Don’t Think of Pinterest as Social Media

Erin MacPhersonGuest Blogger: Erin MacPherson

Grab a notepad and a pen and write this down:

Pinterest is not social media

Now circle it, add a few stars or a few exclamation points or some bright purple glitter.  Anything it takes for you to convince yourself that it’s a very important note.  Now go hang it on your fridge right where you can see it.

Of course, Pinterest is social media.  (Your little note is a total lie.) It’s quickly becoming one of the most popular and most-used social media tools.  In fact, it has been called a social commerce game changer and the best social modality to heat up your brand.  Pinterest is an important social media enterprise.

But I’m asking you to push that thought aside.  Because when you start to think of Pinterest as social media, you fail to see Pinterest for what it truly can be:  an amazing content marketing tool that can help you build your author platform, help establish expertise in the areas you write about and (perhaps most importantly) a way to fuel your social media efforts on Facebook and Twitter.

I think of Pinterest as my way to show the world (and especially my readers) who I am, what I think and what I love.  So the next time they’re planning a kid-friendly dinner party or need an April Fool’s craft for their kid’s kindergarten class, they’ll know that they can come to me for ideas.  And from there, maybe we’ll start to interact on my Pinterest board or Facebook page, sharing ideas about what to do when a two-year-old melts down at the petting zoo and starts pulling goat tails. And eventually, maybe, just maybe, a few weeks later, they may be wandering the bookstore and see that I write actual books on things like “discipline” and “educational activities ” and they’ll recognize my name and pick one up.

On Pinterest, the content marketing comes first, the relationship later, and the sales pitch last.

How do you make this happen?  Go grab another piece of paper.  This time, start jotting down Pinterest-y topics in which you are interested.  And, since for most writers writing and life intersect, I’d guess that most of these topics intersect in some way with your books.

For example, if you write contemporary romance, some of your topics could be:

  • romantic recipes
  • nice things to do for your spouse
  • quotes about love
  • great romance books
  • fun inexpensive date nights
  • cute date night clothes 

If you write historical fiction, write down things like:

  • time-period recipes
  • historical clothing
  • photos from history

If you write non-fiction parenting (like I do), your topics can be things like:

  • kid-friendly recipes
  • kid crafts
  • things to do with your family
  • cute kid bedrooms
  • family night ideas

Post your list next to your other note on your fridge.  These are the boards you should be intentionally building on Pinterest.  Don’t just throw pins up willy-nilly, but instead, focus on building great, content-rich boards around the topics that you are passionate about.  If you write about the same topic on your own blog, then post your own posts along with others.

My personal Pinterest strategy is this:  Every week I choose one topic on which to focus.  During that week, I spend ten minutes a day finding and re-pinning pins that relate to that topic. I also try to write at least one (if not more) blog posts around that topic that I also pin to that board, giving it fresh content that comes from me.  So, for example, this week I’m pinning about Easter.  I spent some time finding really colorful, fun and creative pins about kid crafts, kid-friendly recipes and other ideas for Easter.  Additionally, I wrote two blog posts that related to Easter and also pinned them to that board.  Now, hopefully as people search for Easter-related pins on Pinterest, they’ll find me, find my blog, find my books… you get the picture.

I’ve seen all sorts of authors, agents and publishing professionals use Pinterest as a content marketing tool.  On Rachelle’s Pinterest Page, you can find specific boards for all of the books she represents.  I have gone there more than once to get ideas for new reads.  Additionally, you can find lists of her blog posts and links to her author’s pages.  Kathi Lipp who writes about marriage, has fun boards (like this one on man food) that indirectly relate to her book content. Author Katie Ganshert pins her favorite quotes (like these on faith) to her boards, giving her readers inspiring messages that directly relate to her work.  All of these people are using Pinterest in creative and effective ways as a content marketing tool.

