Getting the right Pinterest strategies in place can help you make the most of this powerful social platform.
In the past, we have focused firmly on Facebook as the social medium of our choice. This has been a good decision for us so far.
The 270,000 Facebook fans on our Labrador Site Facebook page are a valuable source of traffic, feedback and inspiration.
They have played a significant part in the growth of both The Labrador Site, and The Happy Puppy Site.
Shifting focus to Pinterest
We have a great system for working with Facebook now, with Bloglovin to help us, and we are now switching some of our focus to Pinterest.
We have not been very active on Pinterest to date, though we have worked hard recently on making our sites more ‘Pinterest Friendly’ (see below).
We are now giving this interesting platform a bigger share of our attention.
Our Pinterest strategies experiment
We are going to have a go at increasing Pinterest driven traffic to our websites using a new (for us) strategy.
If we succeed in significantly increasing our Pinterest traffic this will help us in our aim of diversifying our traffic sources so that we don’t have all our social media eggs in one basket.
We are going to test out some different strategies for gaining more followers from Pinterest, and for driving traffic back to our websites.
Here is the situation at the start of play.
We have three pet blog Pinterest accounts. I’ve listed them together with the number of visitors that Pinterest sent to the website during the whole of last month
- The Labrador Site: 8,089
- The Happy Puppy Site: 10,505
- Our new pet blog: 0
The new pet blog wasn’t launched until September, so that’s why it’s a zero
Before we go any further, just a quick summary of what Pinterest is all about, to catch up those who are not familiar with this platform
What is the point of Pinterest?
In a superficial sense Pinterest is about collecting photos or images and displaying your collection attractively on a board.
Pinterest does all the work of resizing the images and assembling them for you – collage style.
That in itself is clever.
It makes collecting pictures of spaniels, or 18th century clothing, or recipes for roast pheasant, both amusing and useful.
But Pinterest is far, far more than a way of displaying images.
The power of Pinterest
Pins are image links.
Every image is linked to a url or web address, and when someone clicks on the image it takes them to the website it came from.
Every time someone on Pinterest clicks on an image from your blog, you get a visitor.
On Pinterest, you collect your pins onto virtual pin boards each with a theme.
So on the Happy Puppy Pinterest account for example, we have a board for Terriers, and a board for Puppy Care.
And many other boards besides.
Pinterest is a hugely powerful visual search engine. One of the largest search engines of any type in the world. It makes sense to pay it some attention
If you have a business that lends itself to images, you should be making use of Pinterest.
If you have a pet blog, then you should at least be Pinterest friendly (see below).
Pets are BIG on Pinterest And you don’t necessarily need a Pinterest account to benefit from this incredibly powerful search engine.
How does Pinterest work?
There are two main strategies for getting traffic from Pinterest back to your website. The first doesn’t even require a Pinterest account.
Here are the Pinterest strategies that count
- Make your website Pinterest friendly
- Become an active Pinner
Although we do already have Pinterest accounts, the majority of our Pinterest traffic at the moment comes from the first strategy.
#1 Make your website Pinterest friendly
This is how we make our websites Pinterest friendly
Each new article we post has a number of images associated with it.
One of these is designed to look great on Facebook – this is usually our wordpress feature image. And one is designed to look great on Pinterest.
This is important because people are far more likely to share your pinnable images (with links to your site) than they are to share your article on Facebook or tweet it on Twitter
It is hard to combine these two functions in one image, as Facebook generally works best with landscape shape images while Pinterest works best with Portrait shape images
We have been creating pins like this for each post we publish for over a year now, and it is beginning to pay dividends.
Especially on the Happy Puppy Site where this policy is driving over 10,000 visitors from Pinterest each month.
Pin-it plug ins
Each of our websites also has a plug-in which creates a small ‘pin this’ badge when someone hovers over one of our images with their mouse.
Although many Pinners have their own pin-it tool, the idea is to make it very easy for them to pin your images
#2 Become an active Pinner
This is the strategy that we are about to embark on. And what our experiment is about.
Although we do pin some images from our posts onto our Pinboards when we publish those posts on our websites, we do this in a very half hearted way.
