Pinterest for authors: a step-by-step guide
Pinterest is the social media site that has every wannabe chef and bride-to-be totally hooked. It allows users to “pin their interests” to create virtual scrapbooks filled with hundreds of inspirational images: recipes, vacation destinations, home decor, wedding details, etc. With about 70 million users, the idea behind the platform is to enhance the ingenuity in everyday life through organized interests. To the uninitiated, it might seem like users end up spending hours getting sucked into the different categories and even creating boards for “what they’ll do when they stop pinning”. But what use is Pinterest for authors?
Pinterest gives your eyes a vacation from day-to-day tasks. So why exactly has the rapid growth pressured the publishing world—especially self-publishing authors—to join? Well, with the rise in the platform's popularity, Pinterest is increasingly becoming a place authors turn to not only for genuine inspiration, but to sell books, too. Here's a good video by Kim Chance on how to build an author platform on Pinterest:
But how do you encourage the pinners to become book buyers? Don’t worry, Reedsy has got you covered with a cool infographic, and more advice below!
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Start with your Pinterest Profile
The Pinterest profile is unlike other social media pages; it’s embellished with ideas that interest, inspire, and arouse your creative side. Since authors use Pinterest to promote their author brand, it’s important to use the ‘Pinterest business account.’ The business account will give you access to analytic tools like:
Impressions: The amount of times your pins appear in homepage feeds.
Clicks: See what pins are getting people off Pinterest and onto your website. An essential element for authors, ‘clicks’ highlights what content your followers want to learn more about.
Repins: View how many times your pins are being repinned to identify the most successful pins and learn what your audience is attracted to when pinning.
Your Pinterest profile should show more of your personality than simply your writing. That’s exactly what readers want: a connection with you. So, in your main ‘about’ section, make sure you have fun with your account and be yourself, maximizing your growth by using hashtags on your keywords. Don’t forget to add your author website (be sure to verify it!).
Pinterest for Authors: Virtual scrapbooking
Pinterest boards are just like scrapbooks, but without all the little cutouts and glue-sticky fingers. When you’re first starting out, create at least 5-10 boards with short, catchy titles. It’s helpful to browse other boards to get ideas. It’s best practice to make most of your boards a mix of your own pins and pins from other followers. Remember the first rule of social media: engage and promote other people before promoting your own content!
Widen your target audience by creating boards that show your readers who you are on a more personal level. Here are some boards that you can create as an author:
Genre board: Do you write YA? Fantasy? Nonfiction? Paranormal Romance? Create a board that celebrates and displays your love for your genre. Pin blogs, book covers (not just yours) and other relevant images.
Blog board: Yes, you are using this platform to discreetly inspire your reader to follow you and read your books, but it’s okay to have a little self-promotion too with a blog board. Add a ‘pin it’ button to your blog posts to make it easy for you and your readers to pin the post to Pinterest. The ‘pin it’ button can also get readers off Pinterest and onto your author website or blog when they click on your pinned content.
‘Behind the scene’ theme boards: Being behind the scenes is where the readers can meet the author and discover what inspires them. Theme boards are a series of boards about general interests, like favorite authors, recipes, things to do on the weekends, quotes, workout regimes, inspirational role models, travel, etc. Where does your plot take place? Make that plot come to life with pinned images from that city, town, or country. Did you make up the setting? Pin images of places that remind you the world you created.
Group boards: The thing with group boards is that you need to be invited and each has different rules to joining the club. Whether it’s shooting the creator an email or simply commenting ‘add me’ on one of their pins, once you’re accepted into the virtual club it instantly maximizes the number of impressions, repins, and clicks you receive because your content will be reaching a much larger audience than just your followers. Go and join one!
Don’t have time to sit at a computer and pin all day long? No one does and that’s why there are apps for that. You can use the Pinterest app for your smartphone or line pins on the Buffer application to post automatically. Buffer makes it super easy to share any page you've read or written by queuing it for posting at a later time.
The biggest challenge: hosting a contest
Hosting a Pinterest contest is like hosting your first party: you want people to show up. But on the whole, Pinterest users are fairly quiet creatures. They’re utilizing the platform to express their interests through images and pinned websites, not necessarily to ‘talk’ with other pinners. Pinterest is great for sharing what inspires you, but it’s even better when you can win things... Once you’ve managed to build a loyal and engaged following through your original content, it’s time to have some fun with your fellow pinners and start a contest!
First and foremost, follow the rules. The Pinterest guidelines are better for both contest hosts and entrants because there’s a ‘no spam’ policy.
When it comes to actually creating a contest, it’s important to know your audience and make it feasible to enter. Remember to value quality over quantity and identify what exactly you’re giving away.
The easiest contest is the ‘pin it to win it’ contest. You could ask participants to pin their favorite place to read or just a place that gives them inspiration with the use of a clever hashtag on each pin. As the author, you can search the hashtag and pin your favorite images to one of your boards and eventually pin the winners. The prize is up to you!
Do you use Pinterest as an author? Have you had any success from it? What tips would you add to the ones above? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!