 boards that each contain ideally 10 or more pins.
3. Determine a Schedule
To be successful on Pinterest, you have to be consistent. Your schedule should include the number of times per week you will work on Pinterest, how much time you will spend total, and how you will spend your time, including pinning company content, pinning other content, repinning content from other Pinterest users, interacting with other users (following, liking, commenting), and so on.
Since consistency is important, make sure you implement a weekly schedule where work is performed at least one time per week. A weekly time allowance should include at least 1-2 hours (after you spend the initial chunk of time getting your profile set up, that is), and can be broken up into multiple sessions (such as four 30 minute sessions per week). Pair this task with a member of your team who you think will enjoy it and be good at it. You may also consider hiring out for the job.
4. Try a Scheduler
Pinterest schedulers are an extra cost; Buffer and Tailwind start at $10/month and Viraltag starts at $29/month. However, there are some enticing benefits: (1) they will make you more efficient, cutting down the time you spend on Pinterest each week; (2) they allow you to schedule pins at optimal timing & frequency. To emphasize the latter, this will make your Pinterest profile ‘active’ every day, even though you aren’t doing the work every day. An ideal scenario would be taking an hour one day each week to schedule 5 or more pins per day for the coming week. You can then head over to the site for a few minutes (once or a couple times per week) to do other tasks (like following people, repinning, liking and commenting).
5. Get Serious About Content
Followers, likes and repins are nice, but you have to go the extra mile if you want to use Pinterest to drive traffic to your site. You need to have informative blog posts on topics your audience is interested in, with quality images that will catch their attention. Let Pinterest help you identify possible blog topics by exploring popular pins and seeing what others are pinning. If your budget for content is low, try creating one stellar blog post each month, which you can pin to your various boards using keyword-optimized descriptions. If you get accepted to Promoted Pins, you’ll definitely want to promote your new content each month too.
6. Get Serious About Images
Having great images will help you stand out on Pinterest, so as you are getting serious about your content, make sure to get serious about images too. One idea is to add multiple pictures into your content pieces. This will allow you to pin them multiple times and to multiple boards (with proper time spacing of course!) to capture various users’ attention without it looking repetitive in your boards. Think high-quality, interesting and branded images that include your business logo. Want to go the extra mile? Try making an infographic – they are always quite popular on Pinterest.
7. Facilitate Others to Do Your Pinterest Marketing
While most of our Pinterest marketing tips are things you have to do on your own, you can also leverage the power of Pinterest by having other people doing your marketing. Getting serious about content and images will mean that you have share-worthy items on your website. Make it easy for people to share by adding social sharing buttons.
8. Let the World Know You’re on Pinterest
What good is a Pinterest presence if no one knows you’re even there? Spread the word everywhere you can – announcing it on your other social sites with a link for people to follow you, adding a link in your email signature, adding Pinterest widgets to your sidebar and blog posts, sharing specific pins on your Facebook or Twitter account, and so on.
9. Measure Results
Like any other marketing venture, you want to make sure that your Pinterest marketing is giving you a return on your investment. You should start measuring your results right away, so you know what to expect and can set realistic goals for the future. Measuring results can be as simple as jotting down a simple count of actions per week – how many new followers, likes, repins, comments, clicks and so on. Then check Pinterest Analytics each month for a more in-depth assessment of your performance.
There is no magic formula for success, so you also need to reflect on your results in order to make changes where needed. For example, after you do your own pinning for a few weeks, experiment with a scheduler using the 7-day trial to see if you get better results. If a particular blog post worked well but the next one did not, try to figure out why. Adjust the time you spend each week or the time you post new pins to see if there are measurable differences. If your initial results show that Pinterest is a good social media platform for your business, you can make it even better with some well-planned experimentation.
Pinterest marketing has its challenges, just like any other form of marketing, but it also has incredible untapped potential for businesses willing to dive in and give it a try. Use the tips, tools, and recommendations in this article and we’re sure you’ll be pleased with the results.