Should I follow this person back?

A question from one of my “Pinterest Done 4U” clients:

Well, this was sort of a surprise.  My first unknown follower.  It is the best etiquette to follow back?

I looked at the Pinterest account that followed hers (she has three accounts following her naturally. One is her personal account, and two are mine). This is what I saw:

  1. He is active (lots of pins, lots of boards), so maybe.
  2. All of his boards are “group” boards with multiple pinners. (Group boards have the little logo of three heads, next to the # of pins.)
  3. This could be a Pinterest spam account, although the boards look legitimate enough.
  4. You don’t have to follow him back today.  You can wait.  He won’t notice your pins in the flow of pins from 17,000 people he’s following.
  5. You can follow some, rather than all, of his boards.  OTOH, none of his boards are in your industry.

All of that said, I might sit tight for a while and not worry about him. With the number of users he has (> 3000), he won’t notice whether you follow or not.

Use Quozio to Create Text Pins

Quozio is a bookmarklet available from  Intended to create pinnable quotations with attribution, I use it for much more than quoting other people.

First, install the bookmarklet onto your browser toolbar.  I keep it right next to the PinIt bookmarklet.

Quozio Bookmarklet on my browser toolbar

Quozio bookmarklet on my browser toolbar

When you have something to quote, click on the bookmarklet.

Quozio Pop-up

Quozio pop-up


Type your quotation or text into the large field, and the person who said it into the smaller field.  See the Quozio how-to if you need more information.

Quozio background and font choices

Quozio background choices

Scroll through the background and font choices till you find a combination that works for the message you want to share.  You can probably get close, although I wish they had a few sky-cloud backgrounds.  Don’t use the casual handwriting fonts for serious messages, and be careful about the black backgrounds–they can look very serious.  You’ll know when you get it right.

(Notice that the thumbnail second from the left in the screen shot above is the US Flag.)

Quozio will pin to your open Pinterest account (or most recently-opened) and your most recently pinned to board.  You can change the board on the fly.  Unless you edit the link, the pin will point back to to the Quozio site.  You can open the pin from the “Success” pop-up window and point the link to a page on your own website that fits the text.

I use Quozio when I hear a useful business idea, or when I find a quotation in a book that I want to share.  (Add book and page information to make the pin more useful to other people.)  But those aren’t the only ways to use the tool.

Other Ways to Use Quozio Beside Quotations

  • (Links in these bullets all go to pins and boards within Pinterest.)
  • Create cover pins for your boards—pins that explain what the board is about, better than the board title can do.  (I use Quozio for a board cover when I don’t own m/any of the images on the board itself, esp. for my teaching boards.)
  • Post text-based information, such as an announcement about a class that would interest people looking at the board.  (Be sure to include a year, because calendar-based information gets old fast.)  Point these pins to the website for the class or event.
  • Passing comments on Pinterest itself.  (Why do they keep showing me boards about Vegans when I have never pinned any food-related content at all?)
  • Live pin-journalism, from an on-going event.  I will point these pins either to the speaker’s website, or to the website for the event itself.  (Article about pin-journalism in process as you read.)

If you find Quozio useful, be sure to like them on their FB page!


PinIt Bookmarklet Passes Alt Tag

Inquiring minds want to know:

What image meta tag gets pulled into a pin?

Does it matter which pinning tool you use?

Your personal Pinterest Investigative Reporter to the Rescue.

I tested Pinterest’s PinIt Bookmarklet (first option on the list) on my Rugs from Rags site (better image collection) to see which of an image’s metadata fields was passed to the Description field on a pin.

It’s the Alt Tag.

PinIt Bookmarklet passes Alt tag to pin description.

Test of PinIt Bookmarklet

When you load images to your website that you want other people to pin, make sure you have useful content in the Alt field. Some pinners will delete this and add their own description (often lame, unfortunately) but if you offer good content, you have a better chance of your words making it into the pin flow.

I’m off to review all my alt tags. (Will test other WP plugin pinning options as I come to them. I use NextGen to manage a lot of the images on Rugs from Rags and I don’t like the way any of the Pinterest plugins work with NextGen.)

I’m writing a separate post about using Pinterest’s image-specific PinIt button (third option on the list).

Don’t stress over your precious images

I have heard people say that they “don’t want to go near Pinterest because of their Terms of Service.” Hum, I thought. That’s your choice.

Pinterest’s terms of service (TOS) are shifting and changing frequently, by the way, so I can’t be sure which version anyone saw when they made that decision. The TOS on the site as of today are the most clearly presented I’ve ever seen. Pinterest has good graphic designers.

