The latest social networking site, Pinterest has attracted a lot of press lately. While many have begun to swear by it, there are many of us who still do not understand this novel tool and how it might help us to drive traffic to websites, organize design projects and add a little colour to an otherwise text-filled world.
What is Pinterest?
In simple terms, Pinterest is an online space where one could organize pictures that are interesting. These images can either be uploaded originally or shared after running into an image while browsing. Once an image is uploaded or shared on Pinterest, it becomes a ‘pin’. A collection of pins that are related to each other can then be organized under themed Boards. It is up to the user what the boards are going to be named, or what sort of ‘Pins’ the board would consist of.
How is Pinterest Used?
Pinterest comes with an official ‘Pin It Button’, which is a browser extension. Each time you come across an image you like, you could click on the image and pin it under a board of your choice. Of course, you could accompany the ‘Pin’ with a caption or lengthier text as well. At the moment, it is possible to use your iPhone to Pin original pictures.
Images can be categorized for further use, or for inspiration. All the hats that you like may be pinned under a specific board, so that others may see which hat you like. Or, you might want to pin pictures of apartments that you may find interesting, and pin them under a board titled ‘Possible Apartments to Buy’. The possibilities are endless! It is also a great tool to make lists of products that you may find attractive online, which you may choose to buy at a later stage.
While you can always pin all day long anything that catches your eye, Pinterest is better used with a specific purpose in mind. Moreover, Pinterest can serve as a collaborative tool, with which you can collect images, brainstorm and work on issues that may be important to you. Pinterest is an open and public network. Anybody can follow anyone, and one is not obliged to follow back. One could categorize pins under hashtags, similar to Twitter hashtags.
Who Uses Pinterest?
Pinterest’s power users are aged between 25 and 44, and 80% of the users are female. They also earn a lot more than most people and have some level of college education. They tend to be located in the Midwestern states of the United States. However, this demographic is quickly changing to include people from other countries, and a growing number of men who have begun to use Pinterest for design projects.
Can Pinterest Drive Traffic?
All said and done, Pinterest is an important traffic driver to websites. It is particularly important to retail brands, as their products depend on visual appeal. Pinterest was launched way back in 2010, but it already has more than 10.4 million users. Of course, it can’t be compared with Facebook’s 845 million users or Twitter’s 200 million users.
What needs to be understood is that Pinterest targets a certain visually oriented target audience, which could be a great platform to look for niche traffic. If one were to consider referral traffic, Pinterest is almost equal to Twitter, with both driving 3.6% of web traffic. Facebook on the other hand, has a share of 26.4%. LinkedIn and Google+ lag behind at 0.2%.
Why Pinterest is Important to Web Designers?
Most images that are pinned lead to a source link and as Pins can be ‘liked’ or ‘repinned’, they come with a promising traffic driving potential. This is perhaps what would interest SEO specialists and web admins. When it comes to web designers, it is rather easy to surmise that they would pin templates, images and graphics that they may want to use in certain projects. Pinterest is collaborative and social, which also means that web designers can use it to present design ideas to clients.
Again, like we always say with social sites, the possibilities are endless. Pinterest is being increasingly seen as a promising tool for web designers, mostly because of its visual nature. Pinterest allows you to organize links based on images that you see on various websites. These images, which might be websites that inspire you to design similarly, could be clubbed under various categories of boards.
Top 10 Tips to Use Pinterest
1) Use Pinterest on Websites
It is very important to make your presence on Pinterest known to visitors to your website. Pinterest has a number of goodies, which can help you to add Pinterest buttons, either on the page or on individual products that you display. This would encourage visitors to pin products on your site, and eventually drive traffic back to your website, probably resulting in sales.
2) The Right Etiquette
Like any other social media website, it is important to not sound like you are over promoting yourself or your products. It is alright to promote your products, but your boards must include images and links to themes, ideas and interests that can be associated with your business. It is important to be nice, polite and non intrusive.
3) Engagement and Participation
Increase the number of pins and boards, and keep them relevant to your business. Follow people who follow you, and engage in conversations about what they like and dislike. The more images you pin, the more traffic you will drive back to your website.
4) Keywords and Hashtags
Just like in Twitter, Pinterest allows you to use keywords and hashtags relevant to particular pins. For instance, #Flash, #design, #CSS can be relevant hashtags to your web design projects. It is important to identify which hashtags are most relevant to your business. If you are a developer, you could perhaps link images to your blog posts that describe coding, screenshots of HTML and PHP codes, etc.
5) Interest Groups
There can be several freelance designers, developers and graphic artists on Pinterest near your area. You could search for design projects and web designers and follow those who seem interesting. Joining these interest groups would give you access to not only great examples of portfolios and work, but it would even help you to get contacts. This is how you should network, and look for clients. You would need to socialize on Pinterest just like you would do so on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
6) Content Marketing
It is very easy to promote whitepapers editorials and thoughtful blog posts as and when they are published on your blog. All that you would need to do is upload images in your blog post or whatever content that you may choose to publish. One of the images can be Pinned and Pinterest users will click on the pin to visit your article/post. It is important to curate infographics that are relevant to your industry. Pinterest is not all about pretty pictures. It can be a powerful tool to collect charts, graphs, and statistical representations related to your business.
Pinterest is not all about images that can be pinned. too. This is an area that is still not explored much. Instructional videos, promotional content and even informative videos uploaded on your website can be pinned, so that traffic is driven back to your website again. Most visitors find pinning videos very appealing.
8 ) Quality of Photos
It is extremely important to make sure that the photos you upload or pin are of high quality. Websites in Flash do not allow photos to be pinned, so HTML5 may be better when designing websites in future. Moreover, the photos that you upload must be tagged correctly so that search engines index them.
9) Team Collaboration
Pinterest allows you to collaborate with other contributors. It allows others to contribute to boards you have created, if they are already following you, and if you allow them to do so. This can be great for businesses and freelancers, who need a certain amount of collaboration. Web designers, developers, logo designers etc can collaborate on a particular board, so that clients can check real time. In fact, work can become possible!
10) Traffic Analytics
You will gain a lot by checking from where much of your traffic is sourced. It can very well turn out to be Pinterest, considered how quickly it is growing. It has an inbuilt ability to drive traffic and thanks to links that can be followed, it has SEO value as well. It appeals to multiple vertical markets and that is important in a fickle world like today’s.
There are a number of web references which you could use in order to learn more about Pinterest. The Next Women wrote a post about how Pinterest is driving more traffic than Twitter and Google+. The Sits Girls explained in detail how Pinterest can help you to drive traffic to your blog. Kissmetrics has listed a whopping 103 resources related to Pinterest. They range from how to use the tool to how best you could use it to drive traffic and optimize your search engine rankings.
At the moment, Pinterest seems to be a promising social tool that is visually inspired and will almost certainly help web designers and graphics professionals to showcase their work, collaborate and possibly attract new clients as well. It all boils down to how Pinterest is used, rather than what people are saying about it and what people are not saying about it. In the coming months, Pinterest may continue to attract a lot of press which would only help in driving traffic to existing boards.