This post is about Pinterest, a social media platform that I, perhaps, use the most for promotions of my work, and the various ways you can use it to work for your business, if it will work for your kinds of business at all.
In part #1 for social media guide for small business I discussed using Facebook. I also declared that Facebook is no longer the number one social media platformI use for my past my purpose anymore, that is, blog post promotion. But I did go on to explain how Facebook can be a tool for exponential growth for your kind of business, if you are selling retail and sell a kind of product that markets well on Facebook.
Let’s get into if Pinterest can do the same for your business.
Before we speak about what works and what doesn't let's not quite get ahead of ourselves. Not everyone might be familiar with what with what Pinterest is and what it can do as a social media platform.
What is Pinterest and how does it work
Pinterest is a social media platform that has done things a little differently. It has built itself around the most popular kind of online content which is images pictures and videos.
It started as a place where people could save all their favourite online content in form of images much like how you would cut out a picture and articles from the magazine and PIN it to your soft board. I am sure all of you are familiar with that imagery.
The language Pinterest uses its much the same as well. You can pin your content to different boards that you create virtually in your account. These boards can be private for only you to see or public for other users on Pinterest to find and start following, if they so wish. Following someone means that you continue to see content from them in your feed.
When Pinterest started it was only image-based. Now there is video as well.
Importance of video pins on Pinterest
The biggest importance of introducing video pins on Pinterest is that there is now standalone and complete content on the application itself.
Pins are created either by a user who is saving some content of interest or by a publisher who is promoting his business. A user can save PINS in two ways. He can re-save an already published PIN to his board or he can save a webpage by pinning any relevant image from page.
Businesses can easily create their own business profile and post pins which they hope will get re-saved and shared by other users. This is how Pinterest mostly works.
The addition of videos means that the user does not necessarily need to follow their link to experience the content. The videos are complete and standalone content that exist within the framework of Pinterest.
It has opened up the scope of Pinterest magnificently and it's not surprising that videos are probably not the most popular kind of content there. There are videos on a myriad of topics. TikTok videos are posted here, dancing videos, work workout videos, travel videos of destinations, time-lapse videos of painting tutorials et cetera.
You shouldn't compare this, however, with being similar to YouTube because at the end of the day these videos are short videos. The maximum length allowed is not very long.
Pinterest versus a search engine
A very important point to realise about what Pinterest is that people no longer use Pinterest just to save and bookmark the content of their preference.
They come there to discover new content. They use Pinterest to find new information and new ideas. This is a big reason for Pinterest’s success and influence. It's where people spend a lot of time finding and discovering new information from food recipes to celebrity pictures.
So in many respects Pinterest has become akin to a search engine, which gives it similar to influence it’s users.
Speaking of growing content, there is a new kind of PIN available on Pinterest at the time of writing this article and it's called a story pin. It allows users present their content in slides of images or videos. They are mostly videos and what this does is that instead of one long video there can be many slides with different videos.
Each slide will play after another automatically or the user can quickly flick on to the next one. An example of a story PIN can be a workout PIN showing different kinds of exercises in the different slides.
Anyway all this can be understood quite easily if you just open a free account on Pinterest and start using it to find your way around on how it works and looks.
What kind of businesses and promotions work well on Pinterest
I feel this will be a question in everybody's mind to begin with. I know that it was an area of interest for me. I did not jump on the bandwagon of Pinterest immediately and took some time before embracing it, although I was very glad when I did, and wished that I done it sooner.
I believe that Pinterest has a different existence in the online content framework as compared to Facebook and Instagram.
Pinterest is more or less and quiet strongly about content and information. It's not about personal sharing of holiday pictures or your current mood or check-ins and stuff like that. It's the place where people go to discover, save and curate content; not interact personally with other users.
Because it is so content based naturally it works very well for content creators. Some of the fields that do exceedingly well on Pinterest are: art, fitness, food, travel, photography, crafts and of course the usual collection of short interesting video.
You need to know that people's behaviour patterns can be very from one social media platform to another. They may go to different platforms to fulfil the different needs. Pinterest is a place where people go for information and for content for most part.
Facebook is somewhere people go to interact the people and hence they are probably in a different mood and the receptive state of the mind is different.
So if you have that to offer Pinterest will work well for you. Actually the fact is that if you try, can create content-based pins for almost any kind of business that you are in. There are all kinds of do it yourself based topics from woodworking to air-conditioning.
