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Your Handy Dandy List – Pinterest: What, Why, and How To

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard people talking about Pinterest. Once by invitation only, sometimes taking upward of two weeks to get your invite or be approved into the exclusive {and somewhat illusive} newcomer to social media, Pinterest has taken the interwebs by storm. But, what is it and why should you be a part of it?

What Pinterest is.

Taken directly from their website, Pinterest is a tool for collecting and organizing things you love. I could continue to pull information from their site, but let me give you my own “Martina” spin on what I think it is.

Do you remember back in the day when we would find articles or recipes or things that inspire us in magazines? What did we do with them? Well, if you were nerdy like me, you’d tear them out {in photography lingo, we refer to these as tear sheets}, stack them in piles according to their specific category, label your manilla folder accordingly, alphabetize them, and VOILA! You have the things you like right at your finger tips, ready for access when you need them. OR, you might like this visual better. You pin them to your cork board in areas designated for specific topics of interest.

That. is Pinterest.

Seriously.

It’s an online cork board.

When Catholic Sistas was a wee fledgling, I repeatedly heard friends talk about this Pinterest – I was newly pregnant {translation: in the midst of what I not-so-affectionately call the mack truck phase}, failing miserably at homeschooling, and trying to juggle the demands of a one year old. This along with the other kiddos alongside the demands of the blog=fail like a BOSS. Fortunately, I was able to see the value of Pinterest as an extension tool for the blog, even though I was overwhelmed at the idea of taking on one. more. thing. I asked if any of our contributors knew what it was, used it, and interested in setting up a Pinterest account. We brainstormed and a plan was hatched. In January of 2012, Catholic Sistas officially became a part of the Pinterest world!

Thanks to Ink Slingers Heidi and Birgit who led the charge in getting it going and building up some great content, a good deal of it Catholic. Recently, I was handed the Pinterest baton and, while initially timid to take on such a large group of pins, I eventually dove in with both feet. Over a year ago, I created my own personal account and found out how easy it was to pin! Almost too easy! My family quickly learned the benefits of my account because I was soon inspired with all kinds of new recipes to try vs. the daily 4 p.m. fridge stare down. So, by the time I took on the existing CS account, I had already figured out worked through my Pinterest fears. With that, I have some tips I want to share with you. Hold on, friends. Here we go.

Why you should use Pinterest-as a Catholic.

  1. It’s engaging. If you are consistently pinning, you increase your chances of someone picking up your Catholic pins.
  2. It’s a great way to network. Your blog, yourself, your business, your brand. You’ll find that in Catholic circles, friends are always anxious and ready to share your unique content as well as any relevant repins.
  3. Information is always new and fresh. 
  4. Evangelize. It’s a great way to evangelize with non-Catholic friends without saying “hey, YOU, non-Catholic friend-read this.”
  5. Create a good mix of specific Catholic boards. For other Catholics. For non-Catholic Christians. For everyone else. As part of evangelizing, creating specific Catholic boards can be helpful for friends and family to easily find content. Start off with a few Catholic boards that interest you. Love the saints? How about a “Saints” board? Or “Pope” board? Maybe a board for Catholic current events?
  6. Create non-Catholic boards. For other Catholics. For non-Catholic Christians. For everyone else. We all have to eat, right? What about organizing tipsFinancesDo it yourself projects? A good account will have a well-rounded collection of boards, some for the non-Catholic, most for the Catholic, but all of it engaging, no matter the audience you intend for any given board.
  7. Promote your apostolate, ministry, or cause! Pinterest has the capability to provide people with tools and resources, so PLEASE UTILIZE this feature by collecting excellent resources in one perfectly and clearly labeled board. Ex. I did a recent search on Catholic miscarriage and infant loss resources – I was disappointed. There was not much from a Catholic standpoint…on Pinterest. But I knew this was a sorely needed resource. Catholic Sistas teamed up with some personal accounts of Ink Slingers to help build out the Miscarriage.InfantLoss board.

How to get started. How to use it.

  1. Sign up. Set up your account thoroughly. This is especially important if you have a decent following as a blogger, even more important if you run a business. Don’t forget to verify your account.
  2. Create boards. Don’t overwhelm yourself, though. Start with a handful of broad categories and later carve out niches as your interests become more fine tuned. {i.e. Food, Jesus, My Favorite Things, are all great first boards} Pinterest currently has two options for boards, public and private. Private is great if you need time to buildout a board or think through the content you want to work on before other eyes see it. I highly recommend utilizing this feature.
  3. Make board titles short, catchy, memorable, but most of all distinctly titled from your other boards. Board titles that are too long get chopped, leaving pinners wondering what’s inside, and they likely won’t click through. Give them what they want by using 18 character allotment for board titles to fit IF YOU USE ALL CAPS and 24 characters if you use all lowercase. One thing I would also suggest is checking out your board titles on smaller mobile devices – the 18 ALL CAPS and 24 all lowercase, I have found, only apply to computers, but hey, most of us are on iPads or smaller devices. That means you need even fewer letters, so think short and to the point on titles, and then check boards on your devices to verify the length looks good. This is especially important for any boards you have that serve as resources for others. ::EXTRA TIP:: I learned this the hard way, but once you name a board and it is linked up on your blog as pinterest.com/catholicsistas/jesus* and you change the name, it will change the name of the Pinterest URL as well, which leads to broken links. Choose titles wisely the first time and avoid this potential mess.
  4. Write board descriptions that are intriguing but short and give good detail. These are SEO {search engine optimization} rich, so take advantage of all 500 characters. The jury is still out on the search effectiveness of #hashtags on Pinterest {to date}, so use them if you want, don’t if you don’t.
  5. Follow friends, family, strangers. Ask them to follow you back.

