Pinterest is the social platform most people go to when it comes to finding inspiration for wedding-related activities. So it only makes sense that this is where businesses that cater to that very industry should be to take advantage of that “built in” audience.
From a business and marketing perspective, Pinterest offers many of the same options as other popular social platforms, but it also offers a variety of other benefits and tools not found on places like Twitter or Instagram. Peg Fitzgerald is here to school us on the art of Pinterest and show us how to maximize its value for your business.
Rich: Peg Fitzpatrick is a social media strategist and popular blogger, writing on her own website and across the web. Her blog was recognized as one of the top social media blogs by Social Media Examiner.
Peg has spearheaded successful social media campaigns for Mercedes, Motorola, Audi, Google and Virgin, as well as having been a brand ambassador for Kimpton Hotels, currently working with Adobe Spark.
Peg co-authored the best-selling book, The Art of Social Media, with Guy Kawasaki. Peg, welcome to the show.
Peg: Thanks for having me. I feel like I should go tweet something.
Amber: Welcome Peg, thanks so much for coming on and talking to us about Pinterest. What attracted you to Pinterest?
Peg: I have to tell you Amber, I have been a fan of Pinterest since way back in the Beta when you had to have an invite form someone else to get on it.
Amber: Me too!
Peg: I immediately fell in love with it. And being that I am a social media professional, one of the things that I loved most about Pinterest is that it’s super quiet. It’s not a chatty place, you don’t have to respond to people. It’s kind of your own zone. You just kind of go into your own quiet bubble and just enjoy it.
So for me it’s really enjoyable, but it’s also really great marketing. Just like all social media, there’s a personal aspect to them. And then there’s the professional aspect, and I saw the marketing possibilities right away. So what first attracted me was just that it’s your own little quiet zone. And then just the fact that you could find such great things there. And of course that was maybe 2011 when we were first on there.
And now as we evolve forward, it’s really turned into a powerhouse but still is a really quieter place. And they have come out and said that they are not a social network, that it’s not social media. You can pin things and save things there, but they look at it differently. So they really never intended it to be social media – even though it does get bumped into the groups like Twitter and Facebook – because in some ways you can follow things and follow people. But it’s really a discovery engine.
What I love about it now is you can find just how to do anything there. It’s replaced Google search for a lot of people as far as how to find things. Things from where they want to go on a trip, what they want to wear to a holiday party, trending nail colors. It’s little things like that, but just bigger things, too. So it’s just so interesting to me.
Rich: This is interesting to me, because of course Amber and I partnered up in part because she is the expert in everything wedding related, and I’m supposed to be the marketing expert. And yet this is a platform that I literally cannot find my way around, which is bumping my head against the wall. So I’m really the newbie on this one.
Now our audience is wedding professionals, and a lot of wedding planners and wedding professionals have long seen Pinterest as a tool to attract brides and business. Why do you think this is?
Peg: Well I think part of the appeal is that weddings are probably the biggest event that we spend the most money on in our life. And part of what we’re doing when we’re planning a wedding is creating a whole theme for your wedding. You design your wedding and create this experience for your wedding. Sometimes it’s the whole weekend. The wedding is the biggest event of your life for a lot of people. You’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in some cases, more if you want to go into the celebrity weddings.
So being that weddings are so visual and so stylized and people are so proud of what they create, Pinterest is a perfect place to get ideas for weddings. So on Pinterest you can work with your wedding planner behind the scenes, and you can share things on secret Pinterest boards. This is the way that a lot of designers and wedding planners work behind the scenes with their clients. Because of course you don’t want to have everything posted publicly before the big day. You wouldn’t post all the things for your flower arrangements because you want it to be a surprise when people get there.
So you can create these secret boards that you and your designer and bridesmaids can all come and see things and discuss it. Whoever you’re planning with, you can work behind the scenes and save special things on these Pinterest boards that you can create inspiration. One of the biggest things about Pinterest is that it’s inspirational content. So people can go and create experiences that they are going to really have for their own wedding, but a lot of people plan for weddings even if they’re already married. It’s just content that’s beautiful, they make people happy.
So there’s a lot of wedding content on Pinterest already. So it’s great to get ideas, but then it’s also a place where you can create your own new boards or anything. So you can even create a series of boards. One for wedding flowers, one for honeymoon destinations, there’s so many different ways that you can go with it.
Rich: So what it sounds like, from what I’m hearing, it’s both a marketing tool as well as a communication tool when you’re starting a relationship with a bride or a client.