Cool, right?  And so simple.  Okay, it’s not simple it at all.  Pinterest is a gigantic, complicated and totally worthwhile NOT-social-media-tool.  And once you have great boards, you’ll need to figure out how to use that content on your other social media platforms and after that, you’ll have to figure out how to host contests, find guest pinners and much more.  But for now, making the switch from social media to content marketing is the first step in effectively using Pinterest to build your brand.

Watch for further posts about Pinterest on Fridays in April. (On April 5, I’ll tell you how to make sure the images you pin are both legal and effective. On April 9, I’ll be sharing 3 creative ways authors are using Pinterest as a marketing tool.)

Are you on Pinterest?  How do you use it? Do you have specific questions about it?

 

Tweetables:

Do you know how to use Pinterest to build your author platform?  Click to Tweet.

Pinterest is NOT social media. Wait… what?  Click to Tweet.

On Pinterest – focus on building great, content-rich boards on topics you’re passionate about. Click to Tweet.

Pinterest strategy:  Focus on 1 topic per week, and spend ten minutes a day pinning.  Click to Tweet.

 

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Christian Mama's Guide to the First School YearsErin MacPherson is an Austin, Texas mom by day and writer by night.  She works as a staff writer for Dun & Bradstreet where she writes social media and marketing copy for companies like Disney, Nissan, LeapFrog and Discover Card.  Her new series of books, The Christian Mama’s Guide series, releases on April 9, 2013 from Thomas Nelson.  Drop by to say hello on Facebook, on Pinterest or at christianmamasguide.com.

 

 

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  • http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/ Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Fabulous! You’ve deciphered Pinterest for me, and have given me a far better understanding of the potential of Facebook, as well.

    I’ve never been a fan of social media, because I really don’t like to talk about myself. But the paradigm shift you define has set up the klieg lights to illuminate a side I never knew existed, that turn it from an ego trip into a service.

    Thank you!

    • http://www.christianmamasguide.com Erin MacPherson

      Hi Andrew- I agree! I don’t like talking about myself either. But talking about things I love is a different story! I guess that’s part of what makes us writers.

  • http://ianacheson.com Ian

    Thanks Erin (& Rachelle) for that very succinct outline with some great suggestions.

    Just what I needed.

    Ian

    • http://www.christianmamasguide.com Erin MacPherson

      Hi Ian! You’re welcome!

  • Sara Mattinson

    So I’m supposed to be judged on my Pinterest boards now? It’s not enough that I have to have a Facebook page and a Twitter following. Good writing and a good story fall to fourth and fifth on the list. I really don’t want to take time from writing — for some of us do it while working other jobs — to spend, really 10 minutes? searching the web for pins. It may be easy if you write about parenting or cooking but what if your non-fiction topic is dementia or cancer? An rare and debilitating childhood disease? Not so easy. Or are we just going to publish books conducive to pinning and tweeting?
    Newspapers ruined themselves by jumping on the Internet bandwagon without looking at the long picture; now publishers and writers are doing the same thing with social media. Good writing sells with or without FB, Twitter or Pinterest. If social media is supposed to be the new word-of-mouth, we’re talking too much.

    • http://www.christianmamasguide.com Erin MacPherson

      Hi Sara- It does feel overwhelming sometimes, doesn’t it? And I can completely agree that Pinterest isn’t a good strategy for some authors… and it sounds like for you it wouldn’t be. I certainly wasn’t saying that all authors should use Pinterest or they won’t sell books, but simply that some authors could use Pinterest successfully as a marketing tool. I hope that makes sense. Good luck!

