What Is Pinterest?
Have you been living in Upper Outer Elbonia without an internet connection? Pinterest is a social sharing site that focuses on sharing visually. When a picture is shared, it is ‘pinned’ to a ‘board’ or category. When other people see a Pin that they like they can either like the pin or they can ‘re-pin’ it on their own board.
The goal of a business on Pinterest is twofold:
- Create a community where people can come for ideas for their own homes and gardens
- Develop a funnel that drives both links and customers to your website
This can be done by:
- sharing quality photos of your product
- making it easy for visitors to your website to pin items they like
- working with other vendors to pin items from each other’s stores to take advantage of each other’s community
Pinterest accounts are tied to either a Facebook or Twitter account for login and require an invite to start the process. We highly recommend tying your Pinterest account to your Facebook account. If you allow the Pinterest app to work on your Facebook account anything you pin will automatically be listed on Facebook.
Choose a user name: Your username is incredibly important. A real person’s name is preferred, but a business or a brand can use its brand name.
Add a bit of introductory text: We want to share some of our favorite things or your company slogan or even a joke depending on your intentions.
The goal is to get as many followers and Pinners as possible. Unfortunately Pinterest emails you about everything that happens as soon as it happens. The flood of email can become daunting. Go in to your preferences at https://www.pinterest.com/settings/ and set up your email notifications. These are my settings.
Of the items I do track, repins is the least important and you may want to do away with that. But being kept informed about comments and followers is important.
What Not To Do:
Do not use your web address as a name. People want to connect with people and brands, not URLs. Also, in your short biography tell your viewers about ‘you’ and why you are here. This is not the space for a sales pitch.
Sharing on Facebook and Twitter
One of the great things about Pinterest is that it lets you share your pins on Facebook and Twitter. One of the bad things about Pinterest is that it lets you share your pins on Facebook and Twitter. This is good because it can help draw people from your other social sites to your Pinterest stream. This is bad because you could end up flooding both your Facebook and Twitter streams with nothing but Pin floods if you are like most people and pin a lot of things at one time.
You can use Pinterest to tease people on Facebook with your best Pins and encourage them to join you on Pinterest rather than flooding all of your Facebook friends with pin after pin like it was Farmville.
When you pin or repin something, you get the option to share it with Facebook or Twitter or both. Be selective, share the best of everything. Don’t flood your other social media with pins.
Your boards are where people will be able to explore your products on Pinterest. While boards can be changed, we recommend that you take some time to carefully plan them out with great titles and descriptions. How they are ordered is also important.
When we compare these two titles:
- Bedroom Furniture
- Amazing Bedrooms
Which is more likely to generate interest? The same goes for your descriptions. Descriptions should not be sales material, they should simply describe the image and why you love it.
Selecting Board Cover Photos
One of the most overlooked areas of setting up pin-boards is the cover photo. Setting your cover photo is easy. Go to the board and decide which photo will make the best cover. When you pass your mouse over the photo you will see the option to set board cover. Click and align the picture for the best view.
While you are in that window you can still slide from picture to picture to see how different ones look as that board’s cover. The important thing is to not end up with boards with terrible cover photos.
What Not To Do:
The worst thing you can do on Pinterest is to turn into a series of ads, coupons, and banners for your business. This is sure to drive viewers and potential customers away from your boards and will ruin any chance of your pins being re-pinned.
It’s time to start sharing. The first step is to install the Pin It bookmark tool on your browser. Go to http://pinterest.com/about/goodies/ and drag the “Pin It” button on to your bookmark toolbar in your web browser. If you have issues there are instructions on the Pinterest web page.
Now that the bookmark tool is installed, you can start pinning. When you see something that you want to share, simply click the Pin It button in your toolbar. You will be presented with the images from that web page to select from. Choose an image, a pin board, and write a short description (Pinterest descriptions are limited to 500 characters so be brief and try to include a keyword) and click Pin It! Your new pin will instantly appear on your pin board and in the pin stream for all of your followers.
So how do you choose an image to pin? You need to remember these few things.
- Is the image actually interesting?
- Is the image of high quality?
- If someone else pinned this, would you want to re-pin it?
Much like Facebook, Pinterest is a community site. If your community feels abused, they will not return so it is very important to be a Good Samaritan when participating on Pinterest.
One of the worst things you can do with a pin is to write a terrible description. Search engines, even the one built-in on Pinterest, have no idea what ‘I need to make this’ is. It could be a great recipe for a new drink, or it could be a zombie trap. If you are going to take the time to pin something, take the time to write a decent description.
It is very easy to get carried away when using Pinterest. As a personal user there is no problem with this, pin, have fun, Pinners Gone Wild and all that. But as a business and a brand you need to be more controlled and selective about what you pin. You can very easily turn off a lot of followers when they log in and see 30 or 40 pins in a row, all from you.
If you have a lot of things to pin select the very best and just pin 2 or 3. Or better yet, use a tool such as Pinerly to schedule your pins for the day.
Original vs. Repin
One of the biggest traps you can run in to is repinning too much. As a brand people come to you for original content. Yes, repinning can help you show appreciation for followers and share cool things, but you need to show balance. We recommend a 4 to 1 repin to original pin ratio at the very most. This simply means for every 4 things you repin make sure that at least 1 is something original.
