What's the cornerstone of any great Pinterest strategy effort? Great Pins, of course.
However, there's more to a great Pin than you may realize, and an effective, engaging Pin doesn't happen by accident.
In this post, I'll talk about how images, descriptions and source links combine to create engaging and effective content for reaching your audience. I'll guide you through the fundamentals of Pin curation, and how to tell a compelling brand story by weaving your Pins' messages together. In fact, I'll even show you how to tell the difference between the high-quality Pins that your followers will love and the Pins that you're better off ignoring.
Recognizing Great Pins
Building your presence on Pinterest is easier than you probably think. If you've looked at tutorials on Pinning, you might have gotten the impression that you need a ton of original content before you can start building your Pinterest strategy.
Are you ready for some good news? You don't need original content when you're starting out.
It's great if you have it, of course, but it's far more important to spend your time cultivating great Pins than waiting to get started on Pinterest until you have your own library of Pins.
You might be asking yourself, "What's the point of being on Pinterest if I don't have Pins to promote my business?"
One of the first lessons you'll learn is that sharing and community building matter on Pinterest. If you only Pin your own content, it's pretty tough to build a following. This means you'll always need to be on the lookout for great Pins to share. Plus, how your followers react to the content you Repin can also help you understand the most effective kinds of original Pins to create.
So, what makes a good Pin? Why do some Pins go viral? How can a Pin someone else created be relevant to your brand story?
The first thing to understand is that quality is key.
You might be saying to yourself, "Ok, quality is key. But what does that actually mean?"
A quality Pin is actually easy to recognize. It has a visually pleasing image, a description that provides great information, and it's linked to a reliable website, social media account or other credible online source. If the Pin you're curating and Repinning has these elements, it's probably a good quality Pin.
You're looking for the kinds of things that people in your audience would find interesting and exciting enough to like or Repin, which helps build your engagement.
At the same time, if you're curating Pins with low-quality images, uninformative descriptions, or linking to a low-credibility site, then your audience will be far less likely to engage with it. Bad Pins are also ranked lower in Pinterest's search algorithm, making them less likely to be seen.
Eye for Detail
With over 50 billion Pins on Pinterest, you can feel pretty confident that there will be some great content to add to your boards - but how do you know what qualifies as a great image?
Take a look at these two Pins for example. They are very similar, but one looks a little better than the other, doesn't it? The difference is that the more appealing photo is in a portrait style. Portrait style simply means that the photo is longer than it is wide, which is the opposite of landscape style.
Pins that are in portrait style perform better on Pinterest. Why? One reason is that they take up more of the screen's real estate, and as a result they draw the eye in more than landscape posts. This is particularly relevant when you think of mobile. Most people use Pinterest on their mobile device and by using profile style images, you're occupying a larger portion of their screen, and increasing the chance of that content being seen.
Here's another example. These two Pins are also fairly similar, but again one looks more refined than the other. What's the difference?
This is a great example of why it's important to pay attention to image quality. One image is sharp, crisp and vibrant, the other is pixelated and low-resolution. The better the image quality, the better the Pin.
Avoid Repinning images that are too small, highly pixelated or low-res whenever possible. Not only do they tend to perform badly, but they can also make it seem like you don't care about the quality of the content you're Pinning.
Image quality is only part of the equation, however. It's just as important to Pin the most gorgeous, powerful and exciting images you can find. Always keep an eye out for inspiring images.
The Importance of Descriptions
A great image by itself doesn't make a great Pin - to be meaningful, that image needs details to provide context, give additional information, and help to build your message and brand.
Pinterest highly encourages people to create new descriptions for each Pin that they create or save. By writing your own description, you're giving that Pin a new meaning and making it more relevant to your audience.
For instance, let's say I'm looking at a Pin of an amazing bag from Lululemon. I see that the existing description simply explains the name of the bag. Although it is a real cute, bag - there is more to be excited about.
