Pinterest is exploding!
And with it, so too are the opportunities for authors to expand their reach and increase their book promotion and brand awareness.
Now the third largest social network, Pinterest acts as a virtual pin board that helps you organize and share things you find on the web. As you surf, you can pin images from other sites onto Pinterest where others can re-pin those same images.
People head to Pinterest to find solutions, get ideas and to be inspired. Plus pinners are buyers.
So how do we encourage them to be book buyers–your book buyers?
Well, like with all social media, it’s important to avoid the incessant self-promotion. Pinterest is a quieter platform where you express yourself primarily through images. No witty banter required.
Plus, over 80% of pins are re-pins, which means if you are in that 20% of pinners that are sharing original content, you can add real value. If you provide remarkable content, your fellow pinners will happily circulate it for you.
What’s important on Pinterest is to market indirectly by building trust, loyalty and engagement. You want to give people a reason to click through to your site for more.
“Pinterest drives more referral traffic to websites than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined.”
Your goal should be to teach, entertain and inspire your audience on Pinterest. In return, Pinterest will grant you the ability to increase awareness of your author brand, drive more relevant traffic to your website and increase your book sales.
Ready to learn how?
1. Your Pinterest Profile
- Start by joining or converting to a business account, and then set up your Pinterest profile. (Pinterest has different terms of service for personal and business account holders, and since you are using Pinterest to build your author brand, it’s best to use the business account).
- Use your own name and a professional photo that you use across all platforms. The more consistent you are in your branding, the easier it is for your audience to recognize and connect with you. (You can choose to use the name of your business or company if, for example, you are a freelance writer or you write books as an extension of your business, but people are less likely to interact and connect with a business than a person.)
- Don’t use the title of your book, some quirky nickname or a photo of your dog (no matter how cute). Your goal on Pinterest is to allow your readers a glimpse into the life behind the writer; to build loyalty and trust. Anything that hides or obscures your identity, impedes that.
- Maximize your ‘About’ section real estate by writing a compelling description, and add a ‘#’ (hashtag) in front of your keywords. Link to your Facebook and Twitter accounts (currently you can only link to your personal Facebook account, not a page).
- Add your author website URL (it’s important to verify your website on Pinterest).
- Check your settings (go to top right of your screen, click on your photo/name and then click settings) and make sure your ‘Search Privacy’ setting is marked as ‘no’ (i.e., allow search engines to display your Pinterest profile in search results). Google indexes Pinterest content, and it’s much easier to get your Pinterest profile ranked in Google than your blog.
2. Add the “Pin It” Browser Extension or Bookmarklet to Your Browser’s Toolbar
- To make the pinning of great content easy as you surf the web, go to the Pinterest Goodies page and follow the instructions to add a Pin It button to your browsers toolbar.
- When you find a blog post, an image or even a video that you would like to pin, just click on this Pin It button. A link back to the original source will be added to your pin automatically! Easy peasy!
3. Download the Pinterest Mobile App
- Most of us can’t sit in front of the computer all day, so browse, pin and re-pin while you’re on the go with the Pinterest Mobile app for your phone or tablet.
- Many Pinterest users are using mobile devices to pin your content, so it’s important to experience things from the same perspective as your audience; and then make any necessary adjustments to your content or pinnable images for the benefit of your readers.
4. Create Your Boards
- Spend a bit of time defining your target audience. Knowing the wants, needs and interests of the people you are trying to engage with on Pinterest will help you map out the boards that will be most enticing. What is your audience searching for? What are they pinning on their own boards?
- Start with 8-10 boards with at least 5 pins each. Use relevant keywords and craft short, catchy board titles to aid in discoverability and to help categorize your board topics. Be creative and clear with your board names.
- Add a description to your board: clarify what pins will be found there, or what inspired you to create it.
- Most of your boards should include a mix of content from both you and others, but a board for your author website posts (with an email opt-in graphic that links to an email sign-up page on your site), a board for your YouTube channel or a board for testimonials and rave reviews are also important to include.
5. Add the Pin It Button to Your Website
- By adding the Pin It button to your website, you can make it easy for your website visitors to share your content with their Pinterest followers. You can do this via social sharing plugins like ShareThis (I use DiggDigg, which you can see to the left), or by looking under Pinterest Widgets on the Pinterest Goodies page.
- Check out this quick tutorial from Jeni at The Blog Maven for a great way to use your sidebar to get more pin-worthy posts shared on Pinterest.
6. Use Descriptive “Alt text”
- Make it easy for people pinning your content by ensuring your images’ alt text (the text alternative to a web image) is relevant, descriptive and includes keywords (up to 140 characters).
