Pinterest Crash Course: Get Up and Running In One Day
Still holding out on Pinterest? It may be time to reconsider.
Pinterest is now more popular than Twitter, according to Pew Research. It drives more referral traffic than YouTube, Google+, and LinkedIn combined. Visitors from Pinterest are likely to spend 60% more time on your website than visitors from Facebook. And while Pinterest is still largely populated by women, men are starting to show up, as TechCrunch found recently.
But you probably know all that already. You realize that you need to get your business on Pinterest, but it’s just never made it to the top of your to-do list. Or maybe you added a few pins years ago and haven’t done very much since.
If you can carve out just one day, we’ll make it worth your while. Here is a step-by-step guide to building a Pinterest presence that will generate results. Your timing is good, too. With the roar of holiday marketing fading, you might get a breather just in time to get your Pinterest page ready for next year. But you’ve got to act fast. So let’s get cracking.
1. Create an account.
Head over to Pinterest and sign up through their business account page. If you’ve already got a Pinterest account but haven’t converted it into a business account, you should still head over to this page. Just click the “Convert now” link below the business account creation button.
On the next page, you’ll fill out basic information about your account. Think a bit about the URL you’ll use for your Pinterest account. You can change it later, but it’s easier to start right. Your business name or your legal name are good choices. For example:
This is good: pinterest.com/sallysconsignment
Not as good: pinterest.com/sallys345
You’ll also need a profile photo. It will appear as 165 x 165 pixels on your Pinterest home page, but will show as 32 x 32 pixels everywhere else. It’s best if you use the same profile photo all your other social media accounts use.
The “About You” section of your account is a bit like the tagline of your website or the meta description tag of your homepage. If you’re already got a tagline for your company, that might be the perfect thing to add here.
Finally, you’ll choose a business category. You can change this setting later. The options are:
Once you’ve clicked next, you’ll have a business account. You can now use Pinterest’s new business analytics, DIY Promoted Pins, and other features.
2. Verify your website.
You’ll have limited features until you verify your account. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to do. Verify by uploading an HTML file to your website, or add a snippet of code to the header section of your site. See Pinterest’s instructions for information on how to verify your account.
If you’ve got a WordPress site, I recommend the free Insert Headers and Footers plugin. Get that plugin installed, find the controls for it in the “Settings” menu, and then paste in the line of code Pinterest gave you. It will look like this:
Your address is verified once you see the little red check next to your website address.
You can also use the free Pinterest Verify plugin, but I prefer the Insert Headers and Footers plugin since it’s more than a one-trick pony.
Your in-footer result may look something like this.
3. Create boards.
Pinterest is based on “pins.” Pins are added to boards – you can’t have a pin without a board. Your Pinterest account can have up to 500 boards.
Your boards should be organized logically, similarly to how the content on your website is organized. So if you were a shoe retailer, you might have a board for men’s casual, men’s business, women’s casual and women’s business. That’s a simplistic example, but you get the idea.
Boards can have display images. If you don’t include a display image on a board, Pinterest will grab one of your pins and use that as the display image, but it’s better to choose an image yourself. Your board images will display as 222 x 150 pixels when viewed as large thumbnails. They’ll show at 55 x 55 pixels when they are smaller thumbnails, like this:
4. Get creative.
Now that you know the basics of boards, here’s how to take them further.
Create boards for events: Got a special event coming to your retail store? Create a new board, then post the photos from the event on that board. The magazine Elle did this to great effect with a series of fashion shows.
Create a “what’s new” board: Highlight whatever is new and cool with your business, whether it’s recent arrivals in your store or new updates to your website.
Put together menu boards: Feature recipes and nutrition content and highlight specials and new entrees. If your restaurant hosts events, add another board for those.
Create a blog board: 59% of Pinterest users click on pins pointing to blog posts and articles according to GoDigital Marketing. Brands and shopping sites get less than half that many people to click on their pins.
Those are just a few examples. You can create boards for pretty much anything you want. And don’t worry about adding too many pins to a board – you can add up to 200,000 pins to each board.
There are many other amazing things you can do with boards. For an event, for example, you can add a map and directions to your location. You can also control who can add pins to your boards, and you can invite specific people to pin to a board.
Always include a category for your boards, and be sure to add a description. Think of the description as the description meta tag for website pages. It should include keywords (but not too many), a call to action (you can even add an email address), and an accurate description of what people will find on the board. No link baiting, please.
Your board description can be up to 500 characters, but aim for something roughly as long as a tweet – 150 characters or so is good. Board names matter, too. Use appropriate keywords, but always label boards accurately.
Before you start creating boards willy-nilly, imagine all the content you might ever want to pin. Then scale down to what you think you can pin in the next month. Start with just three good basic starter boards to begin building your presence. You can add more boards later. We’re keeping it to just three boards for today because you’ll need at least five pins on each board, or you’ll have an empty space like this:
As you create more and boards, put the most popular boards in the top row. Those first-row boards will get the most clicks.
