Using Pinterest to Pump Your Platform


My 23-year-old daughter claims I say it wrong.

“Mom, it’s pin plus interest. It’s pronounced pin-trist, not pinta-rest.”

It’s an awkward name.

I’d been hearing about Pinterest for months but had no reason to learn how to pronounce it correctly. I didn’t have time for a silly little social media site where people look at photos of puppies, share recipes, and plan weddings.

But social media guru Ingrid Schneider told me it might be a good way to market my book. Surpisingly I got hooked.

Now I’m convinced every author should consider Pinterest as a potential marketing tool.

What is Pinterest? In simple terms, Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board. Instead of using words or tweets, people simply create bulletin boards and pin photos to the boards. Others stop by to see what they’ve pinned. If they like it they re-pin the images on their bulletin boards.

What makes Pinterest unique compared to other social media sites? First, Pinterest requires little effort. If you see an image you like, you click “re-pin” and tell it which bulletin board to go to. Another unique feature is that Pinterest lets you look for images by topic, in addition to people.

Is it really that popular? The site was created two years ago but has since witnessed phenomenal growth in the last six months. Check out these stats:

*In mid-December 2011, the total unique visits hit 11 million. As of February 7, 2012, when I wrote this article, Pinterest was gaining 11.7 million unique monthly visitors.

*Pinterest has 40 times the number of followers it did six months ago!

*Pinterest is one of the top 10 social media networking sites, driving more traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined!

Pinterest blossomed in the middle of the country and its primary followers are women aged 25-44, although that is quickly changing. Men make up 20% of users. As companies see the advantages of putting their products on the site, demographics will surely change.

So is Pinterest The New Amazing Network? Chris Brogan says, “It will be for those who use it to build a relationship that goes beyond the pins. Any network is serviceable, if you learn to interact and help people satisfy their needs.

What are the ways people are using Pinterest?

*Retailers are posting images of their products. Pins contain websites that bring viewers back to the store’s website, leading to sales.

*Bloggers are putting images on Pinterest that link back to their blogs. Imagine how one cool image could go viral and share your blog’s link thousands of times!

Can you show me some examples of how people are using Pinterest to market things?

*Tourism –12 Reasons to Visit Buck’s County

*Since my own book won’t be released until March 2013, and I don’t have a title or cover, I’m promoting my counseling practice.

*Companies like Etsy, Nordstrom and Lands’ End are developing a presence on Pinterest. My friend Jim Simon pins his Koostik. Food bloggers showcase their best recipes. Tech reporters list their favorite gadgets.

So how might an author use Pinterest?

*Use it to create a story line or brainstorm ideas about characters, settings, time periods, costumes, architecture, themes, etc. I noticed author Chris Bohjalian started a board for his latest project.

*Upload images of your book cover and post it on a bulletin board of your favorite books. The people who started the site ask that you keep self-promotion to a minimum and be sure to give proper credit to your pictures.

So how do I get started?

Pinterest is an invitation only website, so you can ask someone who is currently a user to invite you, or ask for an invitation from the website.

Since I write about self care, I thought it would be important to remind you that you don’t have to interact with others on Pinterest and you don’t have to use it for marketing? Fellow WordServe author Katy McKenna has been caring for ailing parents for ten years. Here’s what she says:

Pinterest, in a weird way, is saving my life—and not just my creative life. Because I instantly got hooked, there were no longer enough hours in the day to keep up negative news. I get a kick out of scanning pics and finding those that remind me of the people, places, and things I’ve enjoyed over the years. Now I am thrilled with happiness if I spot on someone’s board a bouquet of roses in my favorite color combo—rust and purple. I am catching myself LOLing about silly stuff like I used to. JOY.

A few more links:

A beginner’s guide

Set up your author Pinterest profile in 10 easy steps

The power of the re-pin

21 must follow Pinterest users  

More tips for getting started

Making your website pinnable 

How to bring traffic to your blog using Pinterest

13 tips and tricks for cutting edge users

The ultimate guide to Pinterest

Everything you need to know about Pinterest

Why more men should join pinterest 

7 examples of brands that pop on Pinterest

56 ways to market your business on Pinterest

Are you using Pinterest to pump your platform? If so, how? If not, why?

44 Replies to “Using Pinterest to Pump Your Platform”

    1. Becky, I’m glad we discovered Pinterest at the same time. I had to whittle down my post due to word count so I had to cut out the sentence about us learning it together via Ingrid.

  1. I love Pinterest! I’ve only been on there a month and already it’s the number 3 driver to my website and blog. I’ve found awesome ideas for my family, home, and garden. I’ve met some great bloggers & can’t rave enough about it.

    As a writer, I’ve started a character board, with pics of my hero, and period dresses for my heroine.

    Beings one post a week on my blog is about country living and DIY yourself, I have a board dedicated to those posts. One pin went viral in minutes. Who would have thought?

    Give a shout out if you’re on Pinterest & we can be friends. 🙂

    1. Melissa, only a month and it’s bringing you so much traffic. (You sound much more savvy at analytics than I am!)
      I haven’t searched for bloggers with Pinterest – that’s an interesting idea. Will you tell us which pin went viral? Was it a pin you created or one that you originally repinned? I’ll be looking for you over there.

