Pinterest is one of the most influential - yet often overlooked - social media platforms. This is especially true for writers. Writers are driven by words; therefore, a marketing venue that is dominated by images seems inconsequential.
However, Pinterest has tremendous referral potential. According to research conducted by Mashable, Pinterest produces more referrals to websites than a combination of Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
If you are a writer who is interested in marketing a book, it is time to walk away from text and embrace images. Here's how you do it.
1. Create an Account
Obviously, you'll need a Pinterest account to engage in Pinterest marketing! However, this first step is more important than you think.
When creating your account, remember you are laying the groundwork for your future marketing success. Don't just slap something together and call it a day. You'll need to put a little thought and effort into establishing your online presence.
Here are some things to consider as you get started:
Create a business account. Essentially, you are marketing your business and you should treat the account as such from the very beginning.
Use your own name for the account - not your book's title or some cleaver nickname. You want to show your readers there is a person behind the composition. Don't hide behind your book's title or a business name (if you write books on behalf of a company). Readers want to get to know you - to trust you. Anything you do that appears to disguise who you really are will be a major deterrence.
Use a professional headshot for your profile picture. This is important. No matter how cute your cat or child is, this is not the place to introduce the world to your main squeeze.
Be consistent. Remember your branding efforts should be the same across all your platforms - your website, social media, etc. This makes it easier for your target audience to recognize you.
Take advantage of the "about" section. This is your place to shine (without being overly self-promotional). Give your readers all your essential information - a link to your Facebook account, a link to your Twitter feed, and a link to your author website (be sure to verify your website URL). Include a few keywords in your description too.
Make sure people can find you in a Google search. Go to your settings and look at the "Search Privacy Setting" in your profile. Be sure it is marked "no." This means Google can index your Pinterest page and display it in the search results.
2. Attend to the Technicalities
Once you have your account made, you need to start driving traffic to it. Be sure to...
Add a "Pin It" button to the blog articles on your author website.
Add the "Follow" icon to your website.
Add the Pinterest tab to your Facebook page.
You might want to wait and complete this step after you've started providing meaningful content on your Pinterest boards. That's fine, but don't forget to do it!
3. Create Your Boards
Pinterest marketing revolves around boards. Therefore, you'll want to make sure yours are the very best from the get-go.
Think about your target audience. Are you writing literature for a predominately pre-teen audience? Do you create non-fiction books for moms? Know your audience and what they need. Then, you can begin to think about how to meet those needs.
Start with about eight or nine boards. Choose your board titles wisely. You want to be both creative and concise. You want to grab pinners' attention with the board title, yet you want them to know exactly what they'll get after just a brief glance. If it is natural, use a keyword in the title.
Add a description to each board. Let people know what pins they'll find there in the future. Give a little insight as to why you'll choose the pins too.
Once you have your boards created, include at least five pins in each. To do that, you'll need to know how to...
4. Choose Content to Pin
The majority of the content on your boards should be a joint effort - a mix of content that comes from you and from others. Some marketing professionals advise an 80/20 tactic: 80% of the content should come from other people while only 20% comes from you. This will help you avoid being too self-promotional.
That being said, you do need to engage in at least a little bit of self-promotion. Your readers will expect it. And if done properly, they will really benefit from it.
Consider creating one board that will have nothing but posts from the blog on your author website. Maybe another board has testimonials or reviews of your book. Another board could house pins to interviews you've given, podcasts you want to share or leads on your upcoming speaking engagements.
Once you've covered your own bases, start thinking of ways to meet the needs of your readers and offer them valuable content.
You'll probably want one board that offers resources. This could include:
Information about your favorite authors
Tips about up-and-coming authors in your genre
Leads on free e-Books
Links to sites that provide book reviews
Another category readers will really appreciate is an all-access pass to the world of writers. For example, these things will make readers feel they are going behind-the-scenes:
Industry "secretes" about your genre
Upcoming book releases
Personal insight into the writing process (or details other writers have shared)
Tidbits about your favorite writing haunts
Blunders in the writing process or omitted themes from your book
Boards that are specific to the location of your novel
In general, the most popular pins are those that do one of two things: provide useful content or evoke emotion. If all else fails, pin something that features a tutorial, demo, checklist, reader's guide, or some other useful article. Otherwise, you can always fall back on inspirational quotes, beautiful sunsets or pictures of animals!
Be sure to keep your content organized. The vast majority of Pinterest users are women - and most women appreciate when things are neat and tidy. Don't let your boards and pins get out of control. Make sure there is some rhyme or reason to what you post and where.
5. Select Images Wisely
Pinterest is a visual community. To be successful, you must feature beautiful, engaging images. When possible, choose an image that is tall over one that is wide. Taller images get more attention than wider ones.
6. Encourage Action
When appropriate, include a call to action with your pin. Use the pin description to tell readers what you want them to do: sign up, visit, share, etc.
7. Get the Timing Down
Because you want to stay relevant to your target audience, you need to be selective of the pins you share. Don't share just anything that strikes your fancy. Reserve your pins to only the most useful, the most relevant and the highest quality content.
Also, avoid overwhelming your followers. Don't pin a bazillion things all at one time. Take advantage of the "Secret Board" feature (you'll find it at the bottom of your profile). If you find a bunch of quality stuff, hold your pins on this private board. Then, later, you can sort through that board and decide when and what to pin to your public board.
Since the majority of Pinterest users are women, it comes as no surprise they have pretty specific pinning times - when the kids are occupied elsewhere! You'll find the vast majority of Pinterest activity takes place between 2pm and 4pm on weekdays. Users are pretty active after 8pm on weekdays too. And no matter the time, weekends are also a popular time to re-pin. That means, to get the most attention possible, you should be pinning then too.
Remember, the more active you are, the more likely it is you'll get noticed by other people. Make sure your pinning is frequent and consistent.
8. Be a Person
One of the biggest challenges of social media is to overcome the temptation to use it solely for marketing. Remember to be a real, honest-to-goodness person.
Let readers see who you really are. Tell them what inspires you while you write. Tell them what influences your compositions. Share your goals and aspirations.
Image source: kentbrew/Flickr