In part one of the Pinterest pet blog experiment I talked about the two key Pinterest strategies available to pet bloggers to get traffic from Pinterest, back to their websites
- Making your website Pinterest friendly
- Becoming active on your own Pinterest account
I explained that we had so far invested our time primarily in the first strategy.
This has involved making our sites Pinterest friendly by putting pinnable images in each post and a pin-it plug-in on the site so that when people visit and hover over an image, a pin-it button appears.
This means that visitors to the sites who have Pinterest accounts, have been promoting our articles for us.
We’d been getting quite good results with this strategy, especially on the Puppy site, but now we were about to test out the second strategy, which is all about getting active on Pinterest ourselves
In this experiment, we aimed to focus our efforts into becoming active pinners on our own boards.
And to discover what impact that would have on our Pinterest traffic.
In this article, I’m going to tell you how we ran the experiment on a daily basis, then we’ll look at the results
Getting active on Pinterest
Becoming active participants in Pinterest ourselves, is a strategy we have not focused much on previously. We have had the odd ‘dabble’ but found it quite time consuming and not seen much change in traffic.
To be fair, all we have done up to this point is to sometimes pin a single pin from a new article we have posted, and occasionally re-pin other people’s images.
In our experience, being half-hearted about any aspect of social media is unlikely to reap rewards. Those usually only come with an investment of time and effort
Our Pinterest Experiment has begun
We made a start on 21st September and the results were so promising after one month, that we decided to continue the experiment for a second month.
That month is now nearly up. And this article is my report on what happened and what we can take away from that.
We have expanded on the plan we outlined in our last report on this experiment. There are five prongs to our Pinterest activity push
- Pin our own pins more frequently
- Re-pin pins by others more frequently
- Create more boards with more focused topics
- Pin the same pin multiple times
- Delete low performing pins
Let’s look at those in turn
Pinning more frequently
How often any of us should pin to their pinboards is a question with many different answers.
Some experts say 5 pins a day. Some say 10-30, some even recommend 50-100 pins a day!
We decided to pin up to 30 times a day on The Labrador Site, and up to 20 times a day on the Happy Puppy Site.
Less often during the week
Pinterest tends to be more active at weekends than during the week, and more active in the evenings than during the day. Our scheduler was able to show us the best times to pin (more of that in a moment).
Pin the same pin multiple times
We have never pinned the same pin more than once before, but this is a strategy used successfully by top pinners so we were about to try it.
The idea is that when we publish an article, we pin the pinnable image from that article, to several different boards on our Pinterest account.
This is so that we reach people who are just following a single board, something that is becoming increasingly common.
We have decided to limit this to three boards to begin with to begin with.
Creating new boards
In order to carry out this strategy, we also need to create more boards to pin to. We made a number of new boards with quite a narrow focus.
On the puppy site for example, we made separate boards for some of the more popular breeds of dog.
Posting such a volume of pins meant using a scheduler.
Using a Pinterest scheduler
Like any social platform, there is always a risk of annoying your followers if you are too enthusiastic and flood their feeds with your stuff, in a ME, ME, ME kind of way
Anything more than four or five pins is going to require some kind of scheduler, because no-one wants their feed filled up with ten pins all from the same person, at 6 pm every evening (or whenever you choose to post).
And because when you are busy, you need to pin in batches, not keep going in and out of Pinterest all day, however much you enjoy the platform
A scheduler enables you to store a large number of pins (or posts) and then distributes these for you at intervals while you sleep, or write blog posts, or whatever else you need to do.
We are using Tailwind as our scheduler, we have toyed around with both Tailwind and Buffer in the past, but decided that we prefer Tailwind.
Tailwind provides a great user interface, and once you have scheduled your pins, they can be dragged and dropping into different positions, or shuffled automatically.
The first step was to decide what proportion of these pins would be our own versus repins of other people’s stuff
How many pins could be links to our own sites?
Some successful pinners were recommending 80/20 (other people’s content/their own content) some were succeeding with 50/50
We decided to do a 50/50 split on the Puppy Site and the Labrador Site, both of which have a big archive of material to draw from. With an 80/20 split on our new Pet Blog
This would be reviewed when we had built up some archives.
