Pinterest is the typically underutilized social platform that’s quickly gaining momentum. When you look at things it has over other social platforms – longevity of content visibility, inexpensive – it’s a no-brainer for businesses, especially those with tight marketing budgets.
Peg Fitzpatrick teaches us how to make Pinterest work for small businesses by helping us build relationships with influencers, creating different boards to highlight multiple facets of our brand, how to use enticing text and photos, and how to promote our events using Pinterest.
Rich: If you don’t mind let’s shift gears now and let’s talk about events and how we can use Pinterest to promote events. So in this case – and this is the beauty of having your own podcast – is you get to have all this great information from brilliant minds like yourself.
So let’s focus on the Agents of Change Conference, since we’re actually right now in the process of building awareness for this upcoming event in September, and Pinterest is going to be part of it. So we’ve got an event that happens on September 15, 2017 here in Portland, Maine, as well as live and online. So in terms of that – assuming that we’ve already got an Agents of Change Pinterest account – what other things should we do on Pinterest to gain awareness for this conference and get people excited about it?
Peg: Well one thing that you could do – and I know you do some for your Instagram – is do quotes to highlight your speakers. So you could create Pinterest pins in the long, tall images even if you didn’t have them on your blog. You could create some quote graphics in the long, tall image with your logo on it, and then pin those. So that would be something that you could create over time.
You could create feature boards for the topics that you’re going to cover. Like say you’re going to have somebody that was a Pinterest expert and the Pinterest expert is going to share “how to use Pinterest”, you could share some of their blog posts on a board. So you can highlight it by speaker or by topic. You could do “Portland, Maine”, because that’s a really cool place to visit, and it’s right at the end of the summer which is prime time.
Rich: The best time of year.
Peg: Totally. So you can do that aspect of it, like, “come to Portland, Maine, it’s America’s vacationland”. Isn’t that your slogan?
Rich: “Vacationland”. It’s everybody’s vacationland, we don’t build a wall here in Portland, Maine, we let everybody in.
Peg: But people might not know that, so that’s a really cool thing that you could do. You could make local boards, you guys have great restaurants, a great culture, it’s fun to visit. So that’s another way to get people. That’s one reason people will pick conferences is based on where is it located.
Peg: Maybe they’ve never been to Maine, I’ve been in New England for a long time and I hadn’t been to Portland yet. So that’s the kind of thing that will help entice people.
Rich: So let me ask you a question about something you said. We can create these awesome looking quote graphics and they don’t even have to be on our blog. So this is a part that I just don’t understand. So let’s say that I have my Creative Director go and make up some gorgeous images with the speakers or the quote, so we just upload those to Pinterest? I know this is a 101 question, but it’s just nothing I’ve ever done.
Peg: A lot of people have this question, there are no bad questions. So yes, you have your event page setup where people are going to buy things, but you’re not going to have all these images there. So you could create a bunch of quote graphics, you upload them to Pinterest, you add the title for it and write a description, and then you edit the pin and you add a URL to buy a ticket. So you just need to make sure that you link them all back to your Agents of Change website or landing page.
So say for example you had 3 huge speakers that everybody was dying to see and you had separate pages for them – maybe they did a little video – so you can have a landing page just for that one person and then you can link back to that one person, or it could just be ticket sales or anything about where you’re going to stay, where the event is going to be held.
So it doesn’t have to be tied to a blog post, you can link them all. So you could – hypothetically speaking – have an endless amount, but you could have 12 quote graphics for your conference and they could all lead back to the one page.
Rich: Alright, so I think traditionally the way I thought about Pinterest is you’re going around and you’re basically collecting and curating the web for yourself and anyone you want to share with. And basically you Pinterest with maybe a little help or direction from you will grab an interest in that page you’re sharing and there you go.
Peg: We’re proactive marketers.
Rich: Exactly. So I can create my own “sticker”, for lack of a better phrase, I can create my own awesome AOC-branded sticker and then basically put that to Pinterest and point it wherever I like whether or not that image appears on the page or not.
Peg: Exactly. See how money that is.
Rich: That makes a lot of sense.