In fact Pinterest compels you to do something that other social media do not but something that you should be doing if you want to promote yourself online, and that is, create some great dynamic content to share.
However that's not all it's going to take which brings us to how to make all this really work.
How to make Pinterest work for your business.
Posting on social media platform is also known as micro blogging. Ideally you cannot use a social media platform effectively unless you have something interesting to post. Which is why all social media profiles do not work for every business for the purpose of marketing and promotion at least.
People still use Twitter a lot as a way to interact with existing and potential customers and even to offer customer support. It's a cheaper and more organised alternative to managing multiple phone lines. Customers also find it quick and easy and faster than using email.
But Pinterest doesn't offer this kind of interaction. It's all about promoting and sharing content which also translates into some well-made graphic media, photographs and videos. So right here is your first consideration. Can you share some interesting content from your business?
How to create new content for pinning on Pinterest
It doesn't have to be all about your product. We talked about how to create content for social media platforms when your product line centres around some steady, limited and consistent inventory. How are you supposed to create a new content with the same products?
The answer is that you create related content of interest that your potential customers will be interested in.
Let me give you one such real life example from Pinterest.
There is a Fitness company that has a very sizeable following on Pinterest. They make a single exercise machine. No an entire array of fitness equipment. Not even a handful. Just one CrossFit fitness kind of a machine.
And yet, they have managed post hundreds of pins and continue to create fresh ones. How do we do this considering they have a single product? How many pictures and videos can someone post of the same and expect the people to stay interested? Well they do not. Almost none of the videos features their machine at all.
What this company does is that it creates video content on fitness and workouts. Lots of captivating content on every kind of workout, exercise and sports. This results in a large following of people who are interested in this particular genre of fitness. And the machine is something of interest to all of these people.
Of course they link to their business page in their profile section and also showcase their machine through some of their pins as well.
Why creating enough pins is important
On a social media platform your profile needs to look robust and complete. Many people will look at your business information on the platform itself. It's not very unlike a business website which, if it is skimpy, will reduce trust.
Another reason is that while on Facebook you can use ads to redirect users to any website. Pinterest only allows you to promote the pins that you make. So it's good to have different pins to promote, and measure which ones perform better than the others.
We'll talk about Pinterest paid promotions and Pinterest ads more in detail in a bit.
How to create great quality PINS
The help section of Pinterest is a good place to get some technical know-how want to build especially if you are using Pinterest for your blog. You will learn how to embed the Pinterest widget in your website and also how to make images saveable by other users.
Let's start with the shape and the size of the pen. Pinterest suggests a vertical PIN of minimum resolution of 1000 pixels by 1500 pixels. This just goes to show that these platforms are prioritising their mobile apps and the mobile users.
Vertical pins and vertical images work well on mobile devices because people are using them in the vertical portrait position. Even the videos that you post a Pinterest or supposed to be in portrait frame which is pretty much how a phone would click it in the portrait mode.
Social media is perhaps the only place where videos are required to be in portrait mode.
Anyway, portraits fill the screen of the mobile user much better and so they are encouraged for better visibility and greater interaction. High resolution images are encouraged because again mobile screens are now mostly high-definition. So high-definition pins look better.
Best design and practises for pinning on Pinterest.
Well I can't help you a lot here. But I can give you the following points.
- People watch a lot of video pins. But they do not necessarily get the clicks and saves.
- In my opinion static images get more saves and clicks because the promote the desired content elsewhere.
- Do not make a video unless you have real content. Do not make a carousal of static images. It doesn't work.
- Use high-quality stock photos if you do not have your own original ones.
- Photos with text tends to do better as they offer immediate visual information as to what the pin is about.
- If you are serious about the brand image of your business consider posting only the pins you create and not pins from other users.
- I feel Pinterest algorithm gives more prominence to accounts posting original content and not just reposting other peoples bins.
- You are likely to get more saves if you save original content.
- A lot of people advice pinning frequently and even several times a day. They also advise putting your most popular pins in a loop using automated software like tailwind. Personally I do not like this practice and I recommended that you choose quality or quantity.
- Pin only when you have something interesting to share. I do not use like using apps like tailwind to pin my content. The interface, in my opinion, doesn't make sense to me till date. And it's mostly for people who want to keep on Pinning the same content over and over again on automation in hopes of getting more visibility. I'm not saying it doesn't work. I just don't feel comfortable with the practice.
