In 1899, Missouri’s U.S. Congressman W.D. Vandiver attended a naval banquet in Philadelphia. In a speech there, he declared, “I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.”
I’m not from Missouri, but the state’s unofficial nickname “The Show-Me State” fits me well. I’m cautious by nature. You’ve got to “show me.”
Such was my attitude when my friend Jake told me that he had a million views a month on his Pinterest account. I did some quick mental math and called him out on it. In my Facebook-centered social media world, reaching a million views a month would cost thousands of dollars every month. He claimed that Pinterest traffic was free. He gave me his page info and a few weeks later I checked it out. He didn’t have a million page views a month: he had one million, five-hundred thousand. Apparently, having over a million free views a month is not impossible on Pinterest.
I’ve written about Pinterest before, and have given the platform lip service from time to time. I even set up an account and pinned a few times in 2014. But social media being the time-sucking pit that it is, I opted to focus on just two platforms: Facebook and Twitter. In the end, Twitter required too much tweeting and I couldn’t keep up, so I stopped. Facebook worked well until last year, when their new algorithm effectively trashed my organic reach. So in September I revisited my still-available Pinterest account. Here’s what I found:
Despite having ignored the platform for nearly five years, the two-dozen pins that I posted in 2014 were still being seen. I had 279 average views a month. I decided to crank-up my activity to see what would happen. I changed my account from personal to business, created some boards, did a little SEO (search engine optimization), and spent an average of 20 minutes a day pinning.
Seventeen days later, my views had reached 5,600. My blog traffic had nearly tripled, based on referrals from Pinterest. In slightly more than two weeks, Pinterest was providing twice as many blog referrals as Facebook. Not only is all this traffic free, but I enjoy the process. Pinning is a lot more fun than reading a newspaper with my morning coffee.
Here’s the best part: I can access a constant supply of new, relevant content that I can use on Facebook. I no longer must sort through countless feeds and articles to find share-worthy content. I can link any pin to my Facebook page on the fly, using a simple checkbox. Pinterest automatically re-formats my pins to fit Facebook news feeds, and, keeping the link and photo intact, posts to my Facebook page. I can maintain three social media pages as I pin. My “pinning time” is the most productive twenty minutes of the day.
Why is Pinterest so effective as a traffic source? For starters, it’s not really a social media platform. Pinners aren’t there to rant about politics, social issues, or share cat videos: they are there to share ideas. Pinterest is a social bookmarking site (most pins even resemble bookmarks). Pinners can share what they have discovered on the web and post it so that others may share it as well. Whenever an antique dealer pins photos or videos of inventory items, they are shared. Each share carries with it a link back to his website. Interested viewers click the photo and are taken to the dealer’s site.
Pinterest has 291 million active monthly users and more than 175 billion pins to browse. https://sproutsocial.com/insights/pinterest-statistics/You’ll never run out of content for your social sites. If you sell on your website, you can create advertising pins that have a BUY button. Ninety percent of weekly users turn to Pinterest for help in making purchase decisions; 55 percent log on specifically to find products. Pinterest is nearly four times more effective than other digital marketing channels. https://business.pinterest.com/en/blog/pinterest-drives-38x-greater-sales-than-the-average-digital-campaign
It’s no wonder Pinterest performs so well; pins stick around for a long time and keep working for you. https://epipheo.com/learn/what-is-the-lifespan-of-social-media-posts/ The half-life of a Facebook post (the point at which a post hits half of its eventual organic reach) is 30 minutes; on Instagram, the half-life is 19 hours. The lifespan of a Twitter tweet is 18 minutes. The half-life of a Pinterest pin is three-and-a-half months. I don’t know exactly how long a pin stays active on Pinterest. If a pin gets half the views it will ever get in the first 3.5 months, then views apparently taper off very slowly: the pins I posted in 2014 were still getting views five years later.
