This week — for the first time ever — I’m pleased to feature the amazing Beth Hayden on Big Brand System. You may remember Beth from an interview we did about Pinterest a few months ago. That information was so popular that I asked if she’d share more of her Pinterest expertise in a guest post.
Let’s make her feel welcome in the comment section: ask any Pinterest question you may have, and Beth will be happy to answer. –Pamela
The visual bookmarking site Pinterest can be a useful instrument in any marketer’s toolbox. Right now, Pinterest drives more traffic to websites and blogs than Twitter, Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined. So if you’re not already using this fun and engaging site, you might want to consider adding it your marketing routine.
But how do you use Pinterest (and get the full benefits from it) without it taking up all your time? How do you become a popular pinner without spending all day on Pinterest?
Make sure you’re clear on your goals and what you’re trying to accomplish
“Social networking overwhelm” is a common complaint among business owners and entrepreneurs. And one of the main reasons you might get overwhelmed is that you’re not clear on what you’re trying to accomplish online.
You may sit down to use Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, then immediately get distracted by all the noisy images, news items, blog posts and other content. Before you know it, you are lost in the black hole of the Internet without a map to get back.
So what’s the solution?
The answer is to get really clear on your goals. For most marketers, your biggest and most pressing goal is to drive traffic back to your website. Driving visitors to your site is critical to acquire more mailing list subscribers, build relationships with prospects, and sell your products and services.
Pinterest is also a great tool for listening to your target audience, doing research, and connecting with referral sources and strategic partners. Those goals are harder to measure and track, however – so in most cases, I advise my clients to focus on increasing website traffic as their primary Pinterest goal.
Any Pinterest marketing goal is fine, however – as long as you’re clear on what you’re trying to accomplish. Avoid wasting time on Pinterest by asking yourself, “What’s my goal?” before you log into the website to pin. Clarity leads to efficiency in the social media marketing world.
Create Pinterest-friendly badges quickly and easily
You may have heard that content creation is one of the hottest (and most important) current marketing trends. Content creation means blogging, email marketing, and using social media to share valuable information your prospects and customers can use.
If you want more traffic from Pinterest, publishing useful content on your website is critical. So if you’re not already blogging, podcasting, or creating video content, you should seriously consider starting.
On Pinterest, having great content on your website is just the beginning. You also need to make your content visually interesting, so people can pin it on Pinterest – which will help drive traffic back to your website. One of the best ways to make your content more visually engaging is to include visually attractive badges in your web pages and blog posts.
A badge is simply an interesting, attractive image (often a photo with your blog post title over it) that you embed into your blog post or web page. To see some examples of these shareable badges, check out the image at the top of this post, or look at the image at the top of blogger Peg Fitzpatrick’s recent blog post.
Creating shareable Pinterest badges is just like other types of content creation. Your job is to create useful, well-designed content as quickly and efficiently as possible. So what are some ways to streamline this process?
1. Batch everything. One of the best things you can do to make content creation faster and easier is to batch it. Batching simply means grouping related tasks that require similar resources in order to streamline their completion.
If you’re a blogger, you can create three blog posts in one session (once a week), instead of writing posts in three separate shorter sessions. You’ll get more done, experience far fewer interruptions, and be able to stay in a writing groove. Humans are actually terrible multi-taskers, so batching makes is easier to complete repeatable tasks on a regular basis.
The same process works for creating Pinterest badges. You can batch the creation of these badges, just like you would with blog post or podcast episodes. Schedule a badge creation session, and make all the badges you’ll need for a month of blog posts or podcast episodes. Then you’ll have everything you need to quickly and easily create and schedule your online content.
2. Use shortcuts like Canva to create badges and shareable images for your posts. Canva is my current favorite tool for creating visual badges. Their easy-to-use, beautiful templates allow you to make lightning-fast images for your content. You can use their basic tools and templates for free, or add gorgeous stock photos for about $1 a piece.
How to (efficiently) feed the Pinterest monster
One of your biggest tasks on Pinterest is to grow your following. Just like every other social networking site, the larger your following is, the more success you will have with that platform.
The best way to grow your Pinterest following quickly is by pinning compelling, useful content on a regular basis. But how do you pin a lot of content when you have a business to run (and tons of other marketing tasks to attend to)?
Here are some ideas for streamlining your pinning process:
3. Include pinning in your regular online routine. One of the best ways to add more pins to your boards is to include pinning in your current bookmarking process.
If you bookmark a blog post or article in your browser, to save it for future reference, ask yourself if that piece of content might be something your audience would find useful or entertaining. If the answer is yes, take another 15 seconds and pin in to one of your Pinterest boards, too.
I use Delicious, a free social bookmarking tool, to keep track of all my bookmarks. I like Delicious because it allows me to tag every link so I can easily search for it later – and Delicious is easy to use, too.
Now when I bookmark something on Delicious so I can keep it for myself, I also take a moment and ask myself, “Would this be good information for my audience?” If the answer is yes (and it often is), I pin that blog post or article to a Pinterest board, too.
Make sure you’ve got the Pinterest bookmarklet for your browser to make your pinning process fast and easy.
4. Follow your favorite pinners by using your RSS feed reader. If you follow particularly useful Pinterest users (and those users pin content that you don’t want to miss, because you often want to re-pin their stuff), there is a super-easy way to follow those pinners and make sure you never miss a pin. You can make that person’s Pinterest stream into its own RSS feed, and follow that feed in your feed reader.
Following individual pinners in a feed reader is a good way to avoid getting lost in your Pinterest home page, which is likely full of beautiful but distracting images that don’t help you advance your marketing goal. When you follow individual users by using RSS feeds, you can focus on just a few users who regularly pin content that you can pass on to your followers.
Here’s an article that teaches you exactly how to add Pinterest boards to your RSS feed reader.
5. Use Pinterest smart phone or tablet apps to take your pinning on the road. Use “dead time” in your days (waiting for your kid to finish his soccer practice or standing in line at the bank) to pin content to your boards using your phone or tablet. Get the apps in iTunes or on this page, and start doing some mobile pinning today!
Be strategic, smart and efficient
Just like any other social networking tool, Pinterest will expand to fit the space you give it. So make sure to keep your marketing goals in mind, and put clear boundaries around your Pinterest marketing tasks to make sure you’re not wasting time and energy on this beautiful image-based site.
Pinterest can be a tremendously effective source of website visitors, leads and clients for your business – but you do need to manage your time well and make sure every minute counts. Follow these suggestions for saving time on Pinterest, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a Pinterest productivity ninja.
About the Author: Beth Hayden is an author, speaker, and social media expert. To get more Pinterest marketing tips, make sure to download your copy of Beth’s free report, The Definitive Guide to Driving Traffic with Pinterest.