How to Use Pinterest to Drive Traffic to Your Site

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WRYW Pinterest boardPinterest seems to be the latest craze in social media. Those who use online media as their preferred method of communication and work have learned the hard way that no matter how good your writing is or you ad copy, there’s one thing that we never outgrow. That one thing is pictures. Pinterest is the site that uses the most direct form of capitalizing on this phenomenon and they offer their site to online users free so that they too can benefit from the image craze.

The idea of Pinterest is to capture the attention of the audience using images and captions. Viewers see the image and are able to click on the link to the original source, such as a website or blog. Once there, they can see your other content. But, how to use Pinterest to drive traffic? That is the question.

Images and Internet

From the time that a child learns to read, they want to see pictures with their reading materials. Like the love of new toys, our fascination with images doesn’t go away as we get older. If anything, it gets more refined and we have higher expectations. To drive this point home, consider the advances in technology that have led to things like high-definition television, 3-D imagery and even digital cameras whose pixel numbers only get higher as technology advances. The world is obsessed with images.

Yahoo and Google have proven this point with their studies that reveal where a person’s eyes go first when they open a page, as well as where they stay the longest. The images get far more attention than any one word or group f words. In fact, it’s the image that drives us to want to learn more. We want to know exactly what the image represents. For those who work online, this can mean the difference between a reader taking the time to read through the article or simply moving on to a different page. Like every other form of advertisement, the key to success in the online world is return visitors who share their experience to bring in new visitors.

How Pinterest Works

Pinterest is a fairly new site. As such, you can only join by invitation. You can get an invitation to Pinterest by asking your online friends to invite you. Once invited, you are able to sign up for your own Pinterest account. By signing up under the person who invited you, you’re automatically listed as following them.

When you sign up for the site, you can choose to do so through your Twitter or Facebook account. When you sign up for one of these accounts, Pinterest has access to the information on your account. For instance, if you sign up through Facebook, Pinterest will have access to your friends list.

After signing up, you’re taken to a page where you can choose your own interests. Pinterest has such a simplified process that you literally just click on images that represent specific categories. When you pick your categories Pinterest has you following active users in those categories, including friends from your Facebook account that have indicated similar interests as yours.

You can create your own categories or add to existing ones. In fact, if you go to a page that needs categorized and isn’t yours, you can also categorize it for the owner of the post. Those who wish to use Pinterest to drive traffic to their site would do well to use this feature to narrow down their categories as much as possible in an effort to aim for the most viable audience.

When you choose to post items to your account, you can even create your own category. For instance, if you’re a writer who reviews technology items, you might create a board specifically for technology. Post your well written reviews there and people will soon see you as an authority on the subject. Like other social platform that allow you so follow or subscribe to posts, the more followers you have, the more you are seen as an authority on the topic.

Don’t forget to be interactive on the site. When you “like” quality content in a category, you aren’t just seen as someone who is trying to promote their own work, but also as someone who has an ongoing interest in a subject. You’re also more likely to generate followers using this method than if you only post your own work.

Google and Pinterest

It’s no secret that Google has been making more of an effort to track what Internet users do. This is of significant importance for anyone who works online, whether they have a website or write ad copy for several sites. Everything you do online is tracked. Pinterest is just another way for you to use this to your advantage. To establish yourself as an authority on any topic, you have to be active in that area. When you consider the way Google tracks your Internet usage, you can easily understand how you would never be considered an authority in auto mechanics if all you read about, like, follow and share is content about flower gardens.

Pinterest allows you to demonstrate your authority on a topic by using images to draw attention to your content while redirecting back to your own site or article. In other words, you’re exposing your work to a whole other medium with a fresh audience. You’re using images as the drawing point, which is a sure-fire way to grab the attention of your audience, yet you’re also having your own attention grabbed. Using the category feature, you’re attracting an audience that you know has an interest in your content.

When you think about Pinterest and how you can use it to draw traffic to your site, think in terms of sites like StumbleUpon, only better because you’re using a proven method (images) to get the attention of your audience. Using the same premise, the more active you are with other users’ content, the more of an authority you become on that site.

