April 18th, 2018

How To Use Pinterest To Market Your Blog Or Business

How To Use Pinterest To Market Your Blog Or Business

How hard have you tried to use Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog or business? It seems like a lot of people are having amazing success with it, but maybe it isn’t going that well for you. It’s incredibly frustrating. You’d love to use Pinterest to market your blog or business. What does it take?

The first thing I will warn you against is an excessive focus on going viral. If your content is good, and your pins are attractive, viral pins will come in their own time, so long as you’re also working on your Pinterest marketing.

Besides, the traffic from viral pins can peak suddenly, then disappear. You want consistency. You want to build regular traffic. Viral pins can help with that, but they aren’t everything.

Start With The Basics

Whether you’re just starting out with Pinterest or have been pinning for some time, there are some basic things you need to take care of before you do anything else.

If you haven’t created your Pinterest business account, do so now. This will give you access to analytics, which is a huge help in discovering how your pins are doing. It’s free. You can convert your personal account or start a new one to use entirely for business purposes.

Make sure you verify your website with Pinterest. Pinterest will give you a code for this.

A business account can also pay for sponsored pins, which can be a help in bringing attention to your pins. You don’t have to do this, but it’s worth considering.

Next, apply for rich pins. You will need some code on your site. If you’re using WordPress and have the Yoast SEO plugin, this is super easy. If you’re using WordPress and don’t use Yoast, I strongly recommend adding it. It’s helpful in many ways.

In the Yoast SEO section of your WordPress admin, you will see a social section. Select the Facebook tab and enable the Open Graph metadata setting. This will give Pinterest the information it needs as well.

turn on open graph

Once this is done, you need to validate one of your URLs with Pinterest. Choose any blog post and put it into Pinterest’s Rich Pins Validator. If everything comes up fine, you can tell Pinterest that you used HTML tags, then click “Apply Now.” If everything has gone right, your pins will now show up as Rich Pins.

Rich pins show more information from your site. They can pull recipe information if you share recipes, or article titles and a bit of text from articles.

Figure Out Your Best Pinterest Keywords

In many ways, Pinterest is more a search engine than a social website. This makes the right keywords in your profile, boards, and pins vital to your success. Take some time early on to figure out your basic Pinterest keywords.

Start out with your best keyword for your business. Put it into the search box on Pinterest and see what comes up. It should look something like this:

find keywords pinterest

See those colored boxes with words in them? Those are words other Pinterest users include in their searches for that term. You want to use these words in your profile, board descriptions, and pins whenever they’re relevant.

Do this often. You may find it worthwhile to check Pinterest keywords for most of your posts, especially when coming up with a description as you pin them.

Make The Most Of Your Profile

How does your Pinterest profile look? Is it clear to people who visit it what your business has to offer?

Take advantage of the space Pinterest offers to create an appealing description of what followers can expect from your Pinterest profile. If you do this well, it may also attract people to visit your website.

Use some of the keywords you discovered in the section above for your profile, but keep it interesting as well.

Pinterest now has a feature where an image of your pins goes diagonally across your profile page. Take advantage of this.

pinterest header

If you don’t have a board that has just pins from your website, create one now. You’re going to use this board to display your pins on your profile.

Click the little edit button on the image of your pins that go across the top of your profile. This will allow you to select which board is used for this image. Select the one that has only your pins. Save your changes.

change pinterest header

That’s all it takes. Now you don’t have to worry about which pins show up there. You’ve chosen to make it all yours.

Optimize Your Pinterest Boards

It may not be immediately obvious when you create a board that you can give it a category and description. You can, and it’s helpful to do so. This will give visitors to that board an idea as to what you pin there.

Go to your board and click the edit board button. This will give you a little popup to change the settings.

You can give the board a description. Make sure that you use some of the keywords you researched. This may help it appear in board searches.

You can also give it a category and a board cover. The board cover is a pin that will show as a larger image on the page that shows all of your boards.

If you want a consistent look to your profile page, you need to create board covers for all of your boards. Many bloggers like to create board covers that are consistent with their branding elsewhere. This is not something I have done so far personally, but many recommend it.

You can upload a custom board cover as a pin and link it to a relevant section of your website. You can create one that is at least 600×600 pixels. Board covers are square, but you can use a rectangular image if you want. Just consider which section will show up.

The idea behind branded board covers is that it gives your profile a more cohesive feel.

Finally, decide what you’re going to do with boards that aren’t relevant to your brand. You can delete them or make them into secret boards if you like. If not, at least make sure that they are beneath your business boards. You can drag and drop your boards on your profile to arrange them the way you would like them. Think about what will work best for your visitors.

Optimize Your Pins

Applying for Rich Pins is only the first step to optimizing your pins. There are a few other things you should do.

Start out by knowing the currently preferred image sizes. These change occasionally. As of this writing, Pinterest recommends pin images be no more than 600 pixels wide and will cut off pins longer than 2.1 times the width, which is to say longer than 1260 pixels long. Their preferred size is 600×900, but there are plenty of times when a longer image makes sense.

