Experimenting with Pinterest and BoardBooster

Experimenting with Pinterest and BoardBooster

Part One: The Set Up

I have been designated (lovingly) a Pinterest go-to person in the women's blogging group I belong to here in Tucson.

For months now, my Pinterest activity has been sporadic. I've wanted to spend more time honing my board content, growing my presence, and experimenting with a pin scheduler, but who has that kind of time?

This teacher who has decided not to teach anymore, that's who!

I have a summer break that's really a break. For our July blogging meeting, I told my fellow women bloggers I would have a presentation on all things Pinterest.

As soon as I whole-heartedly dove into tweaking my Pinterest account, I realized I should be documenting this, so why not just write a blog post?

My Pinterest Origin Story

My sister actually joined Pinterest first. She raved about it and how much I would love it. I waited until summer 2012 to join and a pinning extravaganza ensued.

I converted to a business account when I started thinking about blogging. I think this was sometime in 2014. I don't think I had my blog up and running yet, but I don't remember exactly.

Cynthia Sanchez hosted the Oh So Pinteresting podcast, which I listened to regularly. She gave actionable advice and invited diverse guests who had lively conversations about the platform. While I listened to Cynthia's podcasts and started my hobby blog, I pinned regularly. (Back in those olden days, people pinned. Pinterest changed their wording from "Pin" to "Save".)

I didn't see much traffic to my blog right away, but I was having fun!

When we moved back to Tucson in the spring of 2015, I was still saving pins, but I knew that would change when I started teaching again. Then in July 2015, Cynthia Sanchez reached episode 100 of Oh So Pinteresting and decided to close up shop. With my weekly inspiration gone and the school year beginning, my Pinterest activity became sporadic at best.

As of June 2017, I had 1,763 followers and a few pins that regularly drive traffic to this blog.

My 2017 Pinterest Account Clean Up
Day One: Sunday, June 4

I was pumped! Recently, I discovered Kate Ahl's business and podcast Simple Pin Media. She has a post "How to Clean Up Pinterest Boards in 4 Simple Steps" so I followed much of her advice in my process.

Step 1: Re-name my Pinterest profile page

I opted for Compulsively Quirky Book Blog. Basically, I removed my first name and added the key words "book blog". If people want to know more about me, then they can peruse my Pinterest boards or visit my blog's about page.

Step 2: Adjust my profile description

I like using various nouns to describe how I see myself and I think these words help potential followers decide if we have anything in common.

Since my blogging is eclectic, I decided to go with an eclectic mix of titles followed by a short description of what I write about. Also, I experimented with the order of my titles and writing description because I like my text to be as balanced as possible. That white space after "Organizational" still bugs me.

Step 3: Clean up boards to reflect only the topics I blog about

I cut my public boards to 18.

This process was brutal. At first, I wanted to keep several other boards related to blogging, writing, and some specific boards about Tucson and Arizona.

Ultimately though, I don't write about these topics enough to justify keeping them public on my business account. Pinterest marketers constantly remind business users to keep their content relevant, so I increased my secret boards to 68.

Step 4: Rename my public boards for better key word search results

I experimented with Pinterest's search feature to see what key words were popping up so I could change board names to more popular search terms.

For instance, I had a board called Literary Lists. I liked the alliteration. Unfortunately, when you type Literary into PInterest, the results don't match what I'm pinning on this board, which is mostly book lists.

At first, I changed the board title to Book Lists, but that didn't come up in a Pinterest search either.

I decided to change the board name to Books to Read because of the results from search.

Once I had my 18 public boards renamed with better key word search results, I organized their order. Then I spent ten minutes organizing my secret boards. I was done for the day.

Day Two: Monday, June 5

Step Five: Tackle board covers for better branding

I've debated whether or not creating board covers is truly worth the time investment. They do make Pinterest accounts look more polished, but graphic design is a hobby for me. I don't have formal training so professional programs like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop are beyond my capabilities.

I wasn't sure whether I wanted my cover board images to be images or titles or a title/text overlay on an image. And how would I achieve these results?

On my now secret board about Social Media, I had already saved a blog post that made sense to me: "How to Make Pinterest Board Covers {And Why You Need Them}" written over at the Brilliant Business Moms blog.

I liked their points about creating a cohesive feel to my account. And I liked their point about creating a vertical image that links to my Pinterest board even more.

When I looked at their account on Pinterest, I could see the cohesive effect of their images, but I didn't always make the connection between the board title and the image displayed.

