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Pinterest is one of the most effective but overlooked social media tools for writers and other artists.www.cherylsterlingbooks.com

In today’s AtoZChallenge, “P” is for Pinterest

Pinterest is one of the most effective but overlooked social media tools for writers and other artists.www.cherylsterlingbooks.comPinterest is one of the most effective but overlooked social media tools for writers and other artists.  It’s not all pretty images for bored housewives and soon-to-be-brides.

I’ve used Pinterest for years, back when you had to email an application and wait for approval. I didn’t get serious about using it to market my books and brand until September, 2016, when I signed up for Summer Tannhauser’s Free Pinterest course. Pinterest is an easy, effective tool to add to your marketing arsenal.

The day I completed the five day course, I had 73 Pinterest followers. As I write this (Saturday, April 15th, because I like to be ahead in my blogging schedule), I have 1,241. Quite a leap, yes?

As I’m pinning my blog entries (you do that, right?), and I’m taking part in the #AtoZChallenge in April, I’m pinning daily content from my blog, increasing the number of people who visit my website.

Some of the things I’ve learned:

  • Obviously, set up a Pinterest account.

Make it a business account. Go here for instructions. If you have an existing account, you can convert it in a few simple steps.

      1. Why a business account? You’ll have access to analytics. Over time, Pinterest will show your profile’s growth, who your audience is, and what type of pins they click on. From this information, you can narrow down your audience and tailor future pins to it. You’ll also be able to run Pinterest Ads.
      2. When you set up a business account, you will be asked to confirm your website. This involves adding a string of code to your website’s header section. If you—like me—break out into a cold sweat at the thought of coding, WordPress has a plugin that will make it easier. Install it, add the code, then go back to Pinterest and click on Finish.
  • Set up or edit your Profile

      1. Use a business name relevant to your industry. Add keywords. If you’re Joe Smith and you sell guitars, Joe’s Rocking won’t show up on searches. Joe’s Fine Guitars or Joe’s Guitars for Sale will generate more traffic.
      2. Upload a photo of you, a candid shot with a white or solid color background. It should be one you use on all social media profiles. A face is relatable to your followers.
      3. Add your website URL and a description of who you are, who you serve and what you provide (in a conversational tone, of course). A surprising number of profiles I’ve visited are titled something like “Carol’s Page” and have no description. This is valuable real estate—take advantage of it. Check out my profile page here.
  • Pinterest boards

      1. Set up several boards related to your field.I recommend 10-15. Do a keyword search of your competition and learn what they are using. The tabs below the Pinterest search are rated most popular from left to right.
      2. Board names should include SEO and keywords
      3. The board names should be short and focused
      4. Board descriptions should be two or three sentences, well written and related to the board. Keywords should be near the beginning of the descriptions.
      5. Making a board secret will protect its contents from public view. If you are a business, keep your public boards business-like and hide unrelated pins on secret boards.
      6. Once you have several boards set up, they can be arranged within their rows with a simple drag and drop, moving the most important board into the top position. Followers want to see the most relevant boards at the top and will rarely scroll down.
  • Your pins

      1. Pins should be a mix of  relevant, useful content from others and original content from your blog. An 80/20 mix is recommended.
      2. When repinning from others, it’s okay to customize the description to something stronger. Don’t use hashtags except at the end. Pinterest’s Smart Feed gets confused with hashtags and will drop any description after them. I use them at the end as my pre-scheduled pins which also post on Twitter (more on this later).
      3. Add a CTA (Call to Action) in your descriptions, such as “Click through to check out XYZ” or “Win a Free XX by visiting.”
      4. Pin only what your audience will like. Until your analytics kick in, take ideas from your experience and your competitor’s boards.
  • Your Images

    1. Add video. Video is a growing trend and makes your audience feel connected. Search YouTube, DailyMotion and TED for videos related to your field, or start your own channel.
    2. Use bright colors with good resolution
    3. Use text in a clear, easy-to-read font on your images to tell your audience what they’ll find when they click through to your site.
    4. Pin vertical images rather than horizontal ones for maximum sharing. The ideal size is 735 X 1102:
    5. Use a vertical, longer image on Pinterest for maximum sharing and pinningShort, horizontal images do not get as much exposure on Pinterest as longer, vertical images

Which will get more shares and pins on Pinterest?

