As the popularity of visually based social networks grows, one question comes up again and again. “I know that these sites are really popular, but what’s the best way to engage and get a return on investment for my time?”
Every entrepreneur and marketer considering investing time in these sites, including the exponentially growing Pinterest, need to make sure that their content strategy is optimized to get the best returns, which include high engagement on the platform itself as well as derivative benefits like website traffic and an SEO bump.
Here are ten strategies that will help you achieve these goals fast.
1. Connect your existing accounts and list Pinterest where appropriate
One of the biggest mistakes people new to Pinterest make is not connecting their Pinterest account with their other existing social media accounts. If your Twitter, Facebook, and email contacts are on Pinterest, follow them. There’s a high probability that they will follow you back. Likewise, if you link your accounts together and your networks see when you pin new content via venues like Facebook, they are more likely to engage with you through follows, repins, and comments.
2. Add a Pinterest Button to your content
It’s standard practice now to have a variety of share buttons on key content you produce, from important pages on your site to every blog post you write. Does your site feature a Pinterest button yet? How about your blog posts? Make sure that your set of social share buttons includes a Pinterest button. Some of the most common share modules currently don’t. Then when you’re creating content, consider whether the presentation can be more visually friendly (can you include a high quality image?) to make it more likely to be pinned.
3. Participate (Pin) regularly
Many users find Pinterest to have a naturally high degree of engagement. But one of the key factors is active use. It’s important to be on the site, pinning regularly. Every day, make an effort to pin between five and thirty pieces of content as you go about your content development, web browsing, etc. The nature of Pinterest is such that you don’t need to sit down and have a Pinterest Power Session. Use the integrated pin button in your browser to share interesting images, videos, and infographics on topics related to your boards as you go about your day. Consistency is key.
4. Engage: Follow other pinners, repin, comment, like, etc.
Here’s where the social aspect comes in. When you first start using Pinterest, it might not be completely obvious that there is a hierarchy of engagement for users on the site. The highest acknowledgement is to follow another pinner – you will see and follow the full body of their work. You can repin images that you like, like images that appeal to you, and leave a comment if they inspire you to do so. Think about the kinds of engagement you’re hoping to get from Pinterest, and then dive in by leading the way by modeling that engagement yourself.
5. Put keywords in your board names and pin descriptions
On Pinterest, SEO is very important.
People use the search feature of Pinterest like a big search engine, and input keywords to identify content and other pinners with shared interests.
Let’s assume that you’re in the bridal business, and you maintain a variety of boards. Perhaps one of your boards is comprised of images of bridal veils, a collection of over 100 items that you sell on your website. If you named your board “Hip Bridal Veils for 2012” people can find it; if you called it “Halos for Brides” it’s going to be harder to identify. If each of those one hundred images includes a description with things like the name and model info and specific details like lace veil, veil with pearls, Cathedral veil, etc, this will increase the chances that people interested in your content will find your materials.
6. Content Part I – How you choose your images
The first aspect of figuring out your content strategy for a site like Pinterest is figuring out what aspect of your business is most appropriate to convey through imagery.
In some instances, your business which might be product based, and so the choices are obvious. If you sell fishing rods, your boards could feature everything from images of rods and lures to dream fishing destinations, cute gone fishing signs, and more. If you sell a service, like for example you operate a yoga studio, you will need to be more creative. You might feature athletes performing specific poses, you might feature quotes, or you might feature images that evoke feelings of relaxation, meditation, etc. The key is to find the visual angle that works with your content.
7. Content Part II – Connect content choices to Pinterest community
Estimates put the user base of Pinterest at anywhere between 70 and 97% female.
Home décor, bridal inspiration, DIY crafting, fashion, and inspirational quotes are among the content that dominate the site.
Once you’ve taken the first step of determining what aspect of your business or subject will most effectively present visually, you must also determine what will connect best with this audience. Sometimes it will be items itself; other times it will be how you market them. In the fishing example above, you might focus on destinations and call the board “Great fishing destinations and family getaways” or the board of rods might be “Best fishing rods for Father’s Day 2012.”
8. Consider clustering your boards via niche accounts
You can learn a lot about people and the diversity of their interests by looking at the boards they promote. My own boards range from Alaska to the sport of rodeo to a collection of infographics explaining social media. But what if you’re on Pinterest representing a business or trying to effectively market? If you market hair products to women but then also have boards that focus on guns and hunting, customers may be unwilling to engage because your message from a marketing perspective isn’t clear. Consider clustering related boards and themes into accounts, and maintaining multiple accounts if your interests are diverse. It can be a bit more work administratively, but it can be a smart strategy when you’re trying to reach very different customer bases.
9. Include your URL in your photo (strategically) and post photos from your site
When you pin a photo, where you pin that photo to will be referenced as the source.
Whenever possible, pin photos from your own website. Consider using subtle watermarks on photos for additional branding. You can also list the URL in the description wherever appropriate. This helps drive traffic to your site, creates links with SEO value, and also helps build recognition for your brand.
10. Invest in followers (selectively)
Just to address the loaded question – should you ever buy followers? It depends on your goals. But the bottom line is that bought followers are unlikely to be actual human beings that are interested in your content and willing to engage with your brand in real life. I’d encourage you to focus on tactics 1 – 9, as they will yield faster and more valuable results in your Pinterest efforts.