I’ve screwed around a little bit with Pinterest for my artist site. I can’t say that I’ve seen a huge amount of anything coming from it. But I haven’t worked that hard on it yet.
What You’ll Learn
- What I’m posting to make people interested in actually learning something
- Where to pin from so it stay linked to your website
- How to gain more followers
- What to pin
- How often to pin
- Updates on what’s working and what’s not
But I thought I’d give it a go for one of my guitar sites and see if I can make some use of it. The first thing I did is register for a business account so I can use the website name liberally.
One thing I’ve noticed about Pinterest is that it’s generally a waste of time. By that I mean that very little constructive activity takes place on there. You can look at pictures of puppies, brownies, and dresses all day. But you’re not going to accomplish anything that way.
So my strategy is to tap into the things that inspire people to play guitar in the first place with visuals. That’s cool looking guitars, cool looking guitarists, and videos of great guitarists tearing up the stage. I know when I see stuff like that, it makes me remember that I should probably be practicing instead. Frankly, so does writing this post. But that’s a different story.
Then I’m going to be really cutting edge for Pinterest…. I’m going to post useful things. In this case, little micro guitar lessons done in a sort of infographic format. They take some time to do. A combination of cranking up my meager Photoshop skills and figuring out how to explain the concept with as few words as possible.
But then… at the bottom of the graphic I tell them where to go for a more in depth lesson on the same subject. And I can also link that in the description as well. Now, Pinterest links are “no follow”, so you’re not getting SEO juice from them. But that link travels with the picture as it gets repinned and what all. So we’re looking to get actual traffic from it.
Now here’s a part I didn’t think about and will implement on my next micro-lesson. If the picture is hosted on your site and you pin it from there (rather than uploading it), it stays connected to the URL it came from. That means when someone is viewing the picture, they can click it again to visit the site it came from. That, along with the link in the description, gives two links back to your site.
Since I’m doing micro-lessons based on articles that are already posted on my site, I can either put the graphic in the article as a cheat sheet (printable version maybe?) or have a separate section of the site just for these lesson pictures.
The next part is working on getting followers so somebody sees these things. I don’t know how much the search function actually gets used. More reading to do on that and I’ll update this post as I know more.
Ok, so I’ve done some research on how to crank up your Pinterest followers. Now keep in mind the main thing we’ve learned from social media over the years. It’s quality, not quantity, that counts in your followers. I could have a zillion followers by tomorrow, but they’ll be bots, fake accounts, uninterested people, and what all. So don’t worry so much about the number as much as how engaged they are.
Here’s what I’ve learned and will be implementing on Pinterest page:
1. Follow for Follow and One on One Engagement. We’ve seen this tactic used since the Dark Ages (that would be MySpace). You follow people and through the theory of reciprocity, they’ll follow you back. Don’t follow indiscriminately though. Find people who seem to be interested in what you’re talking about and follow them. But don’t just follow. Engage with their content too. Make comments, like their pins, repin some of their stuff on your page. I think this is especially important if you’re playing under a business name. If there’s a real person behind the business making an effort, you’re more likely to get some love back.
2. Use Hashtags and @ Mentions. Here’s Twitter’s influence coming back again. You can use both of these things in your descriptions to target the subject of your pin and other users who might be interested in it. Don’t pull that Facebook trick of just @’ing (is that a word?) people just so they’ll see it. It’s annoying. Only tag people for a good reason as in, “This picture reminds me of @blahblah ‘s grandmother’s sofa.”
3. Should You Link to Twitter and Facebook? Pinterest has a function where you can feed your pins to your other profiles. Personally, I don’t like doing this at all and I don’t recommend it. First of all, Facebook (through EdgeRank) gives a lower priority to posts coming from other sites. Your Twitter followers will see everything, but if you pin a lot of stuff, they’re going to be inundated. Beyond that, each platform has a slightly different use and culture. Just slapping stuff from one to the other really doesn’t end up being all that useful from my experience.
4. From this helpful Squidoo page, I found out that having more boards with fewer pins is better than a few boards with a ton of pins. Most people follow specific boards rather than “follow all”. So you want to have a lot of hyper-niched boards that will appeal to specific users. Right now I only have 5 boards on my page, but I’m expanding that. I just created 5 new boards that need some content in them.
5. Curate more than Repin. Repinning stuff that others have posted a zillion times won’t do very much for you. Posting original stuff, whether your own or others, will give you a “thought leader” reputation. Be trend setter. That being said, don’t write off repinning. I think especially at the beginning that’s an important part of gathering followers. I’m going to do quite a bit of repinning at the beginning to tip off other users to my page. Then as the followers build I’ll concentrate on more original posts.