But later, I wondered. I run a site for a balloon twister. As a rule, event planners don’t exactly Search for these entertainers. They see a clown working one party, and they save the idea, and then they try to find the person they saw at the last event, and if they miss or lose the business card, they get whoever shows up in Google.
From a balloon twister’s point of view, being seen by an event planner, working parties in Pinterest, is almost the exact same thing as being seen working a real in-person event.

Ubi the Clown

Ubi the Clown’s Pinterest Account

What’s so bad about letting people copy your images, if you’re a balloon twister? You’ll be in the picture. Most balloon animals are stock items, known to all in the trade. Twisters have to be seen. Why not be seen in Pinterest? An image of a line of children waiting their turn for their own balloon animal, –what twisters call a “45-minute line? THAT’s good marketing!!

The problem, I believe, comes down to a mistaken evaluation of the dollar value of images.

Few pictures are “worth something.” The photographers who create images with resale value work VERY hard to market and sell them. I am not talking about professional photographers or their work in this post. I’m talking about pictures taken of balloon twisters at work entertaining children or convention-goers, when the photographer is the spouse or partner, and the camera fits in a pocket, and the lighting is ambient. What we used to call “snapshots.”

Understood, “Pinterest wants GOOD images,” but “good” is defined by your market. Trust me, the balloon twisting market will accept snapshots. If you’re marketing to the wedding crowd, God bless you; you need good photography. Child’s party planning? Not so much. You can go a long way with a well-planned snapshot. (Photoshop Elements helps. Crop. Crop. Crop.)

I can drive 100 visitors to a clown’s website because they saw a picture of him twisting balloons at a church picnic. If one of those people calls him and book a party, the picture is worth the party fee, which is 100% MORE than he would have been able to sell the image itself.

I don’t know about you, but I do not search the web so I can decorate my home with pictures of balloon twisters working at parties. For that matter, I don’t print and frame pictures of granite countertops, or place settings, or chimineas.

But really: what are you worried about losing if someone repins your image?

Caveat: I am NOT writing about professional photographers, fine artists, or jewelers, or anyone else whose work can be knocked off by a factory in China using only an image.

I’m talking to the balloon twister here. The professional seamstress selling steam punk. “They’ll copy my ideas.” Yeah, somebody will. But anyone who can sew that well would have copied them anyway once she saw the dress at RenFaire. Just as many might want to buy one for themselves, and they might find you through a good image on Pinterest.

So go ahead. Don’t put yourself in Pinterest. I can use all the lack-of-competition I can get.

Adding Pinterest Boards to WordPress Posts

Pinterest’s new Business Accounts allow you to add a Board widget to an external web page. This widget puts a live image of any one of your boards on a webpage. Visitors who click on the board will be taken to that board on the Pinterest side.

It’s a great idea, when it works. Unfortunately, WordPress isn’t always very friendly about “non standard” HTML code. I’m a bit surprised that Pinterest didn’t work this out before releasing the widget, but they didn’t ask my opinion.

I have found that the widget goes into the page easily enough, as long as you add it on the “Text” (WP 3.5) or “HTML” (earlier versions of WP) tab and not on the “Visual” tab, which renders HTML as the text entered, not as the code.

However, I have found that the board sometimes disappears when I come back and edit the page for some other reason. When I asked Pinterest about this, they simply said that the widget wasn’t designed for WordPress and that you could not currently confirm Business Accounts against a Word Press site.

Well, that second part is not true because I have confirmed three WordPress sites as Pinterest Business accounts, and the bit about not being able to display a board widget on a WP pages is not completely true, just more difficult than they provide instructions for.

Pinterest tells you to include this SCRIPT tag once per page, but there’s no where to put it on a WordPress page or post.

Javascript to display Pinboard

Javascript to display Pinboard on a web page.

I tried adding it to the “genesis  after” Hook on a SimpleHooks plugin, but that didn’t work.

When I asked a technical person, I learned that the script belongs on the “Header and Footer Scripts” boxes under the Theme Settings option (for Genesis themes from StudioPress). Other themes probably work similarly. This is the same place you put your Google Analytics tracking code, except the Google code goes in the Header Scripts box and the Pinterest script goes in the Footer Scripts box.

Good luck! Please let me know if you find a different way to use these boards in WordPress! If I learn anything new from Pinterest, I’ll come back and change this post.

Pinterest Power, the book

Pinterest Power, by Jason Miles & Karen Lacey

Four stars.

Full disclosure: I paid full (Amazon) price for my copy of this book (that is, I did not receive a review copy) but I did receive a ton of associated “reserve your copy in advance” material as part of the purchase. The goodies aren’t changing my review. I reserve five stars for books that pretty much change my core thinking about something, and Pinterest Power doesn’t do that. However, it’s good, it’s as good as any of the current crop of Pinterest how-to books, and I like the tone.

