Pinterest for a Local Newspaper

When people ask what I do, I say “Pinterest marketing.” The other evening, I met someone who was adamant that Pinterest had no place in local news marketing; that readers went to the newspaper’s event listing via Google and that Pinterest was only useful a source of craft ideas.

I didn’t argue. I don’t push string.

The business of a local newspaper is to drive traffic to its advertisers. Newspapers use stories as reader-bait. Some local newspapers are famous for stuffing their articles with the names of townspeople; others use the slogan “relentlessly local.”

Readers visit the newspaper website for information about what’s going on in town this weekend. This particular newspaper website maintains a top-ranked listing in the Google SERP because of the backlinks accumulated over time and the huge number of stories they have run featuring on the keywords of city and town.

Local news by Michael Avory (avorym)) on 500px.com--how local newspapers can use Pinterest to drive traffic
Local news: Man keeps up with the local news on a Roman street wall by Michael Avory

Pinterest won’t contain the most timely information, but on the other hand, it’s GREAT for sharing information that has a long shelf life. Local feature stories, in particular, have enormous shelf life, much longer than stories in the state and national papers. Grandma will still be interested in the twin’s softball activities long after the dust has settled on the latest international security threat.

Pillar articles about local points of interest (in my town, this is the railroad museum) never outdate and instead, accumulate traffic and visitors over time.

Newspapers can EASILY use Pinterest to expand their internet reach, driving traffic directly to the newspaper home page and from there, to advertiser’s links.

The newspaper website may own the top SERP position for events listings. Who owns the top listing for RR Museum? What if people don’t know to search your town for that story? What if people who collected railroad images would visit your town if only they knew you had a RR museum?

I watched a coffee shop crumble many years ago, back when allowing indoor smoking was up to the business owner. Every time someone complained about the atmosphere, the owner would survey the patrons to learn that most of them wanted him to continue to allow smoking. By the time the state law changed to ban smoking in commercial spaces, it was too late. All the non smokers had gone to the new coffee shop on another corner. They didn’t come back.

It’s good that a local newspapers’ readers know to search in Google for the local events listing. However, that paper is missing out on traffic from people who are searching in Pinterest for stuff that the town offers, but isn’t provided in a way that these searchers can find.

Don’t assume the way you use Pinterest is the way everyone uses Pinterest.

Outrun the Bear

Two hikers on a trail came around the bend to find a great big mama bear with a cub up the trail. Mama Bear sees them and starts moving toward them. One hiker sits down, yanks off his boots, and puts on his running shoes.

European brown bear and cub by Peter Cairns (Northshots)) on 500px.com
European brown bear and cub by Peter Cairns

The other hiker says, “What are you doing? You can’t outrun the bear!”

The first hiker says, “I don’t have to outrun the bear…”

If you’re in a trade with a lot of sophistication about graphic design and photography (weddings), yes, you have to outrun the bear and your Pinterest account will need to be stunning.

If you’re in a trade that hasn’t adopted high-end graphic design and formal product portraits (most heavy industry, agriculture, most services except dentistry and spa/appearance), home improvement, business advising), you simply need a bigger and marginally better footprint than everyone else.

WSJ Real Estate Section

Section D of the Friday Wall Street Journal has great real estate coverage, with lots of articles about how agents stage and sell VERY high end homes.

However, the WSJ is an expensive paper, and if you’re not reading it for business and stock market information, it can be a lot of money and content just to get the real estate news.

(The Friday paper also has a GREAT crossword puzzle, with lots of fun and tricky clues, and movie and TV reviews that align with my taste.)

Here’s how I manage what would otherwise be an overwhelming influx of paper and information: buy a 3 month subscription, which is about $100.00. Then, I put my subscription on vacation hold Saturday through Thursday every week. The new account management website makes this pretty easy to do.

If the paper on arrives on Fridays, a $100 subscription will last two years. I read about high-end real estate around the world over the weekend and don’t feel bad about not keeping up with the rest of the paper.

Vertical Pins: How Embarrassing

Everyone says, “make tall pins.”  I say it in class.  I show examples of tall pins when I teach.

I wrote a post about creating “before and after” pins that stack vertically because they are more visible than side-by-side images (which look better in a blog post).