Peg: And the other thing is that people always think there’s one blog post so I can only have one image, if I create one blog post I can have one pin. It’s really endless, but you could create 3 images for one blog post. So it’s going to be out there working for you three times as hard.
And Pinterest pins last a very, very long time. So the amount of time that you spend making a graphic for Pinterest, if you create a tweet for Twitter that’s going to last 20 minutes. For Facebook it’s going to last 40 minutes. If you create an Instagram post, I get comments up to 2 ½ – 3 hours, so they last a little longer. If you have a Pinterest pin, it lasts for months and years. I have pins that start getting really popular a year later or two years later.
So for event marketing it’s not a fast quick thing, but people will see it. So when you’re doing event marketing you would want to pin everything early. And then you can always edit those after the event. Like say you had a board for 2017, when you have the 2018 board up you could change the links to all those to keep it fresh. Or if you just had it to the main website you could have different pages for the different years.
So you just want to make sure that you can either make them evergreen. They could be event pins for the short term, and then you can edit the links later. Unlike other things like Facebook where you can’t really go in any edit something like that, you have to change the whole post. On Pinterest you can actually edit the pin later and change the link.
Rich: Ok, that makes a lot of sense. And the other thing that I’m thinking is obviously if you’re always putting on events you want to talk about your speakers, but you also want to talk about your sponsors, too, because they’re helping foot the bill. So creating different pins for each sponsor and then linking them back over to a sponsor’s page, I can see that as being very beneficial as well.
Rich: And then the sponsors you can send that link to the page over to them and they think it’s awesome.
Peg: Yeah, because you’re promoting them. People are happy for that and it’s another way that you’re highlighting things. And again, there could be somebody who could sponsor you in the future. They could see your conference and see one of your quote graphics and click over to your Pinterest presence and then look at your conference and they could see the sponsors that you’ve had in the past and they might say that looks like a great opportunity to look at all these awesome speakers and this great event and how many people came, and they can say that’s a great fit for their brand. So I think there’s lots of different ways that it can work to your benefit.
Rich: Absolutely. I’m also thinking just about the fact that these days social media is a much more crowded field than it was 3-4 years ago. And of course if we’re looking at sponsored opportunities on Pinterest, it’s promoted pins. What are some of the best practices for an event like this, how can I best use promoted pins when talking about Agents of Change and trying to sell as many tickets as possible?
Peg: When you’re looking at the backend of Pinterest they have it so you can really target your audience, which is great. It’s similar to Facebook advertising in that way where you can really just target in with keywords and find the people you want to reach.
So there’s different ways that you can do it. You can set up your pins – I always like to promote my event by creating 1-2 – and then you pin them and wait maybe a week or so to see which pin was more popular. Because that’s one of the things with advertising, you really do need to test things because sometimes you do one that you think is going to be amazing and the other one is more popular. So I kind of test it a little bit by doing two of that, seeing which one works best, and then I’ll promote one – or you can promote them both at the same time – check them in a few days to see if one did a lot better and you could turn off one of them and put all the money behind the one that’s winning.
And then you can really target your pins towards demographics, towards keywords, all different ways to search for it in Pinterest to find the right people. So you could search by jobs, you could find people that are social media managers or who want to work in social media who work for agencies. There’s tons of ways to sort the demographics.
That’s one of the things that Pinterest and Facebook have been really carefully watching us and gathering data on us while we’ve been busy posting and pinning. So they have great information and you can really target tightly and you can start with really small budgets, you don’t have to put a lot of money behind things. You can start something at $5 and if it doesn’t do very well then that me
One of the things about Pinterest advertising is that you really want everything to look just like all your other pins, you don’t want it to look like a sales piece. You want things to look beautiful and you don’t want to put calls to action on your images, you want them to look really super nice. But you could put calls to action in your description. Like you could put, “Come to Portland, Maine in September for the hottest conference, Agents of Change. Change your marketing, change your life. Click through for more information.”
Rich: Oh I like that.
Peg: You can use that. I always write marketing stuff on the fly, I don’t know how you are. So yeah, you don’t put it actually in the image, you actually put it in the description.
