If you aren't one of the millions using Pinterest, it's high time you got on board. Pinterest's steady growth over the last two quarters has proven the image-driven social network to be a substantial source of otherwise untapped Internet traffic.
For those of you not in the know, Pinterest provides a platform for uploading "pins," which are images or videos, from blog posts or websites. Those pins can (and should) be linked back to their original source.
The social media marketing potential of such bookmarking sites is unlimited. You get the opportunity to sell your products, brand your business, increase your customer base, and generate traffic to your website. If the history of online marketing has shown us anything, it's that easy street is a very short one. Now is the time to add Pinterest to your traffic-generating toolbox before it reaches saturation and becomes as competitive as anything else.
An important part of using Pinterest is being responsible about what you pin and how you pin it. Right now, the site is rife with images that provide no information. If a picture alone is worth a thousand words, a picture with a little code is worth millions.
Now, let's get cracking! Here are nine ways to be a responsible pinner.
1. Add contributors
Bring everyone to the party! Part of using Pinterest is organizing your pins into boards by topic. When you collaborate with other pinners, use the "add contributors" option to give them credit. Under the board edit options, click the radio button for "Me + Contributors." Enter their name to give them credit.
Think about companies that have several brands that support one another. Adding those other brands as contributors can incrementally bring them traffic, too. Hopefully, the traffic will consist of the same demographic.
2. Upload clear images
Please, if you follow only one piece of advice, it's this: Don't upload blurry images, small images, or obviously watermarked images. They're ugly and bring zero value to the table. Poor-quality images are less likely to be clicked on and re-pinned to other boards. Images must be at least 80x80 pixels to upload to Pinterest.
This tip is good for anyone, but especially for those pinning images of food and drink. Go ahead and spend the extra cash to get high-quality photographs. Your site traffic will love you for it.
3. Provide attribution
Always cite the original source when you pin content from the Internet. Use the caption box to give attribution to the source—and credit to where it is due. Use mentions. When you want to reference another person to give credit or alert her, use the @ sign before her Pinterest name, which will alert her of the mention.
4. Check your links
Before re-pinning content, always click through to the website of a pin. Make sure the content goes to the page that the image references and is not a spam link. Be responsible with your recommendations by checking your links before you re-pin them.
Nor is anything gained by a broken link. So, if you're in the process of a site overhaul, make sure that your Pinterest links still work.
5. Organize your boards
You can organize your pins into subjects via boards. People can choose to follow individual boards of yours instead of all of your content. That is a great way to gain followers who are interested only in specific topics. Be consistent in the way you organize your pins.
Do a little research; look for popular boards that are of a similar topic to yours. Do their titles use keywords that you could benefit from?
6. Don't pin off of an image search
Please, for the love of all that is beautiful in the world, don't pin content off an image search in Google. Tons of people on Pinterest unfortunately do so. Even if the image isn't on your site and you're merely using it for community-building, go out and find an image from an actual site.
Pinning off an image search won't give credit back to the original website. Always follow the image back to the website, and pin the original URL of the image to give traffic to the site.
Doing so won't drive traffic to your site, but let's not forget the golden rule.
7. Pin from the blog post (not the homepage of the website)
Make sure you are linking to specific blog posts and website pages where the content can be found. Don't link a fabulous picture, and then send your fellow pinners to the website homepage. Deep-link the content to make sure users find what you thought was so fabulous.
8. Avoid self-promotion
Pinterest works wonders for marketing, but you need to be genuine when using it. Don't just spam the pin boards with crap content to get a link to your website. Re-pin other content. Participate in the community. Add links to relevant, interesting content.
Just as with any form of social media, engage in a dialogue rather than a monologue.
9. Report spam and objectionable content
Be a member of the community. When you come across a dead link or a spam link, report the content to Pinterest. That'll help make sure your fellow pinners don't waste their time and energy going to a bad website. Also, report offensive or tasteless images to Pinterest.
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Pinterest is a fabulous, growing social site that enables you to interact with other people. Always be respectful and polite to your fellow pinners in the comments and captions. After all, as with other social media networks, the people who use it make Pinterest what it is!