    • http://cyndiperkins.com Cyndi Perkins

      I get it: social media overload (just joined Goodreads and Spotified this week and will have to get another notebook if I acquire any more passwords). The thing is with Pinterest topics are not limited to light and breezy subjects. And the pinning is to YOUR benefit because it’s a virtual bulletin board. Your boards can be secret or public, providing a well-organized catch-all to collect research on dementia, cancer, autism or any topic under the sun. My “Loop Dee Doo: A Novel Journey” includes entries on menopause — and future pins will encompass lupus and divorce. I’ve also pinned dietary suggestions for preventing kidney stones and researched arthritis cures.
      I agree that good writing is first and foremost. But Pinterest is actually a helpful tool for the writer, not just a way to build that all-important platform. There are also some great boards on books and writing.
      Wishing you all the best,
      Cyndi

  • http://www.suzilove.com Suzi Love

    Thanks for the run down on Pinterest. I love it!
    I use boards with historical themes to brain storm my books, to showcase books from fellow romance authors, and to highlight book sites, reviewers, publishers, etc. It becomes a research tool and a promotion platform.

    • http://www.christianmamasguide.com Erin MacPherson

      Hi Suzi- I love that you use it to research. That’s a fascinating twist on the idea of content marketing. I think it’d be great for you to try repinning the pins you use for research into boards entitled “1960′s research” (or whatever). I think that might be a great tool… I’d love to go to an author’s board and see some of the pins that inspired them to write what they did. What a fun idea!

  • http://writtenbyjessica.blogspot.com Jessica Cook

    I will start on this right away!

    I write children’s picture books and hope to have my stories published one day. As I sit here and review my Pinterest board, I see that I do have pins that are child oriented ( does a Curious George birthday decor pin count?). After reading this, I am going to do a little clean up and stay more focused on pins that relate to my stories.

    This was very enlightening. :)

    • http://www.christianmamasguide.com Erin MacPherson

      Jessica- I think Curious George birthday party pins are perfect! I’m glad this helped…

  • http://rmabry.com Richard Mabry

    Erin, Interesting post that has–once more–pricked my conscience about my Pinterest account that pretty much lies fallow. Matter of fact, I think I’ll follow Rachelle’s lead and add a board with all the covers of my books. Maybe pictures of the stars who would play the leads in those books. Perhaps… Well, see what you’ve done? You’re made me think.
    Seriously, thanks for sharing.

    • http://www.christianmamasguide.com Erin MacPherson

      Ha! Dr. Mabry, I can’t wait to see the actors/actresses you choose to play the lead roles!

  • http://cherylbarker.blogspot.com/ Cheryl Barker

    Thanks, Erin and Rachelle, for offering these posts on Pinterest. I’d decided just a couple of weeks ago that I need to start using Pinterest so your posts are going to be very helpful. Thanks again — much appreciated!

    • http://www.christianmamasguide.com Erin MacPherson

      I’m so glad it helped! Good luck pinning.

  • http://www.charlotterainsdixon.com Charlotte Rains Dixon

    This is helpful information. I love Pinterest and go on pinning splurges, but I really haven’t seen my efforts translate to much author platform building. This gives me some ideas on how to do that.

    • http://www.christianmamasguide.com Erin MacPherson

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who goes on pinning splurges. Last week, my husband was late home from work and I swear I pinned 400 pins by the time the night is over. I guess there are worse addictions, eh?

  • http://www.meghancarver.blogspot.com Meghan Carver

    I love Pinterest, and I especially love the idea of only ten minutes each day. I need to set a timer. Thanks for the great suggestions, Erin.

    • http://www.christianmamasguide.com Erin MacPherson

      A timer! That’s what I need, too! Otherwise I keep going and going and going…

  • http://myquirkycity.wordpress.com Heather

    Wow, this has renewed my interest in Pinterest. Originally I was using it as images that inspired my writing, but perhaps I should reinvent how it reflects me. Thanks!

    • http://www.christianmamasguide.com Erin MacPherson

      Hi Heather- Another author mentioned she used it for research/inspiration and I thought that was such a good idea. Perhaps you have a board that says “what inspired me to write” and others that are more content marketing. I’d love to look at a board that showed me what inspired an author to write.

  • http://thoughtsthatmove.blogspot.com/ Wendy Paine Miller

    Love Pinterest!

