Before we jump into the nitty-gritty, I think it’s important to let you know that this isn’t just any other Pinterest blog post. You’re probably familiar with Pinterest by now, the basics of how it functions and general etiquette. I’m going out on a limb here and assuming it’s safe to say you may be one of many who are addicted (don’t worry, you’re not alone)! However, what you may not realize is the HUGE potential Pinterest has for designers to grow their following and audience to thousands upon thousands of amazing people (read: hello tribe!). I often get questions from people wondering how I grew my Pinterest following to staggering numbers, and I can’t wait to share with you how I did it. If you don’t have a website or blog yet, don’t worry. I grew my numbers to approximately 40,000 without either of those two things (of course, it only has more potential if you do)! For me, Pinterest is two-fold: it not only is a way of reaching a target audience and growing an online presence, but it also is an integral part of my design process and how I operate as a graphic designer. So how do you grow your following? Let’s get right into it. Here’s what’s worked for me:
PIN FRESH CONTENT.
While re-pinning is great, and will probably be the majority of what you pin, it’s important to pin new, fresh content when you can. My favorite places to check for fresh design or business-related content are Dribbble, Behance, design blogs, and entrepreneur/business-based blogs that I love. What’s great about pinning new content is that others will probably not have pinned it to their boards yet and will be enticed to re-pin your pin to their boards. Over time, they’ll count on you to help fill their feed with fresh content. It gives them a reason to keep coming back to your boards over someone else’s who just re-pins the same old content that they’ve already seen a bunch of times. If you have a blog or website, write pinnable, authentic content and pin that.
CONSISTENCY IS KEY.
Spamming is never a great thing (although I’m guilty of this at times), but pinning and then falling off the face of “Pinterest” earth for a week doesn’t keep your pins fresh in your followers feeds. In order to stay current and active, I’d recommend pinning at least once per day (a few pins at a time).
USE THE PINTEREST “PIN IT” BOOKMARKLET.
Place the Pin It bookmarklet in your browser bar, so as soon as you’re inspired you are ready and able to pin quickly without the process being obtrusive to your work flow. If you’re not sure how to do this, click here for directions from Pinterest.
VERIFY YOUR ACCOUNT.
Get your website verified. You can see a tutorial of how to do this here. Once it’s verified you’ll see a little check mark next to your website name and you will have access to your web analytics.
PIN THINGS THAT YOU WANT TO REFERENCE LATER.
This is a great way to maximize your time and also gives you the opportunity to pin things that you might want to refer to time and time again. Examples of this would be tutorials, blog post ideas, design offering ideas, etc.
KEEP YOUR MOST POPULAR BOARDS “ABOVE THE FOLD”.
Above the fold means the portion of your site which can be shown when first entering the site without scrolling down at all. Your most popular boards should be placed above the fold since that is what users first see when they go to your Pinterest page. It is the first chance you have to catch their attention and gain their follow if they like what they see.
CONSCIOUSLY SELECT OR CREATE COVER IMAGES FOR YOUR BOARDS.
Cover images are what your followers or potential followers see when they arrive at your Pinterest page, so it’s important to give them an overall picture of what they might find should they venture into your individual boards. Either choose your cover images to reflect an overall feel you want people to have when they visit your page (usually best if they all have a similar feel), or create your own cover images to coordinate! A great example of a company creating their own cover images is Chobani, which you can see here. Another example of consciously selecting appealing, consistent cover images is Glitter Guide, which you can see here.
USE HASHTAGS IN YOUR PIN DESCRIPTIONS & BE DESCRIPTIVE.
Be conscious of using hashtags minimally as not to annoy your audience or deter them from re-pinning your pins, but using hashtags is a great way to add a little SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to your pinning. Note, there is no need to use hashtags in your profile or board descriptions, as Pinterest only reads hashtags in the actual pin description.
