There are complaints that occasionally make it to my ears… and computer monitor… about how marketers and businesses have “taken over” Pinterest.
It’s supposed to be fun, people argue. It’s supposed to be cool stuff to look at and not another advertising opportunity.
They have a point.
Some companies and marketers jump on the trend du jour to promote the heck out of themselves with little regard for the unspoken rules of engagement, namely, “Don’t show up where we’re having fun and throw your selly-sell-mcsell stuff around.”
But to capitalize on this popular and visual social network, you don’t have to be the party pooper or that dorky guy with the plaid tie and brochure. You can actually have fun while you build a fan base, win leads and make sales.
In fact, there’s a case to be made that if you have fun first, then sales will follow.
So hop on the party train and learn some simple tactics you can use to mix, mingle and make a little money, too.
1. Promote Less
Nobody likes to be advertised to. Promoting your products and services should come as a natural extension of your social sharing, not as the dominant force behind it.
In other words, have some fun. Pin photos that you enjoy in addition to all those promotional photos of products, services and blog posts. Better yet, pin photos that you think your customers and prospects would enjoy.
A couple of cute cats haven’t put anyone out of business yet.
Try some “behind the scenes” photos, too. Your office, the donuts someone brought for lunch, the bicycle event you participated in. People are people no matter the network, and they want to connect with you. There’s no better way to put a human face on your business that to literally put your face out there.
2. Add Prices
When it’s time to promote, include prices on your products.
Showing a price has been demonstrated to increase clickthrough rate. It’s a nice identifier to indicate when you’re promoting something vs. when you’re simply sharing. People appreciate honest engagement.
As a bonus, if you put the price (with a dollar sign) in the description field, Pinterest will overlay a price banner right on the corner of your photo. It’s a clean, elegant look that doesn’t require any extra effort from you.
3. Arrange Your Boards
Click the “edit profile” button right beneath your profile then drag and drop your boards into whatever position you want.
This can be useful if you want to showcase certain boards at the top of your page where they’ll be more obvious, order boards according to type, season, color or some other similarity, or just group them thematically.
4. Put A “Pin It” Button On Your Site Or Blog
Let other people do some of the work for you! Just as you let people Like, Tweet or Plus your page or post, let them Pin it, too.
If you’ve got an eCommerce site, put a pin button on every single product page right next to each product photo.
If your photos aren’t specifically related to your products, keep in mind that they can become irrelevant out of context. For instance, we’ve been know to use a couple of cute cat photos on this blog. Lots of people like to pin those, but it’s not necessarily going to drive any qualified traffic if I’m looking for people who want their websites built.
The good news is that that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Our cute cat photos don’t always bring interested people, but sometimes they do. And it’s incentive to challenge yourself to find the most relevant photos you can.
5. Follow And Comment On Other People’s Pins
Remember the “social” part? Give a little to get a little. If you’re sharing, commenting and pinning other people’s images they may just do the same for you. You’ll also begin to build relationships, expand your reach and establish a presence.
Whenever you comment on or repin someone else’s pin, they’ll get a notification and may be inspired to check you out and share your pins, too. Likewise, when you receive notifications that people are commenting or repinning, take a moment to visit, thank or return the favor.
You can search for keywords on pins by using the search box right on Pinterest. Use that keyword search to find related pins that you can repin to your boards. Not only are you showing some love but you’re doing yourself a favor and finding content in a relatively simple, stress-free way.
While you’re at it, follow any people or boards that you like or find particularly useful. They can give you ideas for your own boards and provide you with a continuous stream of new content for repinning.
6. Space Your Pins
You may have ten great photos to pin but don’t do it all at once. Space them out over time so you don’t inadvertently spam anyone.
Plus, people are online at all different times of the day. By spacing pins you’ll increase the likelihood of getting noticed by more people.
Try a tool like Pingraphy to schedule your pins ahead of time. It’s free and has a quick pin button that you can add to your browser so that whenever you’re on a web page that you want to pin, you simply click the Pingraphy link and it will walk you through the scheduling process. You can schedule pins for specific dates and times, or set them to post at intervals.
7. Add Affiliate Links
If you’re reviewing products or providing resources that you’re an affiliate for, you can include your affiliate link – full disclosure, please – to generate some extra cash once you’ve built up a reputation for being the awesome, helpful, reliable person you are.
Be careful again not to spam or to constantly post affiliate links. And never trick people into thinking your link is “just a link”.
8. Know The Difference Between ‘Upload’ And ‘Add’
When you “add” a pin, the referring URL automatically goes with it. That means that when you click on the photo, you go to the web page where the photo lives. That may be your website, blog post or some other place where you found the photo.
When you “upload” a pin, it’s just a photo. When you click it you get… a photo. That means no referral traffic back to your website.
But what’s not so obvious is that after you upload a pin, you can then edit it to include a link. So if you’re uploading a photo and you want referral traffic back to your site, then be sure to upload, then edit and add the url.
9. Make It A Little More Interesting
There’s a neat tool called Pinwords that will let you upload an image and then overlay text onto it with a super simple no-frills interface. You can then pin the image you created to one of your boards.
If you’re not inclined to spend hours with Photoshop and you want to do something a little different, try this tool for quickly turning an ordinary photo into a neat conversation piece.
It can also help you spice up those generic blog photos and add some context. Did you see the photo at the top of this page? Yup, done at Pinwords.
As an aside, you can create then pin your photos immediately, but to use them on a blog or somewhere else, right click and save the image to your desktop so you can use it later.
10. Pin And Add Descriptions In One Click
If you add the Pinterest browser extension to Chrome or Firefox, you can pin a photo and capture a description at the same time.
Simply go to the page you want to pin from, swipe the text on the page that you want to use for the description and click the pin button on your browser. That will grab the image and plunk the highlighted text right into the description field. That can be a real time-saver.
11. Consider Your Covers
If you click on a board you can edit the cover and select any photo on that board to represent it. That’s the first photo that people will see when they view your boards, so make sure it’s a good one.
Select a photo that is the most visually compelling and representative of your board. If it’s indecipherable, blurry or uninteresting it won’t inspire people to click through to the rest.
The size of the board cover is 222 x 150 pixels so scale your cover photo accordingly so that it doesn’t get oddly cropped.
12. Think Conceptually
When you use Pinterest you have to be a little more left-brained. Rather than simply thinking of your products in terms of “blankets” and “pillows” – logical and appropriate groupings for an eCommerce site – think about how you can make those things more visually coherent.
A board of pillows may be neat. But how about “blue”? Combine your blankets, pillows, curtains and dinnerware onto one board with the same color theme.
Think seasonal, think in terms of shape, color and texture. Now with Pinterest’s “secret boards” you can experiment privately with how images look together before you post them to the world.
Are you having fun yet? Pinterest can be a great way to drive traffic to your website and help generate sales and it can also be a place where you can indulge your creative side.
I’ve given you a few ways to help you pin faster, easier and more effectively. Add a few to your arsenal and you’ll pick up steam quickly!
Do you have any other ideas, tools or tips to share? Let me know in the comments!