Though I’ve only been using Pinterest for a few months, my audience continues to increase by no less than a thousand per day. Engagement to my profile continues to grow in the thousands. The attention my website receives from Pinterest alone dwarfs all other strategic advertising outlets I use combined.
I remember reading this exact phenomenon countless times from various blogging entrepreneurs, and thinking it was all ‘up-selling nonsense’. From a professional business standpoint, I would ask myself- why would any advertising outlet make it so easy without paying?
How I Did It (What You Have Been Waiting For)
My Pinterest marketing account being relatively new, something happened today that surprised me. Until recently, attention to my Pinterest profile has been growing at a steady pace. But when I checked today’s analytics report (2 day lag), it had more then doubled, from 9,789 impressions to 18,826 impressions. Now, for an account less then 3 months old, one I spent not a cent on, and considering I pin maybe 10 things a day (spread out, of course), this is a huge accomplishment.
Here I’m going to list and describe the precise strategies I use. But before I do, you must realize Pinterest, similar to Google, runs off a search engine. People type keywords in the search box at the top center of their Pinterest page, and pins/boards/profiles matching the descriptions show up. That being said, they factor in various things to make a final determination of what shows up first and what shows up second or last; what you see and what you don’t.
Some rules trump others. For example, where keywords are a factor and should be used, I’ve ran across many, many pins shared over a hundred times with no descriptions at all. It appears popularity is a larger determining factor.
#1 Understand Your Target Market
Know your Pinterest target market. What type of person is going to want to read your articles/click on your pins? Is it a man or woman? How old are they? What type of income do they make? Have they/are they going to college? Where do they live? The process of categorizing an audience based on these things and others is called market segmentation, a technique every single large, and many small, business in America use today.
#2 Keyword rich profile, board and pin descriptions.
You need to optimize your descriptions for two types of Pinterest Search; Categories (also look like this) and regular search (the search box at the top of your page), which look like this. Simply try to create descriptions that flow well using keywords you see on the top of your pages. Notice the keyword usage in my group board description, Pinterest Business Marketing.
#3 Pinning Style
Pay close attention here, because I am going to point out a few crucial keys that will make or break your exposure. Through both my extensive observation of dog behavior throughout the past 15 years, as well as my college and military careers, I have learned to pay very, very close attention to minute details. Especially dealing with life or death scenarios; tiny mistakes can have drastic consequences.
I currently have two Pinterest accounts, the one linked to this site and devoted to marketing, and another dealing with dog training. Though I am still somewhat newer to Pinterest, it quickly became apparent two similar pins, neither created by me and both posted by separate individuals, were far more popular than any of the perhaps 600 or so I have saved to either account. These received more re-pins in less than 24 hours than any of my other ones in an entire month.
The one on the left, ‘Instagram game’ was posted by Buzz-feed. In the description below the pin, they talk of ‘receiving 18 free tips’.The pin on the right was created by a member of BLOGLOVIN’ (Bloglovin is actually a promotional outlet; any user can share material they created from the ‘Bloglovin’ site. I encourage you to attempt this strategy, since the name is very well known. In other words, you are making use of their high degree of Brand Recognition instead of relying on your lesser-known name).
I am going to make a neat and tidy list of reasons why these pins are so successful for you all.
Specify Your Target Audience
- Color and Style– Note the color coordination, the ‘feel’ of both of these (especially the one on the right, also my favorite). The one to the right is truly beautiful, giving off an almost nostalgic, worried feel. The hand you see on ‘Instagram Game’ appears to be that of a woman, while the other image highlights a woman. From a man’s perspective, these color schemes are more feminine; fewer males would appreciate the intricacy. I am not sure who Buzz-feed is trying to target with the bowl of noodles and glasses, but they almost certainly also have a purpose. Both of these pins were created to target a young adult female demographic- which also just happens to be approximately 85% of regular Pinterest users.
Buzz-feed uses the cellphone graphic because their article relates to Instagram, and a huge amount of Pinterest use takes place on cellular phones. Though the everyday viewer may not consider this, both pins do a great job of targeting their individual niches; fantastic marketing.
- Use of Lettering- Notice what words are bigger then the rest, a different font or color. These are the words they want to highlight, what they want to jump out at you right away. This is a vital yet extremely simple technique you want to use. I also believe Pinterest’s search algorithm’s are able to decipher ‘lettering’ (or their shapes) to a degree.