NAME YOUR BOARDS WITH SEARCHABLE, SPECIFIC AND DESCRIPTIVE NAMES.
Your board names should be intuitive and make sense to the content they contain. A good example of this is “Logo & Identity Design”. Try to avoid using names with odd spacing or weird spellings, such as “: : l o g o l u v : :”. Yes, the dots are cute, but no one is going to be searching for the latter, so your boards won’t show up in their search. Especially important for a large numbers of boards and pins, organization is key. Naming your boards with very specific names or topics helps attract users to follow them because it showcases this organization and are easy for the users to follow the specific boards they like. Again, it makes the job of the user simple!
ORGANIZE YOUR ROWS AND GROUP SIMILAR BOARDS TOGETHER.
If your followers are interested in Typography, it would make sense to have boards such as Typography, Hand Lettering, and Calligraphy all right next to each other in the row, versus scattered about. It makes viewing your boards less of a hassle for your followers, improves their customer experience, and encourages your followers to check out other similar boards that may be of interest to them while they’re visiting your page. Usually the longer they remain within your boards, the more re-pins and follows you’ll gain.
MAKE SURE YOUR BOARDS ARE NOT HIDDEN FROM SEARCH ENGINES.
In the Pinterest settings, there is an option to hide your boards from the search engines. Make sure this button is turned off (gray) in order to help search engines and prospects find you.
CREATE A UNIQUE HASHTAG FOR YOUR BUSINESS.
If you want to use a hashtag, a successful way to stand out from the crowd is to create a unique, one-of-a-kind hashtag for your business/brand/campaign that avoids using generic search terms. That way, when people do click on your unique hashtag, it will lead them to very narrow search results specifically targeting your business or design work (keep in mind, hashtags are not clickable on the mobile Pinterest app or the mobile internet version of their site).
CREATE A RESOURCE ROUNDUP.
Create a design resource board to start gathering all of your design resources in one place. These type of pins could include a social media dimension chart, video tutorials, icon packs, fonts you want to buy, etc. This is a good type of board to add to as you randomly come across things that you’d like to hold onto for a while or might come in handy while working on projects. This type of board attracts followers because it becomes an instant information base for them to refer to!
USE GROUP BOARDS TO COLLABORATE WITH LIKE-MINDED THINKERS.
Create and join group boards that are relevant to your audience. Group boards are a really great way to meet and connect with like-minded thinkers and other people that you might not have been able to connect with as easily before (for example, because you live on opposite sides of the country). You can all share what inspires you, stay current in your field, and support each other’s work. One of my most successful boards is my Young Creative Entrepreneurs board, where we share entrepreneurship advice, tips, strategy, and promote our own posts shamelessly…and let’s face it: we’re huge fans of one another! There is nothing like having a group of people that love to support one another and making connections with people you admire. Get new ideas, share the love and meet new people. Win, win. Just be sure to moderate the board to ensure consistency and avoid complications with content, such as over-sharing of pins (spam) or eliminating pins that are not relevant to the topic of the board. You could also get strategic and invite people to be guest pinners on one of your boards, of which a contributor who is an expert on a subject contributes pins. This benefits both the creator of the board and the guest pinner, as they both have each of their audiences exposed to the board. This usually results in more people finding your content and forms a strong relationship with one another. An example of this is the collaboration between Martha Stewart Living and Lauren Conrad, as seen here.
PIN THE PRETTY.
A picture is worth a thousand pins…literally. A lot of people go to Pinterest looking for the “ideal” and no one wants a feed filled with pins that are unattractive to look at. Pinterest is visual, so keep the visuals eye-appealing. Be intentional with what you pin, while keeping this principle in mind. There’s no need to “pin all of the things” just for the sake of pinning. Providing content that is original, educational, and visual will get you far.
PIN WITH YOUR READERS IN MIND.
Ask yourself, “Who is your target audience, and what type of pins are they attracted to?” Attract & appeal to your target audience.