    And Erin, I love how you write!

    • http://www.christianmamasguide.com Erin MacPherson

      Thanks Wendy! And I love Pinterest as well.

  • http://www.heatherdaygilbert.blogspot.com Heather Gilbert

    I’ve found Pinterest is a great way to pick up followers interested in the same things I am–outside my Christian writing circles. People who love Vikings or West Virginia, for example.

    Some friends and I are launching a new website called Married…with Fiction on April first. Before we launch, we made sure to setup a FB page, twitter page, AND a Pinterest page to reflect what we’re promoting–community in the writing world and mentorship for marrieds, writers, and others. It’s a great way to draw people to your vision–we post quotes/pics that reinforce marriage, marrieds in fiction, and writing. So far, so good!

  • http://bookdealsandfilmreels.com Book Deals and Film Reels

    Thank you for this interesting perspective on Pinterest. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while and this has really given me something to work with and try to make it work for me.

  • http://www.amberargyle.blogspot.com Amber Argyle, author

    I use pinterest because I love it and it helps me organize writing related stuff. I don’t really care if it works as a social marketing tool. I pin a lot of fantasy pics/character ideas/cover ideas/etc.

    Plus each of my books has it’s own board with pics that inspired the setting/character/cover etc.

    I also started a board for writing research, where I pin things like making weapons, herbal remedies, poisonous plants, etc (I write high fantasy).

    Then when I need that website again, I don’t have to troll through my bookmarks. I have a pic and a description on Pinterest.

  • http://www.sharonalavy.com Sharon A Lavy

    Thank you for pointing out the practical and marketing benefits of Pinterest. I am getting closer to managing Twitter. I am working on improving my FB page. Perhaps it is time to learn more about my dormant accout at Pinterest. So much to do and learn about marketing … so little time left to write!

  • http://www.sharonalavy.com Sharon A Lavy

    Thank you for pointing out the practical and marketing benefits of Pinterest. I am getting closer to managing Twitter. I am working on improving my FB page. Perhaps it is time to learn more about my dormant account at Pinterest. So much to do and learn about marketing … so little time left to write!

  • http://www.sharonalavy.com Sharon A Lavy

    Thank you. This post is a keeper.

  • http://catherinemjohnson.wordpress.com Catherine Johnson

    I get four times the traffic of Twitter and Facebook from Pinterest, I just need to start focusing more on poetry boards.

  • http://aboutproximity.com lisa

    Great tips! I meet my most faithful blog reader on pinterest! I’m in Michigan and she’s in Australia. We message almost every day! :)

  • http://www.elisapulliam.com/ Lisa

    Great post. I’m pinning to me “tech for women” board and “growing ministry and business board”!

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  • http://christinabaglivitinglof.com Christina Baglivi Tinglof

    I started using Pinterest awhile back and didn’t have high hopes. (I didn’t have many direct “pins” from my website to share.) Yet within a year, I’m still in shocked at the number of readers who discover my blog via Pinterest. It’s fun to use, too.

  • http://susirobinsonrutz.com Susi Robinson Rutz

    Thank you so much, Erin and Rachelle, for this very practical post. You’ve given me the how to and then examples that have inspired me to write out a full page of ideas. Images of gardening–flowers, trees, fruit–with short poems, Bible verses, recipes and herbal remedies are filling the Pinterest board in my mind. Yes, this will take time, but I’m working hard on my manuscript and proposal, and this looks more like fun time, down time. I need to celebrate faith with my family this weekend, but Monday I’m on it. Happy Easter to all!

  • http://Www.martzbookz.com Martha Ramirez

    Your book sounds awesome! And this was a great post. Thank you for sharing this with us, Erin! And thank you, Rachelle for having her as a guest!

  • http://pjcasselman.wordpress.com P. J. Casselman

    Erin, thanks for this help. I have a Pinterest account and have never done anything but look at other people’s stuff. This gives me an idea where to start.

