Social media can be a great traffic source for almost any online business.
But which network is right for you?
For most businesses, it makes sense to start with the largest networks. No matter how narrow your audience is, it’s very likely you’ll find members of that audience active on these networks.
This means that most businesses should start with one of the following:
Although they are all huge, they are very different networks.
The best one for you will depend on your customers, your niche, and your marketing preferences.
Pinterest is the second biggest driver of referral traffic by a large margin.
Despite that, it doesn’t get as much attention as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
This is mainly because it’s a unique network. Every single post on it is an image (with a short optional description).
Pinterest can be an amazing traffic source as long as you can create some sort of visual content in your niche.
And although it takes some time to learn how to use Pinterest effectively, it’s pretty simple once you understand it.
In this post, I’m going to show you how you can drive thousands of visitors a month to your website with Pinterest.
2 reasons why Pinterest is an amazing traffic source
The unique aspects of Pinterest are the reasons why Pinterest can be a great option for those businesses whose past social media marketing failed.
In particular, you need to understand two main reasons for using Pinterest to determine if it’s the right platform for you.
Reason #1 – Pins have great longevity: One of the problems with most social networks is that whatever you post stays visible only for a short period of time: anywhere from an hour to a few days at the most.
So even though you’re continually creating content on the network, you don’t benefit from it after you’ve initially posted it.
Seems like a waste, doesn’t it?
But Pinterest is different.
You can make a “pin” (share an image) that will continue to get views and shares over time.
It might not have the level of consistency that good search engine rankings have, but it’s much closer to achieving that kind of impact than any other social network.
If you’re active on Pinterest for a long time, the traffic will really add up.
For example, the food blog Pinch of Yum shared that they get about 500,000 visitors per month from Pinterest.
Even if they stopped being active on the network, they would still get a large portion of that referral traffic for the foreseeable future.
Compare that to other networks, like Facebook and Twitter, where your traffic would take a nosedive shortly after you stop posting.
Reason #2 – Pinterest was designed for sharing: One of the reasons why pins live for so long is that users are always looking for more things to share.
This is what a typical Pinterest dashboard looks like when a user logs in:
If a user likes a pin, they either “like” it or “repin” (share) it.
Good pictures can get hundreds or even thousands of repins.
Unlike other social networks, Pinterest isn’t about posting status updates about what happened during the day. It’s about sharing and consuming images and, by extension, content they link to.
Creating an account that attracts followers (3 key areas)
The first practical thing you need to know is how Pinterest works.
At first, it might seem a bit complex, but I promise that it’s fairly simple.
You start by creating an account, just like you would on any other social network.
When other users visit your profile, they’ll see something like this:
Your profile is composed of 5 main areas:
- Your logo - If your logo is very plain, you might want to create a custom image instead.
- Your brand name – It should reflect your business, but you could also use a personal account with your name.
- Your website URL
- A description – A one- or two-line description that explains what you do.
- Boards – These boards act as silos for the content you share on Pinterest (your pins are kept inside, depending on how you tag them). You should create a board for each category of images you plan to share (you can do this later).
Setting up your account: To start with, go to Pinterest, and sign up for a new account. You’ll want to select “continue as a business” on the first screen (after you enter your email):
Then, fill out the fields as usual:
If at any point you want to change your profile, you can do so by navigating to your profile and clicking “Edit Profile” in the top right corner:
Using Pinterest is simple: Like I mentioned before, there is only one type of content on Pinterest – “pins.”
A pin always consists of an image. It also typically has a description, which can also include hashtags.
It’s a good idea to include keywords in your description so that you show up when people use the search bar on Pinterest (which they do quite often).
As you can see in the pin above, you can either “pin it” to share it or you can “like it.”
Users see a variety of pins all at once as small versions. They can click on those to see their full versions.
Users can find pins using the search bar or looking through their feed.
Their feed consists of pins that the users they are following have posted (more on this later).
And that’s really all there is to using Pinterest at a basic level.
How to drive insane referral traffic with pins
Because of how Pinterest is set up, driving traffic back to your website isn’t difficult.