CREATE A “VOICE” FOR YOUR BRAND, AN OVERALL BRAND ESSENCE OR PERSONALITY.
Pinning consciously can give you unique value in your niche and expert positioning, allowing you to become a leader in your industry. This gains the confidence of your customers and potential customers. If they feel a connection with the types of pins that you pin, chances are high that they’ll consider you for their project or at the very least be a supporter, which is just as important. If your brand attributes focus on simplicity, let your pins reflect ways to make the lives of your followers simpler! Remember that your boards are a great way to empower your community and audience.
ADVERTISE YOUR OWN PINS.
But don’t only do that, or you may annoy your followers. Quality over quantity. Use it as an extension of your portfolio, or if you have a new blog post you want to promote, create a pinnable, attractive graphic image. A little promotion never hurt anyone, but keep it within 10% of what you pin overall. If people like the essence of what you’re pinning, they will support you and your business as well. For a lot of product-based businesses, solely pinning your product directly may not work. If you think this may apply to your business, why not show what your products can DO for your followers instead of just the product itself? You can even step it up a notch and invite users who have and love your product to pin to your board, spreading the love.
MAKE IT EASY FOR PEOPLE TO SHARE YOUR CONTENT FROM YOUR WEBSITE.
Let Pinterest work for you, even when you’re away from your computer. Integrate “Pin It” buttons with your website images, leave a visual cue at the end of a blog post for people to pin the post, or integrate a Pinterest feed right into your website, letting people know that you’re on Pinterest. An example of a brand that has done this well is Sephora, which you can see here.
MAKE SURE YOUR PROFILE PHOTO IS EITHER YOUR LOGO OR IT’S A PHOTO OF YOU.
This may seem silly, but a photo of a landscape or a fuzzy photo just won’t cut it. Be memorable so people start to recognize you in their feed. Look at your own feed and pick out which profile photos stand out to you. Does yours stand up next to it? You may also want to consider your branding across any other social channels you use. It makes sense to use the same photo as other social profile photos so that your look is consistent and users will know it’s you when they visit your page. To hear more about this, I’d recommend checking out Bethany’s post on Branding Your Blog’s Social Media here, if you haven’t already!
THANK PINNERS FOR PINNING & RE-PINNING YOUR WORK.
If someone pins or re-pins your own personal work, take the time to thank them when you can. It may seem obvious, but a little thanks goes a long way to building a tribe of loyal supporters. Not sure who is pinning your work? Just do a quick search in the search bar and see what pops up!
INTEGRATE PINTEREST INTO YOUR DESIGN PROCESS: CREATE AND USE SECRET BOARDS WITH CLIENTS FOR INSPIRATION GATHERING.
Did you know that you can now have unlimited secret boards?! Yep, in case you’ve been living under a rock, that’s huge news for designers. I create secret boards with my clients to fill with our inspiration for their project. As the designer, this gives me a good idea of the direction they’re thinking of and it gives my customers a chance to get excited about their upcoming project. Doing this makes sure that we’re on the same page before the real design work starts. This usually consists of typography, color palette inspiration, textures, patterns, design details, layout ideas, and any other inspirational elements that might relate to their project.
People love learning things and they often turn to Pinterest to make their lives easier, so it pays to be useful. Post how-to’s, tutorials, what’s new, current trends, etc. The curious flock to all sorts of useful tips and tricks.
As you can see, there is huge potential in using Pinterest as a designer or entrepreneur, all of which gives you a chance to grow your following. Integrating some or all of these tips and best practices into your workflow can really make a difference in growing and attracting excited followers. It can create a tribe of loyal supporters for you and your business. And once the numbers start growing, it just increases exponentially from there. There are many tips to be had, but most of all, HAVE FUN WITH IT! Pinterest is just another avenue to express yourself and your brand, so enjoy the process!
Do you have a useful tip of your own? Feel free to share it in the comments below!