Amber: So I have to say I agree and I do all those things including secret boards with all my clients. It’s almost one of your first questions once you’re booked is, “Can I see your Pinterest board?” That’s pretty standard.
Once you’ve established an account on Pinterest, what are some ways you can attract the attention of brides or brides-to-be and couples? Should you focus more on building your own boards or engaging other boards?
Peg: If you’re working in the wedding industry and you want to build your own clientele, you probably wouldn’t want to build through group words of people that are selling the same services as you are, because those would be direct competitors. But you could do group words for things that aren’t direct competitors for you.
So for example if you have floral arrangements with all the different little aspects maybe aren’t what your services are. If you’re a wedding florist, you can share boards with other parts of the wedding. And then the ones that are your own business, you want to keep with mostly your own content because you want those pins to lead back to your website.
Look at it two different ways, there’s the inspiration piece of it and the marketing piece of it. So the marketing piece, anything that’s going to lead back to your website so people can hire you to create their wedding dreams come true. You want to make sure that you’re putting enough original content so people can find you that link back to where you are.
Rich: To follow up on that, it always seems to me that – especially in social media – there’s this 80/20 rule where 80% of the time you’re not doing self-promotional stuff and you’re maybe sharing the work of others, and then 20% is self-promotion. It seems like – if I understand you – that’s not necessarily the best way to approach it on Pinterest, at least for this type of business.
Peg: Well, the 80/20 rule doesn’t really apply to Pinterest, believe it or not. Most of the people that are on their pinning are not adding new content, they’re just repining content. I think it’s like 80-85% of the content that’s on there, people are just repinning. So there’s only 10-15% maybe that people are adding new to Pinterest.
So if you’re using it as a marketing platform, you want to be adding new pins. So there’s not really a percentage as far as how much of your own content you can pin. I actually see a huge variety, and some people who are very successful on Pinterest, pin mostly their own content. As long as you’re pinning really great pins, because for weddings, it’s not going to be mostly blog posts, you have a lot of images. So you could use a lot of original images. The thing is it’s not 100% promoting yourself, it’s a very soft sell most of the time.
You can have calls to action, “Click through to see how we use these gardenias to create a memorable day”, it’s more of a soft sell kind of thing. So if you have more of it and it’s not such a hard pushed sell, it’s fine if you pinned a lot of your own content. Does that make sense?
Rich: Yeah, absolutely.
Amber: Yes it does to me. Does it make sense to you, Rich?
Rich: Well you know I’m a little slow on the uptake, but I understand most of the words you’re using.
Peg: As marketers we’re different. Based on Facebook, if you shared only you own content on Facebook, people would probably look down on that, or on Twitter you’re only doing this. But I think as time goes on, I think we’re going to see that your own content is even more important than ever. And Pinterest is just very different than other things. Instagram you share pretty much all your own content.
Peg: It can be 100% your own content and nobody thinks anything about that at all. I think we’re getting to a place where instead of grouping them all together, we really look at how they all separately function. And that’s how Pinterest is a lot different than the others.
If you had a Pinterest account and you were a wedding planner and you pinned all your own content and it was 100% gorgeous images, people wouldn’t even notice.
Rich: Right. It sounds like more of a portfolio than just a social media site.
Peg: Yes, it can be a portfolio. It’s a lot of different things. It can be a portfolio to show clients that you’ve worked with, it can be inspiration to inspire people, and it can be showcasing the way that people can put things together. There’s a lot of different ways to use it. It’s almost like it’s only limited to your creativity. Pinterest is so different that way that you could create all these different boards, one for inspiration, portfolios, there’s all different ways to use it.
Amber: But it is interesting that you can do more of your own content and it’s fine.
Amber: So can you explain real quickly and briefly, what Pinterest Search is and how wedding professionals can take advantage of Pinterest Search?
Peg: Ok. So Pinterest is different, they have a smart feed and they call themselves a “discovery engine”, whereas Google would be a “search engine”. So what Google does is they find the things that you type in, if you type “wedding flowers”, they’ll find wedding flowers for you. If you type in “wedding flowers” on Pinterest, they’re going to also pull things up but they base the things that pull up also on other things that you pinned, other people that you follow. They kind of have this very intricate algorithm – as all the sites do – and they pull up things based on people that you like, the most popular wedding things, and things that they think you’re going to like.
So the smart feed works like other search engines, but they also suggest a lot of content for you. And since you’re a big pinner Amber, you know that they make a lot of recommendations to you. So Google only gives you information when you ask for it. Pinterest is recommending things to you every time you go. And they’ve been tweaking the content that they share and they have a very highly intelligent search going on. I love their emails, they send you emails based on past content that you pinned and boards you liked, and their recommendations are spot on.