I repinned rugs for exposure.

I got traffic.

I wasn’t happy with how my “Rag Rugs, Hand Made in America” board looked, but it was my work and it was colorful.

And one day, I realized that I could rotate most of my rugs 90 degrees and make tall pins.

OMG.  I am embarrassed.

Red Rag Rug pins, showing the difference between horizontal and vertical image alignment.

Red Rag Rug pins, showing the difference between horizontal and vertical image alignment.

The longer the rug, the worse it looked before the rotation, and the better it looked after. Seascape was so bad before I removed all of its horizontal pins across my account before I thought to write this post.

The round rugs will take a slightly different approach. I haven’t finished processing and uploading them.

Here’s another example of the difference between vertical pins and horizontal pins of the same images:

Gold rug pins, showing the difference between vertical and horizontal image alignment, and cropping a round rug to fill the space.

Gold rug pins, showing the difference between vertical and horizontal image alignment, and cropping a round rug to fill the space.

In this set, I have zoomed in on Red and Gold Spiral and cropped it to a rectangular shape so it fills more of the image space. Will probably do this will all of the spirals; not sure about the triskeles (triple spirals).

I will be deleting the horizontal pins over the next few days.  By the time you read this, the boards will all look different and only the screen shots will document my lesson learned.

How to Make Cover Pins for Your Pinterest Boards

Board “cover pins” are the pins you select to be the largest image on a board in your Pinterest account’s Board View. Setting board covers can help to identify the content of a board.

If you don’t set a board cover image deliberately, the first image you pinned will be displayed as the largest image under “Boards view.” Sometimes, this works, but more often,

Board title + the first image pinned = random = confusion

“Confusion” is not a good state for a Pinterest business account’s visitor. As the owner of a business account, you want to help a visitor understand what each of your boards is about.

Look at how the cover pins on the labelled boards below help explain what the board is about, compared to the boards that don’t have a branded label:

Cover pins from Small for Big

Cover pins from Small for Big

I help my clients create specific board cover pins, with text that provides more information than the board name can provide by itself.

You don’t have to create covers for all your boards. Title the boards that are most important for your business, as well as those on the top two rows of boards, which is your best Pinterest real estate.

Here are three ways to create cover pins for your Pinterest boards:

Use a Photoeditor to Make a Board Cover Pin

  • Use your favorite photo editing program or application.
  • Select your own photo for the background.
  • Add a frame.
  • Fill the inside of the frame with a contrasting color.
  • Add text that describes the contents of the board. Make the text large enough to be clearly visible when visitors view the image on the “board view” display.
  • If your account and/or website have a clear graphic style, make the colors and fonts match your business’ graphics. My art site is brightly colored and I can use different colors for each board and still “fit.” I am use the same font for all of the board labels; the same font I use on the website header and my price tags and other collateral.
Rug Board Cover Pin, created in Photoshop Elements

Rug Board Cover Pin, created in PS/E

  • If you don’t have a strong color sense of your own, select colors from the background image using the eyedropper for the frame and font. This will make a more cohesive board label than selecting random colors.  Both the purple and the green in the frame above were eye-droppered from the image in the background.
  • Save the completed image with text as a jpg.
  • Load it to the correct board using the Upload image feature. After you load this image as a pin, edit the pin to point the URL to a useful page on your website.
  • Set the board cover. Add a few more pins to push the cover image off the front row pins and hide it a bit lower in your collection.

Use PicMonkey online photoediting to create a cover pin if you don’t have Photoshop Elements.

Make a Board Cover Pin with Quozio

If you don’t have a useful image of your own, create a cover pin using Quozio. I don’t own the copyright to the images I pin on my teaching boards, so I can’t modify the images for my own purposes.

For example, I created a pin in Quozio (see Use Quozio to Create Text Pins for instructions) to explain that the pins on the Cancer Care board were examples of what you could pin if you were pinning for a health care practitioner in a specific condition-related field.

Cover Pin for Cancer Care board, created in Quozio

Cover Pin for Cancer Care board, created in Quozio

I allowed the title pin to point back to Quozio. When I write the blog post explaining how readers could create similar boards of their own, I will edit the cover pin to point to that blog post.