Alex bring a series of in-depth articles on search marketing and content management systems as well as troubleshooting tips to We Rock Your Web's collection. He is an avid tennis player, nature enthusiast, and hiker, and enjoys spending time with his wife, friends, and dogs, Bella and Lily.

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6 Comments on "How to Use Pinterest to Drive Traffic to Your Site"

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Anonymous
Anonymous

The biggest take away when I consider a comparison of the two sites, relates back to trust. If Twitter was indeed developed as a medium to help marketers share information and sell their wares (in addition to a great way to communicate with an interested audience), the ironic thing is that Pinterest is already crushing them in the trust factor. So, a site created to help marketers is losing out to a site developed to help users share content visually!

The reason why Twitter is losing out in the trust factor is because there was no kind of policing of the site. In fact, it seems that Twitter was designed almost with the expressed purpose of allowing marketers to basically push their stuff on anyone willing (or unlucky enough to be in the wrong place) to listen.

Another big problem is Twitter seems to be very highly untargeted. This leads to most people eventually learning that they can safely ignore most of the tweets which are sent. Personally, I think they are right. Most of the marketers on Twitter have never taken the time to actually build a targeted following. Usually it is just whoever happens to be on the big list of another marketer that has been targeted. It almost seems a bit incestuous, actually. Here you go, buddy, click on my link. Oh, ok, if you click on mine I will click on yours type of thing!

Pinterest, on the other hand, is actually much more of a controlled medium. It is easy to build a group of people who actually have the same interests as you. This means that when I (or you) join a group about Jane Austen, we will receive photos and other great content about Jane Austen. It also means that we will NOT be receiving 100 other posts or pieces of content about how to create our own ebook, or how to market our products on the internet, or a million other topics which we are also not interested in.

What all this means to me is that marketing and communicating on the internet today is about much more than just throwing a bunch of product information against the proverbial wall and seeing what happens to catch hold. No, it is about building a targeted group of followers who know, like and trust you. Trust is the indispensible component that everyone online is really looking for, whether they know it or not. The sad fact is that most who are using the social media sites to market right now do not realize this.

I am of the opinion that as time moves on, we will see more and more site like Pinterest. Not so much that they will be pinning and interest sharing sites, but they will make it easier and easier for honest marketers to build targeted groups of people whose trust they can actually gain. A positive fact about this is that these new sites may actually lead the charge back to a more caring and trusting online experience.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Look at the success of Instagram. Instagram is based on pictures, much like Pinterest, except there are no interests to sign up for or detailed projects to share – just photos, whenever, wherever people want. Users can then share the photos and their captions on social network sites the same way they can for Pinterest. The value Instagram offers is entirely different from Pinterest, despite the similarities. With Instagram, it’s all about the immediate moment, capturing what someone’s eyes are seeing and sharing it with friends so they can join in the experience and be jealous, scared, awed, attracted, or interested in turn.

This difference between Pinterest and Instagram, like the difference shown between Pinterest and Twitter in the article, raises other interesting questions about the future of this process as a business tool. Could someone use Instagram to promote their business, choosing to take pictures only of certain things related to the business or business environment? It would be an excellent way to introduce familiarity to subscribers, and surely people are already trying out different strategies for successful Instagram marketing, just like they are for Pinterest. How long until the first marketing books come out showing new entrepreneurs how to use these sites to advertise for their business? They may have already been published. There is no doubt that developers, from independent workers to those hired by giants like Google, are looking at the success of Pinterest and asking themselves: “What can we create that does this, but in an even more attractive way?”

It could be the start of a new flea market-style site, like Ebay or Etsy but focus far more on the instant snapshot and photograph of the product. It could begin an information-sharing site where images still dominate but are backed up by a community of art and craft seekers ready to log onto dozens of smoothly designed forums to share news, information, and advice with each other. There aren’t really many limitations. Indeed, as Pinterest continues to grow, it may adopt some of these ideas itself in order to stay ahead of the competition. It is still a very new site, and may change dramatically over the coming years.