Your follows are following you to see what you have to say, not to see you regurgitate hundreds of things they’ve already seen.
The exception! As with any rule, there are exceptions.
If you decide to be a curator of a specific topic it is very likely that most of your items will be repins. For example, Christina Gleason has created a pinboard for nothing but creative commons images that she likes. Other people have focused on topics such as zombies or boats. In either case, you may find yourself repinning more than normally preferred.
The Best Time To Pin
The Pinerly (already gone) have been studying pins, repins and time of day and shared with us what we could probably have guessed. The two best times of day to pin things are between 2pm and 4pm EST and again between 8pm and 1am EST. Save your best pins for that time of day.
What Not To Do:
The most important thing to remember is that Pinterest is not a one way street. Do not use it as a broadcast channel and simply promote only your items. Re-pin items that you really enjoy. Follow other Pinners and be a part of the community, not just a user who only takes.
Images That Stand Out
Being a purely visual site, it can be hard for an image to stand out among all the others out there. When pinning your own content you can use the best possible image.
Most images on the internet tend to be horizontally laid out or square. However, Pinterest has chosen to present images in a way where they are scaled horizontally to fit their column layout. So an extra wide image turns out to be very short when compared to images that are taller than wide.
Where possible it is a good idea to pre-crop and scale your images to approximately 192 pixels wide to see how they will look in the Pinterest stream.
Knowing that images on Pinterest are scaled by width also gives us another opportunity. You can create filmstrip or skyscraper images to occupy more space in the stream. For example, instead of pinning several items from a single furniture line, we can create a single image with each item in it.
By creating a storyboard we can show how several items might work together. This has the additional benefit of taking up a large amount of space in the Pinterest stream and making it really stand out.
What Not To Do:
Do not abuse the vertical image technique. If all of your images are giant skyscrapers eventually people will stop following you and re-pinning your images. Use this technique sparingly with important items and messages.
You can even pin videos to Pinterest. From Youtube, for example, you can click the Pin It bookmarklet and in the list of things to pin you can select the video itself.
From Pinterest, you can actually watch the video without going to Youtube. And best of all, it still counts as a view for the video for those of you looking to gain more video views on Youtube or similar services.
Preparing Your Website
Now that you are ready to start pinning it’s time to make sure that your website is ready. Every product page on your website should have a Pinterest share button on it just like it has your Facebook and Twitter buttons. Pinterest is a social website and should be treated on the same level, or higher.
You also need to have a follow us on Pinterest banner to go with your other social media sites.
What Not To Do:
Do not add a pin it button to every picture on your website. Make it a part of every page, but let your users choose the picture that they want to use.
What Is Popular On Pinterest?
You might be surprised to discover that your customers are already pinning items from your website. For example, you can go to http://pinterest.com/source/yourdomain.com/ and see what has already been pinned from your website. If you insert your domain name where yourdomain.com is you can see all of the images that have been pinned from your website. This page can show you what items, or types of items, are most popular on your site at any given time.
This is also a great opportunity to find people to follow and to re-pin things that you did not think would be popular. If they are already pinning items from your site they may be very willing to follow you if you follow them. This helps build out your potential reach when you pin items.
Community Engagement (contests)
There are many ways to create community interest on Pinterest. One of the most popular is to create a contest. From your website, email newsletter, Twitter and Facebook profiles ask your users to follow you on Pinterest and to create a pinboard titled My Favorite BrandName’s. Ask them to pin their top 10 favorite items from your site. Then after a pre-determined amount of time (a month usually works) declare a random winner or winners where someone chosen at random will get an item from their list for free (up to a set limit) or a gift certificate for $500 or $100 or whatever you are comfortable giving away.
Another idea might be to create a repin sale. Post a pin on your board that says, if this is repined 50 (or 100) times, you can buy this item for 50% off, or some other special offer. When you reach the number of pins needed simply edit the pin to point to the URL of the special sale page.
Not only does this gain you a follower base, you can use the source link above to quickly see what the most popular items are on your site giving you an insight in to the things people would like to buy. This can be very inexpensive, but very valuable, market research.
What Not To Do:
Do not forget to follow through. Run the contest even if only 10 people participate. Be sure to actually have the sale. Use it as part of your marketing. Announce the winner in a press release, but do not let the contest simply end with no winner. That is a guaranteed way to make sure your second attempt fails.
Pinterest allows you the ability to add contributors to your pinboards. You can add employees, but you might be better served to add your best brand evangelists and fans. You could even run a contest to see who earns the spot as a contributor! You can add them to single boards so you can have specialists for special boards.
To add a contributor simply go to the board you wish to share management of and click Edit Board. The only requirement is that you follow the pinner you add.
Choosing a Contributor
The obvious first place to start is with your employees. However, you can also add your best followers and fans. Perhaps you could run a contest to give people their own boards under your brand. This has the dual benefit of having your fans contribute what they want to see and, if you choose contributors with their own large following, having built in repinners.
Remember, Pinterest is about community as much as it is about pretty pictures and marketing. The demographic is predominately female and women are great at telling when they are being marketed at rather than being asked to participate in a community of people with similar interests.