Any other tips?

Yes! By adding Twitter and Facebook to your social media settings, you can simultaneously post to them. How? Go to your Pinterest settings, click on or scroll down to Social Networks, and click Yes on Log In with Facebook, and Connect with Twitter. Say Yes to the usual approval questions. The next time you Pin something, two little boxes appear below your pin: Post to Facebook and Post to Twitter. By checking them, your pin will also appear there. If you use BoardBooster, the posts will appear when it schedules them. I find this a win-win. I don’t have to be on all three networks to appear as if I am!

If you have a business account, you can set up a Showcase. In Settings–>Profile, edit Showcase. Pick five of your most favorite boards and save. A rotating slideshow of those boards now sits at the top of your profile. It is the first thing visitors will see, and you control their first impression by your board choices.

When commenting in other social media, and an opportunity arises for you to mention Pinterest, use the word Pinterest as a hyperlink to your profile page.

Add a save to Pinterest rollover button on your blog’s images. Check out the instructions here. The same instructions are valid for adding a Pin It button to your website.

Add a Pin It button to your browser’s toolbar. When you visit a site you’d like to share, you can pin it on the fly.

Revisit your boards and delete under-performing pins. BoardBooster‘s Pin Doctor will look at your board pins (for a penny a pin) and tell you about broken, missing or suspicious links, slow websites, and duplicate pins based on the same image or same links.

What else?

Join Group boards. I’ll admit I’ve neglected to do this, but it’s on my list. You’ll gain a larger audience for each of your group pins. Check out pingroupie.com for suggestions on where to find a group board that fits your needs.

Pin often. Just like other social media platforms, Pinterest is a moving target. What’s pinned is not always seen. By using tools like BoardBooster and Tailwind and posting 20-30 times a day, you’ll be seen as the expert in your field.

Schedule your pins when your audience is most likely to view them. There are many reports available about when to post. I used to schedule by them until BoardBooster’s analysis of my audience told me my peak times were not East Coast 8-11 p.m., but local time 10-11 p.m. I’ve adjusted my pinning times, adding in the later period. I try to pin consistently throughout the day to catch as wide of an audience as possible while still catering to my core fans.

Not all pins need to be new content. When I’m pressed for time, I’ll search my existing boards for high-repin content and repin to the same board or its twin secret board. BoardBooster has a looping feature that will automatically do this for you, but I like to give my audience proven content.

Be sure to pin YOUR blog’s content. If you don’t advertise your product (whether it’s your services, a physical product, you, or a digital product like my books), who will?

I can’t think of anything else from my notes or experience. Pinterest is an awesome tool to target your ideal follower. I highly recommend taking Summer Tannhauser’s Free Pinterest course to learn more. I can attest to the rapid increase in my Pinterest followers.

Tomorrow’s #AtoZChallenge* will focus on the letter “Q”.

#AtoZChallenge is a blogging challenge that takes place in the month of April.Blessings until then,

Cheryl

If you’d like to continue reading my entries in the AtoZChallenge* and to receive my blog posts, please use the entry form to the right. Also sign up for my newsletter, and you’ll receive a FREE copy of my short story, Mr. Right, Mr. Wrong, Mr. Alien.

If you know of someone who would enjoy learning more about Pinterest, use the buttons on the left to share this post. Thank you.Pinterest is one of the most effective but overlooked social media tools for writers and other artists.www.cherylsterlingbooks.com

*#AtoZChallenge is a blogging challenge that takes place in April (except on Sundays). Participants blog every day around a theme of their choosing, in alphabetical order. Throughout the month of April, I’ll share tips, links, and insights I’ve learned in my writing career.

