Can Every Blog Benefit From Pinterest? The SocMedSean Pinterest Experiment

Can Pinterest work for all bloggers?

NOTE: I will continually add new updates to this post as the experiment progresses. I will be adding them to the bottom of the post, so be sure to read all the way to the end to get the good stuff! Check back periodically, as I’ll be updating the post every few days.

Pinterest…it’s kinda the bane of my existence as a social media blogger. Not because I don’t like the platform, but more because I’m totally jealous of those who get to use it to drive mad-traffic to their blogs.

You see, as the Co-Founder of a digital agency, I help many of my clients use Pinterest every day to increase the traffic to their sites. For most of my clients, it has been a great way to attract visitors and, in some cases, convert sales.

Most often, though, these clients for whom Pinterest is a great traffic source are often selling pretty things that are visually appealing. Their products often align with the photographic “eye-candy” nature of Pinterest. Pretty pictures attract eyeballs and eyeballs often trigger mouse-clicks.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Pinterest a lot, but as a blogger who focuses on the use of social media it hasn’t really done me a lot of good when it comes to traffic. Sure, I publish my social media comics and add infographics when I can, but I just haven’t ever seen Pinterest drive traffic to my blog.

Want proof? Below is a screen capture that shows the social media sources to my blog over the last 30 days.

My social media traffic sources for the last 30 days

Pinterest doesn’t really drive any traffic to my blog.

Seriously, when I say it drives zero traffic, I mean Pinterest drives zero traffic to my blog. And it’s not like I don’t have a Pinterest account or any boards, I do.

I have a few focusing on my previous blog posts, some focusing on infographics, and even a couple that feature motorcycles that I have owned.

Side note: The most popular Pinterest board that I have is my Honda Shadow ACE board that features my motorcycle. Interesting to me, people love to pin pictures of my bike before it was painted.

The irony of social media not driving a lot of traffic to a social media blog is not lost on me. The fact of the matter is the space is crowded with big names of “social media gurus” who crowd the space.

As a result, organic search is my biggest traffic driver by FAR. In fact, social media only delivers a 1/2 of a percent of my traffic. The metrics below tell the story.

Organic Traffic Drives The Majority Of My Traffic
My blog traffic comes almost entirely from organic search. Ironically, social media only delivers one half of one percent of my traffic.

And that, my friends, is what makes me sad about Pinterest. All that opportunity, yet none of the traffic is flowing my direction. Since most of my blog posts are filled with boring charts (like those above) and screen captures of how to do things using social media tools, they just aren’t sexy enough for Pinterest.

So, If Not To Social Media Blogs…Where Is The Traffic Going?

That’s easy. Pinterest is sending traffic to artists, food bloggers, health/wellness experts, interior and exterior designers, decorators, DIYers, and pet bloggers. Heck, even automotive bloggers are getting some of the action.

Statistic: Most popular Pinterest categories in the United States as of February 2017 | Statista

Find more statistics at Statista

It’s a pretty safe bet that if you can take pretty photos of the subject of your blog post, then Pinterest is a great option for attracting eyeballs, triggering those mouse-clicks, and then converting those visitors into conversions.

My boring images aren’t going to stop me, though!

What’s The Plan For Driving Pinterest Traffic To My Blog?

Well, let’s say that I’m certainly not going to start from scratch. There are a TON of Pinterest pros out there that have shared their strategies for increasing Pinterest engagement and, eventually, driving traffic from Pinterest to individual blog posts.

The challenge, however, is going to be filtering through the noise to determine what works and what doesn’t. I have already done a LOT of reading on how to approach this experiment, using Google searches like:

  • Good Pinterest strategies to drive traffic
  • What steps should I take to drive Pinterest traffic to my blog
  • Pinterest tutorials for driving clicks
  • How much traffic can Pinterest drive to my blog posts
  • How to revive a Pinterest account

There is a TON of content to sift through. Throughout the experiment, I’m going to capture the posts that actually help me out and I’ll post the articles at the end of this post.

Just in my initial research, alone, I have found that there is a ton of out-of-date, junk content. As an example, any tutorial that recommends using BoardBooster is an automatic red flag, since BoardBooster shut down due to Pinterest not granting them access to their partner program.

So, if the blog post/tutorial relies on BoardBooster…off my list of good resources.

Stay tuned, though, and keep checking back because I’ll be posting updates and eventually the full results of the experiment.

