Pinterest has become more of an obsession for many people than Facebook. It is where people go to find organizational inspiration, food to drool over, and new crafting obsessions. There is really no limit to what you can find, or pin, on Pinterest. People have even started to use it for self-promotion, and businesses are actively trying to figure out how to capitalize on the phenomenon. Fortunately, there are some very good reasons they won’t be able to turn Pinterest into an advertising wasteland.
The thing that really sets Pinterest apart from all of the other social bookmarking sites is the use of pictures. Finding a picture that is going to grab the interest of a lot of people is much more difficult than spinning a title that search engines will like or that will make people curious enough to click. It takes time and effort to find an image that can be used and will instantly make people want to know more. People who are trying to drive up their search engine rank often do so with poorly thought out and written content. The keywords are there but the heart is missing. Those individuals, groups, and companies are not as likely to put the effort into finding the “perfect image” for a piece of poorly written trash. This is great news for people on Pinterest, because if the image isn’t there, it’s never going to get pinned. Additionally, image spamming Pinterest isn’t as profitable for SEO purposes as other backlink schemes are since Pinterest decided to nofollow the URLs.
If You Wanted It, You Should’ve Put a Pin on It
People can certainly self-promote by pinning their own work to Pinterest; it’s not much different than tweeting or updating your Facebook status with a link to your own content, in that respect. But if no one thinks your pin was worth their time, they won’t bother to repin it. Each repin pushes your content back to the top where more people can see and repin. It becomes a self-propagating cycle that can bring amazing levels of traffic to your blog or website. But if you don’t have an image that speaks to people, or if your image leads to something that is not what it appears to be, people will comment and warn others away from repinning, and your pin gets lost in the ether. (There’s a handy “Report Pin” button, too.)
Follow Me, Everything is Alright
The best way to snag followers is by pinning items that they find interesting or useful. If someone sees a pin and likes it they may visit the board it was originally pinned to. If it was a one-off, they will move away to more active boards. If it is a board full of other awesome and useful ideas, they will start to follow the board – maybe even all the boards by that user – and suddenly it’s a traffic extravaganza for that pin, board, and user. People are not going to follow the boards of random social media “gurus” who post only those things that are self-serving. Without followers, users are back to hoping for high levels of repins to reach new people… and you’re less likely to get repinned if no one is following you.
Can companies and individuals use Pinterest to promote themselves? Absolutely. Can they do it by posting poorly conceived or executed content? Not so much. Creating content that will be popular on Pinterest requires at least a modicum of effort, and the result is usually something that is funny, interesting, inspiring, or useful. Pinterest is going to help recreate Web content and social media promotion by encouraging and rewarding good content, not good spamming techniques.