Sure, you’re on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You’re fluent in Foursquare, and regularly view YouTube. But, have you built a presence on Pinterest yet? As a visual bookmarking service, Pinterest grew at four-digit rates in 2012. Most traffic observers now think Pinterest is the third most popular social network, behind only Twitter and Facebook.
Pinterest’s interface and user base lend themselves perfectly to the design community. Content on Pinterest is based around images, perfect for showcasing design portfolios. Pinterest power players slant young and female, and the most popular “pins” on the site are consistently photos of home decor, fashion and architecture. But, if you’d like to tap into the firehose of traffic on Pinterest, it’s critical to understand what the community expects and how to contribute content of value.
Where does Pinterest fit in with your overall online strategy?
The most obvious way to utilize Pinterest is to complement your brand’s existing image. Tightly themed pinboards are a glance into another world. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, Pinterest might be the most valuable site on the internet. For designers, Pinterest is a painless way to organize and distribute a portfolio. Grant K. Gibson uses his Pinterest profile to showcase interiors he’s created, as well as products he’s designed. The photos he’s uploaded are beautiful, but have a slightly amateur look to them – they’re professional, yet warm and welcoming at the same time.
Another benefit to brands is the opportunity to put their pins in front of some very influential eyeballs. Bonnie Tsang is an LA-based photographer with an incredible online following. Currently, she has over seven million Pinterest followers. She’s also a prolific re-pinner, with (at the moment) 13,500 images saved in her profile. Every time she adds a new one, be it a place or a product, not only does the image source gain exposure to every one of Bonnie’s followers, but also to Bonnie herself. It’s the kind of PR placement you simply can’t buy.
Other brands use Pinterest to spark engagement with their customers. Real Simple Magazine has a pinboard called Problem-Solving Products with 190,000 followers. Each new pin garners dozens of comments – real-time feedback on the type of items Real Simple readers want to see featured. These discussions and individually pinned images also tend to have a much longer shelf life than single posts to Twitter or Facebook. For the designer, this is an opportunity to float concepts in front of an audience as wide or as limited as one would desire (yes, Pinterest boards can be private, too!)
Best of all, Pinterest traffic is proven to drive sales. Pins on Pinterest have a very good chance to translate to e-commerce purchases. A recent case study by jewelry designer Boticca, a Pinterest early adopter, indicates that Pinterest users tend to spend twice as much money on their site as those referred by Facebook. It makes sense – Pinterest’s visual layout is centered around people, places and things. It’s an easier leap to buy an item (directly linked) on Pinterest than it is track down and consider buying something mentioned obliquely on Facebook. Have you ever seen a pillow or candlestick in the pages of Vogue Living and wished you could buy it? On Pinterest, it’s possible!
What types of content are most shareable?
While there are examples of popular Pinterest boards crossing all genres, there are a few niches more popular than others. Pins containing people, animals, fashion or home goods are the most likely to be re-pinned. This is very welcome news for designers. Odds are you have images already that capture at least one of these topics.
That said, it never hurts to cover more than a single base. Within the interior design community on Pinterest, the most popular photos tend to be those of kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms. ELLE DECOR has a board called “Rooms with Adorable Dogs” that depicts designers’ pets. Pandering? Perhaps just a touch, but they do have over 30,000 followers!
How can you make your Site pinable?
It should go without saying that lush, colorful visuals are the most popular images on an image-sharing site, but it’s still worth repeating. Don’t head to Pinterest with small, drab, or worst of all, stock images. It’s also possible to embed Pinterest-only images in each of your URLs that will display only when tagged.
Make sure to add the Pin button to each URL in your site you’d like to see shared. Make it easy for Pinterest users with bold calls to action and clear placement.
Share URLs from within your site on Facebook and Twitter by using the link to where that URL is tagged on Pinterest. This trick was popular a couple years ago with Stumble Upon, and it works great on Pinterest, too. Even non-Pinners will be able to see your pin / link.
Be active on Pinterest with a branded profile. The best place to find pinners, of course, is on Pinterest itself. The more active your brand’s page is, the greater the exposure to your profile, and your site’s pins. Following other users also helps keep your ear to the ground an see what’s working firsthand.
What tips and tricks do the best brands use?
Start at the beginning: fill in your profile and don’t leave any of the default board names (ie, architecture, books, etc). Your Pinterest profile URL will build search equity and pass along link strength over time, so use solid keywords and include good links.
If you sell a product online, you can show up in the Pinterest Gifts category simply by adding the price (and currency sign) in the pin description. Can it get any easier?
Every time you add a new pin, take the time to type out a full description. Use keywords. Use brand names. Add descriptive detail. The more you can describe a pin, the better the odds are that someone will find it. Like Twitter, Pinterest recognizes #hashtags. While they’re not as common as on Twitter, it’s still worth checking if your pin fits any popular tags already in use, such as #InteriorDesign.
Keep the ratio of self-promotional to non-shilling pins in check. I tell my clients to go by the rule of threes: one third of your posts should be original, one third can reference another source, and one third can be self-promotional. It works on Twitter and Facebook, and it works on Pinterest too.
How can you measure results on Pinterest?
It’s always challenging to measure the ROI of social media, but before beginning a campaign on Pinterest it’s critical to identify metrics to gauge the impact of your efforts.
Followers: The number everybody sees first is your followers count – and for good reason. It’s the easiest way to estimate your impact and impressions.
Comments: Pinterest tends to trigger fewer comments than other SM sites, because it’s so easy to “like” or re-pin images without comment. This only makes other users’ remarks more valuable – when you get them, you know you’re doing something right.
Referral traffic: Make sure to set a report in your Google Analytics or other tracking tool to measure to traffic from your pins.
Pins from your site by other users: Pinterest has a very slick feature to help you keep track of users pinning content from any one site. Just go to the address: pinterest.com/source/yoursite.com (replace the yoursite.com) to see how many pins have been added from any domain.
Calculate your Pinpuff score: A newly developed web app to track Pinterest profiles, Pinpuff uses a proprietary algorithm to rank users’ influence. It’s not a perfect system, but it does give good relative grades to help gauge campaigns. They break down your score and give tips to help improve your profile, too.
Pinterest may seem to be a radical break from more established social networks, but there’s no secret to success unique to pinboards. Spend time following other users, learn the platform, and add posts of interest. Once you get the hang of it, it’s a lot of fun.
Don’t forget… there are some out and out stunning images on Pinterest:
Written by James White