- You can even add your website, so that your URL is also in the pin description.
7. Add the “Follow” Icon to Your Website
- Grow your Pinterest audience by allowing people to follow your Pinterest account from your website. All that’s required is for you to head to the Pinterest Widget Builder to create your own Pinterest Follow button.
- Go ahead and try mine out:
8. Add a Pinterest Tab to Your Facebook Page
- There are a few ways to accomplish this, but a free and simple way to get the job done is to use Woobox.com. Want a tutorial? Here you go: How to Create Custom Facebook Page Tabs.
How and What to Pin
9. Pin Selectively, But Consistently and Frequently
- Be choosy about the pins you add to your boards. Curate only the best of the best in a category, so that when visitors check out your boards they will equate the quality and usefulness of your boards with your expertise on the topic. Providing extraordinary content is as important on Pinterest as any public work that represents you.
- Build a relationship with your audience through the beautiful and compelling images you choose to share, and add to your ‘collection’ regularly. The more active you are at pinning or re-pinning noteworthy content, the more likely you are to get noticed in other pinners’ feeds.
- Another important tip to remember while pinning is this: keep it organized. With approximately 80% of Pinterest users being women, a jumbled mix of boards and pins with no clear organization would not entice the average pinner to engage. (Am I right, ladies? )
- When organizing your boards, if you wish to change the main cover image to better reflect the board content (or to a more interesting photo) just hover your curser over the main image to choose a new cover.
10. Include a Description
- A good description is important because it tends to follow the pin as it gets re-pinned and it gives you another opportunity to engage a user and draw them back to your site.
- Take a few seconds to ensure the description is accurate, add the title of the post if appropriate, make sure keywords are hash tagged, and if it’s your work, add your author website URL.
11. Pin Timing
- Be careful not to ‘pin dump’, and overwhelm your followers’ feed with a bunch of your pins all at once. Spread your activity out over the week by using your secret boards.
- You can create a secret board on your Pinterest account (by scrolling to the bottom of your profile), which you can use to ‘hold’ your pins–when on a pinning binge. Then when you’re ready, you can re-pin those pins to your public boards at a more even pace, and ideally during optimal times.
- The best time to be actively pinning and re-pinning content depends on who you are trying to reach. You can usually determine your target audiences’ pinning periods over time, but generally Pinterest users are most active between 2pm -4pm and after 8pm weekdays, and quite active on the weekends, especially Sunday morning.
12. Reveal Your Brand Personality
- Inspire your reader. Create a visual experience of your philosophy and your author brand. Reveal who you are as a writer and as a person. Express yourself by pinning content that influences you, inspires you and expresses your values, goals and even your quirks.
- Give your reader the opportunity to see different sides of you: as an author, a parent, a spouse, or simply as a person.
- What is your mission or the message you’d like your readers to hear? What commonalities do you share with your readers? What connects you? Pinterest provides the medium for you to visually share your passions, insecurities, expectations, and dreams.
- Do you have a philanthropic aspect to your work, a charity you support? Are you an animal lover? Let your audience know.
13. More Pin Worthy Ideas
- Resources: links to your favourite authors, sites where readers can go for more information on your genre or topic, free ebook websites, book blogger/reviewer sites, writing tips/hacks, research and other facts, freelance resources and literary news.
- Educational: satisfy those who are eager to learn with infographics, tutorials, checklists, lessons, FAQ’s and how-to’s.
- Behind-the-scenes and sneak peaks: pin genre specific tidbits, upcoming book launches (including yours), and insight into your writing process. Create boards for your book’s characters, the location/setting of your novel, and other concepts that you can pull from your book that might relate to your reader’s interests. Have a video gallery board of top book trailers, a ‘books worth reading’ board or even a collection of your favourite writing spaces.
- Lifestyle: include pins that resonate with your readers and speak to what they value. Things like their children, family and home; hobbies, interests, and milestones.
- Inspiration and humour: pin quotes, books, projects and photos that evoke strong emotion. A board full of outrageously funny photos and angry cat meme’s can do wonders for fan engagement.
- Business: Grow your email list by creating a graphic with an incentive (updates/free ebook/manifesto) and link to your sign up page. Add pins on your book reviews, testimonials, interviews, podcasts, book readings, interviews and speaking engagements.
- Balance: Remember, your Pinterest activity should reflect a combination of who you are as an author as well as what your audience finds compelling. Gentle self-promotion is fine, but make sure you are giving much more than you are asking.