  • http://hoshilandia.com hoshi

    I’m just new in Pinterest and I admit, I have so little knowledge about what I’m utilize it for my advantage as a blogger.

    I’m just happy that some people add me or repinning mg posts. With your tips, i know now what to do.

    By the way, i visit pinterest to get idea about crafting and when i dream of having nice room. hehehe

    More power!

  • http://hoshilandia.com hoshi

    I’m just new in Pinterest and I admit, I have so little knowledge about what I’m utilize it for my advantage as a blogger.

    I’m just happy that some people add me or repinning mg posts. With your tips, i know now what to do.

    By the way, i visit pinterest to get idea about crafting and when i dream of having nice room. hehehe

    More power!

  • http://www.janthompson.com Jan Thompson

    Thank you for confirming that I’m on the right track the way I’m using Pinterest intentionally. Since I am pre-published, I decided to make Pinterest my reading nook, and connect it to my website which is my writing nook. But I am intentional about it.

    On Pinterest, I list all the books I’ve read that I think are well-written, giving a shout-out to my favorite authors. I pin writing quotes, and visual research for historical fiction. Then I have a bit of fun with cooking/food links (a writer’s gotta eat LOL), and amazing things that catch my eye.

    I see what you mean about published authors using Pinterest to promote their own books and blogs. Great idea! I’m glad Rachelle updated her Pinterest boards. Not sure when she updated them but I re-followed her last week sometime as soon as I saw the boards on books she represents. LOVE THE IDEA!! I haven’t read some of them, so that made me go check them out of the library right away.

    Thanks!

  • http://www.janthompson.com Jan Thompson

    Thank you for confirming that I’m on the right track the way I’m using Pinterest intentionally. Since I am pre-published, I decided to make Pinterest my reading nook, and connect it to my website which is my writing nook. But I am intentional about it.

    On Pinterest, I list all the books I’ve read that I think are well-written, giving a shout-out to my favorite authors. I pin writing quotes, and visual research for historical fiction. Then I have a bit of fun with cooking/food links (a writer’s gotta eat LOL), and amazing things that catch my eye.

    I see what you mean about published authors using Pinterest to promote their own books and blogs. Great idea! I’m glad Rachelle updated her Pinterest boards. Not sure when she updated them but I re-followed her last week sometime as soon as I saw the boards on books she represents. LOVE THE IDEA!! I haven’t read some of them, so that made me go check them out of the library right away.

    Thanks!

  • http://onquicken.wordpress.com K. Carmmitchel

    I love this — I’ve often thought about Pinterest as a great platform, but had no idea what kind of strategy to use. Thanks for the simple explanations!

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  • http://www.brokengirl.info London Crockett

    I enjoy indulging in Pinterest occasionally and I can see how it’s a great marketing tool for things like shoes and household things. I can even imagine it being an effective tool for somebody producing image-oriented non-fiction (cookbooks, etc.). But I can’t imagine anybody buying a work of fiction based on Pinterest (with the possible exception of a fan who gets interested in another book from an author they enjoy).

    I’d love to hear of someone who even went from Pinterest to Goodreads or Amazon based on a pin. Does it happen or are authors glomming onto a promotional tool that isn’t appropriate for their “product”?

  • http://elenadillon.com Elena Dillon

    Erin,
    Thanks for the ideas! I write Sweet Southern Suspense so I am going to pin more Southern stuff now. I love that you have given me the reason to consider Pinterest work! I use Pinterest for so many things, research, planning,blog promotion, marketing and entertainment. I think it’s great if you have time for it and it’s fun.

    Can’t wait for the next Pinterest posts!

    Elena

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  • Stacey Haggard Brewer

    This is great! I only joined Pinterest recently, and I was thinking there HAD to be some way to use it as an author but still make it useful to my followers. Thanks for the tips!

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