6. Use keywords in your pin descriptions and board names. Apparently people do use that search box. So make sure that you’re using keywords that they’re searching for.
7. Check out what’s trending by clicking on the “Popular” link at the top of your homepage. If you see something that can relate to your niche, go to town. Repin, comment, follow, create your own pins and hashtag those puppies. Actually “hashtag puppies” sounds like a great Southern recipe. Or something stoners would cook.
8. Like and Follow Back. You know how you expect people to reciprocate? Two way street, Buster. When someone likes or comments on your pin, see if you can do the same on something they’ve posted.
9. Spread out your pins and don’t go crazy. 1-10 pins a day, depending on how many boards you have looks like a good number. I did a bunch on the first day of setting up my account so it looks like there’s some action there. Nobody will follow an empty board. After that, spread them out so you don’t take up the whole homepage when someone logs in. That will cause them to unfollow you unless your stuff is really amazing. Which it’s not. Don’t flatter yourself. The more content you post, the more possibilities that someone will find it. But build it over time.
10. Post good stuff. Does this even need to be said? If you want people to look at you as an expert, you better be posting stuff that’s worth looking at.
11. Make sure you have Pinterest buttons on your content. Make sure people can pin stuff right from your site by putting a Pinterest button next to the Facebook, Tweet, +1, and everything ridiculous button we have to put up now.
12. Find out what’s been pinned from your site. This is a great tip. If you go to www.Pinterest.com/source/yoursitehere.com/ you can find out what people have already pinned from your site. For this guitar site, I found one thing pinned already. I commented, told him about the micro lessons I’ll be posting, and followed his board. We’ll see if he follows back. When I looked for stuff from my artist site, it was only stuff I posted myself. More work to do there too.
13. Pin New and New Products In Your Niche. This is the trend setter thing again. If you can be early in the game of posting hot news or an amazing new product in your niche, you’ll get a good rep from it. There are ways to post things with affiliate links, but I haven’t looked that deeply into it yet. That’ll be the subject of a different update. Regardless, you want to build a follower base before you start to try and sell things.
14. Build a Board Around Your Blog Posts. Not just for pinning your posts. Though you can do that too. But let’s say you’ve got a post about how to do something that requires some supplies or steps or whatever. Do a board with pictures of the supplies they’ll need. Or illustrating the steps in photos.
15. Contributor Boards. You can create a board and let other people add content to it. I’ve been invited to a couple of these and it’s pretty cool. But I haven’t created one yet.
The Main Benefits:
- The people that accept your invitation to post automatically follow you too.
- You’ve got other people doing the work of finding cool content for your page.
- The stuff you post on that board gets exposed on your contributor’s pages too.
Here’s a good lesson on how to create a contributor board on Pinterest.
Here’s what I’ll be doing over the next few days.
- Follow/comment/repin 5-10 people per day.
- Post 2-3 new pins
- Invite 5-10 people to contribute to particular boards
And this is what I’ll be looking at for tracking:
- Engagement numbers on Pinterest. Ie. followers, repins, comments, all that.
- Traffic back to my website. This is the real goal. It’ll be easy to spot because this particular site gets f*%k all for traffic right now.
Here’s some tools that I have not really looked into yet. So I’m not endorsing any of them. But they’re here as a reminder that I need to check them out too.
http://wepin.org/ – directory
http://www.repinly.com/ – directory
http://www.pinalyzer.com/ – search function
http://pinleague.com/pinterest-tools/free-pinterest-analytics/ – analytics
Ok, 4 days later, I’m following 30 people and have repinned about a dozen. I’ve gotten 2 people to follow me back and one like on an image. One of the two was someone I hadn’t interacted with yet. No traffic back to the site yet, but that makes sense considering the numbers.
You may be thinking, “Phil, why don’t you go nuts for a couple days and really put some work into this thing?” There are a couple reasons. First, I don’t want to have a huge “following” count and a really low “follower” count. That looks like no one is interested in you.
Second, I’ve got a ton of other things to accomplish at the same time. So I’m taking theses experiments a little at at time until I see that they work. That lets me concentrate on other things I know are working already.
One trick I learned today… When you do a search for your keyword on Pinterest, try misspellings as well. People are often typing quickly and make mistakes. I had been searching “guitar” and got tons of new stuff and people when I did a search for “gutiar”.
I’ve done a little less work on this over the last couple days due to some vacation time. Through, what I assume is the search function, I’ve picked up a couple more followers. Up to 6 now. I’m following 41 after a few more adds today.