One thing I believe should never change is the confirmation process, with the required invitations. Future sites and incarnations of Pinterest don’t necessary need to use the invite system – after a certain amount of time it may be awkward for users – but some sort of confirmation system needs to be in place. The barrier does several positive things. First, it limits users and so prevents Pinterest from cluttering up with poor-quality designs and bad information about projects. Second, it limits images. People invited to Pinterest are likely to already have their own ideas they want to share, fully in line with the narrow focus of the site. This avoids a free-for-all like Instagram (and even that is bound it its own way to existing Facebook and Twitter followers, a social constraint that has done more for Instagram than any other feature). Perhaps with future versions of the site the confirmation process can be directed toward Pinterest workers, if the company is interested in setting up an entire team. Maybe invites will be replaced with an automated check-up process that search through information on several social networks and makes a rubric-based decision. Ideas, in this case, are truly limitless.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Pinterest represents an evolution of the social media market that I find especially fascinating. In some ways it is incredibly flexible, but in some ways it is also very limited. Its limited characteristics are one of the things I believe makes it so popular. Directions are basic. Expectations for using Pinterest have already been set by developers and communities, which makes it very easy to hop on and use. The learning curve is an easy thing, compared to try to learn Facebook or another network from scratch.

Pinterest also has many advantages for a growing online business. Thousands of small and new businesses across North America are focused on small, hand-made projects or crafts. Food is a major product for those that sell specific goods online (such as jellies). For others, their product lines may be limited to only one or two ideas, crafts that they have mastered. Think of Etsy – but Etsy is limited in its own way, because it does not enable much marketing outside of Etsy. Products are very easy to show off, but far more difficult to share with other people. Sure, you can post to Facebook or Twitter, but these are very generalized sites. One little post about a new product can easily become lost among all the other information the business owner is exchanging with other profiles.

This is where boards like Pinterest step in and say: “Wait, I have a solution for that.” Here is a community based entirely on the sharing of art projects, homemade goods, and displays that members are particularly proud of. By using Pinterest to share both projects created for the business and other projects that the owner has respect for, it becomes very easy to create ties to others across the community. Before long, people will be visiting the Pinterest board just to take a look at attractive ideas whether they are related to products or not. The products themselves, interspersed with other information, will be waiting to expand the business market. The great thing about Pinterest is that users do not feel any pressure to buy anything. They are just looking at fun displays and projects. But the marketing process can happen at the same time.

This makes me curious about what programs will develop in the future. Has Pinterest filled the entire niche? It does not seem very likely. Surely competitors can create other guideline-based sharing boards and networks that also become successful. Imagine a Facebook-like network that requires an extensive confirmation process like Pinterest does. Or, imagine a Pinterest site that offers more direct news updates about craft businesses and project events in the local area. Hybrid ideas can abound, and I would be surprised if some of them do not become equally successful.

Anonymous
Anonymous

There is much that you can do to make your Pinterest pages targeted to your audience. For starters, choose specific categories and you will automatically be added as followers to a number of highly active users in those categories as well. You may also add your own categories, or categorize the pages of others that you come across.

The article concludes by correctly pointing out the proper way to attract visitors to your site through Pinterest is by being active and interacting with the content of others as well as posting your own. The ultimate goal is not to grab some quick traffic but to really become a thought leader in your particular area. Continue adding your own images and content, but also do not stop interacting with that of others. I would also like to add the idea of really focusing those who are the most active and have the largest followings. If you want to be considered a thought leader, you must be interacting with the other leaders.

Even more important than just interacting is the idea of providing value. Although the author never specifically mentions this as such, it is clearly implied. Just throwing up a bunch of unrelated images and then hoping people will click through to your site is not the idea. You must be willing to give and to share and to teach. The old saying about giving before you receive is certainly true on the internet. By showing people what you know and genuinely trying to help them without any kind of expectation you WILL build a following. But more important than just building a following, you will build a fan base of people who are within your targeted audience that actually feel as if they know, like and trust you. It is a proven fact in the business world that people are much more likely to buy from those that they know, like and trust.