Longer pins will still show the full length when clicked. Many bloggers find that they perform better than other pins.

Create great descriptions for your pins. These will help them be found in searches. Remember to research your Pinterest keywords when creating your descriptions, and keep them accurate to the post they’re linked to. Don’t mislead your visitors – people hate that.

You can even have your preferred description show up when visitors to your site pin that image. In your blog post, use the Text editor tab rather than the Visual tab.

In this tab, the code for your image will be something along the lines of:

<img class=”aligncenter” src=”yourimageurl” alt=”alt tags for your image” width=”500″ height=”765″ />

You want to add a Pinterest description. This is done by adding data-pin-description=”your description here” so that it looks like

<img class=”aligncenter” src=”yourimageurl” alt=”alt tags for your image” width=”500″ height=”765″ data-pin-description=”Your pin description here.” />

Once you’ve done this, the description you put in the data-pin-description section will show up if someone clicks the image to pin it.

This won’t guarantee that your description will be used by everyone, as visitors can change the text as they like, but many will leave it as is.

You can go further by using data-pin-url=”URL you want the pin to lead to. Usually the URL of your post” data-pin-media=”URL of a different image you want pinned rather than the visible one. Very useful if you want smaller images in your post” and data-pin-id=”ID number of the post on Pinterest after you have pinned it.” These give you still more control over your pins. You can also control which images in your posts can be pinned to Pinterest.

Should You Brand Your Pins?

Many people strongly recommend keeping your images similar, so that they are all clearly a part of your brand. This makes it easier for people to recognize one of your pins when they come across them.

This can be as simple as using the same colors or fonts on all of your pins. Some people use very similar images on all of their pins as well.

The problem is that this gets very repetitive. Your pins are easily identified, but are they easy to tell apart?

This is where it becomes a good idea to make multiple pins for each post. You can have your strongly branded pins and have your pins that stand out.

It’s also easier to test pin styles when you have multiple pins for each post. You can compare and see which performs the best. If you find a new style performs better, you might even decide to change your branding to be closer to that style.

Pin And Pin And Pin Some More

If you aren’t pinning a lot, and pinning regularly, your pins aren’t likely to be discovered.

This also means you should pin content from other sites. You will see all kinds of advice – people telling you that the best results come from pinning 80% your own content and 20% of others, 50/50 yours vs others, or even 20% yours and 80% others. You’ll also hear that you should post 20 pins a day, 30-50 a day, or even over 100 pins a day. The advice varies widely.

I’ve never stressed about numbers. I pin a lot of my own, but also share pins from the various group boards I belong to. Most group boards require that you repin at least one other pin when you pin something of yours to the board. That ensures that I have a mix.

Group boards are a huge help in getting your pins out there. Request to join as many relevant ones as you can find, so long as they have a good number of followers. You won’t get much exposure if the board only has 100 followers, after all.

As much as possible, pin to relevant boards. Your pins will rank better if they are regularly pinned to relevant boards, rather than to general boards.

You will find a number of group boards that accept all niches. Some of these have excellent followings. You may find it worthwhile to try a few general boards, but don’t pin to many of them. Keep that focus so that Pinterest knows what your pins are about.

Manual Pins Or Scheduled Pins?

I’ve seen a lot of debate over whether manual pinning or scheduled pinning works better. There are some great tools out there. Tailwind is the most popular, I think, followed by Board Booster. Their features are slightly different, but each one allows you to schedule your pins, which can be a huge time saver.

Many people say they have seen huge traffic boosts from using these tools. At the very least, they make it much easier to be consistent with your pinning.

However, some people think you get more traffic if you pin manually. This is the method I currently use. It is often difficult to be consistent, but I keep working at it.

I track my pins using a spreadsheet. My boards are grouped by category, one sheet per category of board. This allows me to date when I do each pin. I mark when I’m using more than one image per blog post, as I don’t want to pin the same post on a board too close together, even if the images are different.

pinterest spreadsheet

I indicate group boards by putting their names in bold. This way I know which require repinning, and how many. Most only require a single repin, but some expect two or three for each pin placed on their boards. I always do at least a single repin – the more active the board is, the more attention pins on it will get.

Take a Pinterest Marketing Course

You may want to learn a lot more about pinning than I’ve shared here. A Pinterest marketing course can help you learn more than the basics. They’ll all start with the basics, to make sure that you aren’t missing obvious things, but go into more advanced techniques from there.

I recommend this Pinterest marketing course on Udemy. It’s well rated and has been updated recently. Read the reviews to see if it’s the course for you. You will learn a lot more about how to use Pinterest to market your blog if you take a good course.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

April 11th, 2018

15 Common Social Media Mistakes Home Business Owners Make

15 Common Social Media Mistakes Home Business Owners Make

Social media can be hugely beneficial to your home business, but you can also make huge mistakes with it. Mistakes won’t always be serious, but some may spread farther and stick around far longer than you’d like. Offend the wrong person, and your offense may be spread to many other people, and you can’t count on a net benefit from getting your name out there. As much as you can, you should avoid making serious social media mistakes.