One of the business-popular-tech magazines (Inc or Fast Company or Wired) covered the previous books about Pinterest a few months before Pinterest Power came out, and the reviews were all a bit dismissive. At that time, I held on to my money as a result. It may well be that Pinterest itself has matured and those books were premature. YMMV. I have followed Jason’s pins and blog for a while and I like his approach. Tested, responsible, pragmatic, proven.

The book is easy, straightforward, and thorough, and if you’re serious about using Pinterest to generate traffic, leads, and sales, you will be able to learn a lot. It’s WAY cheaper than any of the on-line education I’ve seen, and covers at least as much if not a great deal more. More accessible, IMO, and bathtub friendly in a way anything online is simply not.

I’m not completely happy with the explanation of how US Copyright law intersects with Pinterest (in short, the authors punted with an “IANAL” clause). IMO, businesses are much more likely to be the target of a copyright challenge, because we have (at least in the eyes of the prosecution) the money. Copyright law is not difficult. If you’re pinning for a business, you owe it to your business to understand how it works a little better than is explained here, although, I agree, the gist is correct: credit your sources (and, IMO, stay away from Tumblr).

After I posted the original Amazon review, I found an additional paragraph about copyright that more actively irritated me.  The authors advise NOT linking to any site that has the “do not pin” code.  Perhaps they meant to say, “do not copy from and then link back to,” but I don’t see any problem with linking TO any website, as long as you’re not stealing their content to create the pin.  (I link to non-pinnable websites with Quozio.) (This paragraph is is a call-out box several pages BEFORE the section on copyright law, which is why I couldn’t find it when I wrote the first review.  Didn’t think to look backward.)

I don’t know whether the “don’t pin from this site” functionality was available before the book was written; I wish it had been addressed. National Geographic is the most prominent site I have discovered using that code; stolen NatGeog images are all over Pinterest (and probably a few on my boards, although I have deleted some that I since came to recognize).

Somewhat minor quibble, unless your business is photography itself, which appears to have the most at risk.

Elsewise, you’ll do well with Pinterest Power, you’re bound to learn something, and follow Jason’s blog and boards to stay up to date, because Pinterest is changing faster than paper can keep up with.

Moving Pins Between Accounts

Now that Pinterest offers business accounts, some of my clients wonder how to move their more “business” pins from their personal accounts to their new business accounts.  These are pinners who are happy to have two accounts and don’t want to share all of their personal boards, full of everything they’ve pinned over the past year,  with the people they know through business.

Moving pins is easy.

Another word for “moving pins” is “repin.”  It’s just that it happens between accounts you own.

  1. Log in to your new business account.
  2. Search on your personal account, using the search box in the upper left and the “pinners” option.  You can also type the URL of your personal account in a new tab.  Pinterest “holds” the last log in, so you will open that account but not be able to change anything in it as long as you are logged in to your business account.
  3. Find the pin you want to “move.”
  4. Repin it to a board on your new business account.

That’s all there is to it!

If you no longer want that pin on your personal account, you can delete it the next time you are in your personal account.

If you discover that you find a lot of interesting pins that belong in the account you’re not logged into, create a board called “moving pins” or something that works for you, and pin to that board.  Then go over to the other account, repin from that board, and delete the pin from the “moving pins” board.

Make this a “group” board so that you can pin to it from both accounts. To do this, go into the Board Settings and enter your “other” email in the “invite pinners” field. The next time you open that other account, you’ll see an invitation in the upper left corner of your pin flow. Accept it, and you’ll be able to pin to the board from both your business and your personal accounts. (You can only delete pins from the account that pinned them, however, so you may still have some account switching to do.)

If you don’t leave pins on the “moving pins” board for long, your business followers may never see that you’ve pinned some really cool shoes you wouldn’t wear in the office…

How to Pin Existing Blog Posts into Pinterest

One of my clients, Team Nimbus of North Carolina, has an extensive collection of “all star” posts about people who have taken the small business marketing and lead generation course, 100 Days to Abundance.  We would like to send more traffic to some of the older posts, so we decided to pin them to an All Stars board on his Pinterest account.

These are the steps we followed:

    1. Install the Pin It button on your browser.
    2. Create a board labelled “Team Nimbus All Stars.” (You can do this on the first pin.) (Use whatever title works for your business.)
    3. Open the blog post from the outside, NOT logged in.  (That is, do NOT use the Word Press “preview” button from within the blog post itself.)
    4. Click the “Pin It” button in your browser bar, and a new overlay will display all the pinnable images on that blog post.  In our case, one is the image of the business owner, and others are ads from the sidebars.
    5. When you click on the image you want, Pinterest will display a “Pin” box.  Check to make sure the right board is selected.
    6. Pinterest will add some field from the image file to the description field.  This is rarely adequate.  Go back to the blog post and select up to 500 characters of relevant and useful text, including (in our case) the name of the business person and the name of the business.  You can edit text within the description box.