I'm thinking about how this bag has great pockets, it looks good, and - Wow - it also turns from a side bag to a back pack. To me, this screams it would be the perfect traveling diaper bag, and I think my audience would love this.
Now I'm all excited, and I want to save this Pin to my "Functional Accessories" board. That board has plenty of followers, and I want them to see this pack in the same way that I do. So instead of keeping the original description, it's time to write my own.
I might say something like "This is the perfect diaper bag for women on the go. It is functional fashionable, and quickly turns into backpack ... perfect for my next family vacation!"
You're clearly stating who this Pin is for, describing what it is, why it's great, and how you'd use it, for example. Compare that to the last Pin description, which was only telling Pinners the name. This Pin is much more compelling now because you know why and how you'd use it.
By changing the description, I've made the Pin completely relevant to my audience. It didn't even need to be a Pin I created, I just had to make a simple change to an existing Pin.
A Pin's source is the website where the image originated. Users interact with Pins by saving them to boards, but they also engage with them by clicking Pin and following it back to the original domain.
Unlike many other social networks, these links play a big part on Pinterest, helping to establish the credibility of the content. A good source will always lead back to a reputable website that's relevant to the Pin's content.
What makes a high-quality source? If the link leads back to the original source of that Pin, that's a good start. If the website it's linking to is well designed, and includes great additional information that's relevant to the Pin, even better. If your audience would appreciate the content of the site the Pin is linked to, it's probably a good source.
When a source sends you to a false URL or redirects you to less-than-reputable site, that's a red flag that the Pinner isn't trustworthy.
This is a good time to mention that Pinterest views good quality sources as one of the most important aspects of the Pinterest experience. It's not just about maintaining a high level of quality within the community, it's also about keeping Pinterest users safe.
In fact, Pinterest actively blocks URLs that use sneaky tricks, like page redirects, in their pin sources.
Other elements of a low-quality Pin source are spammy, misleading or inappropriate content. You can check the source of a Pin by clicking throughout the Pin to the domain it is assigned to. Once, there you can look at the site and judge it based on the relevance and quality of the site and content.
Storytelling with Pins
Pinterest allows you to weave Pins together to tell a story about your brand, ideas or products. So how do you weave Pins together?
I like to think of boards as the chapters of a story, and the individual Pins as the words. By grouping your Pins together, you're doing more than simply organizing your content. You're telling a story.
A great example of visual storytelling is Madewell's Pinterest account. Madewell is a big clothing brand, and you might expect them to Pin their own items. Yet one of Madewell's most popular boards, "paris / j'adore", hardly contains any of their own items.
Instead, this board is really focusing on the story. As you scroll through their board, you can see the same evocative images of Paris that inspire Madewell's lines. It makes you feel the same emotions as their designers and helps you understand their products in a new way.
This is a fantastic example of Pinterest storytelling because it allows Madewell to connect with their audience on a deeper level. Instead of just selling products, they're sharing a sense of place and time, creating a kind of engagement that wouldn't otherwise be possible.
Let's look at one more example, this time from Lowe's "Bold Style" board. While there are plenty of Lowe's product images here, the products themselves aren't the focus. Instead, you see a beautiful collection of interior design ideas.
These Pins aren't trying to sell anything directly, but more seeking to inspire lifestyle ideas that just happen to be made with Lowe's products. These Pins have far more value to their audience than just a picture of a lighting fixture or a wallpaper design. They inspire ideas and encourage people to share these ideas on their own boards.
So it's OK if you don't have original content to Pin, particularly when you're starting out. Other people's Pins are a great way to build your boards, to develop your audience, and to start telling your story.
However, it's imperative that your Pins do more than just serve as an ad. They need to be inspirational, evocative or entertaining. Your Pins should complement each other, and they should speak to the interests and desires of your audience.
The lesson? Don't be reluctant to share other people's content or other brand's products. You want to have a well-rounded and interesting collection of Pins to tell your story - and that includes curating great content.