As a result, the vast majority of the traffic flowing from Pinterest to our sites, is from images pinned directly from our sites by other people.
In other words, from strategy 1
You can tell we are not very active pinners by the number of pins on our boards.
- The Labrador Site has 937 pins – gathered over several years.
- The Happy Puppy Site has 395 pins – gathered over two years.
Compare this, for example, with my personal craft pinboard, where I pin for pleasure, and have gathered many thousands of pins in less than a year.
So, basically, we have been half-hearted pet pinners, and that is now changing, with the help of our Pinterest scheduler, Tailwind
We’ve been looking at pinning tactics by successful Pinners and have identified some key pinning routines that they engage in. We’re going to give them a go as follows
- Multiple pins of new content
- Pinning archived content
- Repinning from other pinners
Multiple pins of new content
When we publish a new blog post, we create a nice pin to go at the top of the article.
Sometimes we remember to add it to one of our pinboards, but, we have been very inconsistent about this.
In addition, we have never deliberately pinned the same pin, multiple times. Yet this is what many successful pinners are doing
So, from now on, each piece of new content will be pinned three times (on separate days during the week after publication) to separate boards on the relevant Pinterest account.
Pinning archived content
Much of our archived content was written some time ago and still does not have pinnable images.
We are gradually remedying this.
The second tab in our excel spreadsheet for each website, is our ‘leaderboard’. It contains a list of all the articles published on that site, in descending order of popularity (by visitors)
At the end of each quarter we update the leaderboard.
It is a useful way of determining which articles to tackle first for a number of different purposes. Including this one.
We’ve put two new columns in this spreadsheet, one column to tick when the article has a Pin (pinnable image) in it, and one column to tick when that image has been pinned to one of our boards.
If we have the time/manpower in the future we can make another column for repinning
Pinning other people’s pins
Like Facebook, and most other social media channels, a significant part of your activity should involve promoting material created by other bloggers.
On Pinterest, this is called ‘repinning’ and it’s very easy to do.
If you fail to mix other people’s pins in with your own, your Pinterest account will become very ‘me, me, me’ in nature, which tends to be unappealing to your fans
Which brings me to the last point. Don’t you need some Pinterest fans to do all this?
And if so, how do you get them?
Do you need Pinterest fans?
On most social media platforms, you need to build an audience in order to get traffic to your site.
On Pinterest, as we have seen with Strategy 1, this is not the case
If your website has traffic already – from other sources AND it has good quality pinnable images, you will get traffic from Pinterest.
However, for the purposes of this experiment with Strategy 2, we DO need an audience.
Our aim is to grow that audience and see if we can drive significantly more traffic by our own pinning efforts.
Our two big sites already have some Pinterest fans – not huge numbers – but enough.
The new pet blog on the other hand does not. We are starting from scratch, and we need to generate some fans to get the ball rolling. And this is how it’s done
How to grow your Pinterest fans
Like twitter, a good way to get fans on Pinterest is to follow some people with shared interests.
Some of them will then follow you back.
You can find people to follow in several different ways
These are two strategies we use
- Following people who follow people like us
- Following people with boards like ours
Both Pinterest strategies work, and they are not complicated.
So if for example, you have a website about reptiles, you’ll need to find a very popular reptile website’s account on Pinterest, and follow their followers
If you intend to have a pinboard on snakes, follow some other pinboards about snakes.
Pinterest has limits to how many follows (or unfollows) you can make in quick succession so don’t go crazy!
If you follow 5 or 10 people, two or three times a day, you’ll soon build up your own fan base.
Following people is a temporary Pinterest strategy.
Once you have a couple of hundred fans, they’ll repin some of your pins and people will find you that way.
Following people with shared interests is what we will be doing with our new pet blog account. At least until we have a couple of hundred followers
But I’ll be reporting on that in more detail in our September Pet Blog Case Study report (comes out beginning of October)
In part 2 of the Pinterest Pet Blog experiment, I’ll be explaining how we use Tailwind and hopefully looking at some of the first results from this challenge
If you want to receive updates when they are published, just drop your email into the box below