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Facebook groups are a great way to communicate with and build relationships with your customers.

#AtoZChallenge*, the letter “F” is for Facebook Groups

Facebook groups are a great way to communicate with and build relationships with your customers.

Facebook groups are a great way to communicate with and build relationships with your customers.

If you’ve selected Facebook as one of your social mediums to connect with your customers (whether they are a reader, a music lover, or someone who buys the widgets you produce), be sure to join one or two Facebook groups.

“But I already belong to Facebook, I have my own page, and I post every day,” you say. Yes, this will help spread your message, but if you find the right group, you’re sharing with people who have the same passion for your product. Who is more likely to buy—your Aunt Edna, or someone as madly obsessed with books, music, or widgets as you?

Networking with fans and fellow fanatics adds another layer of connecting to your core audience. And connecting is what puts the “social” in social media.

What can a Facebook group do for me?

(Channeling a little JFK here)–>Ask not what a Facebook group can do for you, ask what you can do for a Facebook group:

    • Ask questions to discover their pain (problem) and have a solution (sale)
    • Be an expert in your field. They will come to you for solutions (see above)
    • Drive traffic to your website
    • Get email subscribers, and put them on your email list
    • Ask advice
    • Give advice
    • Become a part of a community where everyone understands what you’re going through
    • Get feedback
    • Share sales
    • Share posts
    • Request to be or to host a guest post
    • Brainstorm
    • Offer exclusive content
    • Add value

Where do I find a Facebook group that meets my needs?

The obvious place is to do a Facebook search. Or a Google search. Or ask your existing social media if they have any suggestions. People are more than willing to share what they’ve found beneficial to them.

Once you’ve found a group, determine if their purpose aligns with yours and your business. Are they open and generous, or is their mission to collect names for their own email list? Do they share tips and tricks, or is every post an introduction to yet another member? (I belong to one such group and wonder what their purpose is outside of introductions. I never see any concrete suggestions or sharing and wonder why I joined).

On the other hand, I belong to another, fantastic group that is very active. They ask for feedback on book covers, share links to helpful sites, and spread knowledge without thought of reward. They’re generous, supportive and committed to their craft.

What not to do

    • Avoid Spamming. If you’re always selling, no one will read your posts. You want engagement, not scorn.
    • Don’t be a lurker. The point of joining is to belong, and you can’t belong if no one sees you.
    • Get political. Please, in today’s environment, avoid a virtual fight. Unless, of course, the purpose of the group is political
    • Troll or abuse another member
    • Break the rules. BTW, read the rules when you join. If there is a no promotion clause, don’t push your widget. Just don’t.
    • Vulgarity, profanity, etc.

What if I can’t find a Facebook group?

In the very rare case no Facebook group exists, consider creating your own. A lot of work will be involved. After all, Facebook is a 24/7 entity. Do you want to moderate all posts? Are you willing to kick off troubling members? Google the subject and decide if you’re willing to tackle the task. If so, I wish you luck. Send me an invitation.

The purpose of Facebook groups is to share

No one with a passion for a subject wants to exist in a vacuum. We want support, we want to engage, we want to belong to a community that understands the voices in our heads (writers only) or the love we have for our widgets.

Find and join a Facebook group. Contribute. Post a link to something you’re all interested in. Answer a question. And, using the 80/20 rule, occasionally point them in the direction of your product, whether it’s books or widgets.

Bee a part of a colony (couldn’t resist the pun)

Tomorrow’s #AtoZChallenge* centers on the letter “G”.

Blessings until then,

Cheryl

p.s. I don’t own a Facebook group, but I do have a Facebook page. Consider following me.

If you’d like to continue reading my entries in the AtoZChallenge and to receive my blog posts, please use the entry form to the right. Also sign up for my newsletter, and you’ll receive a FREE copy of my short story, Mr. Right, Mr. Wrong, Mr. Alien.

