I'm sorry Instagram... we can still be friends! You were my first love, but I've outgrown you and your popularity games and algorithms are getting old. I need a a little more predictability in my life, and I've found someone who can be that for me... it's Pinterest.
This month I decided to try an experiment: Quit posting to Instagram for a month and put my energies into Blogging and Pinterest instead. I'm still testing a few things out and will report back if needed, but I definitely saw a difference when I got serious about using Pinterest for business rather than just for building my dream house (that I could never afford anyway!)! Here's what I learned:
Pin One Of These:
1. Find Your Audience
Pinterest isn't really social media.
"Then why is it always categorized neatly between Instagram and Twitter icons?"
Because not everyone has realized how useful this tool really is! But you're smart, so you're going to use it to the best advantage! And here's how:
Pinterest is a search engine. Think about it: you go onto Pinterest and type in "Yummy dinner ideas", and then click the little suggestion that says "fast" and search for the perfect meal! It's basically Google for those who love pretty, visual things (and if you've been on Instagram, that's probably you too!).
So what does this mean for you? It means that your target audience is literally looking for your content. You just have to help them find it!
Instagram, on the other hand, is where I personally go to see what my "friend" Kate is doing with her hair and what her kids are up to. I'm not looking to buy right then and there (and while I will enter giveaways all day, I rarely buy), I'm mostly on Instagram to pass the time or watch IG stories.
2. SEO, SEO, S-E-OOO
If you've been in business for any length of time, I'm sure you've heard about SEO. But to summarize, SEO stands for "Search Engine Optimization", and it probably makes you want to dance and crawl under a rock at the same time. Honestly, I'm still there! Sometimes it works beautifully and I'm dancing... other times? I'm under the rock and ready to give up.
Pinterest is not only a great way to boost your SEO by giving you a less saturated market than Google (hello, Entire Internet) to share your posts or products to, but it's also a great tool for FINDING your dream search words.
Start with a broad topic in Pinterest. Example: "Wedding Invitations"
See those suggestions underneath? Those suggested words are examples of what other people have searched for, and are a great way to help you narrow down your subject and find a strong long tailed keyword phrase. I suggest 3-4 word phrases, like "Destination Wedding Invitations", and your 4th word can change depending on the design that you are talking about. "Spain Destination Wedding Invitations" would be a good one to use for your Spanish-loving adventurous couple that you're hoping will find your products!
Destination, location or color are a great way to narrow down your keywords and GET FOUND!
3. More Control
I love-love-love the fact that I can control the text that is included underneath my image every time someone shares my content. Obviously, they can change it, but because I use Rich Pins, the content that I have inside of the blog post itself stays with the image as well as my picture/logo! It's a great way to build brand recognition and reputation.
4. Longer Life
If you were to stop posting to Instagram today, how long would you receive likes/comments on your last post? If you're anything like me, it would take about two days and then you would only get a trickle for about a week... the nothing.
The average Pinterest pin has a 3 month life span, and this can be picked up again at any moment! Last week I had somebody pin one of my pins from 2 years ago and it was suddenly active again—being re-pinned by others who saw the design resurface. And how much work did I do for that one? Not a thing!
Fun fact: My old blogger that I quit posting to over 3 years ago is still getting about 14 views a day from Pinterest... and I didn't know how to use SEO back then!
5. Reuse the Work You Have Already Done
Being able to automate my promotional efforts is a huge win for me! Especially on the weekends! I am a fan of Tailwind, and have finally caved and purchased the Plus plan after using their free trial. As a bonus? You also have access to Tribes, which is a similar idea to those Instagram comment pods that were huge about a year ago, but SO MUCH BETTER! It's a great way to find strong content to post and share, and to have people in your industry share your work too!
I know that you can also automate Instagram, but I appreciate that I don't have to think of a new caption everytime I share something on Pinterest—I just promote the work that I have already done! And Tailwind will even show me old posts that I have forgotten about, so that I can promote them again!
6. Group Boards
Group boards are another great way to find your target audience and get your product/service in front of a large group of them—even before they are searching for you! Here's a great resource for finding group boards in your field: PinGroupie
I will say, I'm still experimenting with group boards at this point. I started out this past month with about 12 group boards, but after looking at the analytics on both Pinterest and Tailwind, I am going to try leaving most of them! I think that sometimes boards can get too big and over saturated to be helpful—especially if they don't focus on your target audience. Instead, I am keeping 4 boards that I have seen a lot of good engagement from and putting my efforts towards Tailwind Tribes instead. I'll report back if this little experiment ends up making a huge difference! (If I don't have anything linked here yet, and you're interested, leave a comment below and remind me! haha, thank you!)
7. Ready to BUY
When you're searching for something on Pinterest, it's probably because you are in the market and are ready to buy—if not now, in the near future! Instagram is a great place for inspiration, but it's also a great place to get lost in the crowd. While they have recently added the "saved posts" feature that allows people to save what you share, it's not as easy to use or refer back to as Pinterest (not to mention, even if a bunch of people save your design, none of their friends will see that they saved it! what a bummer!)
If I'm going to take the time to sell myself to someone, it's probably going to be the newly engaged couple who are looking for their fine art wedding invitations—not the high school girl who follows me because she also likes to draw flowers! I love both, but one is my target audience and a potential customer, and the other is a good friend. Who are you spending the bulk of your time and energy communicating with?
Most of this post was written with the assumption that you are blogging! If you are running a business—especially a small creative business—then you NEED TO BLOG! Blogging helps your SEO, and gives you more ways to be found on Google and Pinterest.
Your pinterest efforts will not be as impactful if you do not have a meaningful place for these pins to go to. These posts don't have to be monumental or inspired—simply share a little about the images, add in your keywords (don't be obnoxious about it—make it natural), and then get your content out there!
If you need ideas for blog posts, Elle and Company has some great posts on this subject.
If you're still with me, I'd love to hear what you think! Am I crazy for moving away from Instagram? Is there something in this list that surprised you?