No doubt about it, Pinterest is hot in 2012 and now that registrations are no longer needed to sign up and they have launched a slew of new apps, usage of the virtual pinboard social network is sure to keep growing.
There is a big misconception out there that Pinterest is only useful to ecommerce sites. This couldn't be further from the truth. Like any other widely-used social network, just about anyone can find success with Pinterest if used creatively.
I write for five different blogs that cover a number of topics and I use my Pinterest account to publicize almost all of my posts. In just six months, Pinterest has leapfrogged sites like Twitter and StumbleUpon to become the number four referred to both of my sites behind Google search, Facebook and Google+ (yes there is value in Google+ if used correctly, but that is a topic for a different day).
While I strongly suggest you familiarize yourself with any social network before you rely on it for site traffic, one of the great things about Pinterest is that success on the network is not dependent on being a superuser.
Consider this- I have roughly 30,000 Twitter followers and tweet every blog post twice after its published. Meanwhile, I only have 280 Pinterest followers and pin each post only once. As I mentioned earlier, its close, but I regularly see more traffic referred to my sites from Pinterest than Twitter. This should illustrate just how powerful Pinterest can be for content discovery and traffic generation- regardless of the size of your following.
OK, so we've established that there is value in Pinterest for non-ecommerce sites, so let's now discuss how you can take advantage of this.
Here are a few best practices that I have identified from my time on Pinterest:
- Start with an eye-catching, topic related image. Pinterest is all about the visual. Make sure every blog post you publish has an eye-catching image. There are a number of places you can get free stock imagery for attribution such as Flickr and Zemanta.
- Create pin boards that relate to your content. It is important to segment your content into boards. Setup boards that you can pin your content to in the future. Don't go crazy with the board creation since you will want to build followings for each eventually. A good rule of thumb is to use your main blog categories as a guide for board creation. This is one area that I admit I didn't do well at the beginning and I have undoubtedly missed out on visitors from not being more thoughtful in my original board creation.
- Repin topical content from other users to the boards you pin your content to. You'll find that many Pinterest users prefer to follow one or many of your boards, rather than follow you outright.
- Find other users that pin similar content and invite them to pin to your board. I knew this feature existed, but I never considered the potential for it until I began to get invites. This really is a great way to build a mini-community around your board. I have now participated in a few of these types of boards and it really works.
- When pinning a post, be sure to make the caption descriptive, but a bit of a tease. You will see quickly that many Pinterest users like and repin images without ever clicking through. This is unavoidable, but the more enticing you make the caption, the better your chances are of generating traffic.
- Make sure your blog offers visitors the ability to pin your posts. There are a number of handy plugins for each of the major blogging platforms that make this easy to do. You can also pickup a code snippets from Pinterest to create your own here.
- Give your readers the ability to follow you on Pinterest directly from your blog. You can do this easily bad adding some quick code that you can get here.
- Blog about Pinterest. OK, you don't have to go to the lengths of creating a blog about Pinterest, but set aside a post a month and find an angle that ties Pinterest into your overall blog topic. Users of new social networks like to read about and share news about that network.
- Give it time! It takes time to find the right Pinterest marketing strategy for your blog. It took me a few months to really start seeing solid traffic from my pins. Much like blogging, don't give up. It will pay off with creativity and persistence.