Let The Great Pinterest Experiment Begin!

Those who know me well, know I am a sucker for a good puzzle. I LOVE to try to figure out problems that others have deemed “impossible” and Pinterest is my next puzzle. I’m going to figure out how bloggers who are writing on topics that don’t feature sexy product photos or adorable kittens and puppies can get traction on the world of Pinterest.

Want to join me for the ride?

The Rules Of Engagement

Okay, here are the rules that I’m going to follow for the next 30 days. We’ll see how these pan out.

1) No pandering

I’m not going to start stuffing my social media posts full of puppies and kitties. I’m pretty sure that the smart pinners out there will pick up on this type of activity and it will not help me, thus resulting in a waste of time.

This adorable kitten will not be along for the ride during my Pinterest experimentThis adorable kitten will not be along for the ride during my Pinterest experiment

2) I’m going to focus on a mix of my new posts and old posts

For each new post that I publish in the next 30 days, I will also promote an old post that is currently doing well in organic search. The idea is to determine whether this approach to pinning can help all content, so long as it is still relevant.

3) I’m going to ask for help from experts

I have access to a pretty helpful group of food an recipe bloggers. I’m going to ask them for their best Pinterest tips and apply them throughout the experiment.

4) Be consistent

I will be committing to this experiment. Each day I’m going to share some of my content and pin other people’s content. Every single day of the test (as best I can).

5) Be social

The 80/20 principle is going out the window on this one. I’m going to start with a rule that says for every one post of my own that I add to Pinterest, I’m going to pin or comment on 10-15 posts/pins of others.

There’s plenty of good stuff out there for me to comment on and share, so I’m going to be social and help out my fellow pinners.

6) Be pretty

While I’m not going to pander, I am going to find ways for my posts to be a little sexier. As an example, for the recent guest post about why every business professional should take at least one marketing course, I created the image below, that I think is a solid way to present my blog post on Twitter.

I reserve the right to A/B test this layout and adapt it throughout the experiment.

5 Reasons Why Every Business Professional Should Take A Course In Marketing
I created this template to see if I can make my posts just a little more “pin-worthy”.

7) Adapt, analyze, evolve

As I see things that don’t work, I’m going to change them. This is a fundamental tenet of any good marketing campaign, so I’m going to keep adapting and trying new things. I just recently switched my Pinterest account to a business account, so I’ll have access to analytics that I can share, as well.

Right now, my Pinterest metrics dashboard is a sad thing to look at.

My Pinterest Analytics Before The Experiment

Go ahead and laugh. My Pinterest analytics might be sad now, but they’re going to ROCK after this experiment (I hope).

8) Don’t re-invent the wheel

You can bet that I’m going to be Googling tactics that have worked for others. Some, I’m sure will work…other won’t. The good news is that by the end of this experiment, I’ll be able to help you understand what might or might not work for your blog.

9) Use the tools that are available

While Boardbooster, by far the most popular and celebrated Pinterest tool out there was recently shut down, Tailwind is offering a 30-day trial of their Pinterest tool, so I’ll give it a shot. If anything, it will give me another tool to review after the experiment is over.

10) Share the outcome

There will be at least one follow up to this blog post with the results. My gut is there will be multiple follow-ups focusing on different aspects of the experiment, but we’ll see…

Onward and Upward!

Let the Pinterest Experiment Begin!

I hope this is going to be a good experience. The worst outcomes is that I don’t find any ways to drive traffic to a non-foodie, beauty, health/wellness, or doggie blog.

Even in that situation, I’ll end up with 5-6 different blogs posts to write, and others might be able to learn from my failure.

More likely, however, is I’m going to crack the nut of how the “rest of us” can use Pinterest and share the tips and tricks that I learned on the way. I hope you’ll come along for the ride with me!

To get updates as I post new content, including the results of my Pinterest experiment, be sure to subscribe to my email list.

Off we go! See you on the other side!

Cheers!

–Sean

Do YOU have a tip or trick that would help me prove that Pinterest can work for any blog? Leave your thoughts in a comment below and I’ll try to incorporate them into my experiment. Thanks in advance!


Update 1 – After Two Days Of The Pinterest Experiment

Things are going well. I have received a TON of great advice from some Pinners in my network who really use Pinterest to attract traffic. As I mentioned, I do use Pinterest for clients, so I know quite a bit about the platform, but some of these tips and tricks were based on their lengthy experience and have really get things going more quickly.

