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My Pinterest routine
2012-04-06: I just thought I'd share my Pinterest routine, such as it is.
Pinterest is a relative newcomer to the social media scene. It's exciting for two reasons. Web geeks are curious about its unusual interface. For entrepreneurs looking at the social media scene and thinking it's all sewn up by Twitter and Facebook and the rest, nope, development on Pinterest started in Dec 2009, two years later had 11 million visits per week and it's now the third most popular social media site in the US according to Experian. There are still opportunities to develop world beating social media services, and really they are not hard to spot.
What Pinterest allows you to do is to set up 'boards', Pinboards, collections of images on a theme. Over at RePinly they study such things and reckon that Food & Drink, DIY & Crafts, Women's Apparel, Home Decor, My Life, and Hair and Beauty are top board titles. When you start off in Pinterest, they suggest some boards, things like "products I love", "favourite places", "books worth reading", "my style" and "for the home".
That tells you something .. unlike Tumblr, a similarly visual bookmarking environment (although mixed with a blogging style) where you can quite quickly end up in spaces dedicated to teenage angst, Pinterest feels, to this British guy, like it's all about American women and their aspirations. So there's the wedding pinboard where, just like in a real pinboard, visual ideas are placed (no guy yet, but the wedding is being planned). The interior of the dream home is there too. The holidays you'll have when you finally earn enough. All very Wisteria Lane.
All Pinboard is, is a button on your web browser that, when you see something online that you like, you click the Pin-It button and it lets you 'pin' the image you liked to one of your boards.
I did mention I'm a British guy, so high heels and wedding gowns aren't my kinda thing. Also, as a social media professional what, to me, is the whole point of social media is that we form our own network of contacts. That's really important if you study network graphs, where you start is crucial. So when I set up Pinterest, I rejected all their suggestions of popular people to follow. That, to me, is what I'm trying to escape. Heat magazine is full of people I'm supposed to know and care about. I'm interested in my own network, that's what social media is for. I suggest you reject all Pinterests' suggestions too because the next thing is it asks to connect with your Facebook friends and the people you follow on Twitter, so you are soon able to see the images your own network of friends and contacts are liking. So if you're a gay guy from Helsinki, you probably will escape the pictures of perfect summer frocks.
So now, I'm an Internet marketer and the great thing about Pinterest is that if you click any image, it takes you back to the original website. Got that? Link building. Traffic generation. Fabulous. So as a web developer and Internet marketer, it's another reason to pay for great photography. Photographers rejoice.
By default, Pinterest boards are findable on Google.
So, you should be able to find a search keyphrase that you are interested in for whatever reason, create a Pinterest board called that, find images to populate it, use the keyphrase in your image comment as you pin, and Google should rank that fairly high (in theory, it's not born out in practice afaics).
Plus, if you put a price in the description, Pinterest puts up a price tag on the image so people know it's purchasable.
So this should be gangbusters, the only thing that holds the old 'sell sell sell' vibe back a bit is that social media isn't like that. You'll be like a double glazing salesman at a party. It needs to be, at least, honest and clear and avoidable if the person is just noodling around. If people want to be in a buying mood there's eBay and Etsy. I've advised one client to set up his business under one Pinterest account, and his personal Pins on a different account. At least that way it's clear that one is to sell stuff.
That leads me to the other point about setup which is pretty much to reject the default boards and titles that Pinterest suggest and come up with your own. Don't be led, dive into your soul and work out what you really want to collect, and create boards about that.
OK, so my routine.
First off, it is possible to 'catch up' with all the images since last time, so I tend to do that. Some are worth repinning. If I see an image that irritates or suggests I've followed a board I'm really not into, I'll click through, check the board, and if it feels right, unfollow it.
My Pinterest 'stream', then, starting with who I initially connect with, through being choosy about the individual boards I follow, and this 'pruning' out of things I'm not interested in, is tended very carefully.
Then I have three boards set up out of marketing curiosity. Scarborough pins images of Scarborough. Sometimes I get to market local businesses, so fairly rarely I can sneak in an image from one of my own websites and that might generate traffic back. On that page right now, of the 28 pins, there are 2 from businesses I'm promoting. That sort of proportion.
