Pinterest is one of the fastest growing places to be on social media now, and there’s a lot you can do on it. If you’re thinking about starting a Pinterest account for your business, though, you’ll get more out of it when certain things are already in place:
- a website on your own domain that Pinterest can verify. This will let you take advantage of Pinterest Analytics for all images hosted on your domain. With such a website, you can also implement rich pins, which will make pins of your content stand out on your followers’ Pinterest feeds.
- prior content, especially content that can be hosted on your verified website. This includes images, slideshows, videos, audio recordings, reports or whitepapers, and blog posts (especially those with accompanying images; if you’re not already including relevant images in your blog posts, start thinking about doing so!).
As Jay Baer (no relation, as far as I know!) said, “Content is fire, social media is gasoline.” But what can you do if those parts of your content strategy aren’t ready yet? You can still get started on Pinterest!
- Create your account. Fill out your bio and add an icon (ideally at a 160×165 resolution). Keep your bio simple, but readable; use keywords so that you can be found in Pinterest search but write for humans, not for Google search. Use your company logo for your icon, if you have one. The red and white pin icon is the Pinterest equivalent of the Twitter egg icon. It’s important to make your Pinterest page look like you’re participating in the community.
- Follow relevant people and companies.You can connect your Twitter, Google+, Gmail, and Yahoo accounts to your Pinterest. This will let you see if any known-to-you colleagues are already on Pinterest. You can also use Pinterest’s search function to find new-to-you people and companies to follow. Type in relevant keywords and terms, click on pertinent results, and then you can choose to follow all of an account’s boards, or just specific boards. What are boards? More detail on boards in a little bit.
- Be conversational. When somebody comments on something you’ve pinned, respond! If somebody you’re following posts an interesting pin, comment to their pin and participate in the discussion. A repin doesn’t necessarily require a response, but it’s worth paying attention to what the pinner is saying about your pin, especially if they’ve taken the effort to change the text you originally pinned with. You’ll get the most out of Pinterest by being social and community-oriented.
This is a familiar idea from our previous Twitter for Beginners post; create your account, follow, comment, share (whether by retweeting or repinning). The big difference: in order to share things on Pinterest, you need to create boards on your account.
What’s a board? A board is a collection of pins, usually created with a specific theme in mind. It can be run by just one account, or it can be a group board. There are boards for social media, big data, data warehouse, Platform as a Service. (The first three of these links have primarily relevant results. The last one, Platform as a Service, has a fair number of results, but not all of them are relevant. It’s a good opportunity for someone in the PaaS space to get in there and create a quality PaaS board!)
Following other companies’/peoples’ boards is good fodder for thinking about what sort of boards you’d like your account to have. What are others pinning? What kinds of boards are they creating? Who are they following? Does any of it resonate with the type of content your followers would like to see and the message you would like to share?
What should you share? Again, similarities between what you can share on Twitter and Pinterest; just slightly different approaches. You have more space in Pinterest descriptions (up to 500 characters); use it wisely to provide guidance and recommendations that you can’t provide on Twitter.
- Share relevant things that you create. You can create boards specifically to showcase your own content; you can even pin said content to multiple boards. And you’re not limited to images – you can pin videos and slides, too. You probably have more images as part of your company content than you think – charts and graphics from existing whitepapers and blog posts, screenshots of your website or images of your product or service in action, photos from events, staff photos and bios.
- Share relevant things that others create. You cement your business’ reputation as an expert in your industry, and you show that you’re a member of the community by pointing out when others have made awesome things. It’s also a great way to supplement your own content. Just be sure to credit properly generously share the wealth.
Once you’ve started pinning content to your boards, it’s also worth considering following some of the people who comment to your pins, and those who repin your pins. Look at their boards and take their comments to you in context – are these potential or existing customers? What do their interests tell you about them, and why your products and services are important enough to them to interact with you?
So if those are the similarities, what are the big differences between what applies to Twitter and what applies to Pinterest?
- Images. On Twitter, image dimensions and orientation don’t matter that much, nor do you have to include an image with every tweet. On Pinterest, you cannot pin without including an image, a video, an audio file, or a slideshow. And tall images will display more prominently in Pinterest feeds than wide ones will. You do want to be careful with ultra-tall images such as some infographics – Pinterest will hide a portion of those images behind an “Expand Pin” trigger if they’re really long. Their proportions can also affect your followers’ ability to repin and to comment on those images – if your image’s width-to-height ratio is less than about 1:3, it may be too long for easy repinning. Still, infographics are quite popular on Pinterest.
- Hashtags. Pinterest search does not currently support hashtags. Adding hashtags to your bio, board descriptions, and pins doesn’t help your account show up more in search results; it’s the keywords that matter. Make sure that you use appropriate keywords in your descriptions, and in the file names of your blog posts and associated media. Hubspot wrote a great guide to Pinterest SEO about a year ago (it’s the #1 Google search result for “Pinterest SEO”), but some things have changed since then – especially around hashtags. Their example of the #KnowlesChapel hashtag search only yields five results today; searching for the two words “Knowles Chapel” yields 104 results. Time for an update!
- Using Pinterest on the go. With 75% of all traffic to Pinterest coming from mobile apps, there is a lot of pinning activity being done on phones and tablets! However, on mobile Pinterest, you cannot change descriptions of repins, or add your own description of pins of web content. So, be aware that many of your followers will likely be pinning on the go and only able to use your text description! The more complete your description, the more likely your pin will place high in relevant Pinterest search results.
So you’ve already set up your Pinterest account and are pinning, repinning, and conversing away, great! If you haven’t yet, get started – at last count (July 2013), Pinterest had 70 million users, and you probably have an opportunity to own your niche. If you’d like to learn best practices for using these tools, or have further questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free consultation.