If you haven’t heard of it yet, Pinterest is the coolest, hippest new social networking site that is making waves. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, Pinterest is a visual social networking site that consists of just two important things:
Pins and Boards
The visual nature of Pinterest makes it a natural social networking choice for artists. By using a plugin you can install into your internet browser, you “pin” an image or a video to a board with ease. You decide what your boards are about. I have boards about travel, art, urbanism, books, yoga, and many more. I even have a board dedicated to the epic Honey Badger.
Launched in March 2010 Pinterest is still in open beta, but the popularity is only growing. Unique visitors to Pinterest increased by 155% from December 2011 to January 2012. It’s not just users who are taking note: Venture Capitalists think Pinterest is onto something too. This last October, Andreessen Horowitz valued Pinterest at $200 million, and gave Pinterest $27 million in funding.
This article will walk you through the basics of Pinterest and how to get started using Pinterest for marketing an art career. Pinterest is *the* social network to be on right now, so don’t waste anymore time! Let’s get started.
Signing Up and Starting your Profile
At the time of this writing, Pinterest is still invitation only, but odds are you know someone who is using it. Ask your friends on Facebook and Twitter if anybody can invite you. Alternatively, on the Pinterest home page there is a button where you can submit your email address and they will send you an invitation when one is available.
Once you sign up, go ahead and fill out your profile. You can access this from the settings on the upper right hand side of the page. Your profile is different than your Facebook or Twitter profile. Your profile is simply a small box on the top of your pin boards. Your profile should include a brief bit about you and link to your website.
In the settings it is very important to do 3 things: link to Facebook, link to Twitter, and leave the box alone for “visibility.” If you turn on “Hide your Pinterest profile from search engines,” your profile will not show up in Google, and this will hurt your visibility.
Once you’ve finished that go ahead and create a couple boards. You can always add, rearrange, and delete boards later, but it’s good to have something to start with. The key is to start a long-term following. People won’t follow you if you don’t give them something to follow. Pinterest will automatically populate a few board titles for you, but you don’t have to stick with them. For an artist logical choices would be “art I love” “inspirations” and “colour palates.”
Pinning and Repinning
Throughout the course of your day you can pin things to your boards as you see them online. When I’m surfing the ‘net, I pin things that I find of interest wherever I am. Keep in mind you cannot pin something from Facebook due to Facebook’s policies. When you pin something it will show up on your followers home page, and anybody and everybody that follows you will see what you just pinned.
Repinning is like retweeting: easy to do and a great way to get publicity. When someone repins one of your pins, it shows up on their board while remaining on your board. Your pin shows up on the homepage of all their followers. Repins show where the original pin came from, which helps boost your visibility. At this stage of Pinterest’s life, it is still difficult to determine what exactly will get repinned. So far the top contenders for highest rate of repins are:
Words (quotes, words of wisdom, etc)
Food (recipes, yummy looking food)
Travel (places to go, places you want to go)
Tattoos (interesting, funny, beautiful)
Getting and Maintaining Followers
Once you sign up, you can invite your friends from Facebook and Twitter, and it will show you people you’re already friends with who are on Pinterest. To do this, make sure your Pinterest account is linked to your Facebook and your Twitter. Most of the time, your friends will follow your boards once they see you’re on Pinterest as well.
By keeping your Pinterest account linked to Facebook and Twitter you will build awareness among your friends about your pinning activities.
When you pin something, you do not have to share it with Facebook and Twitter if you do not want to. You can simply uncheck the box, but not sharing it with Facebook and Twitter can have a negative impact on your marketing efforts. At this stage, it is important to leverage your existing followers.
Once you get followers, you need to maintain them. You can do this by looking at your boards and seeing what boards have the most followers.
The difference between traditional followers and Pinterest followers is that on Pinterest people can follow all of your boards or just the ones that interest them. This keeps their home feed from becoming cluttered with things that don’t really interest them. As a result it is not at all uncommon for an individual board to have a larger following than the user who created it.
Every now and then I send out a tweet or an announcement on Facebook that I am an obsessive Pinterester, and I ask people to follow me. It is perfectly o.k. to ask people to follow you. If you have quality content, often they are happy to do it!
Pinterest for Marketing
Content is King
As an artist you’re more than welcome to pin things that you have created, but you’re encouraged not to *only* pin things that you have created. People are less likely to follow someone who sits there and promotes themselves all day long.
This is why on Pinterest content is king. Your content absolutely must be engaging and relevant to the community or your Pinterest marketing efforts will fail.
As an artist there are a number of things you can pin other than your own artwork:
Artwork that inspires you
Colour palates in nature
Useful art studio organization ideas
Words of wisdom from famous artists
Inspiration from your day-to-day life
Art in the wild
Art books worth reading
Striking a Balance
We’re artists. We make cool stuff, and we want the world to see all the cool stuff we make, but it is wise to resist your instinct to go into “hey look at me” mode.
If you talk at people, they will tune you out. If you engage people, they will interact. It is essential to show your humanity and let people see more of your personality. If all your pins are of your own artwork, you will come off as desperate and spammy. Your followers don’t want to deal with that and odds are, you don’t want to be seen that way.
By the same token, you do really want people to see your work and drive them to your site, blog, or Twitter. So what do you do?
As with all social media, you should follow the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. Your pins should be 80% social and 20% marketing. That is to say 80% of what you post needs to be of use to the community and 20% can be your own self-promotion. Using Pinterest for shameless self-promotion can result in a decrease of followers which is the exact opposite of what you want to happen! (Remember: the goal is to build up long-term followers)
Marketing consultant Cynthia Wenslow recommends 90/10: 90% social and 10% marketing. Whether you follow 90/10 or 80/20 is ultimately up to you, but make sure you don’t head into 70/30 territory.
Wrapping It Up
Pinterest is extremely addicting and very popular amongst women. Like some social networking sites that have gone the way of the dinosaur, Pinterest isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Good marketing is remixable and easy to redistribute. When things are easy to redistribute, you can get a significant amount of buzz. Pinterest makes it incredibly easy redistribute content, and with very little effort, Pinterest can be turned into a very beneficial outlet for your marketing efforts.