Of those 6 followers, 4 are useless to me business-wise. The site I’m promoting is for people new to playing guitar. And four of these followers are pros. One builds guitars, another runs a site in the same niche as mine, another a long time player, and the last a guitar store.
So that tells me that, just like on every other social site, the most aggressive people are the ones marketing their own stuff. The people I want aren’t going to be aggressive about proclaiming that they don’t know how to play guitar yet. Though the nice thing about Pinterest is that there’s a lot of “wishing” going on. So those new guitarists are still a little easier to find than on other sites.
When following new people, I’m specifically going after those who either say they’re specifically learning guitar or appear to be wishing.
I’m up to 14 followers without having done much adding in the last week or so. Better yet, these new followers are regular people who are learning guitar. My perfect target audience.
Looking at repins and such… Surprisingly and thankfully, my educational pins have the most repins. Though not across the board. I have a micro lesson about reading music notation that’s been repinned 3 times. The other two micro lessons have gotten no love yet. The other one that’s been repinned a few times is a sheet of important chords to know.
So that’s good. But I haven’t seen any traffic from them yet. Obviously the numbers are still too small to make a judgement. But that’s the bottom line. Will they come back to the site?
This leads me to some questions and observations:
- Apparently people are using the search function to find things. Or at least actually looking at what their friends are posting and then following new people they like. That’s good. It means less gratuitous adding on my part and more content generation.
- Question: Does anyone actually go back and look at the things they’ve pinned? Or is it that family album that gathers dust on the shelf and the to-do list that never gets done?
One other thing I noticed. When you add a URL to the description of a pin, it only shows part of the url and then the code gets broken. So it’s useless. On content I’ve created, I added a url in the picture at the bottom. And I’ve begun adding the pics to the articles their based on and pinning them from there. So there’s an actual link.
In the description, it looks like it’s better to put a URL with just the www and no http. It won’t hotlink, but at least the whole url will be there.
I just spotted this guest post on Michael Brandvold’s blog today about 3rd party Pinterest tools. I HATE having to use extra tools for a site. It’s just another thing to keep track of.
A couple of these look interesting. Some, like the ones that “make an image out of text” or the like, really can be done with rudimentary Photoshop skills. There’s a couple analytics ones in there. So far I can pretty much follow what’s going on based on the Pinterest emails I get. But I can see how that would get out of hand if things get really popular.
The one that grabs stuff from Spotify could be interesting. It could draw listens over there which equals a few more fractions of a penny for the kitty. Though it could be just as easy to direct people to YouTube, which you can do natively in Spotify.
And there’s a curation tool that could be handy for finding things to post. Not that there seems to be any shortage.
Anyway, when I have a few minutes I’ll go try some of them out and see if they’re worthwhile. None of them actually facilitate traffic flow except maybe the Spotify and website snapshots one. But we’ll see…
Ok, so roughly a month after starting this new Pintrest account and working not super hard on it… I have 27 followers, 55 likes, 43 repins, and <drum roll please>… ONE click through to my site.
That’s not spectacular. That click came directly from my Pinterest page with the linked URL. (It’s a business page). Now what I don’t know is if there was type-in traffic. Each of my micro-lessons has my URL prominently at the bottom. So I’m not discounting some type-ins.
There’s another lesson here as well. What’s popular on one site may not be as popular on another. On my site I have a very popular article about how to read a guitar fretboard. It’s one of the few on there that consistently sees some traffic. So my first Pinterest micro-lesson summarizes that article. That one has no likes, no repins, nada.
The second one I put up was a quick primer on how to read music based on another article on my site. Personally, I didn’t like this one as much. But there it is currently with 7 repins and 2 likes. Another lesson I posted about example songs to use when doing interval ear training has two repins so far. The article it’s based on has gotten no love on my website so far.
So the lesson is, start with what you think will be popular, but don’t stop if those don’t work. The site you’re working on may just want something else.
Ok, actually starting to see a little bit of traffic coming into my site from Pinterest. All through my Micro Lessons board, of course. Those are the only ones linked to my site.
Since I’m creating the Micro Lessons as a summary of an article on my site, I’m including the image in the actual article as a cheat sheet. Then I’m pinning from there so the image is linked back to my site.
It’s not been a huge amount of traffic, but ranks about 14th in my traffic sources at the moment. With a long way to go before it cracks the top 5. The traffic, according to Google analytics seems to be pretty good. They spent a longer than average time on my site on about the average number of pages. Can we say Pinterest people read slower then? Just kidding.