14. Great Site Content, But No Pinnable Image?
- Have you found the most amazing article that you MUST pin, but there is either no image to pin, or the images that are available are just sooo not worthy? No problem! Try this quick (and free) way to grab an image to pin when you’re options are slim.
Use Pinterest for Market Research
15. Research Your Market and the ‘Competition’
- Pinterest is a gold mine for market research! If you are active on Pinterest, take a look at who is already following you by clicking on the ‘Followers’ tab. What are the demographics (age, sex, location) of your current followers? What boards and brands are they following? What are they interested in and what do they want to learn about?
- If you are brand new to Pinterest, check out the followers of other authors in your genre and ask yourself the same questions.
- Go to the top left corner on your account page and use the Pinterest search function to do a keyword or topic search. You can further refine your search by choosing pins, boards or pinners.
- To find out what content of yours people have already been pinning, go to http://pinterest/source/YourWebsiteURL. What observations can you make about what you find there? Are people pinning your content? And if so, what are they pinning the most? Find out what’s working and do more of it.
- Want extra market research brownie points? Make a list of authors, freelancers, or any ‘competitors’ that share a similar target audience to your own, and add their website URL instead of your own. What are their top pins? How can you use that information to tweak your images, graphics and content to better serve your readers?
16. Go Even Deeper
- How are people categorizing your images (what boards are they pinning them to)? What else are they pinning within that category (other authors, websites, resources, concepts, brands)? Do you see opportunities for tie-ins or cross-promotion?
- How are they describing your pins? What is the feeling or sentiment around your pins? Is it synonymous with your author brand, or are people getting a different (or the wrong) impression?
- If they’ve linked to their other social platforms, what do they tweet about and share on Facebook? Do you feel like a stalker, yet?
- The better you know your audience, the easier it is to find ways and reasons to engage, as well as provide what they are searching for.
17. Focus Group
- Get feedback from your Pinterest followers on draft book cover concepts, illustrations, new book ideas, freelance opportunities, characters for your work in progress, or interest levels in upcoming projects.
Preparing and Pinning Your Own Content
18. Create powerful, share-worthy Pins
- Now that you’ve
stalkedresearched your Pinterest audience and have a much better understanding of their interests, you can start crafting content, graphics and images that will speak to their needs.
- Use Pinterest to generate useful or entertaining blog post ideas, gain inspiration for work that resonates with your readers, develop new characters and concepts based–in part–on reader input, and design content that ‘sells’.
- Pin virality tends to be linked to either a pin’s usefulness (tutorials, demonstrations, checklists, timelines, cheat sheets, reader guides) or its ability to evoke emotion (beauty, babies, animals, humour). Add this knowledge to what you’ve discovered about your audience to create super share-worthy pins.
19. Image Trends
- Go tall rather than wide (approx. 530 x 800+). Tall images catch more attention. This explains the popularity of infographics on Pinterest: you can squeeze in a lot of information on one image and even increase your authority on a topic. Try these tools for creating your own infographic: Piktochart, Infogr.am or Visual.ly.
- Instructographics are images that provide a how-to or step-by-step instruction via images, and are also very popular.
- You can add text to images or a plain background. I often do this for my blog post images or for inspirational quotes that I share on my social media platforms.
- Pin images from YouTube using the Pin It bookmarklet you added to your browser in #2.
20. Add Watermark to Images
- There are two reasons to add a watermark to the images and graphics you produce. One, is to help with branding. The more times people see your name (particularly when it’s associated with high quality work) the better.
- The second reason to add your name or author website URL to your images is in case your link is lost at some point during re-pinning, which does sometimes happen. If your name , your website URL or your logo is placed on the image, pinners still have the opportunity to find you, even with a lost link.
21. Photo Editing Tools
- Luckily, there are some fantastic, free editing tools available to authors, which makes creating pinnable images a simple process.
- Try PicMonkey for free, online photo editing and collages, and MorgueFile for fantastic royalty free, attribution free images that you can alter for blog posts, text-over-image graphics to share on social media, and so on.
- The Phonto App allows you to add text over images on your phone, plus there is a myriad of different apps to add filters and other effects to your images (I’ve got Instagram, Snapseed and BeFunky on my iPhone).
- My friend, Ana Hoffman from Traffic Generation Cafe, recently turned me on to Share As Image–which lets you highlight text on the web and turn it into an image. How cool is that?
- Check #19 for tools to help you craft quality infographics.
22. Add a Call to Action
- Grab attention with your compelling images, but don’t forget to tell people what you want them to do next with a call to action. Include your URL within the pin description and tell your audience to head to your site for more.
