Back in September, I ran a guest post from Dannielle where she shared her strategies for growing her Pinterest followers.
Since then, I’ve been consistent in my pinning, putting her strategies into use and experimenting with a few of my own.
So today I want to share some additional lessons that I’ve learned, plus answer some common questions that have come up since Dannielle’s post.
You don’t need to follow a lot of people to gain new followers. This was a question that came up a lot after Dannielle’s initial post. As with other social media advice, many people wondered if there was an expectation to follow and follow back. But this is not the reality on Pinterest. Both Dannielle and I rapidly grew our followers without greatly increasing (or even increasing at all) the number of people we follow. In fact, both Dannielle and I each follow less than 300 people.
The reason it’s not worth worrying about how many people you follow is simple. One of the keys to getting more followers on Pinterest is to curate great content. And the easiest way to do that is to be selective about who you follow. When I go into my Pinterest feed, I know I’m going to see a lot of images that already match my aesthetic and point of view. And those images will lead me to more great images. This helps me quickly find lots of things to repin.
Know what it means to pin a lot. The biggest thing I did to grow my followers was to pin a lot. But I think it’s important to define what a lot means. Because when I’ve given this advice to people, I haven’t necessarily seen them pin in the quantities required for rapid growth.
So here’s my definition of “pin a lot.” On a regular day (where I’m not super active on Pinterest) I’ll likely still pin 10 – 30 times per day. But on a day where I’m in active growth mode, I’m likely pinning 50 – 100 pins. Per day!
Hitting these numbers doesn’t take me a ton of time each day either. That’s because the bulk of my pins come from within Pinterest itself. (This is the other key to pinning a lot. Don’t go trolling the Internet looking for things to pin. Pin from within Pinterest itself.)
I have two or three times a day (depending on my schedule) where I focus on generating a lot of pins. These are typically first thing in the morning (I ease into my day with Pinterest and Instagram), sometime in the afternoon (when I need a break from other work), and in the evening when I’m hanging out around the house.
My strategy for finding pins is typically the same for most days. I start with my feed, repinning things that catch my eye. Then, if something in my feed is particularly interesting, I’ll scroll down to the “related pins” and continue pinning from there. If I’ve exhausted my feed (and still want to get more pins in) I’ll head over to the categories search (I have a few categories that are my go to) and again, use “related pins” for images that catch my eye.
I do pin from outside Pinterest when I find something interesting (or when I want to promote my own stuff), but the bulk of my pins come from within Pinterest itself.
Aim for lots of pins on strategic boards. One of the tricks that Dannielle mentioned was to split up really broad category boards (like home) into narrower boards (like dining, living, bedroom, etc.). And I completely agree. (This is one of the strategies I used as well.) But, I’ve also observed that it’s possible to go too narrow.
Splitting your boards too narrowly (and having too many boards) can actually backfire. That’s because in order to really gain followers, a board needs a critical mass of pins. (There are exceptions to this rule, like if a board becomes a meme, like My Imaginary Well Dress Toddler Daughter. But for the most part, boards need a lot of pins to gain followers.)
What I’ve found is that the critical mass is somewhere over the two or three hundred pin mark. Boards under that amount just don’t have the momentum or the visual interest to gain a lot of followers. And when you take a look at my boards and Dannielle’s boards, you’ll find plenty of boards in the 500 plus pin count.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t have boards with fewer pins. (Some boards are for special projects or still in the building phase.) But you want to have a core group of boards where you really pin to a lot. Splitting boards worked for Dannielle because she had a HUGE board (with over 4,000 pins). But if most of your boards are under 200 pins, your time is better spent pinning more to those, rather than constantly adding new boards.
Know who and what you are pinning for. Yes, I pin for me. (Because, well, I love Pinterest.) But I also pin with a clearly defined aesthetic and audience in mind. I want someone who sees my boards (or even my individual pins) to know that it’s me. Even though I pin a lot, I’m still very cognizant about making sure that those pins are within my brand and my aesthetic. The result is a carefully curated collection that encourages people to follow. (And I use my secret boards to keep track of resources and ideas that don’t quite fit the look or feel I’m going for on my public pins.)
I think it’s important to state here that pinning with an audience and aesthetic in mind hasn’t made Pinterest less fun for me. I LOVE Pinterest, and I love that I can curate a space that (let’s be honest) might be the best visual representation of my brand. Even before I started this experiment to grow my followers (and really started strategically using it as a business tool) my personal aesthetic and brand still came through very strongly. I just amplified that over the last few months to help grow Pinterest for my business.
For me, it made sense to just amplify my personal board. (Especially since my brand is my name.) But if you’ve been using your personal Pinterest boards primarily for well, personal stuff, you can always create an account specifically for your business.
Share your own stuff (in the right ratio). One of the first questions that came up after Dannielle’s post was “why?” What’s the point of growing your Pinterest followers? Just like with any social network, growing your followers on Pinterest is about increase your influence and trust so that when you do share your own stuff, people are interested. Dannielle has a blog and I design products that are very much in keeping with what you’d find on Pinterest. Increased reach on Pinterest means increased visibility for our work.
Which makes the final piece of the Pinterest puzzle sharing your own stuff from time to time. When it comes to sharing my own content, I aim for three to five pins a day featuring something I’ve done. (The goal is to aim for a 10-1 ration – at least ten pins of other content for every one pin of your own content.) These pins generally come from three places – my online shop (which is where the majority come from), my blog, and my Instagram feed.
It’s important when you’re sharing your own stuff to spread the love in terms of where you’ll pin your content. I have a few boards (like my “shop megan auman” and “behind the scenes” boards) that are exclusively for my stuff. But I’ve also worked hard to create a number of boards where I pin lots of other content that are still very much appropriate for my products. (Boards like “scarves,” “fashion,” “black and white and sometimes grey,” and “art displayed.”) Because these boards get pinned to more frequently, these are the boards that have the most followers, and that’s where I want my content to appear.
One of the biggest challenges in sharing my own stuff is having to remember to jump off Pinterest to go to my own site or shop to pin an image. So recently, I started using a service called Viraltag to schedule my pins. For five dollars a month, I can preschedule up to 100 pins. (There are bigger plans too.) This has actually made it much easier to promote my own stuff. Once a week, I’ll go in and schedule pins for the times of day when I’m typically active on Pinterest. (That way, they become part of my feed.)
I’ve also used my popular pins and boards to create content. For a recent model photo shoot, we spent time looking through my Pinterest boards to see what images were popular and styling our images in a similar way. That way, all that time spent on Pinterest becomes market research to see what my audience responds to.
Oh, and one more point about Pinterest. Vertical images rule! That’s because the way Pinterest is set up makes vertical images appear much larger than horizontal images. And those vertical images are way more likely to be repinned. So whether it’s product photography for your shop or content for your blog, stick to vertical (or at the very least, square) images, and they’ll be much more likely to get shared!
Want more Pinterest inspiration? Follow Megan on Pinterest!
Want to turn those Pinterest followers into more traffic for your website? Check out Part 3 of this series!
Want even more help using Pinterest to market your business? Check out my class on Creative Live, Pinterest Marketing for Makers + Designers.Pin It