I’m not sure what if anything they’ve clicked on ad-wise, but it’s still too small a traffic flow to count for much anyway. So far, clicks on my ads have been their usual dismal trickle.
It’s enough action to keep me going on this project for a bit longer to see where it heads though. I haven’t yet started a Community Board, though I’ve been invited to a couple. And I also haven’t tried any actual affiliate marketing on there. So still more to do.
I did some reading on affiliate marketing with Pinterest today. And since Pinterest has blocked anything resembling an affiliate linked, even if cloaked with a URL shortener, there doesn’t seem to be a way to do any affiliate marketing directly on the site.
And I suppose that’s ok, because it’ll cut down on the yahoos posting every item that Amazon has for sale, just trying to get a click through.
So the strategy seems to be the same as everything else. Post stuff that will get them to click through to your website and then sell them on something there. So review sites become an obvious tool here again. The really important part continues to be having a picture that encourages the repins and clicks. That means an ebook cover probably won’t cut it unless the text on it really draws attention.
I think for my site, since I don’t really do reviews, I’ll start pinning my site articles like blog posts. These will be separate from the micro lessons. The picture itself will be a nice graphic with the title of the article. Check out this search for “pinterest marketing” to see great examples of title graphics.
Unfortunately, that means spending more time in Photoshop than I’d like. But I’m going to post 3 over the next week and see what happens with them. I’ll be looking to see if they outperform the micro lessons in pulling traffic.
To start checking them out, go to your normal drop down menu on the upper right and select “Switch to new look”. That will take you to the new layou they’re changing to.
Then go to the same drop down and select “Analytics” (duh). Most of the stuff is pretty self-explanatory once you get in there. There’s also a good rundown here.
When you’re on the “Most Repinned” and “Most Clicked” tabs, it defaults to the current date. But if you click on the date you can see stats for the last 7 or 14 days as well. I’d like to see an “All Time” selection there as well. Hopefully they’ll add that.
Some of the stuff on the first “Site Metrics” tab is really useful, like Impressions, Reach, and Clicks. Stuff that was harder to track before.
This is a growth thing for Pinterest. Data means money these days and they’re still trying to figure out how to monetize. I’m sure we’ll be seeing sponsored pins anytime now. But it also shows that they’re coming to terms with businesses using the site to attract traffic back to the source sites.
No longer is it just “let’s share pretty pictures”. So far they’ve been pretty good about keeping spam out, but still catering just enough to business users to keep them involved.
Be sure to mouse over the little question marks in each stat box. They’ll tell you what’s being measured, but also give you links to help you improve your Pinterest technique.
A couple things I’m learning from my own stats right now.
- I haven’t pinned anything original to my guitar account in the last couple weeks. Just a few repins and likes on other people’s stuff. And yeah, the impressions and such are down. So don’t think once you’re got boards pretty well filled you can cruise. Gotta keep it fresh.
- You have to have the verified site to get the stats. On my artist account my links redirects to a squeeze page, so there was no way to verify it. Therefore no analytics for me on that one. Have to figure a work around for that.
Pinterest has a new look they’re pimping. You can switch to it in the upper right hand menu of your account. Be careful though, because you can’t switch back. So if you’re a commitment-phobe, hang in. I’ve heard there may be some bugs in the new setup, but I haven’t experience any myself.
So what do you get in the new look?
- Larger pins. All the pics blow up to 735 pixels wide now instead of the old 600. I like it, but it may be tricky if you’re working on a small screen.
- New Discovery Stuff – Now when you click open a pin you’ll also see a related content area that shows you stuff from the same user, source, and other people who repinned that image. Really cool for content marketers. Now when someone sees the picture of the puppy you repinned, they’ll be exposed to your more important stuff too.
Keep this in mind. You don’t want to be lost in a sea of a zillion people who all repinned the same image. So content curation here is critical. The more original your stuff is, the more notice it will get. (Says the author to himself…) Of course that doesn’t explain why my most popular pin is of a refrigerator that looks like a Marshall amplifier that’s been repinned by a ton of others.
- The Repin button is gone. This one threw me at first. Now it’s just a button that says “Pin” and you use it whether you’re pinning or repinning.
- They’ve separated some of the settings controls. All your account stuff is in one spot and profile settings in another. Not sure why they needed to complicate that.
So anyway, it’s still good. I’m seeing both more pins from my site and traffic coming back in from those pins. On both of those counts, my original stuff is doing the best. Both my micro-lessons and images connected to my blog posts. Everything else is fluff to draw them in.
More updates as they come in…