Pinterest is a platform that was originally dominated by women (150 million users, 70 million of which are in the United States) but is increasingly attracting men as well. In essence, Pinterest is a collection of virtual bulletin boards where one (stereotypically) pins pictures of recipes, home decorating or renovation ideas, wedding ideas, party plans, favorite hairstyles, or fashion.
However, many also pin inspirational quotes, create a virtual bucket list, track the books they have read, or collect helpful tips and hacks to make life simpler. Most of the pictures that appear on someone’s board were re-pinned (or copied) from someone else’s board leading to viral sharing of the best images.
For authors, the possibilities both personally and professionally are as big as your creativity. If you write historical novels set in a certain time period, perhaps you could create boards filled with castles, period clothing, ball gowns, jewels, and more to help with your research as well as attract the attention of like-minded pinners. If you write non-fiction in the health or wellness industry, create boards filled with exercise tips, diet advice, or smoothie recipes.
Tool #1: Study the pins that get pinned the most to discover what makes a pin popular. Beyond the trending topic or season, what do you see? First, the best images are tall and narrow (and photo editor tools like Canva automatically calculate that ideal size for you.) Bright colors are also eye-catching. Usually the picture stands alone with the description text below, but sometimes a few words in a corner of the image let the pinner know this image is a teaser for “10 yummy smoothie recipes.” Infographics are popular to show how to do something, but they can also be difficult to read if too much information is included.
While most Pinterest users are only interested in finding ideas and inspiration for themselves, authors are interested in finding readers. This means that you need to create a number of different boards on various subjects that somehow relate to your genre of fiction or non-fiction topic. Pack the board titles and descriptions with keywords to help your board get found in search results. Then fill those boards with beautiful images so visitors will want to “follow” that board or better yet all of your boards.
Now that you have followers for your board, pin things to keep their attention. Every time you pin something new, it shows up in their notifications and in their home feed, keeping your name and images in front of your followers. But what could you pin on an ongoing basis? I have seen authors use the description area on a gorgeous picture to say “this castle inspired the fictional one in (My Book)” and add a link to where a reader could buy that book. Or “I can just see Reed and Cassie from (My Book) on vacation here.” Or for non-fiction, a “more tips can be found in (My Book).” However, like in other social media accounts, keep the emphasis on providing value to others (in this case with a beautiful image or link to a helpful article) and less on selling something or drawing attention to yourself.
Tool #2: Pin from your blog or website in order to generate traffic to your home base. Images pinned originally from a website source have an embedded link that takes you back to that site or blog post. Use this to your advantage by creating that perfect image for your blog post, then when you pin it and the image gets re-pinned by others, future pinners down the line can still follow it back to your original blog and website. With the CoSchedule scheduling tool, I can pin my newest blog post onto any of my boards at the same time it publishes.
One author I heard talk about using Pinterest detailed her strategy to drive traffic to her website. First, she brainstormed a long list of board topics that could relate to her main topic or book. Then, taking one subject per week, she created a board, pinned about a dozen somewhat generic pins there, and then pinned her own super amazing image from a blog post that tied that specific board topic into the bigger subject of her writing. Visitors would come to her new board based on the topic, scan the images, and most likely re-pin the eye-catching image she wanted them to pin. Once they pinned that image to their own boards, all of their followers would get a notification and/or see it as a potential image…making it possible for hundreds or even thousands of people to be one click away from her blog.
Tool #3: Turn your Pinterest account into a business account to access additional features. Setting it up requires a few extra steps to verify that you own your website, but the benefits in terms of statistics and promotion are worth the effort if you’re going to use Pinterest a lot to promote your writing. Since the vast majority of Pinterest users are actively looking for ideas and also shop online, having the ability to create a special pin with a “buyable” link is important. A business account also provides the ability to create ads as well as access to detailed analytics to help get your pins in front of the right people.