May 13, 2015

How To Use Pinterest | For Bloggers

With a habit of saving bits and bobs, you'll find these scattered throughout my home. In old boxes, tucked into books, or fixed in ink in the dozens of notebooks found in my handbag or under the bed collecting dust. If you're new to the scene and want to learn how to use Pinterest, imagine that it's a place to curate and collect; it's your central library of everything you've ever been inspired by. 

I think, as a starting place, that's quite inspiring in itself. 

While not as serendipitous as those instances where you find an old scrap and exclaim 'oh YES, I've been meaning to do this', think of it as a super hub of eureka moments; a really well organised pin-board of everything you love. 

Click to come see me on Pinterest!

 First things first, let's talk about a common misconception. The misconception being that it is a social network. Don't be fooled into thinking it's another Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. I've been shouting this at people in my office for nearly two years. Pinterest is a discovery engine. In fact, it's quite faceless. You can find your friends and family on there but, the joy is, you don't actually have to. It's about finding things that are relevant to you as an individual and other people whose inspiration complements or extends yours. So I'll say it again.

Pinterest is a discovery engine.

Go find the things you're interested in. Search for words or ideas and be guided by the tabs just below the top navigation to help filter your results. Repin what you find evocative and collate this into boards, follow people whose curation you're fascinated by, and have a scroll through the interests section where you can follow subjects collectively contributed to by pinners, rather than boards or entire profiles, such as important women in British history, or bees. 

For most of you reading this, as a blogger, you'll probably already have some knowledge of the platform but if you're a real beginner, this is a good, basic guide.

For those of you with a good, basic understanding, you're going to need a cup of tea for a few tips and tricks below.

Are you ready?

A guide to Pinterest in 2015 for bloggers, journalists and individuals

1. Write long, natural and authentic descriptions to capture your audience from a search perspective (think: what might people be searching for in relevance to your image) and be sure to add context or a personal touch. This is certainly important for your own pics but also those that you repin. They might not have been optimised to begin with but with that added flourish, people are more likely to find the image on your boards than anywhere else. 

2. Reshuffle your boards on a seasonal or trends basis. From an SEO point of view, Google crawls from the top down, so drag your most important boards to the top and give them searchable titles with core keywords, as well as adding those keywords naturally and contextually to the descriptions and also the name of the images themselves. If you need help deciding which keywords works best and when, don't forget to use the keyword planner. 

3. Add a call to action; or pin. While it's not foolproof, adding an encouraging statement to your descriptions can help impact the repin rate. A friendly 'don't forget to repin this to your super pretty kitty board' might work wonders. 

4. Tweets last a matter of hours, Facebook a few days, but Pinterest is evergreen so don't delete your content; someone might be searching for it, even if you've finally redecorated the bathroom and moved on to the kitchen.

5. Get a pin-it button - the larger or more obnoxious the better, increasing chances of content from your site being pinned. You can use those already available or use a good designer to help create your own. For help installing, forums are a great place to look for advice.

6. Use rich pins - these are available for recipes, products, places, movies or articles. They basically pull in all the extra information one might need. For example, the quantities and ingredients for a recipe or the cost, colour and size of an item. The coolest thing is that you can create city inspiration maps with rich pins for all those cafes you need to visit in Paris, or fashion-wish lists that will notify you when the products on your board go down in price or go out of stock. Find out more here.
A Cute Little Cafe in France's Capital City

Unknown Source - see tip number 8!
7. Register for a business account and use analytics. This is imperative for gaining insight into what content works best for you and for redefining and nurturing your strategy. You see which pins are the most popular and, if you validate your site, how many people are pinning images directly from your blog.
8. Don't use hashtags - I have it on authority that these don't really work and there's plenty of space to write descriptions that will be filtered and picked up in search, so get natural.

9. Always, always include a source! This is for obvious reasons. Send those people back to your site, or the site it came from. What a lovely user experience.

Tips and tricks from the Cafe Cat on using pinterest for bloggers
My lovely friend Vicki has created a board where she adds things she knows I'll love
10. Vertical pins word best, so when you're photographing your content, be sure to include a vertical snap that you can re-purpose for Pinterest. It is proven that people repin verticals more commonly and when you think about the surge of mobile use, it makes a lot of sense.

11. Invite others to pin on your boards. Strategically inviting other bloggers that you know love cats, for example, is a great way to engage and build richer, more contextual boards, as well as exposing yourself to the audiences of your partners.

12. Create a board for your blog Think of it as a window into your site. So considering things like headline overlays of the blog title is a good, clear way to capture the attention of a pinner.

Above all, BE GENEROUS. The more you comment, engage, pin and share, the more likely you are to see a return on your investment. IF YOU PIN IT, THEY WILL COME. Just make sure you follow my handy guide and beyond.

For new features, advice and interesting facts, be sure to sign up to the Pinterest newsletter and check out the business case studies for innovative ways to revamp your blogging strategy.

Any questions or suggestions? Just ask in the comments box below.

Thanks for reading.

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