Turning to Pinterest
I didn’t plan to start using Pinterest for blogging. I actually have a complicated history with social media. In fact, I started using Facebook reluctantly so I could communicate with an adolescent. Facebook won, and slowly got its hooks in me. I currently have an ambiguous relationship with it, and am frustrated that small businesses have to “pay to play” to get their posts into the stream. But, I was conditioned to believe I had to advertise there to grow my blog. I think I found a better way.
When I saw a random blog post about how bloggers benefit by using Pinterest, it caught my eye. Honestly, at first I was skeptical. Like many people, I thought Pinterest was a mostly forgotten land in the world of social media. Believing Pinterest was only good for sharing wedding photos and recipes, I started looking into Pinterest, but albeit half-heartedly.
I discovered that I was wrong. In fact, Pinterest offers me and other bloggers something Facebook can’t or won’t. Organic traffic. Pinterest is a search-oriented place where users go to discover ideas and solutions. While it is image-centric, Pinterest is also hyperlink heavy. This means bloggers have loads of opportunity to drive traffic to their blogs. I obviously liked this benefit.
As I indicated above, users go to Pinterest to discover, dream and learn. Pinterest’s strength lies in its searching abilities. I quickly learned I could search for just about any topic and find pins with all sorts of relevant infographics and links to helpful blogs and websites. Clicking on one pin led to other related pins. Before I realized it, I had traveled down a rabbit hole of discovery.
Unlike other popular social media platforms, I could save the gems I found. Then, I could go back to them later for further study. That’s how the boards of Pinterest work. They act as a visual filing system, where you can save your discoveries to topical boards. For example, let’s say I have a Pinterest board called Portland Bikes. Every time I see an interesting pin about biking in Portland, I save it to that board. I go back to that board when I’m looking for biking inspiration.
Okay, you might now be asking how all of this is good for your blog. It’s the hyperlinks. Each pin offers multiple ways for pinners to find your site. That’s multiple free ways. Here’s the run down:
- The image
- The top of the pin
- The bottom of the pin
- Related pins
- Link description
- Links/logos on the image itself
Stop and think about that for just a minute. Once I discovered this linking potential, I knew Pinterest was worth adding to my social media mix. If users are saving my pins to their boards, they can potentially see one of my pins multiple times. Each time they view my pin, there’s a chance they’ll follow one of the links I put there. That’s a huge opportunity that only cost me the time to create the pin.
Sharing Inspiration & Dreams
Like any social media platform, Pinterest is about sharing. Users go on a search and save interesting pins to their boards. Users also follow other users and boards on Pinterest. Once you follow a user or a board, those pins start to show up in your stream. Thus, the secret is to create pins users want to save, and to have interesting boards people want to follow. The interesting thing is you will start to get followers without ever creating your own pin. In fact, you’ll attract more attention by saving more pins from others than putting your own pins out there.
Okay, you might now be asking how all of this is good for your blog. It’s the hyperlinks. Each pin offers multiple ways for pinners to find your site. That’s multiple free ways.
This effect actually makes sense to me. If I’m interested in pins about Portland bikes, I want to follow boards that have a variety of pins that interest me. I really don’t want to see a bunch of pins from the same bike shop or a bunch of ads. I’m looking for inspiration right now. Likewise, if I venture into Pinterest land to learn how to fix a flat tire, I want to find pins with helpful information about fixing bikes. If I stumble upon a board with lots of good bike repair information, I’m probably going to follow it.
Goals for Using Pinterest
Thus, my goal as a blogger is two-fold. First, I want to have interesting boards people want to follow. I want to pin a variety of interesting pins to boards related to my business, along with some pins from my own site and graphics I have created. Hopefully people start to follow my boards.
Second, I want users to save my pins to their boards. This is actually my most important goal. The potential reach for my blog grows almost exponentially when people save my pins. My pin suddenly is available to all of the users following the people who save my pins.
Past, Present & Future
Another way to understand Pinterest is to see how it fits in with other social media. Facebook really is about communication, and what has happened already. We post to Facebook to get feedback or to share a thought. Often, we post to Facebook about places we’ve been or things we’ve done. We also love to post about what we’re eating. However, we don’t go back to Facebook to find things we saw yesterday.
Twitter and Instagram are about the present. Twitter is news – what is happening right now. We get 140 characters to say what’s going on (we can also share an image or video). We don’t really explain things on Twitter. Instagram is I think like the visual form of Twitter. It’s also about now. Users post images of what they’re doing or seeing. But Instagram is also about inspiration. It’s a place to communicate through images.
Pinterest is yet a different place. Pinterest is really about the future. Users go to Pinterest to find information to use later. Whether it’s recipes or bike repair how-to’s, pinners are saving inspiration and information for future use. We go back to good recipes time and again. I just might have to read a post multiple times to learn how to fix a flat. This makes Pinterest a good place for bloggers to be.
Now I’m Using Pinterest for Blogging
So, I started using Pinterest for blogging. At first it felt a bit awkward. I didn’t start with quite enough boards or enough pins, but I did notice some interesting things. First, I didn’t get a lot traction when I only pinned randomly from my blog. Once I started saving other pins, I gathered a few followers. Once I logged in regularly and shared, more followers came.
Second, I realized Pinterest is a place for good images. So, I’m choosing my own images more carefully, creating a few more boards, and learning how to use tools like Canva to design some graphics. Most importantly, I’m starting to save some really cool images from other pinners to my boards.
Third, Pinterest is also about words. And of course, I like words! Because Pinterest is search-based, words are critical. I don’t get to write novels on Pinterest, but carefully chosen words can increase the odds of people finding, saving and clicking on my pins.
After I started seeing the potential Pinterest has, I began to study and use it more. I put Pinterest into my social media plan and even developed a Pinterest strategy to help me stay on track. I’m even starting to spend more time there and less on Facebook. I seem to get a better return for my time, and I’m having more fun.
I’ve learned a lot on my Pinterest journey, and I thought long and hard about how to get the most out of Pinterest with limited resources. Perhaps I’m becoming a Pinterest evangelist. Next time, I just might share how I planned my Pinterest strategy. It was easier than you might think.