5. Create pins.
Once you’ve created some boards, it’s time to start pinning. Here are some best practices for pins:
Your image filename is used in Pinterest’s search algorithm. Use keywords in your pin image filenames, like “Townville-Spa-Santa-Visit1.jpg.” (Note that Google might read “TownvilleSpaSantaVisit1” as one long word; the hyphens help distinguish keywords.)
Your pin image’s title is just as important as it sounds. Think of this like the title tag on a web page or a blog post.
Consider using a watermark. Some people give credit for images (and you should, too, whenever possible), but if you’re worried about preserving the copyright of images you created, add a watermark to your pins. You can do this in almost any image editor.
According toCuralate, pins without faces get repinned 23% more often than pins with faces, and pins with several colors get more repins than pins with just one color. Red, orange and brown get the most repins.
Use a call to action. According to marketing expert Brandon Gaille, pins with calls to action get an 80% increase in engagement.
Statistics about Pinterest users show that the best times to post are Saturday mornings and during the week between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 11p.m. You should also monitor the activity levels of your target audience for best results.
Minimize the background of every image, when possible, to keep attention focused on the content.
Here are some best practices for pinning:
Don’t put up all your pins at once. Spread them out to post about once per day, or more if you can. You can schedule your pins from within Pinterest. Set them to post every 1440 minutes (that’s 24 hours) if you want to post one per day.
Don’t put the same pin on multiple boards. I know it’s tempting, but this is considered bad etiquette on Pinterest. You may have to make a few exceptions to this rule, but keep them to that – exceptions.
Link your pins to strategic, relevant pages on your site. Bonus: Use Google Analytics’ URL builder to add custom campaign parameters to your URLs.
Pin videos. Yes, you can pin your YouTube videos as well.
How to create images for your pins
Pin images are not limited by height, but they are limited by size. Pins on your main page and board pages appear 236 pixels wide. Make your images large enough so they look good as expanded pins, which are 735 pixels wide (and as tall as you can make them).
Now you know what your final pins should look like. But how do you make them? You could fire up Photoshop and dive in. If you know Photoshop, that may be the best option. But if you’re not a Photoshop pro, there are several nice alternatives:
For simple layouts:
For complex images, like infographics:
Let’s do a super-fast walk-through of how to create a pin with Canva. We’ll promote a blog post. Canva starts up off right by giving us a pin template:
Next, choose a background image from backgrounds you have already :
Add a text block…
Format the text…
And download it as an image:
To remove the watermark in an image, you can pay $1 to download it without the watermark. Rename the downloaded file to match the keywords and title for the post:
Next, create a board for blog posts in your Pinterest account, then click “Add a pin”:
Choose to add a pin from your computer, select the file…
Upload it and fill out a short description…
Edit the pin to add a link:
And push it live. There it is on the new board, linking back to the post:
That took about 10 minutes. If you create three boards, each with five images on of them, it should take you about three hours to make 15 pins.
6. Participate on boards.
Go out and start following a dozen boards. Pin at least 30 images of other people’s photos. Leave at least five comments on other people’s pins, sans promotion.
You know the social media party metaphor – how no one would ever go to a party and talk only about themselves and expect people to care. This participation step is you walking into the party and saying hi, introducing yourself and sharing a bit of conversation. Spend at least an hour on this task.
7. Add a Pin it button to your site.
There are dozens of WordPress plugins and other tools to add Pinterest functionality to your site, but let’s keep this simple. Start with the tools from Pinterest. Add Pin it buttons or try your hand at creating a widget.
This is the widget creator:
As you can see, there are several kinds of widgets and two buttons. Play around with these to set what works best with your site. Expect this to take at least an hour, and maybe two hours all together.
8. Add the Pinterest tab to your Facebook page.
One final step to close out your day: Add the Pinterest tab to your Facebook page. First, make sure you’re logged into both your Pinterest and Facebook accounts, and that you have permission to add apps to a Facebook page. Visit Facebook, choose the Facebook page to add the Pinterest app to, then click “Add Page Tab.”
Now you’ve got a tab!
Click “Okay” through the two posting permission boxes, and then just enter your Pinterest username in this screen. That’s the only change you have to make on this page.
Click “Save Settings,” then click the “View Facebook Tab” link in the upper left hand corner.
You’ll now see your Pinterest account page embedded in your Facebook page.
That’s it! There’s certainly more to do with your Pinterest account. You could use business analytics, grow your following, add Rich Pins or use Group Boards, but that’s all for another day. Pinterest is a big house with plenty of room in which to grow your business. Hopefully, with the help of this Pinterest crash course, you just got your foot in the door.