Using Pinterest in this fashion can help you get to that point quickly. Think about using Pinterest in a similar fashion to StumbleUpon, which was all about using content to become an authority. This should work even better, since it is through images (a more consumable form of content).

Can Pinterest Compare to Twitter?

Hmm. Well…Not only is the social landscape large and constantly changing, but each site is geared towards a specific purpose, idea or concept. For example, the whole idea behind Twitter is to share content within a very compact format. Links are ok, and even blatant self promotion is all right in many cases. Other sites are set up different. Pinterest, for example has a tightly focused series of rules for conduct which seem to be fairly strictly enforced.

Anonymous
Anonymous

This is a good one!

As a relatively new entry into the social media landscape it is quite possible that there are many marketers unfamiliar with Pinterest. This article correctly points out that the use of images is of paramount importance here. One of the things that I really find quite interesting is how the internet has changed as a medium over time, and the rise in popularity and effectiveness of this site clearly shows this. Originally, the World Wide Web was an entirely text based medium. Then, a graphical user interface was created and browsers. While text has always reigned supreme, it seems that now more and more people want to consume their content in other forms, especially video and images. Pinterest is certainly well positioned to capitalize on this trend.

According to the article, Google and a number of online readership studies have conclusively proven where our eyes travel as we look at a site. The fact is that images (especially well-positioned images) get the bulk of our initial attention and receive the most intense interest. So, the whole idea here is that through the use of images on your Pinterest pages people will be much more likely to click through the image and be taken to the page or site you are interested in advertising.

Personally, I think this is an incredibly innovative concept that makes Pinterest one of the most unique web properties we have seen in quite some time. It is like Facebook or Twitter, but taken to a whole new level. Additionally, it seems to me that there is the possibility for even more interactivity and sharing than with any other social media site.

Another cool feature is that you can even sign up through Facebook or Twitter. In fact, this could also be an excellent way to leverage your current social media contacts and friends, and promote further sharing, interactivity and develop an even closer relationship. This is exactly the type of thing which can help you build a following and turn those followers into loyal and raving fans and customers.

Anonymous
Anonymous

The fact that each site is built for different reasons will lead to each place having a different audience or demographic. One of the things which is incredibly interesting for me is that Pinterest users, at this point, are predominantly women. The author also points this out and speculates that the reason for this is directly related to the rules of engagement and use…and the fact that they are actually enforced. This makes women feel safer and also better able to trust the content which they find on Pinterest.

I think this last point bears some deeper analysis. It seems that Pinterest has really gone to a lot of trouble in designing their site a particular way. They have watched the growth of the other social media giants (we all know who they are), along with their well documented issues, trials and tribulations. They have capitalized on this knowledge and are starting out along a path to avoid all of these major problems and build the best social network in their own way.

One of the pieces of knowledge that Pinterest seems to have gleaned is that social media users are becoming even more active than ever before. Those on the big networks typically interact with their friends or followers every day. In some case, several (or more) times each day. This is due in large part to easier internet access. Having the ability to connect with a smart phone or another hand held device makes it very easy to snap a quick photo and then upload it to your social pages in literally seconds.

Of course, this is true with almost every social network. However, the author points out that Twitter is somewhat akin to the wild west of social networks. With very little rules (and rules that are very poorly enforced), almost anything goes. There is blatant self promotion and it seems at times to be almost marketing free for all. The thing that is even more curious is that most of the members already know and accept this. The author feels that this has led to the content posted on Twitter being not trusted nearly as much as that on other social networks.

Additionally, the users on Twitter can at times become a little rougher and harsher. The author correctly points out that many news stories and controversies have been broken on Twitter. This is true whether it is a celebrity saying something dumb or just regular folks slinging names back and forth.

The author also correctly points out the fact that social media users are becoming increasingly more specialized and niche focused in their search for community and information. It all seems to go back to the idea of trust. Users do not like the idea of being harassed with marketing messages when they are looking to find information about a particular topic, or looking to share information. Nor should they be.

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