- The use of ‘Free’– Both pins (though only in Buzz-feed’s description) suggest free materials for their readers. People love getting free stuff; this is actually one of the best ways to convince people to subscribe to your blog. ‘Free’ jumps out right away.
- Multiple items contained within- Buzz-feed offers ’18 tips’ so on and so fourth. My third most popular pin (as of 2 days ago, which is the lag between when Pinterest Business Analytics updates), created by Allison of Painted Summers highlights ‘7 Ways To Stop Procrastinating & Start Blogging’ (right). People like to see they can receive many benefits, as opposed to just one.
Notice the styling similarities between all three?
- Rich Pins- They are all rich pins, including the company name and logo, as well as article meta-descriptions and titles. Since both Buzz-feed and BLOGLOVIN are very popular, both having over 100K followers on Pinterest alone, a lot of people are going to see that logo and say ‘I know those guys!’. If you haven’t made a business account with Pinterest, or set up ‘rich-pins’, you are way behind the curve. Both services are free.
- Keywords– I would like to say both have well thought out, keyword rich descriptions, but they really don’t (at least not the ones I viewed). I do however have a feeling they may be ‘promoted‘, although that isn’t a necessity to gain exposure. You should include keywords in your description, and go light with the hashtags (if you choose to use them at all).
Hey, guess what? I’ve created a ‘most popular pinning style‘ board, where I will post only the pins that seem to stand apart from the rest. I urge you to examine them; they all have similarities, some more obvious then others.
#4 Offer Free Services
Indeed, the strategy of offering free, diminished services with the possibility of paid upgrades is called freeware – a fantastic marketing technique. The idea can be best explained with MMORPG’s (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games); a gamer is easily and quickly hooked on these amazing online games, a more complex and ultimately better gaming experience than absolutely anything you can purchase at a store. But there is one catch – you can only advance so far, your gaming character can only become so good without eventually needing to pay for some type of upgrade (items, currency, character abilities, etc.).
So companies are able to more than double their market by offering their services at no cost whatsoever. People become so engrossed in these games – they just have to be the best they can be! Sometimes concepts like a ‘Guild’ or raiding party (a group of gamers get together) isn’t possible unless a character reaches a level only possible with the purchase of upgrades.
#5 Create Your Own, Unique Images
You can make unique images just like these without paying a cent for any services, but it will require the use of both PicMonkey and Canva. I am not going to get into how to use them; that would take too long, but will tell you how I would do it. I would first create a background with PicMonkey (a bit more advanced of the two), save that basic image, load then refine it with Canva.
If I were to sum it up, I would relate ‘Canva’ to Microsoft PowerPoint, and PicMonkey to the immensely more advanced but also more technical Adobe Premiere Pro, for you techies out there. You can do a lot with PicMonkey that simply isn’t possible with Canva, even if you were to pay for it.
If you are upset because you can’t get the nifty cutouts Canva wants a dollar or so for, let me tell you it is easy. Download Gimp (free), go to the transparency tab (see photo) and hit ‘add alpha channel’. That will allow you to create a background-less .png image (note you need to hit ‘export as’ when you are finished, rather than ‘save as’, and it must be a .png image. If you export your image as a .jpg, it won’t retain the transparent background.
This is free software, and works best when removing a stark white background; try to remove something in the pic I have loaded there, and you will end up spending a lot of time with an end result that probably won’t turn out well. Make sure you fill in the ‘alt titles’ of your images, or Google won’t be able to find them. Fill in the title and description blocks too.
It is important to create your own images for various search related reasons, but the most pressing concern would be- you guessed it, copyright violations. I have never heard of this happening, but it is possible, and if it does- no way in hell is a gigantic beast like Pinterest going to pay legal fees you are responsible for.
#6- Group Boards
Group boards are a fantastic method of gaining exposure!
Consider this- you have perhaps 200 or so followers, and have just posted a pin to your profile. The pin shows up both on your board and the home feeds of your 200 followers.
However, if you were to post to a well established group board with perhaps 1000 or so members, your pin has the potential to be seen by 1000 people in addition to your 200 followers, as well as everyone else in the world who views that board. You have just increased your exposure by at least 500%!