    Food.Break the fast
  6. Add Pinterest bookmarks and buttons to your blog to boost traffic.
  7. Pinning and repinning. Pin quality content. Make sure the picture represents the content of the pin and the description is accurate. Again, this is SEO country. This is how pinners find your content, so go big or go home.
  8. Be consistent. Better to pin once a day than once a week. The more often you pin, the more frequent you show up in your followers’ feed, the better the chance of your pins being liked and repinned, increasing your chances of picking up new followers.
  9. Choose great photos. Your cover photo for each board matters. As a photographer of more than twenty years, I can’t stress this point enough. This is what draws pinners to your board. Make sure your photo is not only visually appealing, but represents the content of the board-a breakfast board would not make sense if you had a stellar picture of a sunset, or poorly lit hashed browns. Keep in mind that cover photos are always horizontal, but you have the option to crop verticals to horizontal. Same goes with pinning your own content. Pick the best possible photo – this draws followers’ eyes in and gets the likes >> repins >> new followers. Easy peasy. Great photos. Rule of Thirds. Done. 
  10. Utilize Pinterest stats. This is particularly helpful for businesses who pin a lot of their own content, but also bloggers who share their posts.
  11. Consider creating a disclaimer board. This can be particularly helpful if you are part of any program under the diocese or you just want to make it 100% clear that third party links don’t represent what your account is about. We have lost followers on occasion to this, and while those numbers are infinitesimal, I find putting that disclosure out there to be helpful in preventing snafus. I would venture to guess the majority of the Pinterest world understands the relationship between the account holder and third-party links, but better to be proactive on this front.  

Normally, this would be where I wrap up my post, but I realize there is more to be discussed. Read on, if you’d like to learn more from a tech standpoint as well as some fun facts!

I’m going to need more to go on. Can you share more tech-oriented details?

Pictures

  • QUALITY images. When blogging, find or produce images that inspire others to pin. You want them to stand out in the world of Pinterest.
  • ENHANCE your photos. Featured images are a GREAT way to create visually enhancing pins. I recommend PicMonkey as a fun way to add the title of your post along with your website address to encourage traffic to your site. There are many other fun apps out there for use on your smart phone. I recommend looking into adding some popular photo-editing apps to your phone or iPad.
  • SIZE your photos appropriately where possible. To date, images should be at least 400 pixels wide – the maximum allowed is 554 pixels. Longer images such as info graphics have a better tendency to standout.
  • NAME your photos using keyword rich file names. IMG29737.jpg won’t rank as well as decadent-chocolate-mousse.jpg. If your “alt tag” is missing, Pinterest will assign the title based on your file name.
  • ALT-TAGS should be keyword rich as well. This helps increase rank in search ability.
  • PIN IT BUTTON should be installed correctly – make sure it takes you to the specific post and NOT the home page of your blog or website. Test, test, and test some more.

Best time of day to pin

  • IT VARIES, the best time to pin. Having read many articles on the matter, and based on my own personal experience, I can safely say there is no one specific formula that works for everyone. Add to that, the articles I have read deal primarily with secular matters and we end up with a truly unique situation. My advice is experiment with different times and see what works best with your brand, your niche, your audience. 

Fast Facts

  • 25 million monthly unique visitors {source: comScore}
  • only 1/3 of the top 1,500 brands in the US are on Pinterest {as of fall 2012} but only have an average of 124 followers with estimates of 90% of the top brands on Pinterest by late 2013. {source: LifeReimagined}
  • a pin lasts longer than a tweet. Half life of a Twitter update is 5-25 minutes, compared to 80 minutes for Facebook. Pins often have a half life of over one week. Result: more eyes on your message, brand, post, picture, YOU.
  • call-to-action pins and descriptions see an 80% increase in engagement {source: Social Fresh}
  • 68.2% of users are female* while some studies show upward of 80% female {source*: comScore}
  • 50% of users have children*
  • 28.1% have an annual income of over $100K*
  • 4.1% are age 12-17*
  • 17.3% are age 18-24*
  • 27.4% are age 25-34*
  • 22.1% are age 35-44*
  • 17.9% are age 45-54*
  • Shoppers referred by Pinterest are 10% more likely to make a purchase than visitors who arrive from social networks, and spend 10% more. {from Wayfair}
  • Time spent is 15.8 minutes vs. Facebook 12.1 minutes*
  • 3rd most popular popular social networking site {source: Experian}
  • 4th largest traffic source in the world {source: Shareaholic}
  • mothers are 61% more likely to visit Pinterest compared to average American {source: Nielsen}

And there you have it! If you are a Catholic business, I can’t stress the use of Pinterest enough in addition to your website. If you are in need of help strategizing and organizing your account, please do contact me. I would love to help you with tips and advice. Readers, do you have any tips or advice you’d like to share? Please comment below!