Author alert: if you’ve been looking for a social media edge, the search is over! Pinterest is a platform that can launch your content into orbit—and keep it there. It’s ideal to support the marketing of your book.
Think of Pinterest as a social search engine: it’s the search engine driven by people. This makes it powerful. I’ve spent the last two months intensely researching this platform in order to gain understanding and insight with an eye of how to best utilize Pinterest for authors. Step behind the scenes with me and I’ll show you how it works.
Start with the basics. Pinterest is a search engine that returns results to the user in a visual format. It allows the user to save ideas and items of interest online on a free server and organize that information as boards to easily access later. You can think of it basically like an online virtual corkboard/filing cabinet. The images that you see when you search for Pinterest are commonly called Pins. Pins are the visual element of the link back to the content.
All the content you find on Pinterest will link back to a site. This can be a personal website, a blog, Amazon, Etsy, another social media platform such as Flickr or Tumblr… The possibilities are as endless as the Internet itself. And here is what makes Pinterest a social search engine: Every pin is posted by a user. And that user has a profile. And that profile is open for everyone else to browse through. A user can search for individual pins or boards; when they find something, they like from a board or their search feed they can save it to their profile. This process is called repinning and is very powerful.
Every time you post to your Pinterest account it has the chance to be seen by thousands of people—not just your followers. And each time someone repins your pins to their page that content is then spread even further… It’s like dandelion fluff. It goes everywhere. And much like dandelions pins last for a very long time. They circulate and recirculate for months before slowly becoming dormant—only to pop back up when someone stumbles across them on another person’s profile and shares it again. They never disappear completely unless Pinterest itself deletes it for being inappropriate.
This is good news for you! It means that all the work you do stays relevant. It also means that your number of followers, while something you want to grow, is not the only or most important way to be seen on Pinterest.
Pinning and repinning are considered a social way to engage with content on Pinterest, like window shopping. Another social aspect is everybody can comment on a pin and even add a photo. The comment section of pins is for more than just documenting a person’s experience though. People engage in conversations relaying their ideas and opinions much as they would on other social media platforms. These comments accrue over time and will stay with the pin as it circulates through Pinterest. As with any comment section you can engage with the people who leave comments. And unlike Amazon, currently, the comments are not vetted for connection to the creator.
Images from Pinterest will also show up on Google searches regardless of whether the person searching has a Pinterest account. For example, if someone is searching for garden designs, they will likely get results linking back to Pinterest. If that person then clicks the link they will be invited to join and create their own profile on the platform and begin saving their ideas and interests. The content a person saves says a lot about them. It’s very different from Facebook or Instagram where people are posting only about the Now: their dog or what they ate for lunch. #WhoCares!
On Pinterest the content people chose to save is about who they are now and who they intend to be in the future. That includes things like colleges they want to attend, clothes they may buy, book clubs they want to form, recipes for a new, healthier self, and so on. Consider this when you are creating images for your blog post or a pin to sell people on your book. How does it appeal to them now and how can it appeal to the person they want to be? If you write children’s books you can market not just to parents but to those people who are saving ideas for their future children. My 15-year-old daughter has a board on her Pinterest devoted to a kitchen in a house she does not own because Someday.
People on Pinterest can choose to follow topics, boards, and profiles in which they are interested in. It means every time they pull up the app on their phone or computer, they will immediately see this content. Currently, there are two different ways content is presented to a user. The Main feed is about topics the person has expressed an interest in mixed with fresh content Pinterest is promoting. This feed will also contain any ads from businesses. The Following feed is a separate tab the user can select and only displays content from businesses, people, or boards the user has chosen to follow. The Following feed is a new concept Pinterest is exploring based on users expressing a desire to more easily access the content in which they are most interested in.
Pinterest reviews the user experience and collects feedback from people and businesses all the time. The amount of data they analyze is staggering. Based on trends they are seeing and the feedback they receive they make changes to tweak and tailor their system to keep their platform relevant and engaging. Every new year they send out information on their new best practices as well as upcoming changes. This allows business account holders to adapt their strategies for marketing success and keeps the platform fresh and vibrant for the casual user. Many of the changes they make feel natural and are intended to add enjoyment and ease of use for the consumer.
Now that you have a solid understanding of how Pinterest functions, Part II will look at ways to use it to promote your work. In my next post, I’ll discuss the nuts and bolts of creating a (free!) business profile and strategies for using Pinterest analytics (also free!) to work for you.
Heather Daleccio has sat on the open loading deck of a C-130 as it flew over the white cliffs of Dover; been trained to evade and survive in enemy territory, and eat the brain of a cow in France. These experiences have proven useful for raising three kids. She reads, writes, and researches. Her most recent adventure is working on social media marketing. Discover Heather’s Pinterest Boards at Her website is:
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