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If you think Pinterest is only for DIY-ers and the wedding industry, then you’re missing out. Pinterest is the underdog that is constantly proving itself as a valuable marketing tool for all kinds of businesses.
Not only is it good for businesses with limited marketing budgets, it has much more of a “set it and forget it” mentality than other social channels that need constant babysitting and attention in order to maximize their potential. With little effort, you can use Pinterest to highlight your company’s work, link back to your blog or website, and promote not only your own content, but other valuable curated content as well. And remember, Pinterest pins also show up in Google searches now.
Rich: Peg Fitzpatrick is a social media strategist and popular blogger, writing on her own website and across the web. Her blog was recognized as one of the top social media blog posts by none other than The Social Media Examiner.
She has spearheaded successful social media campaigns for Mercedes, Motorola, Audi, Google and Virgin, as well as having been a brand ambassador for Kempton Hotels. She’s also currently working for Adobe Spark.
In her spare time she co-authored a best-selling book called The Art of Social Media, with Guy Kawasaki. Peg, welcome to the show.
Peg: Hey, thanks for having me Rich.
Rich: Hey, I’m sorry I butchered your intro right there. I think I probably could have practiced a few more times.
Peg: That’s ok. It’s really long, I’ve done so many interesting things.
Rich: You have, you’ve had an interesting life. And I didn’t even include the fact that just a few weeks ago you were here in Maine presenting at my newest conference, Streamline Marketing Workshops, which is basically a marketing conference for wedding professionals.
Peg: Which I loved. Portland I amazing, you must have me back again for something else.
Rich: Absolutely we will. And you did great and we got great feedback on it and everybody loved you. I’m not surprised by that at all. So you and I were chatting, I wanted to have you – because somehow I have yet to have you on the Agents of Change podcast – so I’m glad that we’re fixing that problem today. We chatted a little bit about this earlier, trying to come up with the right spin or the right angle, I said that I’m such an idiot when it comes to Pinterest, so let’s just have a Pinterest intervention. A Pintervention.
Peg: A Pintervention.
Rich: So this is my problem – or this is my opportunity – depending on how good I’m feeling about myself today. I have a few different brands, so I have flyte new media, which is my day job and is a digital marketing agency doing websites and digital marketing for companies (both B2B and B2C), and then I’ve got Agents of Change which is this annual conference and of course a podcast that I talk about. And then of course there’s my own brand, although I don’t know what The Rich Brooks is all about. And then of course you could through in Streamline which you presented at.
So I guess my first question is, should I have a Pinterest account for each of these, or should I just be running everything under an umbrella like The Rich Brooks?
Peg: I knew that was going to be your first question based on that, but it’s a great one because that is a question people have. Honestly, social media is amazing but most people have to do more than one thing, most of the people we know do more than one thing to either be successful or to make money. That’s how it goes in social media. Very few people just have one thing that they do that’s everything.
So I would recommend that you do everything under your name – under “The Rich Brooks” – because your name is common. And the great thing about Pinterest is it’s very organized so you can have it under your name and you can have Pinterest Boards for your other content. So you can have a Pinterest Board for Streamline Marketing, you can have a Pinterest Board for flyte new media. So you can have a separate board or each one.
If you have Pinterest for each one of those, it’s going to be very difficult to manage them all. It’s the same with Twitter. I have people ask if they should have a separate account for this and that, and it’s like how many accounts can you manage. Can you manage 4 Twitter accounts, do you want to manage 4 Twitter accounts? Sometimes you need to have separate accounts. If it’s just a company Twitter account that makes sense because you can’t separate it in any way, everything you share is that one account.
But with Pinterest you can have 1 account and then you can have boards that are separated for each topic. And then for each board you can have a category for that board so it’s sorted even further.
Rich: Now does it make a difference now that both flyte new media and Agents of Change have grown that I’ve got people who are also working for those brands, so I’ve got a team of people here at flyte new media and they may be contributing, too, does that change your answer?
Peg: No, because with boards you can add contributors just to the boards but you can’t add contributors to the whole account, which is interesting.