It's no biggy but on this marketing board I mention my work, so that's a link back.
I have a friend who went to Iran, and I have an Iranian friend on Facebook and what I've seen through them is that Iran is a beautiful place with very sophisticated people. But what we see on the news all the time, and if you search Google images for Iran, all we see are religious leaders, nuclear facilities, political leaders haranguing each other, military build ups and so on. As the calls for a strike on Iran to stop its supposed nuclear weapon development programme (I'm guessing that's as well researched as Gadaffi's chemical weapons deployable in 45 minutes war justification that turned out to be fiction) I wanted to create a board that provided a counterpoint. Iran, yes, there are human rights issues but it's a very complex and sophisticated society with many, many beautiful things to appreciate. And if you watch the foreign news about us, they talk about our human rights abuses (stop and search, wanting to read all our emails). So anyway, that's the point about the Iran pinboard, it's me saying .. before you throw bombs at it, at least take on board what you will be attacking, don't just accept the images in the news.
I also have a thing about ginger hair. Not a fetish, not even a preference, but a PR issue. To my mind, ginger hair has so very many plus points (let's start with being celtic and fairly rare, globally) that it really should be very desirable. But there are still the jokes and jibes and comments. Just throwaway lines "yeah, but he's a ginge" that would lead to social ruin if they'd said "yeah, but he's a black" or "yeah, but he's a muslim". So I just wanted to gather together positive images of red and ginger hair. I fancy that it would be great if ginger haired people paid, say, £5 into a union every month that paid for a PR campaign to raise the profile of ginger hair. I reckon it would come back in terms of changing attitudes, improving job prospects and so on. Anyway, marketing dreams.
I haven't told you my routine yet have I?
Here goes. Having 'caught up' with images from my friends, I search Google images for Iran, ginger hair and Scarborough. Bottom left of image search, you can choose only to see images from the last week, so I choose that, otherwise you see the same old images all the time.
I find one image I like, click through to the story to make sure it's OK, then I pin the image, add a comment, choose my board, that's it. That way, there's a new image to those boards every day. If I were a brand, I'd be keeping the brand in my customers' minds every day.
After about a month, my pro red/ginger hair board has 105 followers. So how am I building followers?
By default, Pinterest will email you when someone 'likes' or 'repins' one of your images. I click to see the profile of the people who do.
I look through their boards, and follow just the boards I like the look of. There are some who have one pic on a thousand boards, I ignore them. Newbies, hopefully they'll repin something of mine later when I can see more what sort of thing they like to pin. And if the person has lots of boards, for speed I just look at the first couple of rows. If I'm liking lots, I'll scan more, but not otherwise.
Then at the top left Pinterest shows three Pinners who this person recently pinned from the most. I click each of those, too, and do the same thing.
So, when I follow someone's board, they get a notification. Maybe they'll come back and see my boards and follow me. So that's traffic generation.
When they come to me, I want the most popular of my boards to be at the top, so in the top right menu under my name, I can click 'boards', and then bang in the middle of the menu bar is 'edit profile' and to the right of that an icon for 'rearrange boards'. Using that, I re-arrange my boards so the most followed is first, the least followed last.
That's it. It takes about 20 minutes a day, and of course, there are those images that pop up through the day that need pinning, takes seconds.
You can leave comments on people's pins. I tend to do that with people I really know through Facebook and so on.
And of course, you can Pin video too. With YouTube, under the 'share' facility, you can share with a time-point. So, for instance, you can share a video and have it start 1 minute in. Actually that's not worked here they must strip that bit out, but anyway, that illustrates something else. You can use Pinterest to highlight an image on a website. So for instance on this website, if I wanted to highlight and discuss with my friends just one of the pics, I could come up with a longwinded description of which one, or I could just Pin it, and send that link.
Clearly Pinterest is young so much of this will have changed if you're reading it a while after I've written it, but I thought it worth sharing my routine anyway and hope it does nice things for you.
Let me know if you have any other groovy habits that work on Pinterest.

By John Allsopp
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