Maybe other bloggers are better at this, but I have a hard time rocking all of the social media platforms out there. Either I’m doing great at Instagram but awful at Twitter, or am growing my Facebook page while leaving my Pinterest account to the weeds.
After re-branding my blog last May, I decided as I approached 2015 that I was finally going to make it priority #1. I decided to pick ONE platform where I could experiment with strategy for 30 days to see if I could both grow my community there and increase traffic on my blog.
I started with a peripheral look at Google Analytics. Where was my traffic coming from in the first place? I was surprised to discover that from Nov 30-Dec 30, more than 38% of my overall traffic came from Pinterest alone, and most of that to just four posts. If just four posts were garnering that much traffic from Pinterest, what if I could get more eyes on more posts? My Pinterest following had grown stagnant over the years, but what if I boosted that? What would that do to my traffic?
I read a lot of posts from a lot of people much smarter than I am in order to determine a Pinterest strategy. I confess, there are some holes in my scientific approach here. While I was particularly focused on Pinterest, I did begin writing more consistent content, even ran a couple of giveaways. I posted more on Instagram and Twitter. Those and other factors could have affected the results of my little experiment.
And yet, when I went back to Google Analytics to look at Dec 30-Jan 30 [the dates of my experiment], I was now getting more than 50% of my overall traffic from Pinterest (vs the previous 38%), and I had 86 more followers on Pinterest. And according to a particular stat chart I was watching, my traffic had grown overall by 60%. Again, I understand the spike in traffic could be owing to several factors, but I was particularly diligent with Pinterest, and believe there is a direct correlation there.
So what did I do with Pinterest during my 30-day experiment? I’ll break it down.
I cleaned up my Pinterest boards and profile photo
Pinterest is such a visual platform, it only makes sense that your own profile page should be aesthetically pleasing. On top of that, Pinterest Search is an often-overlooked tool that can be leveraged by a more thoughtful approach to building and editing boards.
First, I changed my profile picture from a sort of sassy half-face shot to a full shot of me, and added my logo for good measure. Then I chose a strong cover photo for each board, and moved the boards around so my more popular ones were up top. I changed board names to more clear, descriptive titles so they would be easier to find in Search, and have been working on creating better board and pin descriptions for the same reason.
I started following more people
It’s the principle of reciprocity in social media – people you follow tend to follow you back.
I decided to follow 10 new people a day, and started by using the Find Friends feature on the left side of my Pinterest home page. I also started going into the profiles of pinners I really liked, and looked into who they were following. You can find some great, like-pinning people that way.
I repinned old pins leading to my site
Unless your pin somehow gets picked up and kept alive by repins, the lifespan of a pin can be pretty short – it gets put to a board and can whither and die there. And because new followers tend to just watch the fresh feed of pins from you, they’re not seeing some of the great stuff in your archives.
I started going through my old pins to see if I could cross-post to other boards, and in many cases, I could. I also created a board specifically for posts from my blog, and have started repinning old pins to that board. In some cases, it seemed logical to create a new more specific board from a broader board, and that allowed me a new space to repin old pins, too. And if there’s no new board to repin to, and the old pin doesn’t have any repins on it anyway, you might consider deleting the old pin altogether, then pinning again to that same board from your site.
I joined group boards
Speaking of new places to repin old pins…group boards are a great place to get fresh eyes on old content – or even new content, for that matter!
My book review category has a lot of existing content with built-in visuals (book covers are fantastic since they’re already made and they do pretty well on Pinterest), so I decided to start by joining a few relevant group boards to test the waters. The response has been fantastic! My followers, repins, and traffic from those boards are steady and impressive.
How do you find a group board to join? I used PinGroupie, which is fairly straightforward (as long as you’re willing to scroll through all the ads). Pin the World is a Pinterest board itself, serving as a directory of group boards you can join. It’s a little overwhelming to me, but might be worth the time; check specific boards for directions on how to join. There is also a fairly large directory of group boards at PinJunkie.
Again, I think the trick is choose a category where you have a lot of content to share, and good visuals to pin, then request to join a relevant board and abide by the rules established there.
I started scheduling pins
When I’m pinning in real-time, I tend to lose focus or else get hyper-focused, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for strategy. And in real-time, I never seem to pin at what might be seen as “peak” hours.
Scheduling pins gives me a chance to more aggressively strategize roughly 25 pins during a short window of time, covering a wide spectrum of topics and interests. As far as timing goes, my followers seem to be more active in the evening, so I picked 8-9pm (PST) for scheduling. I’m still playing around with that time frame, and I suggest you use trial and error to see what works best for you.
I signed up for BoardBooster (referral link), a beta service that has a lot of parameters you can tweak for scheduling pins. They have more bells and whistles I haven’t even tried yet, like a “Pin Doctor” for checking broken links on pins and Pin Sourcing and Repin Campaigns. What I like best about BoardBooster is it’s simple to set up, is used right from within Pinterest itself, and they have great reports for tracking action on each pin. Plus, it’s free to try for the first 100 pins.
Still in beta, I have found the folks at BoardBooster to be very responsive to questions and even suggestions, and at $5 for every 500 pins (after the free first 100), they are the cheapest I’ve seen for a pin scheduling service.
I converted to a business account
I’m not sure why it took me so long to do this, but since I do see my blog as a business, it only made sense to convert my personal profile to a business account. There are so many more tools now at my disposal, the most valuable of which is analytics.
Need to do: optimize my old posts for Pinterest
Of all the ideas for leveraging Pinterest, this seems the most time-consuming to me, and probably the reason I haven’t attacked it yet. BUT, I totally understand the value in going through my archives and optimizing my old posts for Pinterest. I have years’ worth of content, and some of it is really great. Add an image, pin it to Pinterest, and it could breath whole new life into my site. This is next on my list to tackle!
To review: in 30 days, I gained 86 new followers on Pinterest, increased blog traffic from Pinterest from 38% to more than 50%, and increased my overall blog traffic by 60% (through several measures, but mostly – I believe – by a strategic use of Pinterest).
I’m not a big marketing firm writing yet another brilliant social media how-to post, or a Pinterest expert sharing the tricks of the trade. I’m just a little ol’ blogger who was looking for a way to revitalize my site. I have been happy and impressed with the way some strategic, regular effort on Pinterest has benefited my blog, and just wanted to share.
If you have even better ideas for leveraging Pinterest, I’d love you to leave a comment! If you have any questions about anything I’ve mentioned here, I will try my best to give a helpful answer. And if you’d like to check out a few of the resources I used in determining a strategy that worked for me, start here:
5 Ways To Get Your Pins Noticed on Pinterest – Social Media Examiner
How To Grow Your Pinterest Followers – Ahalogy (Or any of their stuff, really. I think they’re fabulous, even though I think my request for an invite went straight to the virtual trash can.)
Anything at Oh So Pinteresting