I don’t mean little mistakes such as not posting often enough. Most people won’t notice that much if you rarely post – you just won’t get the benefits of posting regularly. I mean mistakes that get the wrong kind of attention or waste your precious time. Knowing which social media mistakes are common can help you to make a better social media plan.

Mistake #1: Friending or Following EVERYONE

A big list of friends or followers looks nice on your social media accounts, especially if they return the favor. The problem is when you aren’t focused on following the right people. If you just find a list and start following, you’ll probably follow a lot of junk accounts. They might follow you back, but they won’t become customers and will probably just clutter your feed.

Be picky. Follow people who are relevant to your business or are just plain interesting. Your list of followers won’t increase as quickly, but they’ll be higher quality and more fun to deal with.

If you’re looking for people to follow, look at who follows your competition. They might be interested in what you have to offer as well.

Mistake #2: Failing to Admit Mistakes

We all make mistakes, but if you make a mistake on social media, apologize or correct it the same way. It might be as simple as an incorrect link, or something more serious such as sharing inaccurate information. Take just a moment to correct yourself so that you aren’t just leaving the mistake out there unfixed. Admitting you’re wrong can sting, but it also can help to build trust.

Deleting your mistakes is always a possibility, but people do notice and may not approve of how you handled things if you delete something with no explanation. This is especially true if you insulted or angered people. If the mistake was merely funny, most people won’t be too upset with you.

Be willing to learn from your mistakes. We all make them.

Mistake #3: Being Rude

It’s easy to be rude online, even unintentionally. If you read much online you’ve probably seen it. There’s no tone to the written word, so a poor word choice can deeply offend someone else.

Then there’s the all too common deliberate rudeness. I don’t just mean the sort trolls use. I mean the rude way some people disagree with each other online. Name calling really isn’t necessary in an argument. You’re better off using facts and relevant opinions about the subject at hand, not harsh and possibly unsubstantiated statements about the person you disagree with.

If someone sees a social media post you’ve made as rude, don’t argue with them. You’ll do far better if you apologize and explain what you meant, being more careful in your word choice. Some people won’t accept the apology or explanation, but others will.

Mistake #4: Fail to Build Relationships

Social media is about building relationships, not pure marketing. Let your human side show at least some of the time. Reply to people. Participate in conversations. Be real.

As someone who is both shy and an introvert, this has always been a challenge for me, even on social media. It’s not always easy to join in the conversations. Do the best you can. You may find that it works for you.

Mistake #5: Ignoring Customers

If you want to look like a responsive business, you have to respond. This is really helpful in social media, which many people favor as a way to contact a business or comment about them. Keep an eye out for posts about your business name, and especially for any directed at you. Respond when you can, the sooner the better. This is doubly important when someone has a problem with your business.

Mistake #6: Using Too Many Abbreviations

Abbreviations are sometimes necessary in social media, especially on sites such as Twitter where you have a limited number of characters per post (although they now allow more characters than they used to). Unnecessary abbreviations can be annoying, KWIM? They can also obscure your meaning for those readers who don’t understand a particular abbreviation.

Mistake #7: Poor Grammar and Spelling

Most of us use poor grammar and spelling some of the time. It’s all too easy to make mistakes, especially if you have autocorrect on. Read your posts before you send them out to make sure that you’re saying what you meant to say and that it can be easily understood.

That said, don’t stress when you make mistakes in spelling or grammar. We all do it. Some people delight in calling such mistakes out, but they rarely contribute significantly to the conversation otherwise.

Mistake #8: Sharing Other People’s Posts as Your Own

People say and share some really neat things on social media, and being the originator of something interesting can get you some good attention. That doesn’t make it right to take someone else’s idea and pretending you started it.

Many social media sites make it easy to share where you got a particular item from. There’s the retweet button for Twitter, or the RT abbreviation if you want to do it your own way. There’s the share button on Facebook that shows where you got a post from. Pinterest allows you to repin interesting items. All these give credit to the source.

Most will also allow you to add your own comments when you share someone else’s post.  This way you can give credit while sharing your own thoughts.

Of course, you can share similar ideas that you’ve seen elsewhere, just make sure that the idea is better and uniquely served in your own words. You can build a great reputation online by sharing the work of other people if you do it honestly.

Mistake #9: Failing to be Relevant

This mistake happens most often either when you’re in a conversation or when there’s something big going on. Perhaps you’re participating in a social media event and you break in with something completely off topic. People aren’t going to appreciate that.