I am set up on Tailwind and am scheduling my pins so as not to look spammy to the Pinterest algorithm.

The biggest lesson I would pass along to those wanting to generate more traffic from Pinterest is that you cannot “set it and forget it”. Unlike Google, engagement does appear to be a key factor in the Pinterest algorithm.

If you stop being active on Pinterest, you will stop receiving traffic, which is what happened when I focused my energies for my blog on Facebook and Twitter.

The good news is that once you start to be more active, Pinterest will start showing your pins again. The image below shows that I went from a dead standstill (zero impressions) on Pinterest, but by getting active again, I started receiving impressions. Hopefully, if I stay active and engage in the community, I will see those impressions grow and turn into clicks for traffic.

There is no There is no “set it and forget it” with Pinterest. You have to keep engaging or Pinterest will stop showing your pins.

 

After checking my Google Analytics, guess what…one visitor yesterday came from Pinterest. So, the experiment is moving forward!

After one day of getting back on traffic, I received a clickthrough to my site…and my Pinterest traffic is BACK! Now, to garner about 10,000 more of these visits 🙂

 

More to come as the experiment continues!

–Sean


Update Two – Six Days In

Okay, I have created about 5 new pinboards, optimized my existing boards by including keywords in the descriptions and have filled my TailWind queue with about 75 pins. I’m using a 3:1 ration in my Tailwind queue of ~3 other people’s posts to 1 of my post. I figure this isn’t too spammy, but I plan on optimizing it, depending on how it works.

I am also spending about 10 minutes every day pinning items outside of Tailwind. I think this should help with the more organic activity that the Pinterest algorithm looks for. Finally, I spent about 5 hours this weekend going through old posts that attract a lot of traffic and ensuring that they all have “pinnable” images.

So far, Pinterest impressions are on the rise, however, click-throughs are not. Six days into the experiment and I still only have 1 click-through to the site.

Pinterst impressions are on the rise, but will they drive actual traffic to my blog?

Impressions are good, but if they don’t drive traffic to the site, then either my creative isn’t good enough, my title/call-to-action on the pin isn’t compelling, or I’m not getting enough impressions. All elements to watch and optimize.

More info to come!

–Sean


Update Three – One Week In And My Thoughts On Tailwind

If you aren’t familiar with Tailwind and you’re interested in driving traffic to your site from Pinterest, then you might want to check it out. Be aware, though, that Tailwind can be a little daunting. It’s kind of like Buffer for Pinterest.

Find pins, add them to your Tailwind queue, and Tailwind will post them to your boards based on their analysis of when your audience it most likely to be engaged.

There are additional elements beyond the queue feature, and the one I am getting ready to explore is Tribes. Tribes are groups of pinners who tend to have boards that covers similar topics.

Members of the tribes can submit pins to the tribe and, hopefully, other members will share. The expectation is that you also share pins from members of your tribe.

Here’s a good overview of Tailwind for those who are checking it out.

I’ll post updates as I join and leverage tribes.

–Sean


Update Four – Ten Days In. Cutting through the Pinterest garbage is HARD WORK!

A few things that I have noticed over the last 10 days:

  1. My excitement over Pinterest is dwindling.
  2. I have been pinning 10-12 items organically that I find across the Web and I have been keeping my Tailwind queue full.
  3. Pinterest is loaded to the gills with shitty marketing posts that have some variation of these 5 titles:
    1. How I made $100,000 dollars by blogging in just one year
    2. 10 ways you can get 8,000 page views to your blog post with this one simple trick
    3. A mom’s guide to setting up a WordPress blog in under 10 minutes
    4. How to make your first million dollars in affiliate marketing
    5. How to get your Pinterest (or Instagram) game on-fleek in 10 steps
  4. These titles are garbage. Hot garbage. Hot garbage that is on fire. They simply suck
  5. Clicking through to these articles is causing me #1 in this list.

I have been seeing some results, though. My Pinterest impressions continues to climb even though my click-throughs to my site do not.

Impressions of my pins continue to grow on Pinterest

I’m only 1/3 of the way through my first month, so we’ll see what clicks the Pinterest-fairy brings at the end of the 30 days, but I do believe that a successful traffic strategy for Pinterest is going to take more like 90-120 days.