The board description also points out that this is an example of possible Pinterest Marketing information for a health care provider, NOT a board about any type of medical care.

I scrolled through the images available at Quozio to find one that was appropriate for a board about cancer.  Not all of the images worked as well as this one.  Quozio doesn’t offer any good “sky” or “cloud” pins. I can’t use Quozio to make a title pin for a flight school.

Select a Pin That Contains Text

Select a pin from the board that clearly explains what the board is about. I did this on the board I use for Accountants and CPAs. I found a pin of a book that teaches accounting. The book cover clearly explains the content of the board. I simply selected this with “set board cover.”

Accounting Board Cover Pin

Accounting Board Cover Pin

When you look at the RedTux Board view, it’s easy to tell what’s on this board.

Labelled vs. unlabelled boards

Mix of labelled and unlabelled boards on the Red Tuxedo Pinterest account.

First Row, Left

From the upper left, you can see that the first two boards are clearly identified. Residential Real Estate needs a better cover, with less overlap at the margins. It’s not at all clear what the three boards on the right are about (pins from the businesses of people who have taken my class) and they all need attention.

Second Row, Left

First board is clear enough; second and third need help. Four on the left are either labelled or clear. The text for the Flying board seemed big enough when I made the pin but it’s harder to read than its neighbors. May increase the size next time.

Third Row, Left

The image for Golf is reasonably clear. “Transferring” is a board I use to move pins between accounts, and is labelled as such. The other boards all need cover pins but may be left as is for teaching purposes.

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.

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.

How To Showcase Clients’ Work on Pinterest

Last month’s newsletter from the NextGen photo gallery plugin for WordPress contained an invitation to showcase a gallery on the NextGen Pinterest account. I use NextGen on two sites to manage large numbers of photographs, and Pinterest sends lots of traffic to one of those sites, so I jumped at the opportunity to create additional pins.

Their system could be used by anyone who makes a product / app / system used by other creators to further their work.  First, create a board named for the most common name of your product (the name your users call your product = better SEO value).  Use the description of the board to spell out the steps your users need to follow to be invited to guest pin.

Then, add a logo pin to that board.  In this case, anyone who comments on the logo pin will receive an invitation to be a guest pinner on the board.

Because NextGen is a live photo display system, they are asking users to pin screen shots of the software in action, rather than any actual live gallery display.  Anyone who uses the NextGen plugin will know how to do this; it’s possible that people who make other apps may have to provide more detailed instructions.

Because the screenshot images will, most likely, be uploaded from the users’ PCs, the instructions include a reminder to edit the pin so that it points back to the original website.  Again, NextGen users who play in Pinterest will probably know to do this already; other users who are uploading images may need a few more instructions.

The board is fairly new and I expect it will grow quickly.

NextGen Gallery Board

Board showing screenshots of image galleries created with the NextGen plugin for WordPress.

Load a Portfolio to Linkedin

Post a Portfolio of Your Work to Linkedin

Linkedin is not a very image-friendly application. If you are successfully displaying your work on any of the portfolio sites including Pinterest, you may not need to worry about Linkedin. However, lots of professionals use the site, and adding either or both of the two portfolio display options to your profile doesn’t take very long.

Behance Creative Portfolio Display

If you already maintain a portfolio at Behance, link to it using the Creative Portfolio Display application (More / Get More Applications / scroll — on my account, Behance is #10).

Behance is the portfolio engine for Pantone, BTW.

SlideShare

At the time of this blog post, you can’t open a SlideShare account through Linkedin directly. (Check under More / Add more applications / Slide Share.) You can create a free account at SlideShare, and then link a presentation to your Linkedin Profile (as well as share it in your updates and groups).

Use MS PowerPoint or your choice of presentation software (most formats are supported) to create a deck with images of your work.

Think about a useful file name if you are going to allow downloading. Once files are downloaded, they are easily lost if the file name is something like “Portfolio 2012.” Use your own name and useful search terms to help viewers find the file again. (Put contact information in the header or footer of each slied, as well.)
Add captions and watermarks as needed. Load your portfolio presentation to SlideShare, and then let your network and groups know, as appropriate.