It’s also a risk of automating your social media posting. To a degree, this isn’t a terrible thing, but if it leads to inappropriate posts, you may have a problem. Think about what you’re posting if people are talking about major tragedies or other major events. If you share something online completely irrelevant to it, or worse, disrespectful to those involved, how will that make your business look? Pay attention to what’s going on before you post, and consider pausing automated posts if they might be inappropriate at a particular time.

Mistake #10: Overposting

You may only have so much time each day in which to do your social media marketing, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to share all your posts at once. You can use Hootsuite or other services to schedule your posts for later, and check on responses briefly as necessary. A flood of posts from your account doesn’t look as good as you might hope.

The right number of posts per day varies tremendously from platform to platform. Facebook Pages generally perform best if you post only a time or two per day on your page. Twitter and Pinterest can handle quite a few more posts every day.

Mistake #11: Being Overly Promotional

When you’re using social media to promote your business, of course, you have to be promotional. Just remember that the point of social media is to be social too. Not everything you post needs to be a way to earn money for yourself. Sometimes you should post just to be a person or a good resource.

Have a little fun. If getting personal is appropriate to your business style, get personal. A look behind the scenes of your business can be a great way to bring in an appropriate amount of personality to your social media. Discuss your work routine. Share a picture of your home office. You can even share a little about your family or pets if that suits your business personality.

Mistake #12: Getting Too Personal

The personal touch is a good thing for many businesses, especially when you’re the only person running it, but there should be limits. Keep your personal and business profiles separate. This allows you to share things with family and friends that you don’t need to be associated with your business. You can still share appropriate personal things on your business accounts, depending on the kind of personality you want to show.

This is especially helpful on sites like Facebook where you’re more limited in the number of friends you can have on your personal page. It’s better to have people interested in your business follow your business page.

It can be difficult balancing the personal side of your social media sometimes. Remember that you aren’t besties with your social media followers, at least not most of them. They do not want to read about all the details of your personal life. Occasional anecdotes are fine.

Mistake #13: Expecting Too Much

Social media most likely won’t be the making of your home business. It can help build traffic, it can help build your reputation, but it’s just one factor in your business, not a miracle.

It takes time to build a loyal social media following. It’s a lot of work, and then the platform changes the rules and your posts may not reach your followers as well as they used to. I’m looking at you, Facebook, but you aren’t the only one!

Keep working on your preferred social media platforms if you want to see results. Despite what some people say, we won’t all see amazing results in just a few months. You will need to test different things to figure out what works best for your home business.

 

Mistake #14: Failing to Make it Easy to Share Your Content

Make sure it’s easy to share the content you have on your website. People will tweet, like, pin and otherwise share interesting content without buttons to make it easier, but more people will do so if it’s easy. Social sites usually provide code to make this easy, and there are plugins for WordPress if you have a blog, such as Shareaholic. Most will keep count of how many times your content has been shared, a wonderful social proof for your website.

Make it easy on yourself too. Use social media tools such as HootSuite, IFTTT, and the WP to Twitter plugin to automate parts of your social media marketing efforts. You still need to get in there and interact with others, but these will help you handle the routine side of things.

Mistake #15: Using Too Many Social Media Websites

There are a lot of social media websites out there. You can’t participate on all of them, and you really shouldn’t try to. It will take too much time and too many resources to do so.

Instead, focus on the bigger ones and any specific to your niche. Have a social media strategy. See where you get the most return for your efforts. If one site isn’t working for you, another may work better. Be picky. You only have so much time you should be spending on your social media efforts. Use it wisely.

Don’t let your social media mistakes keep you from using social media to market your blog or business. Making mistakes is a part of the learning process. As you figure out what works for you on each platform, you will get better results that will make it worthwhile.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

February 6th, 2018

Powerful Ways To Improve Your Social Media Strategy

Powerful Ways To Improve Your Social Media Strategy

Having a social media strategy is a huge help in building your social media presence. The better job you do thinking out your plans, the better you’re likely to do when you take action. If your social media isn’t doing much for your blog, you need to look at ways to improve your social media strategy.

Plan Your Social Media Strategy

A really solid social media strategy requires planning. This helps you know how often to post on each social media platform.

Different social media platforms do well with different numbers of posts per day. Many people say that you should post no more than 1-2 times a day on Instagram, for example, but some accounts do very well posting quite a bit more than that. Pinterest and Twitter, on the other hand, generally need quite a few more posts per day.

Do not treat each platform as though it’s the same. Not only do the best posting times vary quite a bit, so do the best image sizes, writing style, and the best post length.

LinkedIn, for example, is a very professional site, and your posts should reflect that. Facebook, on the other hand, can have a much more personal feel to it. Instagram requires an excellent visual presentation for a post to succeed, and what you write there will only get attention if the visuals are good enough.

Make Your Content Shareable

Whatever else you do, be sure your content is easily shared. If people share your content on their social media, they’re doing some of your social media marketing for you. You want that.

There are several plugins available to make this easier, both free and paid. I use Shareaholic, which has lots of really useful free options. The paid options can be useful as well, but you don’t have to use them to have a good experience.

