Why Waste Time on Pinterest?

pinterestWhy should authors care about Pinterest? I considered this question as I stared at the blank Word document. Should I try to convince you that fifteen minutes a day several times per week pinning and interacting on the site could find you new readers for your work? I have always liked a challenge.

The last time I looked I had 1783 followers on the main page of my profile. This isn’t a huge number by Pinterest business standards. I am connected to pinners who have over fifty thousand followers. You must admit that is a big number. How did they gain so many followers? Are they celebrities? No, they are business people who recognized early on the unique draw of this social media site.

For authors, Pinterest provides the opportunity to add a visual aspect to the written one, and attract a new group of readers to your books. You can create a board that contains video and pins of places your characters visit. You can post the recipes they eat. You can use these boards to attract a different set of readers to your work.

Pinterest is like any other social media site. A new user needs to take a little time to understand what works and what doesn’t. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen on author profiles is having only one board, My Books, for example, with the cover of the book repinned every time the book is reviewed or promoted. At a minimum a main profile page should contain three boards so that the first line of boards is filled out. This is visually pleasing.

What type of boards are popular and will help an author’s pins to be repinned? On the main Pinterest page you can search under keywords and categories. Let’s say you are an accomplished photographer. You can create a board, Nature in My Backyard, and post your own photos. If you watermark them with your blog, and include a catchy description in the box underneath, you are on your way to gaining followers. Use no more than two or three hashtags in the description, otherwise it will look messy. I have seen a statistic that says eighty percent of all pins become repins, so make them count!

I wrote previously about pinning etiquette. I no longer “like” before I pin, but I have continued the practice of never taking more than five pins at a time from an individual board. I always follow a beautiful board and have never been concerned with the follower to follow ratio. The flow of pins on a board are a collection of that pinner, and to encourage reciprocity it is crucial to show appreciation and not steal their work. I have had people copy entire boards that I’ve created, and this is poor Pinterest form.

If you want to have a business account on Pinterest rather than a personal profile page, you need to decide what you will call your profile page. Although I have a food and lifestyle blog I decided to keep my name on the page. My thought process is that if I am trying to interest readers in my books, which are my product, they need to interact with me as a pinner and see what I’m interested in. I have a Culture and Cuisine Club board, which is the blog I have kept since 2009. I recently changed the wording next to my photo to direct people to my author page on Facebook. The follow number on Facebook, both my personal page and my author page, has begun to increase and this may be why.

I suggest that you have a photo of yourself on the profile page. A complementary photo of yourself, displayed where you interact with strangers who are potential customers, is part of your author brand. Please don’t leave the photo box with a red pin.

It is important to showcase other pinners while continuing to establish your own brand. I have had great success with this concept. As a proud indie author I established a board, Indie Extravaganza, where I pin many books. I am a reader as well as a writer. I am genuine in my desire to promote quality indie books, and I have met other pinners that way. I also have a group board called The Other Food Group, which features coffee and chocolate, and another called World of Bacon. I no longer join group boards because the Pinterest algorithm places them above my boards on my profile page and I need to manually move them.

One of the more comprehensive articles I’ve found on the ins and outs of Pinterest Business accounts is here. When I read this article I realized that although I was using Pinterest well, I hadn’t scratched the surface. I also have not integrated my blog fully. I have a list of personal to dos that will enhance and drive the platform I’ve already built. Let’s get into a few exciting benefits of creating a Pinterest business account.

Install the Pinterest app on your smartphone. This will help you avoid pin dropping, i.e. pinning all at once. Instagram is a great tool that integrates beautifully with Pinterest. As a business account you can set-up Pin Alert tracking and receive notifications when someone repins from your own or your competitor’s website.

Promotional pins is a benefit I am extremely interested in. Unfortunately, the business side of Pinterest is growing fast and there are times that the site cannot handle the traffic load. I tried to sign up for promotional pins and after filling out the online form could not get into the software. This happened several times. I have just begun to explore the analytics, and once I get a better handle on them I will report back. You can investigate what is offered here.

