It may be the newest major social network, but Pinterest is already sending more traffic to U.S. retailers than YouTube, Google Plus and LinkedIn combined. That fact alone means it should be part of your promotional strategy, along with Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.
What is Pinterest?
Imagine an online scrapbook where users can upload or paste images and videos from websites to form collages. You could describe it as a visual social bookmarking site.
Just like other social networks, users can share and repost content and follow other users. It’s also easy to share content via Facebook and Twitter.
Who Uses Pinterest?
If you think it’s just a site about shoes and hair styles, think again. While historically the site demographic has been heavily biased towards a U.S. female audience, in recent months more and more men have joined.
The age of users is also broadening. Just as Facebook started with a very specific userbase of college grads before widening its appeal, Pinterest is well on its way to becoming mainstream.
The Traffic Advantage
Popular content on Pinterest can draw a lot of visitors to your blog. However, unlike the traffic spikes common with StumbleUpon – where a popular link might mean tens of thousands of visitors but very little or nothing in the way of sales, ad clicks or mailing list signups – traffic from Pinterest tends to convert more.
Even better, the extra traffic you see in your analytics charts will probably look less like a spike and more like a mountain, because the traffic boost typically continues for a two or three-week period.
Compare that to StumbleUpon or Twitter where it’s all over and done in 48 hours (if that) and things start to look, well, pinteresting.
How To Get Started
First, let’s get the terminology straight:
Pin – the image or video you’ve added.
Board – where the things you pin are displayed. You can create as many boards as you like to keep your pins organized into topics.
Repin – Anything you pin can be seen and repinned by other users and added to one of their boards. Users can also like and comment on pins.
How To Create Popular Pins
Popular topics include fashion, art & photography, interior design, travel, books and social media / blogging resources. Keep an eye on the Popular page and the official Pinterest blog to see what the community is currently getting excited about.
Although well known for infographics, it’s rare to see one make it to the Popular page, so don’t worry about following that format if it doesn’t suit your content.
One of the most popular types of content is inspirational or motivational quotes paired with interesting typography and striking imagery. You can also create a successful pin with a good “How To” or interesting product photograph. Behind-the-scenes style photos of staff and customers also work well.
The key is to come up with something visually appealing and useful. The more creative your content is, the more success you’ll have. Don’t be tempted to just slap something quick together. Take your time and do it right.
Pinning For Maximum Clicks Back To Your Site
First, make sure you’re pinning correctly. Every image is automatically linked to the URL it came from – so it’s important to make sure your full-size images open in a web page, not directly in the browser. Otherwise, users clicking through won’t see your site header and navbar links and won’t be able to explore the rest of your site.
If your site runs on WordPress that means making sure you have an ‘attachment.php’ template in place and setting the Link URL to Attachment Post URL when you insert images into posts.
Pinterest can handle any size image, but the best size for generating clicks back to your blog is around 2500 pixels high. This is because when the image is scaled down to be shown on boards it’ll be big enough to see, but not large enough to be viewed full-size without clicking through to your site.
Best Time To Pin?
Peak traffic times on Pinterest are 5-7am and 5-7pm ET, coinciding with U.S. users waking up and later finishing work. If you’re targeting another country, adjust those times to suit the time-zone and working routines.
Secret Tip: You can pin as often as you like, but there’s an anti-spam measure in place that means only one of your pins per hour can make it to a category page (where it’ll get more views). So make sure content you want others to pick up on is posted at least an hour apart.
Setting Up Your Profile
As well as the usual profile pic and website url, Pinterest profile pages can have links to Twitter and Facebook accounts. Adding these also means it’s easy to send pins to your Facebook and Twitter streams.
Make sure you fill in the ‘about’ section. Chatty and casual usually works better because it fits with the feel of the site. Leave the corporate yawnspeak for somewhere else.
Likewise, a good profile pic goes a long way and is more engaging than a company logo.
What To Pin
Don’t just pin pretty pictures. Pin things that encourage the viewer to do more than simply look at the image. Ideally you want then to repin, like or comment.
Pinterest isn’t 100% image based: every pin also has a text description. Witty and clever does well here, as does a jaw-droppng fact. When repinning, users have the option to replace the original description with one of their own, so making yours a good one will persuade people to keep it intact.
Don’t just pin your own stuff, or you’ll be like a party bore. Take part in the community and repin content you like. Often users you’ve repinned will reciprocate by exploring your boards and repinning your content.
Once you’ve set up your Pinterest page you can use the RSS feed to syndicate your latest pins. There are feeds for users and boards. The URL structure is like this for user feeds (where “geniusstartup” is the username):
and like this for individual boards (in this example “Stuff For Startups” is the name of the board)
There’s also a WordPress widget available that does the same job.
Want to check who’s been pinning your stuff? Because Pinterest is scrupulous about crediting image sources, you can easily search for content that’s already been pinned from your site.
The address format is:
http://pinterest.com/source/geniusstartup.com – just change geniusstartup.com to your domain name.
You can add prices to pinned products with a $ or £ symbol and the amount. These are the only two currencies that work for now. Pins with prices usually end up in the Gifts section leading to more exposure.
Time To Get Pinning
Pinterest deserves a place in your web-marketing strategy. With the incredible growth in user numbers, ease of sharing with other social networks and built-in back-linking, Pinterest can be a key traffic-driver for your blog in 2012.
There are number of Pinterest guides hitting the stores just now but most are simple guides to what Pinterest is and how to use it. The only serious guide to using the site as an internet marketing tool is by Gabriela Taylor, a recognized expert and specialist in Social Networking, Mobile Marketing and Search Engine Optimization who’s worked with some of the world’s biggest brands.
Her book The Ultimate Guide To Marketing Your Business With Pinterest is a comprehensive guide to increasing traffic, combining your boards with Facebook and Twitter, SEO for Pinterest and how to measure and track results.