Shareable content is also right for the social media platform you’re sharing it on. Pinterest, for example, does better with tall images. Instagram prefers squares. Other platforms prefer images that are wider than they are tall.

This means you may need to make several versions of your images to use on social media. Use the right tools to make images for your social media, and this won’t be terribly difficult.

Build Your Social Media Reputation

Your reputation on social media means a lot to your success. People need to know what to expect from your business.

For most, this means avoiding controversial subjects, unless that’s what your blog is about. Getting controversial for most blogs is a way to alienate potential readers.

Beyond that, you also need a reputation of providing great information in your niche, even if you didn’t create it yourself. Share posts by other blogs and websites in your niche that people will find useful.

Don’t just stick to your own posts. Sure, you work hard on your blog, but other sites have great things to offer your followers as well. Take advantage of that fact. It will make you look better too.

Choose Your Social Media Platforms Wisely

You do not need a presence on every social media platform out there. Trying to use every site out there is a very poor social media strategy. It spreads your efforts out too thin.

Start out with the social media platforms your target market uses most. This may take some research. Also take into consideration which platforms you will feel the most comfortable using, especially when you’re just getting started. You may not feel ready to do live video on Facebook when you first start out, for example, but later on, you might choose to try it.

Pay Attention To Analytics

Social media analytics can be extremely helpful to your social media strategy. They’ll help you learn what’s working and what isn’t.

Each platform gives you information in its own way. In most cases, you’re best off signing up for a business account. That will give you the best analytics that platform has to offer.

You can also see where your traffic is coming from by using Google Analytics. Sign up and add it to your blog if you haven’t already. A good social following is nice, after all, but it doesn’t mean anything without traffic and income.

You can add campaign tracking to your links easily. This makes it easier to know at a glance where your traffic is coming from. The Google Analytics URL Builder makes this a painless process. If you really want to know how your traffic is converting from different sources, you need to do this.

It’s not necessary to look at your analytics daily, but you should look at them at least once or twice a month. Keep track so that you can see how interactions, number of followers, likes, shares and so forth go over a long period.

Make Sure Your Content Is Mobile Friendly

You may know by now that mobile is huge. It’s a major source of traffic for most websites.

If your blog theme isn’t responsive, it’s time to change to one that is. I know enough CSS and HTML to do it myself, but most people are better off finding a theme that does this for them.

If you want a fast solution, there are WordPress plugins that will make a mobile version of your WordPress blog. I don’t consider it an ideal solution (the results can be on the ugly side in my opinion), but it’s better than not being responsive at all.

If you want a really nice job done, pay a developer to design a responsive template for your site. The money spent will be worth it if it increases traffic to your website.

Be Responsive

Just as your blog needs to respond to the screen size it’s being viewed on, you need to respond to the people who visit your site or follow your social media.

If someone asks you a question, take some time and answer it. Some of my favorite blog posts have come from questions people have emailed me.

Making a blog post out of common questions makes being responsive to your followers easier. You can refer them to the answer you’ve already posted.

These answers can also be great social media posts. If someone is taking the time to ask you a question, odds are good that others have the same question.

You can also respond to other people’s social media posts. Ask questions. Give compliments. Add a little information of your own. Remember the social part of social media.

Try New Things

Don’t keep doing the same thing over and over again all of the time. Try new things. It’s the only way to learn what really works.

Change the style of your images occasionally to see if a new style does better. Different fonts, different font colors, and new kinds of images may result in very different responses. If it’s better than your old style, make a change. If not, go back to your old style.

Also, try posting at different times, test new hashtags, post more, post less, and so forth. There’s a lot of advice out there for the best posting times on different social media platforms, but that doesn’t mean those will be the best time for you. Test to be sure.

Use The Right Tools

You don’t want social media to take up your entire workday. For much of your social media use, scheduling tools such as Hootsuite are worth the cost. They’ll let you schedule out the basic posting side of things in large chunks, so that part of the job can be taken care of once a week or so.

Don’t schedule everything. You can’t automate direct interactions on social media. You have to see what’s going on to respond appropriately.

Hootsuite allows you to see responses to your posts on several different platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. You can handle much of your posting and interaction through Hootsuite, which is faster than going to the various platforms.

Remember That Social Media Shouldn’t Be Your Only Marketing Strategy

Social media is a wonderful marketing tool, and it can be an extremely effective strategy to use it. But you should do more than that. Try guest posting, blog syndication, commenting on other blogs, answering questions on HARO, and so forth.

A broad marketing strategy gives you more protection from problems than a narrow one. Make time to do different things so that you get results from many places. You’ll improve your chance of success if you do so.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

January 8th, 2018

How To Control Which Images Are Pinned To Pinterest

How To Control Which Images Are Pinned To Pinterest

How often do you wish that you didn’t have to make every image on your site look like it was made for Pinterest? Pinterest can be a great traffic source for a blog, but sometimes you want a little control over which images from your blog are pinned there. This way you can be certain that when someone pins from your site, they pin an acceptable image there. You have a few options to control which images are pinned to Pinterest from your website.