- Using a software like Photoshop is much more productive. When not using original photographs I use stock images from Shutterstock for my blog. I use Photoshop on the pictures to convert them into pins.
- You can pin from your webpage or upload a picture from your computer. According to the people over at the Pinterest customer care that doesn't affect the PIN visibility.
- Making informative PINS such as infographics gets more saves.
Using Tailwind and other automation software.
No I don't recommend them. I feel uncomfortable using tools like this because I feel it takes away the real value of the process. Even though they are supposed to be officially approved by Pinterest. But I don't see the sense in putting things on a loop so that you are more popular and can keep getting reposted over and over again.
Maybe the system does work like that and it does result in increased visibility. But for my part the last time I checked I couldn't even find this feature of a loop anywhere on the Tailwind dashboard. So maybe Pinterest agrees with me and disabled this kind of posting of content.
I could not even see any PINS that have been reposted by the app on any of my boards. So again I am I don't know how it really works. Apart from that the dashboard interface is one of the most confusing I have ever seen.
The analytics do not make sense to me and you get much better ones in your Pinterest business account dashboard. You can even schedule your Pins directly from Pinterest so that's another functionality of tailwind that has been devalued.
Open a Pinterest business account.
I forgot to mention this earlier. You need to open a business account on Pinterest. It's still free but you get a host of other features like analytics for your PINS, code for your website widgets and access to paid ads and promotions. You also get access to Rich Pins. Rich pins allow you to show a nice headline and description with your beans much like a blog title and description that you see in search engines.
This is likely to result in more attention and clicks. But obviously the real advantage lies in features like getting website integration and analytics to show you what is working and what is not. Pinterest ads still haven't been un-rolled for all the countries. They started out with being available to only the United States customers. But now they have expanded to about 20 country, at the time of writing this.
Organic reach and power of Pinterest
In part #1 of the series where I spoke about using Facebook for business I spoke about one of my main consternation with that particular platform. That being that the organic reach has dwindled to be non-existent. I remember starting my first facebook business page and getting organic visitors every day. The page had even reached the first page of Google search results, much higher than my blog, for certain keywords. That could have been the reason for getting organic traffic as well.
I used to get a lot of page likes every day. But that reduced a lot so much that you needed to do page promotions to get any sizeable traction. I guess the exception are people who by the virtue of popularity have a large following on Facebook. They still continue to get some organic traction for every time the post.
I have been fortunate in this regard as far as Pinterest is concerned. I delayed using this platform for a long time because I do not try out new things in a hurry. For example, there seems to be a new hosting service that is supposed to be changing the game a lot called GHOST. I have been told more than a few times that I should make the switch. But I haven't given it a serious thought till now and continue to persist with the conventionally managed hosting plan.
Anyway I'm degressing from the subject. I did not join Pinterest for a very long time but was glad when I finally did. I was lucky to catch things in its inception stages when Pinterest ads did not exist at all.
So it was all about growth and organic reach. Meaningful content and quality PINS were rewarded and got quite a bit of exposure. I feel it's because of the timing that I was able to build a respectable size of followers on Pinterest.
Things are slower now. Where I used to get more than hundred followers in a single day, I can consider it a good week if I get that many during the course of it. Though i have to admit search engine rankings might have something to do with that as well.
My Pinterest boards used to rank pretty high on the first page results of Google for several keywords. Not anymore.
But as it happens in all cases of when paid promotions are introduced, the companies want more people to use that and I think it is very likely that they tweak their algorithms accordingly.
Thanks to my earlier build up I still manage to get organic traction for some of my PINS. Most of them do not create much stir. They are the ones getting the bulk of the exposure.
But the way it looks right now if I want to reach earlier results of getting more than hundred followers a day I will have to go the route of Pinterest ads. And as I mentioned before in my other post since I am almost only about promoting my blog posts, paying money to do that doesn't make financial sense.
So I keep trying to boost my organic reach across search engines as well as social media platforms.
But in case of Pinterest it might be worth giving it a shot because a single promotion may trigger a more long-term visibility for your PIN. Also it's a good way to build your followers if that is not happening organically.
Well, that's pretty much it on the subject of using Pinterest of business. I welcome your comments and queries below. In fact I look forward to it. Gives us an opportunity to talk some more :-). I hope to hear from you. Wishing you all the best.