Rich: That is interesting, ok.
Peg: So you can do separate boards for Streamline, like you and Amber could share a Board, you could share a Pinterest board and post certain things on that board, and then that board shows on your profile and their profile. And of course there’s tools that you can use that you could manage in your bigger account – if you were going to have somebody on your team manage your Pinterest account – you could use something like Tailwind, which is a scheduling and planning tool, and then you could plan ahead for your Pinterest pins. We can get into that more later, but using something like Tailwind helps because then it cuts your time down. Pinterest is great because you don’t have to go there every day unless you want to.
Like Twitter, you need to go babysit your posts, respond to comments, take care of things, especially if you’re tweeting a lot you have to make sure you’re responding to people. But the great thing about Pinterest is that you just pin things and you don’t need to go check for comments. I love that about it.
Rich: That’s actually a really good point because of course social media can be a time suck so it’s good to know that Pinterest doesn’t need to take up all of our time. I have one more question though about whether or not this would change anything. So I’m only talking to you now that flyte new media, Agents of Change, and even Streamline have their own Pinterest accounts. Should I merge them, or since I’ve already done the damage should I just keep up on building upon the?
Peg: I’d probably go look at them and then give you a super solid recommendation. But do you have big followings built into any of them already?
Rich: Those are the kinds of questions I wish I had an answer to, but I really don’t know.
Peg: Ok. So I’ll check them and give you a solid answer to this and you can put it in your show notes later.
Rich: Ok, sounds good.
Peg: It’s really the time management piece of it. Do you really feel they all need separate ones? Say you have a great, solid plan for your media company and you want to have different boards for your blog content, and you want to showcase some client work, and you want to have a portfolio where you can show things that you’ve done, you can do a lot of things with a company that way.
And the same for Streamline if you guys are going to be doing your wedding conference every year, that is a whole separate genre from your other thing so maybe it makes more sense to have a separate Pinterest account because you’re going to draw in people in the wedding industry. So every single board that you would want would be wedding, It could be spring weddings, fall weddings, destination weddings, wedding planning, wedding dresses. There’s enough categories for each one to have its own separate thing, it’s just you have to have the time to be pinning on them to maintain your accounts.
Pinterest is really not “pin it and forget it”. In some ways it is because you can just pin the content and you don’t have to go back, but you do need to pin actively.
Rich: Ok, alright. So it sounds like it could go either way, and really what it comes down to is do you have the time to manage all of these. So that’s good advice. Let’s start then with flyte new media. So for those of you that don’t really know, I run a web design and internet marketing company, we’re B2B, so typically a lot of people don’t think of Pinterest as a B2B company – although I know there’s a lot of Pinterest consultants out there who might disagree – so I’ll tell you that a lot of our content that does well online is “how to’s” such as “How To Rank Higher In The Search Engines” and “How To Build And Email List”. And we of course have new websites which we’ve designed and we want to promote to show everybody how we can design gorgeous looking mobile friendly WordPress sites. So with that in mind, what type of content should a company like ours be thinking about pinning?
Peg: Well here’s the thing, “how to” kind of things is super popular on Pinterest. Do it yourself, how to make things. Even though your company does all these things, let’s be honest, people are going to look up how to do it and then they’re still going to want to hire someone to do it. Most people don’t have the skills to do all the things themselves, we can’t all do everything.
I’ll be straight up with you, I gave my blog the white screen of dust this week because I went into the PHP code. Which I shouldn’t have but I did. It’s fixed now, it’s fine. Of course I had a backup. I’m just saying, I’m pretty good with all this stuff and I still gave myself a white screen of dust. So we need professionals for these things, is my point.
So I think there’s tons of great content for all the topics that you said. You can have boards for “how to’s”, SEO tips, with your blog content, you could have a portfolio of things that you guys created, you could have boards with inspiration pieces. A lot of times when you’re working with clients there’s a lot of details and you can organize those on Pinterest boards. You can even use secret boards for that. So if you were working with a client you can have them pin things that they really like on this board so they can get an idea of their style. Do they like really clean white, or do they like flowy script fonts with flowers? There’s a lot of visual differences in websites and a lot of decisions that need to be made like fonts type and how many images are there going to be. There’s just endless possibilities for websites.