- Another tip is to include a button within your pinnable image, asking people to ‘click here’, ‘re-pin’, or ‘click for more’. Remember, though, that Pinterest users won’t share pins with overt advertising like they will a beautiful photograph. Play around with your images to see what gives you the best results.
23. Be An Excellent Content Curator
- Re-pin other people’s content.
- Share great pins across other social media platforms.
- Pin and organize your boards to share the best, most useful info on a topic or genre.
24. Build Credibility and Authority
- Earn a reputation for being the go to person for a topic or genre by building boards that provide tremendous value, inspire action or evoke an emotional response.
- You can also gain attention by adding meaningful comments and liking other people’s pins.
25. Follow Individual Boards, or All Boards
- More followers equals more exposure, so follow pinners and boards that are within your target audience, as well as other authors, book bloggers/reviewers, freelance writers, agents, publishers, and even some Pinterest power users. They may choose to follow you back.
- Team up with fans, fellow authors, bloggers and others to re-pin each other’s most pin-worthy and relevant pins.
26. Create and Participate in Group Boards
- Group boards offer an excellent way to increase your exposure and reach, while adding value to your followers. Here is a fantastic post on JeffBullas.com that shows how to maximize the benefits of group boards on Pinterest.
27. @ Mention Power Pinners
- Find the top Pinterest users with large followings in your topic area or genre, as well as a list of some ‘power pinners’ who share some similar interests/boards with you.
- Use the @tag or mention along with the user’s name to catch their attention and refer a pin to that user. Be selective and genuine with your suggestions, and you may find that they will share the pin with their followers. (Note: use the user name, not account name. To find the user name, look at the search bar of your browser while you are on the user’s Pinterest account).
Increase Engagement and Excitement
- Get some buzz and interest by planning and holding a contest on Pinterest. You can get oodles of ideas and inspiration by scrolling through other contests being held on Pinterest.
- There are lots of examples of “pin it to win it” or sweepstakes style contests on Pinterest. Your requirements for participation might include following you on Pinterest, including your contest related hash tag in the description, pinning (of course) and a visit to your website to sign up. Spend some time learning to develop a great Pinterest contest.
- Important note: you are responsible to follow Pinterest’s contest guidelines as well as comply with all legal requirements or laws in your area. For a successful contest, carefully read Pinterest’s promotion and marketing section in their Brand Guidelines.
29. Discounts, Promos and Giveaways
- Do a search in Pinterest for ‘book giveaways’ to get some ideas on how other authors and book bloggers are using this marketing tool on Pinterest.
30. Announce Your Launch
- Build anticipation and buzz about your book launch by ‘leaking’ information out to your followers with teasers, sneak peaks, and other news about your upcoming book launch.
- Use Pinterest to help you find and connect with other authors or related businesses who might like to do a joint launch or cross promote your new book.
31. Offer a Prize That’s Valuable
- The value of your prize can really make a difference to the impact of your contests, so take a look at your budget and see what you can afford to offer as a reward to the participants. Just make sure that the perceived value of the prize exceeds the ‘work’ required to win it, and that it’s actually something your target audience will clamour to get.
32. Add a Price to Your Book’s Pin
- It’s super easy to add a price to a pinnable image of your book. When pinning your image, add your description with the link to your sales page (Amazon, B&N, Kobo or your site) within the description box and then add a price, beginning with a dollar sign. You will see the price appear in the upper left corner of your image. An added bonus? Your book will now also show up in Pinterest’s gift section!
Update: According to Pinterest, “In order to make sure you’re looking at the most up-to-date price, we now only add prices to websites that have pins with more information… We call pins with extra details rich pins”.
What this means is that you can no longer easily add the price banner to your pins, but instead you will have to incorporate these rich pins into your website. And that may require a bit more tech savvy. Here are some resources to help:
Measure Your Results
33. Pinterest Analytics
- To get an idea at a glance of who is pinning your content and what is proving to be your most popular content, start using the Pinterest Analytics tool. Check out this video for a quick tutorial: Pinterest Analytics Walkthrough.
34. Additional Tools
- If you’re super keen, Tailwind is a marketing and analytics tool you may want to check out to help monitor your Pinterest activity.
How About You?
Are you smashing it on Pinterest? Have you seen your referral traffic from Pinterest start to rise, or have you just thought of Pinterest as more of a ‘personal use’ platform and enjoyed several hours, knee-deep in kid’s party planning and DIY projects?
If you’ve got some more Pinterest insights, please share them in the comments below. If you’re just starting out, let me know which of these marketing strategies you’re going to implement today.
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Original photo by mconnors