What's that you say?
A way to finally justify all those countless hours I spend repinning kittens and goulashes and inspirational workout quotes?
Could it be true?
Dear reader, it is.
Enough fun and games. It's time to start making that Pinterest account start working for you, instead of the other way around.
Pinterest has boomed in the past year. It has grown faster than any other social network in history. Look at this chart:
That's a lot of numbers which basically say, there's a lot of folks on Pinterest these days, and those folks are spending a lot of time on the website--outmatched only by Facebook (I'll do another post later on how to utilize Facebook for similar purposes). Basically, since it's birth three years ago, Pinterest has exploded into one of the biggest social media networks, taking its place among the top six social sites with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, and LinkedIn.
- This is one of the most important advantages of promoting your blog through Pinterest. Though the first few hours after posting will win you the most activity, after that, the longevity of your Pin is almost limitless. I've seen Pins for blog posts still circulating years after the post was originally written. And all it takes is one influential Pinner to find it weeks or months later, and your Pin (and thus your blog) could see a huge resurgence in popularity. That will almost never happen on Twitter, where a Tweet promoting your blog post can vanish in a matter of seconds from everyone's feeds. Forever.
- Images are more eye-catching than text
- Pinterest is completely centered on sharing and collecting images. This is where you have a chance to really shine and grab people's attention in a way you can't on Twitter and even Google. By creating eye-catching title-images (which I'll explain more below) and filling your blog posts with interesting, quality photos (which are, of course, non-copyright-violating) you can generate huge traffic numbers (interestingly, this will also boost your Google traffic, through their Image search).
- This is a relatively new feature offered by Pinterest. If you register as or convert your current account to a business account (at no charge!), you'll have the ability to track what Pins and blog posts are the most repinned, most clicked, and most recent. Previously, these stats had to be tracked through external sites which tracked all of your Pins, not just those related to your blog. Pinterest's new internal analytics now track just the Pins linking back to your blog--which is immensely, hugely, awesomely helpful information!
- Here's the thingy that shows you all the cool stats on your shiny new Pinterest business account:
- It's less abrasive than Twitter, Facebook, etc.
- Let's face it. We all get irritated by people who do nothing but shamelessly promote themselves through social media all the time. While it's perfectly fine to send a few Tweets or post a link on Facebook about your latest blog entry, doing so all day will only cause your following to dwindle. Use these accounts to exchange genuine discussion with your online community--don't use them simply to shove your brand in people's faces. Using Pinterest not only gives you an alternative way to promote, it feels less abrasive and blatant than some of the other social networks. However, you should still keep self-promotion to a minimum (don't Pin a single post more than once); if your content is attractive, quality work that deserves attention, interest and traffic will increase organically--which is the absolute best way for it to happen.
These are only a handful of the advantages Pinterest offers in terms of boosting blog traffic. Now I want to show you a few ways to ensure that you're connecting these two sites effectively.
How To Share Posts on Pinterest
- Use Image-Based Titling
- This is extremely important. Notice at the top of this particular blog post, I've placed an image of the post's title, "Using Pinterest to Boost Blog Traffic." Go ahead. Scroll up. Did you see it? Good. The reason you want to do this is because, well, duh, Pinterest is an image-based site. Titling your post with mere text won't work, because you can't Pin that. You could Pin an image contained in the body of your post, like I could Pin this picture of a cute African pygmy hedgehog:
- "Shouldn't that do the trick?" you ask. "Can't you just Pin the cute hedgehog and write "Using Pinterest to Boost Blog Traffic" in the description of the Pin? After all, that should boost traffic. The hedgehog is cute, after all, and who could resist that tiny hedgehog face? Well, not many people could, that's true--but I guarantee you many of those people won't care squat about boosting their blog traffic. They'll Repin your hedgehog, delete your description, and write their own--therefore effectively destroying 100% of that Pin's purpose--which is to generate interest in your blog post, not in cute hedgehogs. By making the image you Pin be the title of your post, 100% of the people who Repin it will do so out of interest in your blog's topic. And hey presto! Mission accomplished.
- Here are some other title-images I've done:
- Remember, this works both ways. A lot of people who reach your blog through Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc., will end up Pinning your posts themselves, either because they're bookmarking it for later reference or because they think your content would be useful and interesting to their own followers (yay for this!) Give them a handy title-image to Pin, and you're certain to keep generating traffic.
- Make your images eye-catching
- Sometimes this means going the extra mile to find a great piece of quality clip art (I get mine from either foter.com [which is free] or istockphoto.com [which is reasonably priced for the most part].) Then, be sure your text is:
- easy to read
- brightly colored
- not too busy
- not too boring
- relevant to your post (resist using cute hedgehogs for every title-image; if your post is about books, use a book. If it's about how to play the accordion, use an accordion, etc.)
- large and easy to spot in a Pinterest feed
- not written in Comic Sans (for the love of cute hedgehogs, please don't use Comic Sans)
- Post at a good time of day
- It's easy to fall into the trap of "Oh my goodness this post will like change the world I need to share it everywhere NOW!" Okay. Easy. Breathe, my friend. Find out when your Pin is most likely to be seen. A recent study shows that Pinterest users are most active between 2pm-4pm and 8pm-1am on weekdays and weekends, with the most activity occurring on Saturday mornings.
- Hold Pinterest-based contests
- Contests are a popular and effective way to attract new followers to your blog. By hosting a contest that incorporates Pinterest, your traffic and following can increase wildly. I've held many contests here on my blog, but the most popular by far have been the contests which in some way involved creating or sharing Pins. Pinterest has an amazing snowball effect when it comes to this kind of thing. Be sure your contest loops back to your blog in some way (you might create an image with the title and description of your contest that links back to the post with the instructions on how to enter). Here is a Pinterest board with a lot of fantastic examples of ways to promote your contest on Pinterest.
- You can be creative with how to use Pinterest in this way--as a relatively young site, Pinterest's uses are still largely unexplored. For example, I once asked contestants to choose a Pin from any of my boards and write a short story about it. My Pinterest following nearly doubled during this contest, with both contestants and people who noticed their entries and enthusiasm.
I mean it's gorgeous.
After I began using title-images to promote my blog posts, I saw a surge of blog traffic and a boost to my blog's following. It's even boosted the page views of posts I wrote one or two years ago. Now, when I go into my Blogger analytics, Pinterest is listed as the #1 referring site for my blog. It generates over 1/3 of my blog traffic now, and that number is growing--and to top it off, that 1/3 is traffic I was not getting before I began Pinning title-images. So these are new readers, and my stats are telling me that many of them are coming back and pinning even more of my posts. When I first saw this, my eyes popped! It's truly made a difference in the way I blog, and I hope it can help you too.
Ultimately, the best thing you can do is be genuine, professional, and consistent. Don't make social networking all about pushing your product/brand/self image. Focus on the people, not the product. Your most loyal fans will come out of genuine interaction, not shameless self-promo.
Okay, enough preaching! =)
You guys are awesome. Thanks for reading! If you have questions or want to share ways you've used Pinterest to promote your blog, please leave a comment!