You can run promotions on Pinterest. They have specific rules on how you can interact with the pinners who enter your contest. The rules remind me of the Goodreads limitations a bit, but there is a great deal of opportunity for creative types. Call your contest a “Pin it to win” contest. You can also create a gallery of your most shared pins, but be sure to mark them as your most pinned pins, not Pinterest in general. They are very protective of their brand and you can find out more information here.

Rich pins are another benefit of having a business account on Pinterest. For example, people have communicated with me to ask for the recipe of something I’ve pinned. If it were my recipe, on my blog, I could enable meta data to share the specific ingredients and method directly under the pin. This would be a convenience to the pinner, but my goal is to get them to my blog. I’ll have to explore this further.

I am not surprised if you are cross-eyed at this point. Pinterest, and particularly a Pinterest business account, provides opportunities to interact with readers in new and exciting ways. To distinguish ourselves we need to think outside the box, and Pinterest is poised to help us do so.

Author: L. A. Lewandowski

Lois Lewandowski graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Political Science and French Literature. A passion for life lived well is reflected in her novels, Born to Die-The Montauk Murders, A Gourmet Demise, and My Gentleman Vampire, giving readers a glimpse into the world of the beau monde. Lois lives in Tampa, Florida. Learn more at her lifestyle blog, and her Amazon author page.

32 thoughts on “Why Waste Time on Pinterest?”

  1. Lois, great stuff. Obviously there is a lot more to Pinterest than I had uncovered yet. It’s just low on the priority list; maybe I’ll have to bump it up. Thanks for the pointers.

    1. Hi Melissa,
      I am a visual person. Pinterest satisfies this tendency, and enables me to connect in a stress free environment with all sorts of people. As I’ve said before, it is a soft sell. The relationships are built on shared interests, and eventually the pinners realize that I am an author. Sales flow from there. 🙂
      You would be great at it!

    1. Hi Melinda,
      I think people see Pinterest as a huge time investment, and if you’re clever in setting up your boards it doesn’t have to be. The key is to have a few boards that speak to your hobbies and strengths. People will find you and you will find them.
      There are boards about ice cream. 🙂

  2. I find it quite overwhelming when deciding what avenues of social-media to pursue. Primarily I’m using FB atm, and starting to break into Twitter. But I find that each social-media outlet just adds to the burden on one’s “useful” hours during the day.

    I guess the wisest course of action is to simply pick one or two venues and focus on those. Really, after launch last week my timetable and usual orderliness is shambles. And now, Pintrest! Which has my interest (ooh, look at me, making rhymes). Especially considering that I spent so long behind the scenes cultivating a strong aesthetic for my work.

    The write-up was great, Lois, and quite compelling. I guess I’ll have to find some time for this.

      1. Seems that I’ve done everything except Linkdin! (Which I’m illogically averse toward.) So that’s good. I wish someone would develop and “all-in-one” social media hub, or aggregate service. Would make life so much easier.

    1. Hi Christian,
      Congratulations on the launch of your book. I would like to put it on my Indies Extravaganza board. Also, I have enjoyed reading your flash fiction.
      It is important to pick the social media that you’re comfortable with. Facebook interaction goes without saying. I try to use twitter, but I’m not willing to monitor the conversations all day. I like Pinterest because it is visual. I view it as a different way to attract readers. It also helps to build author brand by showing what I am interested in. The amount of time spent on the site can be managed easily. But it can be addicting!

  3. Ms. Lewandowski, thank you for your article! Pinterest is a lot of fun, but also a complex and subtle tool, one that you clearly have a great deal of skill with. I was hoping that perhaps you could address the issue of how Pinterest translates into book sales. It appears to take a fair bit of time to properly groom your presence there, and I’m wondering how you have measured the return on your investment. How has it translated to sales, and how does it compare in effectiveness to other social media platforms?