Peg: And Facebook is actually leaning more that way as well. They’re more popular if they look like everything else, just like Instagram. If it looks like all the other Instagram posts and not, “this is an ad”.
Rich: Yeah, you want it to look native. Now we’ve talked a lot about the kind of things that we want to post, how to set up our boards, how we might use promoted pins. One thing that I’m never sure about is getting more engagement on Pinterest. What kind of activities and how much should I spend on going to my speaker’s Pinterest accounts – if they may have them – and sharing their stuff or re-pinning their stuff? And the same thing with sponsors. What kind of activity should I be doing there? Maybe even finding influencers or managers from New England and targeting them. Does it make sense for me to re-pin their stuff, or does that just come off as cloning and false behavior?
Peg: No, that would be authenticating your behavior because you care about all those people.
Rich: Right, assuming that I had a soul and did care about people.
Peg: I know you, I can say that you do. So you can definitely re-pin from all those people. It is authentic and it is organic, but what you don’t want to do is go pin all the stuff form one board. That’s considered rude. But you can pin a couple things from people if you space it out over time. When people retweet your stuff it’s flattering, but you don’t go to someone’s page and retweet everything. You just do one of two. So it’s kind of the same practice.
Constant Contact – for example – that’s a company that you’ve worked with as a sponsor, they have a really great Pinterest presence. They have an amazing Pinterest. They have really great content, they make great infographics, all different kinds of great content. Their content is perfect for your email marketing boards or your event boards.
So it’s just a matter of spreading it out over time which is where Tailwind comes in. There are other companies you can use as well but Tailwind is my favorite and the one I’ve used the longest. You know out of all the social media platforms you kind of pick the one that’s your favorite, well if you have a tool that you like you can schedule things out over time. So what that does is it cuts down your overall time just like any of your other scheduling. So you can actually add a Chrome extension, and just every time you see things schedule it out over time. So then you can just take one chunk of time and schedule out for the whole week, and honestly you wouldn’t have to go back.
Rich: Alright, well Tailwind sounds like a pretty awesome tool if we are going to be doing serious Pinterest marketing.
Peg: This is what I like to do – and I’m not 100% – there’s no data that says what you have to do, but I do like to upload some native things on Pinterest and do some of my pinning natively. I do think that all the platforms pay attention is you are there, so I do like to schedule some, but every once in a while I like to go in and see what’s trending and re-pin things or find a few things and re-pin them live. You don’t’ have to go and respond to the comments and go crazy like I already mentioned, but I do like to do a little combination. So then it’s like Twitter where you build out your foundation by scheduling it, and then every once in a while you go natively and just do something.
Rich: That’s exactly what I was thinking about. We have the flyte new media account and the Agents of Change account on Twitter and we have a lot of those things planned out. But sometimes I’ll see somebody talking about something or responding to something and I jump in as flyte new media or as the Agents of Change and I respond to those types of comments as appropriate.
Talk to me a minute about hashtags on Pinterest and whether those should be…
Peg: No, I refuse.
Rich: You refuse to talk to me about it? This interview is over!
Peg: Only because hashtags don’t work on Pinterest.
Rich: They don’t work.
Peg: They don’t work at all. You can click on them and it appears that you’re getting results, but you do not – and I have verified this with actual people at Pinterest – it’s not full results. It’s not like Twitter and Instagram when you click on it and it gives you all the results.
Rich: Well I see why that makes sense as a user, but you’re saying as a brand. For example, thanks to Sue B. Zimmerman – our mutual friend – we are no longer doing #AOC and then the year. We’re going to do #AgentsofChange for everything we do, that’s just what we’re doing going forward. So what you’re saying is there’s no point in me tagging the Agents of Change post with “#agentsofchange”?
Peg: Nope, just use keywords. You can say “Agents of Change, the best conference in the northeast”, but you can’t hashtag it. But yeah, they don’t work. And actually in the smart feed update they did say on their engineering blog that hashtags can hurt your pins.
Rich: Oooh, interesting to know.
Peg: It’s just not needed. But keywords for sure. They’re very similar to Google so if you just put your SEO hat on.