Here’s the basic idea:
- Pin attractive images from your blog content (or product pages)
- Put URL of the blog post as the link
- Get as many likes and repins on Pinterest as possible (more views)
- Repeat steps 1-3 over and over again
- Watch referral traffic grow exponentially
There’re obviously a few finer details in each of the steps, but that’s what the rest of this post covers.
Creating a pin the right way: The one part of using Pinterest that we haven’t covered yet is actually making a pin.
Depending on the popularity of your blog, you might find that your readers are already creating tons of pins for you.
You can check by going to:
Replace “quicksprout” with your domain name.
On top of those pins, you’ll want to regularly make pins of your own to add to your boards.
Unlike with most networks, you can get away, for the most part, with posting only your own content, but it’s still a good idea to repin content from other Pinterest users as well.
To make your own pin, look at the top left of any of your boards. You’ll see a grey “add a pin” button in the top left.
Click it, and either upload a picture or enter a link to an image.
If you only put in a picture, your pin will look very plain, like this:
If you click the pin (anywhere on the thumbnail), it will bring up the full pin.
Click on the “edit” button at the top of the pin:
This will bring up a pop-up that allows you to edit the key information.
You can choose the board where the pin should live as well as enter a description plus the URL that it should point to:
I know it may be tempting to link to a sales page, but always link to the most relevant to the image page. That’s what a Pinterest user is looking for if they click through to the URL.
After you’ve set the website address, users viewing your pin will have two different links that will point to that address:
Now that you know how to create a pin, you need to learn one more important thing about them: how to pick images that users love to share.
4 types of images that Pinterest users love
I’m a huge fan of using beautiful images to produce better content.
The typical Internet user prefers to get information via a picture rather than a long passage of text.
People also process images about 60,000 times faster than words, which means that images are a more efficient way to communicate certain types of information as well.
In general, there are 4 types of images that get the most likes and pins on Pinterest. You can choose any one or combination of them when finding or creating images to share on Pinterest.
Type #1 – Beautiful background + clear text overlay: You’ve probably seen this type of picture often as the featured picture for a blog post.
The left pin in the picture below is an example of one:
If you break the picture apart, it’s really simple to make.
First, you need a background image. Any high quality picture that’s vaguely related to your blog post will work, but remember that vertical pictures are best for Pinterest.
Then, you just need to put a slightly transparent box on top somewhere and add the title of your post.
I’ll admit that these types of pictures do look great, even if they’re simple to make.
If you’re not sure how to create this yourself, use my tutorial on creating your own custom images. I promise that you can make them in under 5 minutes once you learn how.
Ideally, create one for every single blog post you publish, and then pin it as well.
Type #2 – Infographics (or parts of them): Another type of image that you can use in many ways beyond Pinterest is infographics.
There’s no better way to summarize a lot of complex information in one image than an infographic.
A well-made infographic will drive traffic from Pinterest for years as it will continue to get repins and likes over time.
On top of the standard type of infographic, step-by-step instructions are also popular on Pinterest.
Take a procedure to do something, and create an image for each step of the process:
One big benefit of infographics on Pinterest beyond the fact that they are extremely shareable is that most users will click through to your site to see if there’s more background information on the image.
Here’s my guide to creating great infographics.
Type #3 – We all relate to other people: You’ll see a lot of well-made pictures in your feed.
One type of picture that always stands out from those is pictures of real people. Our eyes are naturally drawn to other people:
If you’re not shy on camera, you can take pictures of yourself for certain blog posts and then pin those images.
Alternatively, you can just customize stock pictures of models—although original pictures are always best.
Type #4 – Custom images always stand out: In one of my early updates about the nutrition case study site, I noted that custom-drawn images were producing great results on Facebook.
These types of images do well on most social networks, but they do especially well on Pinterest.
Pinterest users appreciate images with lots of useful information, but they also appreciate a great design.
So something like this, despite just being a custom image for a blog post, can get repinned over 8,000 times:
The downside of these images is that they’re going to cost more than the other types of images.
Unless you have the talent yourself, you’ll have to hire a freelancer from a site like Upwork. Depending on the quality you’re looking for, each image can cost anywhere from a few dollars to $100.
Get hundreds (or thousands) of followers with Pinterest contests
By now, you understand the basics of the network.