How often should one pin? Neil Patel, writing for Forbes magazine, says: “If you post too infrequently, your audience will forget that you exist, and you will quickly fade into the deep dark recesses of their minds. However, if you are posting too often, you will become a complete nuisance and they will dread seeing your posts overcrowding their feed.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/neilpatel/2016/09/12/how-frequently-you-should-post-on-social-media-according-to-the-pros/
Louise Meyers speaks to posting frequency best practices for the major platforms: https://louisem.com/144557/often-post-social-media
- Facebook: 1/day ideal; 2/day max; 3/wk. min
- Twitter: 15/day ideal; 30/day max; 3/day min
- Pinterest 11/day ideal; 30/day max; 3/day low
- Instagram: 1-2/day ideal; 3/day max; 1/day min
If pinning 15 or 20 minutes a day isn’t possible for you, I recommend the Pinterest scheduling software Tailwind. http://tailwindapp.com. With Tailwind, you can schedule a month’s worth of pins in about two hours, plus designate which pins are to go to Facebook or Twitter. Tailwind also has a feature called Tribes (like Facebook Groups) and Smart Loop, which enables you to keep looping your best pins to increase reach. There are both free and paid versions. I use the “Plus” plan, which is about $10/month.
A word of caution: don’t let Pinterest (or any other social media platform) become your main marketing focus. Recognize that social media are amplification channels, not marketing bedrock (like your store and website). In her book Minimum Viable Marketing: Find the Right Pieces to Build Your Marketing Strategy, https://www.amazon.com/Minimum-Viable-Marketing-Pieces-Strategy/dp/0578214180/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=minimum+viable+marketing&qid=1570817235&s=books&sr=1-1 Brandi Johnson suggests that, at a minimum, marketers should maintain at least two social media amplification channels. Two is quite enough for busy dealers. If a dealer were to post to the four most popular platforms (listed above) they would be posting 28 times per day, plus all the “prep” time. That’s crazy.
For dealers without a dedicated Social Media manager (most of us, I imagine), it’s recommended that no more than one in five social media posts be “selling” posts. All others should be original, informative content or curated content (like pins). Sharing pins is a quick and easy way to accomplish your social media goals.
If you would like to try Pinterest marketing (or boost what you’re already doing) here are a few resources:
- Pinterest training: https://hootsuite.com/education/courses/social-marketing/intro/pinterest
- Create a Pinterest business account: https://youtu.be/7YtXYL8wiuA
- How to make a pin from scratch in under five minutes: https://business.pinterest.com/en/blog/video-tutorials-making-your-first-pins-and-boards
A Pinterest business account requires a website, and in order to include links with your pins (called Rich Pins) you’ll have to place some code on your website. You can have your webmaster do this, but I did it with a free WordPress plugin: https://wordpress.org/plugins/insert-headers-and-footers/
If you’re not inclined to tackle Pinterest setup or pin creation on your own, you can find freelancers to do it for you on Fiverr.com. You can have original pins made from your inventory items for about $1-$5 each, and account setup for around $25.
- Fiverr Pinterest pins: https://www.fiverr.com/search/gigs?query=pinterest%20pins&source=main_banner&acmpl=1&search_in=everywhere&search-autocomplete-original-term=pinterest%20pins&search-autocomplete-available=true&search-autocomplete-type=suggest&search-autocomplete-position=0&page=1&page_size=48&offset=0&filter=rating
- Fiverr Pinterest account setup: https://www.fiverr.com/amr_ezzat/add-rich-pins-to-your-wordpress-blog?context_referrer=search_gigs&source=top-bar&ref_ctx_id=5abd9239-9d8f-4fda-adc5-b4f70889a2a6&pckg_id=1&pos=3&context_type=auto&funnel=1c7bf3cb-9b14-47c2-bc36-f889a3a2de9c (there are several on this page)
Apple computer VIP Guy Kawasaki said: “A large social-media presence is important because it’s one of the last ways to conduct cost-effective marketing. Everything else involves buying eyeballs and ears. Social media enables a small business to earn eyeballs and ears.”
With Pinterest, you earn eyes and ears one pin at a time.