Amber: It’s kind of crazy, isn’t it?
Peg: It’s so good, right?
Amber: In a creepy way. They get it every time but it feels creepy. It’s like what are they doing, it’s so precise that it feels very Big Brother in a good way.
Peg: It is. But so is Google, right? I mean they all are, they all know stuff about us based on all of our behaviors. So Pinterest takes all those things into account when they make recommendations, really good ones.
Amber: They are good.
Peg: I think they like to think they’re very different, but it is similar to Google in some ways, because it’s an algorithm that finds things. But it’s just them working all this time and honing in on what you like the most. Do you pin it, do you not pin it, how long do you stay on the website. They have a whole bunch of different elements that they look at.
So you can get into their search if you have pins that are popular, it can really help your business a lot. And it’s based on keyword, I should mention. Pinterest search is based on the keywords that are in your description, and also the name of the image, all the different elements that can have language in it, they search for those things when they share things.
Rich: Ok, can we talk a little bit more about that, because that piqued my interest?
Rich: So if I’ve got something – let’s say I’m a florist –and I want to be found and for my images to come up. What I’m hearing is that I should use specific words in my description, and are you also saying that the name of my file – if I upload a picture of lilies – I make sure the photo file name is called “lilies.jpg” or I sit an alt tag?
Rich: What tips can you give me?
Peg: If you want to name it? Yes, all those things go into play. They also have a fishbowl search so when you upload that photo that actually have this crazy thing where you can search based on an image to find other images that match.
Peg: It’s a visual search. So all the different ways they’re grouping content together. The name, what’s in the image. It’s fascinating, it really is.
Rich: So this may lead into my next question. Since the wedding industry is so geographically based, I was wondering are there tools or tactics within Pinterest to take advantage of geography? So immediately I’m thinking of if I was a florist in Bangor I might say “Bangor_florist_lilies.jpg” or something like that, or put those words into the description so I might come up higher for those searches. Besides that, what else might be effective, or what can I do to take advantage of people who might be interested locally in my business?
Peg: There’s actually a ton of things that you can do locally. You can absolutely use the names of things. When people do promoted pins, if you wanted to promote your Pinterest pins, you can actually do it by location as well. So you can do it from a front facing and also in the promotion area, find people by actually targeting your pins – with a little bit of money behind it – or you can tag things. They may have just stopped that, but they used to have these location pins that added them to a map. I think they stopped doing the map, but you can still add the location to them.
So you can actually target much like you can everywhere else, it’s just not as popular, but there’s still a lot of ways that you can do it. So definitely if you were a local florist you could put your name and the description of your pin. So you could say, “romantic holiday lily bouquet at the #1 florist in Bangor Maine”, you could put it all in the description so it’s searchable. Because it’s possible – and Amber you might know this better since you work directly in the industry – but people may search directly for florists in Maine for weddings.
Peg: Because people use it like Google search now. The millennial women, this is where they are doing their shopping.
Amber: And it’s also such a visual industry that Pinterest just makes sense. It just makes sense for us because what we do is so visual. So other places you could put that lovely lily bouquet from the famous Rich Brooks up and people will see that and they will visually like it or not like it, and know they want it or not. Or you can describe that in words on a blog or in other places, and it won’t have the same impact.
But what I want to ask you, the newest thing for me in my Pinterest journey is this whole concept of promoted pins. Can you just explain that a little bit to our audience? A lot of us are solopreneurs so we’re all doing our own marketing – hence why me and Rich decided to even create this brand – but even more than that, as solopreneurs our marketing dollars are small. So how would you suggest us to promote our pins, what is promoting pins, and how much money should we be spending on promoting of our pins?
Peg: Well I totally feel you on not having a big budget. Believe it or not, it’s not that expensive. Number one, Pinterest pins last longer anyway on Pinterest. So if you have a pin today, it’s going to keep getting re-pins and traffic for months and months, sometimes years and years. So one thing to think about when you’re using your marketing dollars to promote content is that it lasts the longest of any social channel. Tweets last about 15-20 minutes, a Facebook post is like 40 minutes to an hour, Instagram posts are less than an hour, and Pinterest pins half life is like 3 ½ months.
So it’s definitely stretching your budget because it lasts longer. And when you promote a pin it actually continues to do better after you’ve promoted it. So with promoted pins, it’s much like promoting content on other sites. You don’t have to have a lot of money to do it, you can just take a small amount of budget. I always start things at $5 because I’m an individual – I’m also not a large company – and I’m always testing things. So I will test it at $5-$10, which is very reasonable.
