Disclosure: I am Vice President, Influencer Marketing at BlogHer. Advertising and social media marketing programs are a significant source of revenue for my company and for the bloggers in our advertising network.
When I wrote Professional Blogging For Dummies in 2010, I tried to make the advice as evergreen as possible. This was challenging at times, as the For Dummies style is very example driven; in tech, this is the very definition of an “annual plant.” Where possible though I gave guidelines that could be applied to new tools based on the simple premise that regardless of how we communicate and share with others, we are still communicating and sharing. The why and what of that doesn’t change all that much, even if the how does.
So, if you pick up a copy of my book and read the chapter on social promotion of your blog, much of the advice I give for Facebook and Twitter could very easily be extended to Pinterest. But I thought it might be helpful if I delved a bit deeper. So here is the chapter on Pinterest that I might have written if Pinterest had existed in 2010. Except not completely in For Dummies style. That’s the publisher’s IP.
Let’s start with a baseline. My lens is that of a professional blogger. This has a few ramifications for the discussion.
First and foremost, the professional blogger has an objective for her blog. It is story telling with a purpose.
Second, this purpose is often to monetize. Even when the surface intent is to convince, as with political, charity and cause related blogs, there is almost always a fundraising component.
So I am not looking at the social graph as a way to connect with family and friends or create a personal scrapbook. It is sharing with intent to promote your blog, grow your overall influence and achieve your professional objectives.
Initially the ethos of Pinterest was to share others’ content, not your own, and in fact, commercial (ie promotional) activity was prohibited. This changed in November 2012 when it launched business accounts so there is no reason to not use the platform to promote your own content.
You just want to do it in the “right” way — welcomed by your followers and effective for the promoted brand, whether it is you, your blog or a product.
If this were a true “For Dummies” chapter, I would have to carefully explain what Pinterest is, how it works and how to use it. But it’s not, so I am going to assume that readers are familiar with Pinterest and understand three basic things about the platform —
- Pinterest is visual. Images are everything.
- It’s curation of content, not broadcasting a message.
- It’s a long-term play. Something pinned today might not get traction for days, weeks or even months.
So let’s dive right into how Pinterest can support your promotional strategy with some suggestions for maximizing your Pinterest promotion.
- Convert your personal Pinterest account to a business account. Per the Pinterest Terms Of Service, you MUST do this if you are planning to use your Pinterest account for commercial purposes.
- Make sure your blog/website images are gorgeous, high quality and tell a story visually. If an image needs a caption or title, keep it short and incorporate it in the image so it stays with the pin as it is repinned. But subtly. If your caption is larger than the image, it won’t be pinned/repinned.
- Use (at a minimum) the tools Pinterest provides business accounts:
- Give your boards names that clearly identify what sort of content folks will find if they visit the board. Most folks engage pin by pin, not by checking out boards to see what’s new, but a clear name improves your chances that someone seeing a pin might check out and follow the related pinboard. And thus see subsequent pins. Maybe even dig around in the old ones; see above, Pinterest is a long term play.
- Pin when your audience is online and engaging with Pinterest. A recent survey of the BlogHer community suggests weekday evenings are when our audience of digitally savvy women is most likely to be engaging with Pinterest.
- Follow the 80/20 rule — 80% of your pins should be promoting other people’s content, and no more than 20% promoting your own. This is a best practice for any social platform, but it also has a benefit beyond simply NOT being a shill. Fully engaging with the platform shows that you are a knowledgeable and reliable source of relevant content, and helps build your influence. Brands are increasingly looking at influence across the social graph, and not just blog readership, to determine who they want to work with for sponsored opportunities.
- If your blog content fits one of the new rich pin categories – recipes, products or movie reviews (as of May 2013), I’d go ahead and set it up. While it is still too early to predict the long-term impact of rich pins, it is safe to say that:
- they clearly make it easier for Pinterest users to access some of your content without visiting your blog, but
- they will increase the value of pins from your blog/site within the Pinterest ecosystem, which should positively impact repins, your overall influence and traffic to your blog from folks seeking out additional content like the pin they found.
- Experiment with third party tools that offer additional metrics and support for your pins. Right now, I am experimenting with Pingage.
Next week, Part Two: Engaging with Brands on Pinterest and Sponsored Pins