We’ll see…

–Sean


Update Five – Eleven Days In. Be Careful Which Tribes You Join On Tailwind

From everything I have read, Tribes are one of the better features of Tailwind that can help you drive traffic. A tribe is simply a group of like-minded pinners who are committing to sharing their pins/posts while also sharing the pins/posts of others. Kinda of a social contract, you share mine, I’ll share yours.

The problem is there are a lot of junk tribes out there polluted with affiliate marketing crap. I joined five tribes focused on blogging and social media and quickly found out that the tribes were filled with the same members, pinning the same junk.

Since my free Tailwind demo account only allows me to join five tribes, I started un-joining my initial tribes and trying to find some that might be worthwhile.

The biggest problem is that I don’t want to pin something to one of my boards that is just someone else’s link to an affiliate program or their 5 day course on winning at Pinterest. If I haven’t taken the course, I’m not going to pin it to my pinboards.

In know…I know….old fashioned thought that my pinboards actually represent my brand and my reputation, but if traffic is the only reason you’re using Pinterest, then Pinterest will just become one giant affiliate link-farm.

As I explore tribes more, I’ll post the five that I landed on.

–Sean


Update Six – Two Weeks In

I’m still working on Tribes. Just like Pinterest group boards, there is just a LOT of junk out there. People pinning broken links, tons of affiliate links and the same spammy articles over and over. It’s like marketers found out about Pinterest and decided to dump all of their crap there.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the value of monetizing content through affiliate links, but these are just spam blogs created strictly for the purpose of driving revenue. The content sucks.

</soapbox>

Ok, two weeks in and I’m just not really feeling it.

Pinterest appears to be filled with marketing links and infographics to bloggers, social media experts, and content marketers. These are all in my niche, so cutting through the noise is going to likely require a paid budget.

Since I’m not including a paid budget in this 30-day trial, I might have to consider a follow-up experiment.

My pin impressions continue to grow, but clicks to my site remain flat. I’m at three clicks from Pinterest during the last two weeks. Pinterest does appear to be rewarding my consistent daily activity with more impressions, which has increased my board followers.

They just don’t click through to my posts.

Consistent Pinterest pinning does get you more impressions, but what about clicks?

Consistent Pinterest pinning does get you more impressions, but what about clicks?

It’s going to be interesting to see whether the consistent activity ends up driving traffic over time or not. My gut is that 30 days isn’t going to be enough time to measure. We’ll see.

–Sean


Update Seven – Seventeen Days In

I gotta say it. I’m not a big fan of Tailwind. I know that all the “pro pinners” out there say TailWind is the way to go, but I’m not sure I see a huge value in it.

The primary feature of Tailwind is their automated pinning queue. Basically, it’s like BufferApp for Pinterest. You find a pin you like, you added it to the queue, and then Tailwind pins it to the designated board when it’s algorithm says that people are most active.

I do not see that pins from Tailwind generate any additional interest than those that I just pin manually.

The next big feature it Tribes. I guess Tribes would be great if you could find tribes that actually did what they are supposed to do (e.g. pin one of yours and then re-pin one of someone else’s. While I re-pin other people’s pins, I don’t seem to get any more love than if I just manually pin in Pinterest.

Finally, the Tailwind app always let’s you do a 30-day trial. Well…kind of.

The 30-day trial is limited to 100 pins. So, I burned through my 30-day free trial in just sixteen days. Not really a 30-day trial.

So…since I’m done with my “30-day” trial of the automated queue and the Tribes don’t seem to be worth it, I’m just going to keep on pinning using the Pinterest app for Android and the “Pin It” button in my browsers.

Strange side-effect of promoting my blog on Pinterest. I created my first recipes board because we love cooking with the Instant Pot, smoking meat, and barbecue (I live in Kansas City). My absolute favorite Instant Pot recipe is the French Dip sandwich by No. 2 Pencil. Check out the board if you like Instant Pot stuff.

More updates coming as the 30-day experiment continues.

–Sean


Update Eight – Twenty Days In

Now that my Tailwind trial is over, so the queuing feature isn’t pinning for me, I am following (approximately) the same process each day. It takes me about 15 minutes total and I’m going to watch the difference between my Average Monthly Viewers with Tailwind and without it.

1) Find 20 pins across a variety of different topics. I prefer to pin long pins that actually link to an article.

2) Read the article and make sure it accurately represents content that I want associated with one of my boards.