For most of these, you will need to use the text editor in WordPress, not the visual editor.

nopin="nopin"

If you have a particular image on your blog that you do not want pinned, nopin is a piece of code you want added to it. It should look like

<img src="image.png" nopin="nopin" alt="image description" />

There are many reasons why you might want an image to be unpinnable. The big reason is if it isn’t yours. If you have permission to use an image from someone else’s site for a post (linked back to their post, I hope), it’s not ideal to have that image used on Pinterest to link back to your site.

You can use nopin to keep people from using header images or other images that are used across your site on Pinterest. They aren’t the best representation of your site, after all. They may be better than nothing if a page has no images, but that’s something you will have to decide for yourself. I use this on my header images here.

Sometimes there will be an image in a blog post that is perfectly acceptable in most ways for pinning, but for whatever reason, you don’t want it pinned. Maybe you used an image of your kids in a post and don’t want others pinning it, for example. Maybe you posted about organizing your home office, and only want the “after” image pinned, not the “before.”

You can even block individual pages or your entire site from being pinned on Pinterest. There are few cases where this is a good idea, but you can do it. The code goes in the header and is

<meta name="pinterest" content="nopin" />

There are WordPress plugins that will allow you to do this for individual pages, which is more likely to be useful. However, the ones I found have not been updated in two years, so I can’t say if they’re still compatible.

Pin A Different Image Than Shown

Sometimes you want to pin a different image than the one shown. There are good reasons to do this.

One reason is so that you can show one image in your blog post, one that you feel is sized to best suit the look of your blog. Maybe it’s in a horizontal orientation rather than the vertical orientation that is so strongly recommended for use on Pinterest. Those long images can get annoying on blogs sometimes.

I’ve used this trick on the title image of this post. If you try to pin it, a longer image will show up. However, any other pinnable image you try to use will show up as expected if you try to pin it.

The code is put into the HTML used to display the image. It should look like

<img src="image.png" data-pin-media="image-you-want-pinned.png" alt="image description" />

If you’re tired of having huge graphics at the top of your blog posts, this lets you cut them down to size while still taking care of Pinterest.

You may want to consider several other additions to your images as well.

data-pin-description="description you want on your pinned post"

Data-pin-description allows you to choose the description you want to show when someone pins that image. They can change it if they want, but many people will just leave it be.

data-pin-url="url of your blog post"

Data-pin-url allows you to tell Pinterest what URL to use when the image is pinned. This is useful if you find people are pinning a lot from your blog homepage, and therefore not getting your individual posts pinned. It’s also handy if you have a multi-page post and want people coming from Pinterest to start at the beginning. You must use the full URL of the post; a relative URL won’t work.

data-pin-id="ID of your original pin"

Data-pin-id is a bit harder to use. You have to pin the image yourself and then view it to get the ID number of the pin from there. From there, it ensures that future pins of that image are linked to your original pin. These count as repins of that image, and may help with social proof. The ID number is the number you see in the URL of your pin.

You can use any combination of the data-pin options on your images. All together they would look like

<img src="image.png" data-pin-media="image-you-want-pinned.png" data-pin-description="description you want on your pinned post" data-pin-url="url of your blog post" data-pin-id="ID of your original pin" alt="image description" />

Hide An Image

You can also hide an image in your post, but have it show up as an option when someone clicks the Pinterest button on the page. These won’t show up if someone clicks a specific image; they appear only with the Pinterest buttons you should have on your site.

Add the images you want to hide to your post. These are probably larger than your other images, so you will want them at the bottom of your post. Then add the following code around the image HTML:

<div style="display: none;">

After the images, add:

</div>

So that the rest of your blog displays as normal. The whole thing should look like:

<div style="display: none;"><img src="image.png" alt="image description" /></div>

Featured Image

You can also add a Featured Image to your blog posts. There are some WordPress themes that will show these, but if yours doesn’t, you can use it to add an image that will only show when someone clicks your Pinterest button. It’s effectively a hidden image, but you don’t have to muck about with your HTML.

If your theme shows the Featured Image in your blog posts, this may be more of a pain than a useful thing. This can be a bigger problem if your theme restricts the size of the image you can feature. But in most cases, it’s a good idea to use the Featured Image.

Always Use Alt Tags

While this won’t determine which image visitors pin to Pinterest from your site, alt tags on each and every image in your post will help ensure that they have accurate descriptions on Pinterest. Without alt tags, the information shown on Pinterest can be too vague to attract repins or traffic to your site.

Taking advantage of the fact that you can control which images are pinned to Pinterest allows you to make the most of what appears there from your site. Your site can look the way you want it to, rather than have every displayed image look Pinterest-perfect. Play around, and you’ll see that I have an example of everything except hiding the whole page from Pinterest on this post. The butterflies are set as the featured image, and the cats are the hidden image. My logo at the top of the blog has the nopin tag.