    1. Click on the red Pin It button, and the pin will be saved to the board.
Post-pin screen

Post-pin window allows you to see your pin. Don’t tweet or FB unless it’s a REALLY good pin.

  1. If you’re not sure about what it looks like, click on “see it now” on the window that appears next.  You can edit the description from this view, too.
  2. Don’t tweet or FB the pin when you’re loading a lot of blog posts into Pinterest; you’ll irritate your friends and followers.
  3. Go to the next blog post and repeat these steps.
  4. From time to time, visit the Pinterest board, click Refresh on your browser, and make sure everything’s working the way you expect. You can edit and delete pins from this view, too.

Happy Pinning!

Hubspot says, Dump Pinterest

In a free eBook, Hubspot says,

If the social networks you’re using aren’t working — 2013 is the year to stop using them. For example, if you gave Pinterest the old college try, and it simply is not driving any meaningful business results for you, cut the cord. Just make sure you’re making your decision based on analytics, not gut feelings.

Then, to make sure you didn’t miss it, they repeated the book in a blog post.

OK–so it’s “an example,” not a directive.  Not so fast.

I’ll have more to say about this in a different article.

Not clear why they singled out Pinterest as the target. Seems that Instagram might have been a better example of a social site not designed to drive traffic.  For that matter, Twitter has been around long enough so that it’s possible to know it doesn’t work for you and your business. I don’t think the same is true in ANY way for Pinterest.

The people who are “not seeing any meaningful business traffic” from Pinterest are the ones who gave their Pinterest account to the receptionist at the front desk, who has no marketing guidance or oversight, who pins images from the company website with captions like, “cool kitchen!”  (Face it, if trained marketing department employees are writing those captions, the business has an entirely different problem…)

Or what about the images that are all “uploaded by user?” They CAN’T drive traffic–no link!

Sigh. So let Hubspot run your marketing and decide that Pinterest (which has only offered business accounts for a month when this post was written) won’t work for your business.  My clients would rather you weren’t using Pinterest anyway.  All the more traffic for us…

From the comments on that post, added after I wrote this one:

Pinterest is a complete waste of time for most B2B companies, unless you’re a company like Procter and Gamble that can promote through multiple channels.

Interesting.  P&G is not a B2B company. SAP, which IS exclusively a B2B company, is testing Pinterest.  CSC is even more active.
Pinterest is definitely a hit or miss for some businesses. But, if you know exactly how to market it to your audience, then it is sure to succeed. One must think outside the box 🙂
I would say, NOBODY knows “exactly how to market it to your audience,” because Pinterest is far too new and much too fluid and metamorphic right now for “exactly” to apply in any way.

OTOH, if you have even a glimmer that Pinterest may be a game changer that we haven’t figured out how to use reliably yet, give me a call or come to a class and let’s see what we can figure out together.

Follow Your Customers

If your business is closely aligned with the kinds of items your clients will pin, consider putting a form on your website or a sign-up sheet at the front desk:

May We Follow You?

May We Follow You? Sign up sheet for a brick-and-mortar business

For some businesses, this is a non-starter.  If you sell children’s music lessons, you may see more crafts and recipes than you can stand.

However, for a business selling home decor items from a brick-and-mortar store, it’s an instant winner.  The owner can keep an eye on what her customers are wanting, pinning, and sometimes buying.  Because “following” is often reciprocal, individual users she follows will generally follow her store account back.

Notice that you must include a note about what you are using the email address for and that you will not (or do, if you do) share the email address. Use text that works for your business about why they may not want to be subscribed to your list.

“Following” Etiquette

If most of the people you will follow this way have personal accounts, consider following them at the account level (follow all), and then unfollowing any individual boards that are outside your  business interest.  This way, Pinterest will tell your customers that you followed their account, and they won’t know you unfollowed individual boards.

If you only follow the boards that fall under your business category, Pinterest will tell those clients that you “followed their ‘living rooms!’ board,” and some of them may feel a bit hurt that you didn’t like their “brunch recipes” collection. Better they don’t find out…

Website “Follow You on Pinterest” Experiment

I’m testing this on my Rugs site now using one of the Fast Secure Contact forms.

DIY Follow You form

DIY “Follow You on Pinterest” sign up form for a website.

If my programming skills were better, I’d create a button that performed the same function. It would look better.

I may have to go back and add a captcha. Will post here when I have results.