Daily action steps
Each morning we signed into one of our Pinterest acounts, and it’s related Tailwind account in separate windows, and scheduled pins for several days ahead
When scheduling other pins posted by other people, Tailwind make it easier for you if you instal their web browser tool. You can then select and schedule multiple pins at one time
Pressing the P at the top of the Pinterest page brings up our feed, and from this we selected some pretty and appealing photos which we sent to the Tailwind scheduler
One thing we noticed as we did this is how few of our own pins had decent descriptions. Pinterest takes the ‘alt’ attribute from your image, and we generally use a brief one or two words for this.
What Pinterest needs is something a little more wordy
So ’10 great tips for training a dog not to pull on the leash’ for example, rather than ‘stop leash pulling’
This meant that we also had an extra job to to – updating the ‘alt’ attribute on the images on the site each time we created a good description
Tailwind provides a handy list of your boards for you to select from.
Once we have completed however many pins we want for that website we go back to tailwind and refresh the page.
Our own pins will be arranged neatly on the scheduler. We can mix them up to get an even distribution of our own content and curated content. Or simply press the ’shuffle’ button that mixes the pins up randomly.
Managing multiple sites
You simply rinse and repeat for each website.
And the first day I did this, it took me over three hours to schedule a couple of days pinning for all three sites!
Like anything of course, you get quicker with practice. But time was always going to be a significant factor in this project.
Cross posting between our accounts/websites
Our two big, dog related, Pinterest accounts contain a lot of information that is relevant to the other account. Yet we have rarely cross posted between the accounts.
Doing so gave a us a extra source of material for each of our two big Pinterest pages, and we began putting this into the scheduler
The next part of our strategy is a more controversial one
Why would we delete some of our pins? That’s a good question and I suggest you do some research before trying it yourself.
I first came across the idea in an article by Sarah Titus.
And while I have read some articles with the opposing view, including this one from Simplepinmedia (the argument put here is that there is no evidence that deleting pins works ) none have convinced me
Yet logic tells me, improving the overall quality of your pinboards must influence how those boards are assessed by Pinterest. And that the popularity of the pins on a board must be a feature of quality.
Your Pinterest feed is generated by an algorithm created by Pinterest. Like Facebook and Google, Pinterest keep their algorithm a close secret
These algorithms are necessary to reduce the enormous volume of potential posts and pins in any given feed and to make those which you do see, as relevant and high quality as possible.
While we don’t know exactly what goes into the algorithm which determines your Pinterest feed, we do know that it is likely to be influenced by the following
- Your preferences (based on your history)
- The quality of available relevant pins.
This second factor is highly likely to take into account the performance/popularity of each individual pin, and the performance/popularity of the Pinner it came from.
It is most unlikely that Pinterest displays unpopular pins to people in the same volumes as pins that are not popular.
Indeed, we can tell from our own feeds, where the same (popular) pins appear over and over again, that popularity is a factor
In my view this makes it likely that Pinterest looks at the overall popularity of the pins on my boards when deciding whether to present one of my pins to one of my followers.
It makes sense, therefore, to improve the ratio of popular to less popular pins on my own boards. The best way to do this is to delete pins that perform poorly ie don’t get many re-pins
How I choose pins to delete
This was not an entirely new strategy for us. I had already been deleting old pins that were not re-pinned or that had less than two re-pins.
We currently delete any pin that has five or less re-pins and we’ll be raising this barrier in due course.
It was an easy job when we had relatively few pins, but it is going to be harder to do this work now we are pinning in greater volumes
So, you can see that there is quite a bit of work going on here. And the question of course is: “Is it worth it?”
The results of our Pinterest experiment
The results of our experiment varied from between the two main sites.
We’ll look at our Pet Blog Case Study results in the next report as our strategy there has been so different. And because, as it is a new blog, there is no comparison period.
We compared the two month period of the experiment, with the previous two months
The Labrador Site
- Before experiment (21st Jul to 19th Sep) 17125
- During experiment (21st Sep to 19th Nov) 80155
An increase of 63030 visitors. A pretty strong result!
Before you rush off to start pining, let’s also look at what happened to The Happy Puppy Site
Happy Puppy Site
- before experiment (21st Jul to 19th Sep) 20999
- during experiment (21st Sep to 19th Nov) 25917
An increase of 4918 visitors
Not too shabby, but not nearly so dramatic. And on the surface of it, quite a small gain for the amount of effort involved.