Rich: I never take my SEO hat off.
Peg: Then if you just turn it around backwards for Pinterest it’s almost the same, the only thing that Google says is you don’t have to use hashtags, you just search.
Rich: Right. Unless I was looking to pull up some sort of tweet result or something like that. But yeah, I hear what you’re saying.
Peg: Right, so it’s just keyword-based – hashtags don’t work – and they have said that they can harm your pins. So companies like Google that have any kind of algorithm, they rarely give you any actual clues on what works. And if they do come out and say they recommend that you don’t do this, I listen.
Rich: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.
Peg: It’s the same with Google, Google hardly ever gives clues. If they say, “if your blog isn’t mobile friendly you’re going to get less traffic”, if that wasn’t a wakeup call I don’t know what was. Because they hardly ever tell us anything. Everybody guesses, people spend a lot of time guessing. We try to make educated guesses on what works best, but if they give you a little clue – like hashtags might hurt your pins – I take that very seriously.
Rich: That makes a lot of sense. One last question, and I think we’ve already gone over this but I just want to make sure I understand. So for an event, obviously one of the big components is selling tickets. So if I wanted to drive traffic to the event registration page – which might not get pinned all that often on its own – I could create some very engaging images and just use those and post those directly to Pinterest and then make sure that the link is back to my registration page, correct?
Rich: And I could do that either organically or through promoted pins.
Rich: I know a lot of times when you talk to a Facebook advertising expert they’ll say, “You can start with $5-10 a day and then you go up once you realize it’s a high converting ad”. Would you say it’s similar to that when it comes to Pinterest?
Peg: Yes. You can definitely start with a lower amount, and then when it does well bump up the money.
Rich: And you can also pin videos to Pinterest, correct?
Rich: So I could create a board that’s specifically about the 2016 Agents of Change Conference that would include a video as well as maybe the speaker stuff and all that other stuff just to kind of bundle it up it this awesome package where we talk about a previous year in the new one for 2017.
Peg: You could, but video is going to be smaller in the newsfeed. A really great pin would actually be a big image that had multiple pictures on it, so Adobe Spark just came up with some new grids in their design. So I would do one of the rid designs and put multiple pictures; you talking to Sue, you with the crowd, the Agents of Change logo. Make a pin that’s a big, long pin and then do multiple images on there and then say, “click through to see the video” when they can play it on YouTube or Facebook. You can play the video on Pinterest, but it’s just small.
Peg: But you can do both though, you can prove me wrong and you can pin the video and the graphic.
Rich: I would never want to prove you wrong, Peg. I would just want to get to the truth.
Peg: I’m always like, “try it, see what works better”, because we always have to test things.
Rich: Yeah, and things change all the time.
Peg: The big, tall images work the best. If you did an image that shows – and you can even do infographics – you can do an infographic on “5 Things People Loved Last Year at Agents of Change”.
Rich: Yes, that’s good. Or the “5 Most Tweeted Quotes of the Event”, or something like that.
Peg: Yes, that would be awesome. And then you could have a little picture of your speakers that brings in the social proof and they would be excited and they’d re-pin it.
Rich: Awesome stuff.
Peg: You can also create boards – if you have speakers that have a great Pinterest presence – you can create a board and share it with them and then that goes down in their Pinterest presence.
Rich: Whoa, hold on. I thought we were wrapping up right now but that is brilliant. So tell me again how that all works. So I create a board and then I share it with somebody and it appears on their stuff?
Peg: Yeah, you can have a group board. So like we talked about a little bit earlier if you had other people at your company you could create a group collaborative board. You could do that with your speakers and then when you’re on the collaborative board it shows on your profile and their profile. So then when you share with them, every other thing that gets pinned would show on their profile as well.
Rich: I see, very cool stuff. Peg, this has been great. We have two shows worth of content, no doubt. So let us know, where can people find you online?
Rich: Awesome. Peg, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us today, and I promise I will do something on Pinterest going forward.
Peg: Thank you. Thanks for having me and I’m looking forward to seeing your boosted Pinterest.
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 star.
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.