If you know of someone who would enjoy learning more about Facebook groups, use the buttons on the left to share this post. Thank you.

*#AtoZChallenge is a blogging challenge that takes place in April (except on Sundays). Participants blog every day around a theme of their choosing, in alphabetical order. Throughout the month of April, I’ll share tips, links, and insights I’ve learned in my writing career.

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An email list is an easy way to build relationships with and stay connected to your customers.

For today’s #AtoZChallenge*, the letter “E” is for Email list.

An email list is an easy way to build relationships with and stay connected to your customers.

An email list is an easy way to build relationships with and stay connected to your customers.

The letter “E” is for Email List, a tool every blogger should use.

Okay, a raise of hands—how many websites have you visited in the last 24 hours? How many had a pop-up requesting your name and email address? How many did you fill out?

If you’re like most blog visitors, you hate those annoying pop-ups. But guess what? They’re very effective in capturing and retaining loyal customers. Whatever your business,whenever a visitor to your site fills in those two little spaces, they’re inviting you into their mailbox. Amazon won’t share your buyer’s information with you. Social media outlets might be gone tomorrow, taking your followers with them. But once you’ve set up an email list, you own it. Your subscribers are an asset you’d be foolish not to use.

How to set up an email list

There are many email handling services to choose from—AWeber, Convertkit, GetResponse, and the one I use—MailChimp. Some are paid, some are free until you meet a specific number of subscribers, some are easier to use than others.

Signup to whatever service you choose and place a opt-in box in at least three different places on your blog/website. Why three or more? The conversion rate is better at or above that number. I have mine on the far right column, at the bottom, and at the end of each post. You can also create a landing page, which is even more effective.

Include a CTA—a call to action. Tell them what you want and what you’re willing to do in exchange. Be specific, be exciting, make your new subscriber want to see your next email.

Give them something for free—an excerpt, a .pdf, a preview of your product. I offer a free copy of the first of my short story series, Mr. Right, Mr. Wrong, Mr. Alien. I invite subscribers into my writing world, they get a free book. Win-win.

What if you don’t have a free book to give away?

Here are some ideas of what you can offer:

  • An exclusive book excerpt
  • A video
  • A webinar
  • Previews of an upcoming release
  • Mini-courses
  • Podcast
  • A behind the scenes look at your scintillating life (!)
  • A worksheet
  • Favorite tips and tools
  • A cheat sheet
  • A resource list
  • Sales and promos
  • A tutorial
  • A newsletter

What you want is to make your reader/customer/subscriber feel as if they have the inside scoop on your business. An email list and how you use it is a great way to build relationships and stay connected.

Follow up

Don’t be “that guy”, the one you never hear from until he has something to sell. Months go by, then you’re spammed with “I have a new product, and you have to buy it.”

Nope, set up a schedule and reach out to your most loyal followers. My newsletter goes out on the 8th of the month. Why that date? Damned if I know, but once I started, I’ve made it a point to stick to that date. If I have a new book scheduled for release, I make sure my subscribers see an excerpt before anyone else. Don’t we all like to get the skinny before anyone else?

Include a final CTA (call to action) at the end of each communication. “Please share this newsletter/excerpt/special offering.” Word of mouth is unbeatable marketing.

Please share this blog post

See, that was easy. Use the buttons on the left to share this post to your followers. And if you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, please use the opt-in box on the right to do so. I promise not to spam you or sell your information. Plus, you get to read a fantastic short story!

I’ll see you tomorrow, when I’ll discuss something “F” for the #AtoZChallenge*.

Blessings until then,

Cheryl

*#AtoZChallenge is a blogging challenge that takes place in April (except on Sundays). Participants blog every day around a theme of their choosing, in alphabetical order. Throughout the month of April, I’ll share tips, links, and insights I’ve learned in my writing career.

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