Eric Siu • Feb 16, 2012

The Beginner’s Guide to Pinterest (Part 2)

Recently, here on the Single Grain blog, we’ve been paying quite a bit of attention to Pinterest – the latest addition to the social networking space – including what it is, how to get started with the service and how to increase your number of followers.  Hopefully, by now, you’ve had a look at the site and determined whether or not there are opportunities to promote your own website within this new service.

If you’ve decided to build a presence on the site, you’ve likely already set up a few boards and started adding followers to your account.  But now it’s time to take things to the next level!  Here’s how to get the most out of this fun new site:

1 – Optimize Your Web Images for Pinterest

In our first discussion on using Pinterest to promote your website, we talked about how to optimize your web content for sharing on the site by incorporating “Pin It” buttons into your articles alongside other social sharing tools.  And while this technique is certainly still useful, it’s not the only thing you’ll want to do in order to increase your chances of being shared on Pinterest.

First, you’ll want to associate an image with every piece of content on your website.  This could require going back through your old posts and pages to add graphics if you haven’t used them in the past.  When choosing images, look for visually appealing graphics that are “portrait oriented,” as these tend to look better when shared on Pinterest.  Even if you don’t wind up receiving traffic from this new site, adding these images will make your content more engaging for regular readers, so it’s really a “win win”.

It’s also a good idea to watermark the graphics you use with your blog URL.  Although content that’s pinned on Pinterest will retain your original link, not all users will click through to visit your site.  Making your URL immediately readable will help increase the traffic that winds up on your site from Pinterest – just be careful about adding your watermarked URL to other people’s images.  Make sure your rights to the image include the right to modify it in order to stay legally protected.

2 – Use Pinterest to Generate Affiliate Income

As Pinterest’s traffic grows, the traffic it generates for your links will likely increase as well.  However, it’s up to you what you want to do with that traffic.   Yes, you can direct it back to your website, which can be especially powerful if you redirect visitors to a specific “Pinterest” landing page.

But as an alternative, you can also send your Pinterest traffic to any affiliate links you promote in order to generate extra income from your efforts.  Pinterest itself has recently drawn some heat from adding its own affiliate codes to user-generated links without explicitly informing users of the change – all you really have to do is twist this practice to your advantage.

To manually change the links of the pins in your account, log in to the site and navigate to the specific pins you want to change.  Hover over the image briefly to reveal the “Edit” button and then swap out the included link with your affiliate link.

Obviously, you’ll want to experiment with a couple of different factors here, including the specific images you use in your pins, the types of boards you create and the affiliate pages to which you direct your traffic.  However, with a little bit of effort, it’s very possible to turn this new social networking site into a legitimate source of income.

3 – Reclaim Your Pins

Our last Pinterest article touched on the concept of “reclaiming your pins” (aka – asking users to manually add your link to pins containing your content), but didn’t really explain how to do it in depth.  But since this technique represents a potentially powerful way to increase your Pinterest presence without a investing a ton of time into the site, let’s look at exactly how to do it today.

The first step in this process is to brainstorm a list of keywords that could be used to find images on the site that belong to your company but haven’t been tagged correctly.  Don’t just stick to your target SEO keywords here – instead, think about how Pinterest site users might tag your images if they weren’t concerned about attributing proper credit to your content.

Scott Cowley, writing for Search Engine Journal, shares an example of the tag brainstorming he conducted for iPad accessory maker ZAGG:

As you can see, Cowley brainstormed keywords related to the company’s brand, its product lines, specific product keywords and even the keywords it’s used before in its marketing campaigns.  Entering any of these options in to the Pinterest search bar could uncover a number of images that aren’t linking back to the ZAGG site, but should be.

Once these images are uncovered, the next step is to contact the Pinterest user to request that the appropriate link be added to the pin.  Because Pinterest is a social site that’s based on person-to-person sharing, it’s important to approach these conversations from the right frame of mind.  Instead of contacting users and demanding that they tag their pins correctly or face legal action, it’s best to offer a polite request that phrases the value of re-pinning the content in favor of the original pinner.

For example, if a Pinterest user has shared an image from your website without linking back to your product listing page (a situation that can occur if your content was pulled from Google Images or shared across multiple users), contact the user and suggest that adding the correct link to the pin would make it more valuable to his or her users by providing a way to purchase the item more quickly.  Most Pinterest users will be happy to oblige and give credit where credit is due.

4 – Set Up JVs with Top Pinners

Partnering up with people who are more established in a given field (a process frequently referred to as a “joint venture”) has long been a good way to get ahead more quickly than you’d be able to by investing time in building up your own audience.  This same concept can easily be applied to Pinterest!

While you could put a bunch of time and effort into creating your Pinterest boards and slowly spicing them up with pins from your own websites, you’ll reach more people, more quickly if you team up with top-rated pinners and get them to share your content on their own boards.

As with any joint venture, you’ll want to approach this technique with caution, as not all pinners will be open to such a trade (and not all those who are interested in exchanging pins will be willing to work with you).  To maximize your chances of success, take the time to find popular pinners who are already sharing content similar to the type you’d like posted and determine what you have to offer them in exchange for a pin.  By taking the time to research potential partners ahead of time, you’ll find that you much more success quickly expanding your presence on this growing site.

Image: geniusrecruiter

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