  2. Reblogged this on Natalie Sharpston and commented:
    A fellow graphic designer recently introduced me to It’s the perfect time suck for creatives. In just the past few days, I decided to start posting my favorite quotes using some simple, minimalist typography. It’s shocking how many “repins” and “likes” I’m getting – just for two pieces. Just an hour ago on the WordServe Water Cooler blog, Lucille Zimmerman posted: Using Pinterest to Pump Your Platform. Great timing. Check it out! She explains Pinterest perfectly. Many of us writers are very creative in lots of other ways, whether its crafting, sewing, painting, etc. Share your stuff, just for the fun of it! And it may just lead to more awareness of your name and your website.

    1. Natalie, thank you for giving us a shoutout! It is the perfect time suck, but also the perfect time soothe, don’t you think?
      I’m hopping on over to your blog. Thank you for taking time to read and comment.

      1. I agree – it is also the perfect time soothe. One evening I felt a bit guilty for spending so much time on Pinterest. My husband said, “anything you do that’s good for the soul is not a waste of time.” 🙂

      2. I found this post via Natalie’s blog. Thank you for the explanations and links. I’m not sure how I’ll use it for my writing and blogs, but that’s where the fun comes in. What a unique tool.

  3. HOORAY for Zimmerman! Lucille, I’ve been on pinterest forever, and I LOVE it…addicted, seriously. BUT…I haven’t had time to connect it to my blog and use it as a marketing tool. I’m so thankful you’ve given me easy access to specific directions here…and now it’s on the top of my list. Just after Number One: Exhale 🙂 Thanks for the helpful post!!!!

    1. Julie, yes, after having your book, “Into the Free” hit the sky with sales, I’m sure you don’t have much time for one more project. I’ve noticed a lot of people have your book on their bulletin boards already!

  4. This is a fabulous post, Lucille!!! I LOVE Pinterest and have been wondering about this very topic as it relates to authors. Thanks for the invaluable info–I think I’ll start with some story boards based on my three manuscripts today!!!

    1. Oh Amy, I’m glad you find it helpful. In addition to storyboards, I’m eager to hear other ways authors are using Pinterest.

    1. Natalie, your interior arranging blog would be the PERFECT match for Pinterest! Let me know if you start promoting your business with this new platform.

    1. Christine, I spent a few minutes on your blog. You have a lovely family! God bless you and your husband and the work you do. I’m glad this post answered a few of your questions.I appreciate the feedback.

  5. Lucille, I think this article will end up being a premiere resource for those of us who are beginning to understand the potential of Pinterest. Right now, I’m a recreational user, but all the same, I’m gathering followers and developing a network. I LOVE it when a “new” interest shows up among the Pinners I Follow. Yesterday, it was birdcages. One of my non-fiction, memoirish proposals has the word “birdcage” in the title, so I found myself pinning all the birdcages that inspired me. An author friend once told me that writing was easy, that you just closed your eyes and typed the movie that played out in front of you. The problem is, I don’t see a movie. When I close my eyes, I hear the voices! 🙂 Pinterest is helping me connect with the visual in ways that can only improve my writing. Thank you for this great post!

    1. Hi Dena, I saw your post on FB today about Pinterest. I’ve got to make sure we’re friends over there.

  6. Wow, thanks for all the links for resources and ideas Lucille. I totally love pinterest and use pinterest to reward myself at the end of my work or for short breaks. Pinterest stimulates the creative part of me and invites me to a world of practical tips, recipes and beauty. Beauty has such healing and restorative powers.
    As far as applying to my book and blog, I’m still searching for what will work for me. Thanks for all the ideas.

  7. My daughter got me hooked on Pinterest. And she corrected my pronunciation, too. She said “It’s pinterest–like interest, only with a P.” Happy pinning!

  8. I write historical romance and have a thing for 19th century fashion. I follow several Tumblrs devoted to 19th century fashion and I always snag the dresses I love most. They were taking up too much space on my hard drive so I decided to use Pinterest to keep track of them.

    I’m up to eight boards covering 1840-1910, plus another for a friend that’s 1700-1760, and a couple for my other obsession–Russia. I get repinned and followed all the time by people I’ve never heard of and my boards are starting to show up in writers blog articles about using Pinterest. Since I’m building my blog around being a writer’s resource for 19th century fashion, I’m thrilled people are finding me and mentioning me, without me even knowing about it! I’ve done very little to promote it. It almost has a life of its own.

    1. Hi Rachel,

      I didn’t understand Tumblr but it’s great to hear your insights on how Pinterest is working better for you. How cool is that that your boards are showing up other people’s blogs!

  9. I use Pinterest for my own research and find that others who like history are naturally drawn to me. If they also read, it’s a win-win, but either way I’m enjoying a neat way to keep track of great sites to revisit.

  10. I just joined pinterest and I love it. Initially, I joined both out of curiosity and as a means to network with people with similar interests. I’m a crafter who is always looking for interesting project ideas and pinterest is loaded with inspiration! Little did I know I’d be addicted pretty quickly! In addition, I’ve noticed a spike in my blog traffic since joining, so win-win! 🙂

  11. Thanks for the helpful info, Lucille! I haven’t yet joined, but I’ll be sure to connect back here to your post when I do. As someone who likes to do watercolors on her spare time (as if there IS any spare time), I think I could probably pin my art on Pinterest to somehow direct people toward my book. Thanks for the links!

  12. Wow ! Great. Piterest is getting huge traffic these days – massive and its getting viral. So thing guide can help me better using pinterest

  13. This is my kind of project. I wenodr if foamcore would also work. I don’t think it would be quite as messy. Your projects always looked so put together and like something one would want to use in their home or send to their friends.

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