Amber: Very reasonable. Even I can afford that.
Peg: If you can’t afford $10 for marketing your company, that’s something you definitely have to look at, because organic reach is down everywhere but Pinterest is not down. I would have to say it is one place where I think you do see the efforts that pay off as far as marketing time goes. When you create your Pinterest pins, it doesn’t take a lot of effort afterwards – comparing to other social networks – where with Instagram you need to stay there and babysit your posts for quite a long time. With Pinterest you can pin it and forget about it, and it will still keep bringing traffic.
So taking the time to crate the, and then promoted pins are actually just what it sounds like. You just go into your Pinterest business account – it’s very easy to set up and of course it’s free – and then you can go into the backend and pick the pins to promote (either a new one or an old one), and then it just walks you through the steps of deciding who you want to target this to.
And so of course most people in your industry are going to be very geographically targeting, but you can choose the age range, and then you can put all kinds of keywords in there. So you can do “weddings”, “brides”, “wedding planning”, any keyword search terms that you have you can throw them in there and put tons of them in. I don’t even know if there’s a limit per pin.
So you can really target it by people that are getting married, people who are looking in Maine, you can do destination wedding, there’s all different ways that you can target people. And then you just put a little bit of money behind it and you go. And Pinterest has some really great information on their website, Pinterest for business, how to create good pins, how to do promoted pins.
So they’ve given you a ton of information that’s free. And then you can even find sites where you can make great Pinterest images, and like you guys mentioned, I do work with Adobe Spark right now. You can make things for free at Adobe Spark and use your own images in there and upload them. So as a small business you can find ways to make it affordable for you. If you can’t afford a designer, you can definitely create your own pins. The most important thing is just getting them the right size, because long vertical images are best on Pinterest.
Rich: Good to know. I knew that Amber was in trouble with her budget when she mentioned Adidas and said they have thousands of dollars in their marketing budget.
Amber: You talked about lilies. I win.
Rich: Ok. Now moving on, one last question about Pinterest before we let you go, what’s the final word on hashtags?
Rich: I guess that’s the final word.
Peg: That’s the final word, no hashtags on Pinterest.
Rich: No hashtags, just don’t even touch them.
Peg: No. They have actually come out and said that they can hurt your pins.
Amber: Oh, that’s so god to know!
Rich: See, I’m glad I asked these stupid questions.
Peg: That was a good question. They use keywords, so you definitely want to use keywords in your descriptions and everywhere. But don’t use the hashtag. And actually, what happens when you click on a hashtag on Pinterest, it looks like it works and it’s populating, but it doesn’t actually pull everything. So they “sort of work”, but I’ve asked several people there and Pinterest has told me do not use them.
Rich: It sounds like they’re really trying to go their own path.
Amber: Yeah, they really are. Trying to be separate but equal. Thank you so much for this wisdom. I mean, just the hashtag tip alone I think is worth the listen. I’m glad it was at the end so you have to listen to the whole thing. Because that’s news to me and I’m going to go right now to my Pinterest boards and fix it. Peg, where can we find you online?
Peg: I am at “Peg Fitzpatrick” everywhere. At Pinterest, my blog is pegfitzpatrick.com, so I’m ”Peg Fitzpatrick” at every network, so it’s easy to remember.
Rich: And of course you are a presenter at our first annual conference which, have we come up with a name for this conference yet?
Amber: Listen, “The Conference of All Awesomeness”. Maybe we’ll call it the “Adidas Lily Conference”.
Peg: There may be people that have an issue with that.
Rich: So there’s still some issues to work out, but the bottom line is that Peg is going to be there, the dates are March 31st and April 1st, 2017, and we are excited to have you on stage with us. So thank you very much for your time today, and we’ll see you in March.
Peg Fitzpatrick is a social media strategist and author. You can find her almost everywhere online, but be sure to follow her on Twitter for some great tips and to find out what she’s up to. And don’t forget to grab your tickets to the Streamline Marketing Workshop Conference, where Peg will be sharing her knowledge with us as a featured speaker.
Amber Small makes wedding dreams come true. Make sure to reserve your spot now for the Streamline Marketing Workshop Conference that she – along with Rich Brooks of flyte new media – have created specifically targeted to wedding professions, with the goal of helping them reach, connect & engage with their best customers.
Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine. He knows a thing or two about helping businesses grow by reaching their ideal customers, and to prove that, he puts on a yearly conference to inspire small businesses to achieve success. Head on over to Twitter to connect and say “Hi” to Rich!