So one of the challenges that I know you must face all the time is trying to get those design ideas pinned down with somebody, and that’s something that you could do on Pinterest. And I gave this recommendation at your conference actually, you can do research on your clients after you talk to them by looking at their Pinterest to see what they like. You learn a lot about people from what they pin. People pin things that they like.
I created my blog redesign by pinning a whole bunch of things on a secret board that I liked that had all different things; somebody’s sidebar, different phots, all the different pieces. So you can get visual style from people and it’s also where you could share your ideas and it can help hone down that design process.
Rich: Now as I’m doing this, I’m thinking that I’m hearing what you’re saying about the SEO and the marketing type of content that we’re going to be pinning, and of course we have our categories that we think are going to be strong when we do work with clients, such as design, SEO, social media, digital ads, email marketing. So I’m thinking almost that my Pinterest boards might be – if not a perfect reflection – at least a similar reflection to the kind of content that I’m sharing on my website and blog, maybe even down to the categories.
Peg: Yes, exactly. Pinterest is really similar to Google, but it’s visual search. So it has all the elements that you need to be really strong in Google – like naming your images, having good titles, using the keywords – all these things translate directly to Pinterest and that’s actually why your agency will kill it over there is because a lot of people don’t understand those basics.
But it is exactly what you said, taking the foundation of what you share elsewhere and putting it into your Pinterest, but you’re building it into the board title, the board description, and the type of pins that you share.
Rich: Ok, let’s take a…this is something I want to dig a little bit deeper on because this is something that I just don’t understand. So what you’re saying is – let’s use email marketing as a board that I would create – and I know how to optimize our section on our website for email marketing so that it ranks higher in the search engines for email marketing. But what are the kind of things that I should be doing on this board, and perhaps with specific pins on this board, to help it get more visibility at the search engines, or is that even a concern of mine? What are the best practices?
Peg: Yes it is, because pins actually show up in Google search.
Rich: Ok, so what should I be putting my energy towards? Let’s say that “email marketing for small business” was one of the awesome phrases that we wanted to target.
Peg: Yup, so that is the title of your board. And then in your description for the board you’re going to have, “how to use email marketing for a small business”, “great tips” and how to use them to do it. So almost like you would use the metadata for a blog post is kind of similar to what you can do for your board description. So think of the board title as a blog title, so then your board description is like your metadata so you’re kind of repeating your information but working your keywords in there. But it’s really relevant and it is what you’re going to share on your Pinterest board, so it’s going to help people find it.
So then you have your board set up with the title and the description of the board, then you pick a category for the board. They don’t really have great ones for social media, I think you’d probably still fall under technology. They have topics that are social media and email marketing, so because of the keywords that you use that’s another subcategory under “technology” as a topic. And then the pins that you pin would all be things that you fit into that like, “How to get your email database started”, “How to gather emails”, like all the different kinds of things that you would pin would be articles from your blog or that you found already at Pinterest.
You’re going to pin things, if you’re creating it yourself you’re going to name the image just like you would for your blog posts, and you’re going to have keywords in the image when you save it to Pinterest. They do two kinds of searches with your image; they search the title, but they also search the photo. They have really high level visual search now on Pinterest, so it groups images together. So Google does that as well, but Pinterest is even more high level at this point.
Rich: Ok. And this is a question I want to get to. I can share content from my own website, blog, or other stuff I’ve found online, but you actually said “already on Pinterest”. So are you suggesting if I’m going to put content up on my boards that’s not my own I shouldn’t necessarily be going out to the web to find it, I should be looking for things that are already performing well on Pinterest?
Peg: You can do both, but 80% of the things on Pinterest are re-pins, so only 15%-20% is new pins. Just like blog posts, most people are not actually creating, they’re consuming. It’s the same on Pinterest. So there’s a lot of great content on there. I usually look at Pinterest first and then I pin other great articles that I find that are brand new great content, I will pin that as well. But when I’m planning pins out, I usually do it out of Pinterest because I already see what the image looks like. And again, you can find that popular content when you search for email marketing, the most popular posts will pull up and then you know it’s pre-linked content. So you just re-pin that.