How To Control Which Images Are Pinned To Pinterest

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

November 6th, 2017

Vital Steps To Create A Social Media Marketing Plan

Vital Steps To Create A Social Media Marketing Plan

Social media can be a good source of traffic for your website. You can use it for free, or pay for ads to speed things up. The one thing it definitely requires, however, is time. Done right, it’s more than worth the time. Done wrong, a time waster. You need a solid social media marketing plan to help you save time and do things right.

A social media marketing plan will help you decide what you want to do with your social media accounts. When do you post? What tools do you use? Who is looking at your social media posts anyhow? It’s time to start planning. Get things moving, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Step 1: Where Are You Now?

Before you can set goals, you need to know where you are now with your social media accounts. Which ones are already doing pretty well for you? Which ones need improvement? Are there any that really aren’t worth your time, at least for now?

Consider the overall look of your social media accounts. Are they consistent with your brand?

When you run a home business, you probably want a more personal look. Many home business owners use a photo of themselves for a profile photo. The best alternative is to use your logo, or something clearly based on it.

Create a spreadsheet of all your business social media accounts. I have a basic one here to get you started. Keep using this to track growth and to consider which networks are doing the most for your business.

social media accounts

If you’ve considered adding in another social media account, now is as good a time as any. Set up the basic account now. As you progress through making your social media marketing plan, you’ll get it set up properly.

Step 2: Check Out Your Competitors

You should also look at what your competitors are doing. Don’t stress too hard about their numbers, especially if they’ve been using social media a lot longer than you have. You won’t catch up overnight.

Look more at the kinds of things they share, images they use, and what they write. You aren’t going to copy them, but you can get some ideas as to what works for them. You can adapt some of these things to your own use. Many networks make it easy for you to see how many likes, comments, and shares some else’s posts have.

You don’t want to copy them, and you don’t want to steal from them. You only want to see the kind of content that does well in your niche. This will give you some ideas for things you can share that may also do well.

Step 3: Who Is Your Target Audience?

If you don’t know who you’re targeting, it’s very hard to figure out what you should be creating and sharing. This is something you should know for your home business in general, not just for your social media marketing plan. Still, it bears repeating. Know your target audience. This may include:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Income
  • Location
  • Job
  • Preferred social media networks
  • What they need that you can provide

Step 4: What’s Your Purpose?

Whether you call it a mission statement or a purpose, know what you mean to use each social media account for. Some networks are better for interaction with potential customers and clients, for example. Others are better for driving traffic. Your purpose will guide your social media marketing plan.

In each case, decide how you can best use that network to help your customers and build your business. People are more likely to follow you on social media if they know what to expect from you. They love experts.

This doesn’t mean you can’t get a little personal. Being personal can be very good for a home business. It emphasizes that there’s a real person behind the account. Make sure that the personal side is also sufficiently professional, and not too offensive. It’s usually a good idea to stay away from controversial subjects such as religion and politics unless that’s what your website is about.

Step 5: What Is Social Media Success?

The success of your social media marketing plan can be hard to define. A huge following sounds wonderful, but what does it really get you? Traffic to your website is good, but only if it converts in some form. Sales and subscriptions are often your most important measures.

Shares are also important to measure because they go beyond the people following your account. Shares are what spread the word. You want people talking about what you share on social media, even if it wasn’t linked directly to your website. Shares that take people to your website are good, but ones that bring attention to your social media account can be a help as well.

Generally speaking, what happens on your social media account is only a part of the picture when you consider its success. It needs to have a positive impact on your business as a whole.


Hootsuite - Social Relationship Platform

Step 6: Optimize Your Profiles

Your social media profiles aren’t only there for people to look at. They can help with the search engine optimization of your social media account. It should be clear that each account is associated with your website.

You should know what size images do best on each social network. Hootsuite has a good guide for this. Use the right size image for each of your profiles, and keep image sizes in mind for your posts. This is one time that size matters.

What works best for each network varies. Facebook, for example, has a lot of information you can fill out about your business. Pinterest has a fairly simple profile area, but you will also need to optimize each board, choosing good names and descriptions for each one.

Step 7: Follow Your Target Audience

Social media should be just that, social. If you want to know what your ideal customers like to see on social media, follow them, at least on the social networks that make this possible. Don’t follow random people on Facebook, for example.

Look for people who follow your competitors for a start. Follow them, and they might follow you. If they don’t, you can still see what they’re sharing, which gives you a better idea as to what they like.

Don’t spend a lot of time on unfollowing people who don’t follow you back. There are times when unfollowing people is a good idea, but that’s not because they aren’t following you. Unfollow because, for one reason or another, you don’t find their posts of interest to you anymore.

On sites such as Facebook, it’s easier to find your target audience in already established Facebook groups. Many will not allow you to post links back to your website or even your business’s Facebook page or group. You can learn a lot about your audience in these groups even when you can’t advertise directly. Watch your balance between wasting your time and learning.