One key component of getting a lot of repins and likes is having a large following.
Your followers will see your pins in their home feed and will have the ability to repin them, which will show your pins to all of their followers (and so on).
If you have a really amazing picture, it can go viral even if you have a small following. But in most cases, it won’t happen.
If you have thousands of followers, I can virtually guarantee that you can get a few dozen of repins on any of your pins very quickly, which will expose your content to a new audience, leading to more views, repins, and followers.
In short: getting followers is important if you want to succeed on Pinterest.
I’m going to show you a few different strategies you can use to gain followers and get exposure for your content.
We’ll start with Pinterest contests.
The basic idea is to offer a prize for pinning something relevant to your brand, with the winner chosen at random. If the prize is great, the contest can spread to a wide audience, and you can pick up a lot of followers.
Unfortunately, these aren’t as effective as they used to be because Pinterest started to enforce some strict rules.
For example, you cannot ask users to follow you, repin, or share your images in order to get extra entries into the contest.
If you’re looking to get a lot of followers quickly, this is your best bet (but make the prize attractive).
Step #1 – Come up with a simple idea and prize: Ideally, the main details about the contest should be captured in an attractive image that you can pin.
And although you can’t tell users to do certain things, you can link the image to the Rules page on your own website (which is a good idea).
A lot of the success of your contest will be based on the prize. It has to be something that your target audience would be willing to create an image, or repin one of your existing pins, for.
On top of the prize, you will need to give the contest participants a specific task to do to gain an entry into the contest.
A common one is to take a picture with your product and add a specific hashtag that you create.
Or you can ask them to follow you and repin a picture from one of your boards.
Step #2 – Set up your landing page: It can be hard to quantify the value of a follower on Pinterest. Furthermore, we know that email subscribers are even more valuable.
So although you can use your contest to get new followers, you should also try to use it to get more email subscribers on your site.
When a Pinterest user clicks on your contest pin, it should take them to a landing page with the rules of the contest.
One of the rules could be that they must submit an email address in order to be contacted if they win.
Even if they don’t win, you could still offer them a consolation prize, like a discount, to try to encourage a sale.
Important note on contests: A successful contest needs to be seen by a lot of people. There’s no sense giving away a thousand dollars or a product worth that much if only 20 people enter the contest.
This is why you should wait until you start getting regular repins and engagement on your pins naturally, before you launch a contest.
You can also promote your contest on other social media channels.
The more followers you already have, the more repins you will get, which will lead to exposure to your target audience that you want.
The other benefit of this is that a contest will help convert existing followers on Pinterest into email subscribers, which is a better channel for marketing.
So, how else can you get more followers? Here’s an option you can use if you are starting from scratch…
Have spare time? How to get thousands of followers naturally
Social media is all about connecting to other people and brands.
And although Pinterest is a fairly unique network, it’s no different in regards to this aspect.
In order to get people to follow you, you need to make some sort of connection with them.
It could be through commenting on their pins or sharing their pins, but the simplest and most scalable option is to follow other users.
When you follow another user, they get a notification. Most of the time, they will check out your profile.
If they like your profile and like the content you post on your boards (which is why it’s important to be active), they’ll follow you back.
Depending on how good your profile is and how well you pick the people you follow, 1-10% of them will follow you back.
But there are limits. In order to prevent spammers, Pinterest imposed limits on the number of people you can follow within an hour. It’s currently at 300 people per hour.
If you go over this limit, you’ll risk getting your account suspended or banned.
It takes about 5-15 minutes to follow this many people, and it will get you anywhere from 3 to 30 new followers.
Although that sounds like a lot of work, imagine if you did that just twice a day. Even with mediocre results, let’s say 10 new followers, you’d pick up 600 new followers in a month, and 7,200 in a year.
That’s a pretty large following.
If you also consider that your following will grow from getting repins and likes, you can multiply that total by 2, 3, or more.
Yes, you’ll have to be dedicated, but this simple math shows that this strategy can work.
A lot of your success will be determined by whom you follow. If you run an account about home decorating but follow football fans, you’ll get a terrible follow-back rate.