    1. Hello,
      I have used Pinterest as a place to post promotions I am running, new book launches, and reviews of my books. Last month I feel it was an important part of the promotion I ran with Booksends and the Choosey Bookworm. I sold over 100 books in a two day period and my book went down into the 5000 ranking on Amazon for mysteries, a saturated category.
      Pinterest can be managed, and it is a great place to post advertising. The promotional aspect is accepted there, unlike Facebook, where constant promotion gets to be annoying. My suggestion is to set up your profile on Pinterest, follow my Indies Extravaganza board, and begin to play around on the site.
      As a business member I am planning on running a promotion as I discussed in my post. I will report back on how that went.
      Thank you for your comments.

  4. Good stuff, Lois. Pinterest invited me to convert to a business account, but I couldn’t figure out whether it would be useful to me. Still need to think about that, as well as the rest of your great tips. 🙂

    1. Hi Lynne,
      I couldn’t find any negatives in converting to a business account. I think getting the meta data is another great opportunity to find out what our potential readers are interested in.

  5. Fantastic stuff! I am a HUGE pinner, and I run group boards. I love my group boards because I get a LOT of traffic for my blog. Since I do review and a recipe I get to pin one pin to my group board, other group boards and I get to share the recipe. I have YET to scratch the surface but I have a week scheduled in September where I will be integrating a bunch of new stuff into my daily routine. I get 30% of my traffic on Cabin Goddess from this board (and I get a lot of traffic) I know a lot of it is because of my recipes but I am finding more and more are coming because of Alaska and the books. So well rounded is right! The five pin deal, that is good to know THANK YOU so much!

    1. Are we connected on Pinterest? If not we need to be!
      I agree that there is a lot that Pinterest can offer in bringing pinners over to an individual blog. Businesses are having great success with this.
      What kind of recipes do you cook?

      1. I cook everything. I love trying to do recipes which match books and then I run Mama’s Kitchen Mondays. My biggest pin right now is my Oreo Truffle recipe which I get on average 50 hits a day from just that recipe. I was invited onto Southern Living’s board so I pin certain recipes there and another magazines (I cannot remember). But the Oreo has over 1.6K pins for just one pin and the one I pinned on the group board more. Also I learned to repin instead of pinning it on five different boards separately

          1. Yep. I love the analytics. I was really surprised to find out just how much traffic my regular features on the blog got from my pinned recipes and my book reviews. I do use a lot of group boards but I pin on my board and then repin on those. I am not sure if that is a good thing or not but it seems to be getting me traffic.

    1. Lin,
      You should be on Pinterest. There is a lot of photography, and you could share your sage advice with another audience.
      I have pinned your books on my Indies Extravaganza board. You could start a board about Mexican cuisine and… tequila? 🙂

  6. Great post, Lois! I’ve been in summer hibernation on promo and need to get back in the game–Pinterest sounds like the perfect segue. Thanks!

  7. You got me thinking more about my page there. I just started it on a whim, still don’t really get the mechanics of it, but maybe now I’ll look more deeply.

  8. I’d never thought about Pinterest like that. I’ve got book boards and a few others, but really only pop into it if someone follows a board or pins one of my pins. Thanks for the new perspective and look forward to reading more.

    1. Hi Dale,
      When I researched the Pinterest updates I realized I had a lot more work to do on integrating my blog.
      I am planning on creating a promotion, and I’ll report my results in a future post.
      Thanks for your comment.

  9. You are definitely a champion for the Pinterest cause, Lois, and you obviously use it to its best advantage. Busy and time poor was my excuse for not taking your advice, so long ago it seems. You are such a devoted advocate of Pinterest, Lois, that I really must, somehow, at some point, schedule it into my timetable.

    Excellent post, Lois, so well presented.

    1. Hi TD,
      I do love Pinterest!
      We creative types can easily manage a few boards that will help establish a presence and lead to connections. It is a slow build, but one that reinforces our unique interests and makes us more desirable to the readers in our niche.
      Thanks for your feedback.

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