Rich: Ok, that seems like a nice shortcut that I can use.
Peg: It is a good shortcut.
Rich: So getting back to our own content. So obviously it’s great that we promote our own content on Pinterest and we’re pinning it, but how do we make our own blog content more pinnable and attractive to our readers that they will share it on Pinterest, which I assume will get us hopefully more visibility, more clicks, more traffic and ultimately more business?
Peg: So one of the best ways that I have found is that you need to have pinnable images on your blog. It’s something that so many blogs are still missing and they just don’t do a good job at putting images on their blogs. Most blogs typically had zero images when blogs first started, and then people got into the small, little blog headers and that was popular. But those don’t pin well.
Pinterest pins are the long, tall images that can be 800-1,200 pixels, or 735 x 1,102. It doesn’t matter, they’re about the same ratio. But they’re going to be that long, tall image. And what happens is people don’t want to put those on their blog, their blog isn’t specifically designed to have this big image and most bloggers just don’t want to see it.
So I use a plugin called Social Warfare, and they have a really cool thing where the images actually go in the backend of the blog, so they’re not on the front page. But when somebody hits the “pin it” button, it pulls up the big image for you. So what it does is the plugin adds a section underneath your blog post where you have the little section where you do your metadata title and your keywords, it adds a section like that where you add the images. You add one image that’s for Twitter and Facebook, and then a bigger image for Pinterest. And then there’s a longer description place where you can write what you want your Pinterest pin to say. And then when you save that it adds in your social sharing button adds your big image in there without slowing your page time down.
So if you don’t want to redesign your blog – which of course most people don’t – and you have a blog where having a big image doesn’t work well, you can use a plugin like Social Warfare, that’s the only one that does this exact thing, but there’s other ones that have good social sharing. But this one is just really set up for great visuals like this, otherwise you need to have the images on your blog.
There is another way to do it which is like a HTML coding way, but you’d have to be pretty high tech – which most bloggers don’t’ want to do – and that’s having a hard coded image in. So the plugin is a great way to do that. You just want to make sure that you have images on your blog, and it actually makes them easier to read as well. I can’t remember the exact numbers, but it’s like every 300 words they recommend that you put images in, so it breaks up the text and looks nice. And there’s a lot of different things you could put, you could put square quote graphics, there’s all different things that you could create to pin. But having multiple images helps it be more shareable to Facebook – Twitter people will share without an image because those don’t always go – but if you go to hit the ‘share’ button to Facebook and there’s no image, a really high percentage of people will not share. Will you share something if it has no image?
Rich: I’m much more likely to share if there is an image, for sure.
Peg: Right. And so with Pinterest you actually can’t share if there’s not an image. It literally will not share because it has to have an image. So you’d have to like that post so much that you would create your own image.
Rich: Yeah, and no one is going to do that. No one has time for that.
Peg: I have done that before if I like an article. But I have to really, really like it. Or sometimes if the image isn’t great but the article is great, I will make an image. But obviously you have to have time. And if you don’t have the time to make am image for your blog post, asking someone who’s sharing it to create one is a pretty high threshold.
Peg: Making your blog shareable with long, tall images is key. It’s crucial for Pinterest.
Rich: This has been very helpful for the flyte new media and the Business to Business type of stuff.
Check out Peg’s latest book, and follow her on Twitter. And you definitely won’t want to miss checking out her super popular blog, where she dispenses valuable tips and advice on how to be a social media super user.
Tools that Peg discussed in this episode:
Tailwind – app to schedule pins
Social Warfare – app to customize Pinterest-friendly photos
Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine. He knows a thing or two about helping businesses grow by reaching their ideal customers, and he puts on a yearly conference aimed at that as well. Head on over to Twitter to connect with him, and grab a copy of his brand new book geared towards helping businesses generate more leads.
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