But we now needed to look closely at the time incurred in getting these results.
And to find out how these visitors compared with our other visitors in terms of their behavior and how that in turn impacts on the revenue to the site.
How much does it cost to be this active on Pinterest?
We did buy some stock photos, at around a dollar each, but some of the images were photos we had taken ourselves and many were from free image sites like Pixabay.
So the financial outlay was minimal.
There was however, a big cost in terms of our time. Especially as time went on.
Initially we were able to draw on the pinnable images already on the site. About one third of the articles on each site already had one of these – we’ve been creating them for around a year now.
With up to fifty pins going up each day between the two sites, half of which were images from our own sites, and each pin going to three different boards, that mean pinning twenty five times a day.
From 8 or more different articles. Most of which also needed an alt attribute updating.
These pins were placed in alternate slots on our Tailwind schedule and the gaps in between filled in with nice images that we found on Pinterest.
This took about an hour and a half each day, though we were getting quicker as time went on
But once we needed to start creating pins for articles that don’t have any, the game changes. Each pin takes fifteen to twenty minutes to make. We were now looking at two to three hours to create, pin, and re-pin others, each day
With a ton of practice and the best will in the world, we couldn’t see that we could get this down much below ten hours a week.
That’s forty hours a month. For an extra 70k or so visitors. If we could get that up to 80K – a reasonable target – for our forty hours that would still be an hour’s work for an extra 2K visitors
If we pay someone to do this for us, as we would need to if we continued this in the long term, that would be a big financial outlay.
At least until all the archived articles on the sites had decent pins.
And it would be hard to recoup that cost from the traffic generated, unless that traffic was particularly easy to convert into revenue. Let’s take a look at that now.
What did these Pinterest visitors do when they arrived on the sites?
It was very interesting to have this volume of Pinterest traffic, to look at the behavior of Pinterest visitors once they arrive on our websites.
I’ve read a number of articles claiming that Pinterest visitors convert well to ‘buyers’. And that may well be the case for sites offering products for sale.
But that wasn’t the case for us. At least not in terms of clicking on our affiliate links
In fact, visitors from Facebook were twice as likely to go shopping on Amazon using our affiliate links, as our Pinterest visitors. Jon Dykstra has reported a similar issue.
Of course, extra traffic has a value that is hard to calculate exactly in terms of visitors who will bookmark the site and return at a later date. Or visitors who place a link to our site from their own site.
And some of those who visited also subscribed to our email list. But overall, the costs were not significantly outweighed by the benefits, at this point. That may change later.
What did we learn from the experiment?
While you can get Pinterest traffic by making your site Pinterest friendly, traffic is definitely increased by regular frequent pinning of quality images that link to your own site mixed with images that link to content on other sites.
I suspect quality is important. We spent time searching for quality images to pin – they had to be sharp, attractive, well composed, and relevant to our audience. We also spent time creating attractive good quality pins.
It is possible, that the benefits of pinning on your own Pinterest account are directly proportional to the size of your fan base.
As we only tested two sites, and pinned more often on the larger of the two, it isn’t possible to really assess this factor, but it is one that we are going to look at more closely in the future.
It’s important to remind you that neither of these experiments started from scratch. We already had a following on Pinterest and had been posting their sporadically for some time.
One of our challenges for the future is to ensure that all our archived material has a decent Pinnable image. So that when we embark on our next Pinterest experiment, we won’t need to include creating pins from scratch into our schedule.
We now include making at least one good quality pin in the creation of our new articles, but updating our archives is an ongoing project.
The effort of extra pinning was successful in generating a lot more traffic. Especially on the site with a larger Pinterest fan base and where we pinned up to 30 times a day as opposed to up to 20 times a day
If you have products to sell on your site, and a relevant Pinterest fan base, generating this level of traffic may be a very effective use of your time.
If you are relying primarily on affiliate income and/or display ads, it might not be worth while unless you have a very big Pinterest fan base
Our next strategy will be to focus on growing our fan bases. Once we have substantially increased the fan bases on these two sites, we’ll give this experiment another go. And we’ll report back to you on the results.