To avoid this, use the following two different methods to find users to follow who are actually interested in your content.
Finding people to follow – method #1 (keywords): Pinterest has a pretty good search function. Type in your niche into the search bar, and press enter (it will divide it into separate words automatically):
This will bring up all pins relevant to those keywords.
Obviously, if someone pins or repins an image that is related to your keywords, they’re probably interested in the topic.
Next, you’ll have to click on the name of the sharer (at the bottom of each pin) one by one.
That will bring you to the board to which they pinned the image. Click their name and image once again on that page (on the top left) in order to see their main profile:
On their profile, click the “Follow” button on the top right in bright red:
Alternatively, instead of clicking on the sharer’s name, you can click the image of the original pin and scroll down to the bottom.
Just past the comments, you’ll see a section that says “saved by [Pinterest user]”, which has the “Follow” button right beside it for you to click:
This gets you some very targeted people to follow, but it is fairly time consuming. I’d recommend mixing this method with method #2.
Finding people to follow – method #2 (competitors): Instead of trying to find people who are probably interested in your niche, you can find people who are definitely interested in it.
How? By searching for your competitors.
For example, if I wanted to get more followers interested in social media marketing, I might search for “social media examiner” on Pinterest. If they have an account, it will come up in the suggestions bar under “pinners”:
Click their name, and it will take you to their profile.
Assuming they are a strong competitor, they should have thousands of followers, which you can see at the top of their profile.
Click the follower count in order to bring up a list of all their followers (from newest to oldest).
The nice thing about this option is that there is a follow button under all of the followers.
You’ll likely see that some followers have zero or very few pins or followers themselves. Or they might not have a display picture (just a red thumbtack).
These aren’t active users, so don’t waste your follow limit on following them.
What about automation? I understand that this is a pretty tedious task. But it’s also a very effective way to build your follower list with very little cost.
If you do look around on Google, you’ll find tools that allow you to automatically follow people using the above methods. You can set the limits to make sure the tool doesn’t follow too many people in a short time period.
Here’s the thing: If you get caught, your account will be banned. Any hard work that went into it will be erased in a second.
Bots can do strange things sometimes, or you might set the limits just a bit too high and set off triggers that get you into trouble.
I do not recommend using bots to get followers, but if you do, always err on the side of caution.
The better option, if you don’t want to do this yourself, is to hire a foreign freelancer to do it for you (you can find one on Elance, for example).
Create a quick video of what you want them to do, how many people they should follow in an hour, and how many hours you’d like them to do it in a day.
I would only do this at the beginning since there is a risk in giving someone else access to the account.
Ultimately, it’s a boring task but something that you should do yourself. Find a way to clear 20 minutes a day to do it, and get it done.
Hint: Make this change on your blog posts to amplify their reach
We’ve covered a ton already—just about everything you need to know about using Pinterest effectively for your business:
- how to create an account
- how to pin and repin images
- what kinds of images work best
- how to get followers
And if you do all that, you can be successful on Pinterest.
But there’s one really easy way to get even more out of your pins.
Since you’ll be creating most of your images for your blog posts first and then pinning them on Pinterest, why not let your other blog readers do that as well?
You can use a WordPress plugin to automatically add a “Pin it” button to all of your blog images, which will show up any time someone hovers over them with their mouse.
With the button, a reader can pin the image with just a few clicks.
Once you’ve installed the plugin, go to its settings to make sure everything is configured correctly:
The most important setting is the “Show Pin It Button On Image Hover” option along with the color and size of the button.
You want to pick a color that makes it stand out from most of your images and website.
Getting extra pins from your blog readers will help increase the longevity of your pins even more.
Every time an old picture gets pinned again, it will be shown to the pinner’s followers as well as at the top of any relevant searches.
Pinterest is a unique social network with a lot of aspects that make it a great marketing channel.
If you follow the steps in this post and stay consistent with the process, I guarantee that you will be driving thousands of visits to your website every month with minimal effort at that point.
Once you start driving a solid amount of traffic, you can work on increasing your email opt-in rate and eventually turning those subscribers into customers.
I know that learning an entire social network marketing strategy in one post can be a little overwhelming, so leave me any questions you have in the comments below.