3) Pin the article to my pinboard. I usually do this by re-pinning the post that I discovered, but I’m going to change that up a bit in September. Instead, I’m going to pin the original article AND I’m going to tweet at the author of the post thanking them for the content and letting them know that I pinned to my board.

If you wonder whether Pinterest rewards active users, the answer is an incontrovertible “YES”.

Just take a look at the graph below. The month leading up to August were the months where I had pinboards, but was not actively pinning other people’s content. Then, in August, I started pinning again and doubled my average monthly viewers.

Being active on Pinterest doubled my average monthly visitors

Being active on Pinterest doubled my average monthly visitors

And I was only active for about 17 days in August. I imagine that I can probably triple the number in September by following the steps that I outlined above. It’ll take me a little longer each day, but hopefully will start driving not only an increase in average monthly visitors, but visits to my blog.

We’ll see.

Here’s an example of a tweet that I sent to a blog owner thanking them for the infographic and alerting them to the fact that I saved it to my board. It’ll be interesting to see if this cross-channel engagement makes a difference.

–Sean


Update Nine – Three Weeks In

Okay, after two days of manually pinning, I see the real value in Tailwind. Manual pinning is good, but to try to remember to pin your own stuff, that’s where Tailwind shines.

So…I ponied up and bought a one year subscription to Tailwind. This gives me a good partner to help me ensure that my pins are getting published. By doing that, it allows me to focus my manual pinning on other people’s content.

I’m also getting more involved in Tribes, learning how to best use them.

Here’s the good news. Pinterest is now driving traffic to my site. Again, it’s not a lot…but before this experiment it was driving ZERO.

Pinterest is once again driving traffic to my blogPinterest is once again driving traffic to my blog

I’m pretty confident that, as I continue beyond the 30 days, the traffic will grow as the Pinterest algorithm recognizes me as an active community member, my followers grow, and my pins are re-pinned over time.

More to come as I see what the last week of my Pinterest Experiment holds…

–Sean


Update Ten – The Results…Well…Kind Of

Well, the results are in. I made it through 30 days of pinning, joining, re-pinnning, and measuring. I’m actually going to write a separate summary blog post that provides a thorough analysis, but I wanted to share some of the insights here since you have been kind enough to stick with me through this 30-day experiment.

Here’s what I learned:

30 Days Is Not Enough

If you’re going to be involved in Pinterest, you had better plan to stick with it for 90 days, at a minimum to get some traction. I’m going to continue on with my pinning to see if I can make some headway, but I think I’m going to plan on some actual metrics around 90-180 days.

Tailwind Is A MUST

There are already not enough hours in the day to create content, share, post, tweet, and pin. Even without Tribes and the coming SmartLoop feature, the pinning scheduler is enough to make Tailwind worth the money.

Balance Is Key

While Tailwind is a good tool, you still have to manually pin some things. I focused on pinning things that I searched for in my day-to-day marketing searches. If I read a good article on email list building, I pinned it. An article on advanced configuration of Cloudflare? That got pinned.

Try to incorporate your pinning into your searching, browsing, and reading activities.

If You Don’t Have A Pinterest Button On Your Site, You Are Missing Out

I’ll be honest, before this experiment, I didn’t have a “Pin It” button on my site. That was a miss.

If I found a great article that didn’t have a Pinterest button, it usually didn’t get pinned. If you don’t have one, get one.

The Juice, In This 30-Day Experiment, Was NOT Worth The Squeeze

I have a very specific hourly rate that I assign to my time. It doesn’t matter whether it’s mowing the lawn, changing the oil in my car, working with my marketing clients, or writing my own blog content, the value of those activities are measured against that hourly rate.

Pinterest was not worth it.

After spending about 20 hours of my time running this experiment, I garnered a total of inbound clicks from Pinterest. Yes…13.

My 30 day Pinterest gained be 13 inbound clicks from Pinterest

If I were to stop right now, it would be a disaster of an experiment. However, as with most things in digital marketing and social media, it takes time to build up steam. As a comparison, in the 30 days that followed the experiment, that increased to 15.

Right, kinda silly. But we’ll see if it grows exponentially or takes off at some point. Now that I have a process down, I’m going to give it 120 days and then call it a success or failure.

If you want to see the results, be sure to check back frequently or subscribe to my email list (at the bottom of the this post) and I’ll send you updates.

Thanks for joining me on this experiment. Would love to hear how others are succeeding or failing at Pinterest.

Cheers!

–Sean

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