Step 8: Plan Your Social Media Posts

It’s time to start planning out your social media posts. The style of posts will vary from site to site, as will the best number of posts per day. This is the largest part of your social media marketing plan.

Twitter and Pinterest, for example, are generally accepting of a large number of posts per day. Facebook and Instagram, not so much. Test how things go on your own account, however. Just because someone else says one post a day is enough on an account doesn’t mean they’re right for yours.

Over time, you will be testing your accounts to learn what times are best to post as well as how often. Coschedule has a good post on the best times to post on various social media websites. The times are based on the East Coast of the United States, and you may need to adjust based on where your target audience is located.

Quality should be a major focus when creating your posts. Don’t post any old thing just to fill a slot. The more interesting and/or useful your posts are to your audience, the better chance it will have of success.

Mix it up! Try using images, video, text posts, infographics, free products, links to specials, industry news, curated content, and so forth.

Don’t make it all about selling to your audience. Making money may be your goal, but that’s not what will build your following most of the time. Be interesting.

Step 9: Use A Scheduling Tool

I could not get by without scheduling my social media. I use Hootsuite. It allows me to schedule my social media for several different sites, including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. This makes it a lot easier to keep up on the job.

I also use the Revive Old Posts WordPress plugin. This automatically shares old posts from my blog. You can also tell it to skip certain categories and posts. That’s a big help when a blog post is seasonal or short term. You don’t want these things popping up in your social media when they aren’t relevant.

Step 10: Be Social

Don’t rely 100% on automation with your social media. It’s called social for a reason. Get on those sites. Like other posts. Share them. Comment. Interaction is key to many of these sites. It helps people see your account even if you have hardly any followers.

Step 11: Use Social Proof

I like using the Shareaholic plugin on my blog. Seeing that a lot of other people have shared a particular post can encourage other people to do likewise. You want to take advantage of the social proof this gives you.

When your accounts are new, with few followers and shares, the social proof won’t be much. You still want it. Your numbers will grow in time if you’re doing things right.
Generic Category (English)468x60

Step 12: Review Your Results

Reviewing your social media results is an ongoing process. You can’t just do it once.

This is where you learn what worked and what didn’t. It’s not going to be as clear cut as whether you got sales out of a particular post.

Hootsuite’s analytics can give you a pretty good idea as to which posts worked best for you. Don’t assume that a post that didn’t go anywhere is a failure – it could also be the time of day you shared it, or something else happening in the world that kept people from noticing your post. A consistent failure of a particular type of post, of course, will be a good sign that something’s not right with it.

Also use Google Analytics to see where your traffic is coming from. People may be sharing your content on their social media directly from your site, which won’t show on Hootsuite. You might be surprised by things that catch on that you weren’t trying for.

You may find that you get the best interaction on your posts at different times than other people do. Pay attention to the results you get, not what other people say are good. Odds are that their target audience is somewhat different from yours. The results of others are a starting point, not a solid rule.

Can You Save Time On Your Social Media Marketing Plan?

All of this looks like a lot of work. That’s because it is. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to save time with your social media marketing plan.

Using a scheduling tool, as mentioned above, is vital. Your social media efforts will take too much of your work time otherwise. But there’s still more you can do.

I keep a spreadsheet of content I want to share regularly, for example. It’s set up so I can easily import it into Hootsuite. This greatly speeds things up for scheduling.

You will also want to keep a list of things you want to post in the future but haven’t created yet. Brainstorm a bunch of ideas all at once. Even if you can’t use them all right away, the idea is there, waiting for you until you’re ready for it.

Repurposing content is a big time saver as well. A blog post may be adapted into a video or podcast. You can make an image with particularly useful points from a post, and share it on your accounts. You can even change the image on your post to freshen it up.

Using stock photos is a lot faster than creating your own much of the time. There are a lot of sites with stock images you can use for free. Be very careful that you understand the terms of use on any image before you use it.

One of the most important time savers with social media marketing is to plan when and how you are going to use it. Automation allows you to post even when you aren’t on the site, or even awake. Don’t spend too much of your working day on your social media once everything is scheduled out.

Fifteen minutes or so at a time is plenty to check your social media sites, interact as necessary, and get onto more productive things. Pick one or two times a day to check on your social media, and stick to your limits. The social media vortex can suck up too much of your time if you let it.

Reconsider What Isn’t Working In Your Social Media Marketing Plan

Just because you start using a social media site doesn’t mean you have to keep using it forever. If you find that it consistently fails to give you good results, ease up on it or leave it entirely. Your marketing energies should always be focused on things that work. The more time you spend on things that aren’t working, the less you have for the things that are.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Facebook Twitter Google Plus Pinterest Feedly
Home With the Kids on LinkedIn

Are you ready to work at home? Subscribe to learn about blogging and other ways to earn money from home.

Email:



Ads

Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.