That being said, consider the implications of pinning to 5 various boards of similar sizes. One catch- make sure your pins are relevant to the main idea, linking to material also just as relevant- or you may not be a member of said group board for much longer.
Say you create a pin and submit it to any group board. Eventually it is going to become buried; none of said group members will see it- there is too many pins on top.
Develop the habit of looking up your old pins once a week or so, and deleting/re-pinning them or make use of the ‘move pins’ option to place it back in the front. Make sure you delete the old versions; having too many duplicates can possibly get you removed from that board.
#7 Pin Other People’s Pins
Well, when any pin is re-posted by a Pinterest user (must have a business account), it retains the image and back-link of said pinner (see one I re-pinned to the left; notice my image nest to ‘Good Dog Story Marketing’). Viewers then have the option of clicking on that image, and fallowing back to the pinner’s profile.
I would have to say I owe much of my rapid expansion to this strategy, however ironic it is. Don’t share just any pins; the idea won’t work if no one wants to save them. Pin the absolute most popular pins, what is most likely to be shared. Share these to group boards (which is convenient; most group admins don’t like excessive self promotion anyway), no more than 2 at a time, maybe twice a day.
By absolute most popular, I mean styles resembling those I portrayed above. If you are going to share the exact ones from this page, please at least give credit to the original creators; these are only meant to be examples.
Update: The ‘Painted Summers’ pin to your left has been shared over 170 times as of me writing this, and continues to gain shares daily!
Have you ever noticed established Pinterest users pinning not only their own, but other people’s pins to group boards? Now you know why they do that.
#8 Promoted Pins
While they are free to use, Pinterest offers ‘promoted pins’, a form of CPC advertising (Cost Per Click, or Pay Per Click is a promotional tool you only pay into when your advertisement is clicked on). CPC advertisement is another extremely enticing and effective marketing strategy (I speak from the point of view of those selling the advertising space), people jump at anything that appears to cost nothing.
In other words, you pay when your ad is effective, and don’t spend a cent until it is effective. Much of Google advertising takes place on a CPC basis. Facebook and Twitter offer CPC advertisement (however, these two also utilize a ‘bidding’ system; marketers compete with each other for placement).
Though I’m sure these ads would boost my success even further, I feel they would have a much better effect when I achieve a greater following. So paying for them now would simply speed up the process.
#9 Rich Pins
If you haven’t figured it out by now, Pinterest Rich Pins include integral information about a pin in question, the post ‘meta’ description it links back to, your business logo, the date, and potentially more. To truly achieve a massive reach, this is absolutely required.
In order to set up set up Rich Pins, you need to have a Pinterest Business account (both are free). Once your business account is set up, simply follow the clear and simple steps Pinterest’s ‘help’ area will outline. This took me no longer than 5 minutes to do.
#10 Advertise On All Social Media
Join Google Plus Pinterest related communities, and post your pins & descriptions there. Look for Pinterest groups on Facebook. Twitter, on and on and on. Try cross promoting; advertise your Facebook/ Twitter pages within attractive pins on Pinterest (this idea I came up with myself!), post links back to your Pinterest page in each board description. Grab Pinterest users from outside of Pinterest to truly maximize your following!
Normally I would suggest requiring signups to gain access to free material, a blogging strategy (so I won’t include it in my Pinterest 10), but this method is simpler, effortless. Before I provide my checklist, however- let me explain the strategy.
People don’t like spammy e-mails filling their inbox, and tend to be wary of anything that asks them to give out such personal information. You really need to give them a reason to want to give you access to e-mails, which is where the free content comes in.
Final- Most Important Strategy
In the end, the biggest key out of absolutely everything else, the key to growth, and what all other strategies work toward, is to get your material re-pinned/shared. Ideally, you want huge accounts- those well established with massive notoriety to share your content; if anything will boost your exposure, this will.
Ideally any number of their followers will see and save it for themselves. This is also one reason why such huge accounts continue to grow at such a fast pace, while smaller members are slower to gain momentum.
Easier said than done; many of them only got so big because they share only the highest quality content.
You can use Promotional Pins to help gain momentum; they don’t cost much at all, and will increase chances your pins will be seen as many times as possible.
- Target Market
- Appearance & Style
- Free Stuff
- Unique Images
- Group Boards
- Strategic Re-pin
- Promoted Pins
- Rich Pins
- Cross Advertise