While their page is pretty, I'm just not sure what a plate of cookies has to do with Blogging or why the Instagram Marketing board has an old-fashioned gold telephone. Huh?

Custom board covers over at the Brilliant Business Moms website.

Custom board covers over at the Brilliant Business Moms website.

Next, I searched Pinterest for "Pinterest Board Covers." The first post that popped up was from the blog Coffee with Summer. Her post on "How to Create Pinterest Board Covers" advocates using a square image that you link back to your blog homepage.

Since I know that I'm going to try out BoardBooster, and I may even try out Tailwind, I like the idea of sticking to vertical images that Pinterest likes. I think linking some of my board covers back to my blog is a good idea for my boards about my blog. However, for most of my board cover images, I think I'll stick with the idea from the Brilliant Business Moms and link back to the corresponding Pinterest board.

Summer's Pinterest account does have a simple cohesiveness to it that allows me to read the full name of every board, even when Pinterest cuts the board name off.

Custom board covers over at Coffee with Summer.

Custom board covers over at Coffee with Summer.

I continued my quest for board cover inspiration and came upon a post from Pink Hexagon. Her post "How to Design Board Cover Images for the New Pinterest Boards (2017)" covered much of the same information.

She uses Photoshop and offers 30 Pinterest board cover templates in a variety of colors for free on her site. I don't use Photoshop, so that information and freebie don't help me, but I love how her Pinterest account looks.

Her images match her board topics. Her overlay is a consistent color. Plus her board titles use the same font in the same size. Consistency galore! The most pleasing board covers I've seen.

Custom board covers over at Pink Hexagon.

Custom board covers over at Pink Hexagon.

While I can't use her templates, I can draw inspiration from her. As I was searching Pinterest for board cover examples, I also remembered that I have a much easier program for someone who has no actual training in graphic design.

Typorama to the rescue!

I decided to use Typorama because I've liked some of the book quotes I've created for other social media. I have the ability to choose a picture, choose a font option that allows for a rectangle background to help the text stand out, and use the Noir filter to make my board covers uniform. The black and white look also nicely compliments my blog design.

At first I tried to use a few of the vertical crops, but I didn't like how the text was laying out. I didn't think the text would look good once I uploaded the image to PInterest, and selected it to fit the board cover's square design.

After some futzing around with the vertical options, I decided to make my life simpler and create square images. I am quite happy with my results.

Custom board covers I created with Typorama for my Pinterest account.

Custom board covers I created with Typorama for my Pinterest account.

Assessing Results So Far...

In the three-four day window after starting to implement these changes, I gained 17 followers to my account. Not just people picking and choosing my boards. I had a few of them as well. I'm talking people who follow my account, which means they'll automatically follow any new boards I create for new content.

I don't have any data on how many followers I was gaining prior to these changes, but I know I had many more people picking and choosing boards rather than account followers.

Day Three: Wednesday, June 7

Step Six: Join BoardBooster

Since the first 100 pins are free, I figured it couldn't hurt to give BoardBooster a try. I've read on Pinterest several positive reviews of bloggers liking its features.

Pin Doctor

Since I'm just trying their service, I'm limited to using the Pin Doctor on one board. I chose my largest board of various book lists because if I decide to pay for BoardBooster, then I'll be charged per pin for future clean up data. I submitted my Books to Read board with 496 pins around 3:30pm.

At 5:41pm, I had the BoardBooster email results. When I went through the results, there were nine categories of issues that the Pin Doctor checked:

  • Pins with missing links
  • Pins with broken links
  • Pins that link to suspicious websites
  • Pins with redirects
  • Pins that link to potentially irrelevant pages
  • Pins that link to extra slow websites
  • Pins based on images that are too small
  • Duplicate pins based on the same image
  • Duplicate pins based on the same link

Cleaning up these pins was painless.

The category that irritates me the most is "Pins based on images that are too small" because on this board I have many. For whatever reason, the publishing industry doesn't use Pinterest, so they don't regularly create vertical images for saving. I love their content, but I know the smaller images ding my user status with Pinterest.

Looping

I chose nine boards to test out this feature. I hesitated to try looping on all of my boards because I do think I have some older pins that don't link to content and I wanted to avoid re-saving those. I would prefer not to be the person saving useless pictures that go nowhere.

I decided to allow BoardBooster to loop two pins for each board each day, which means my account will have 18 pins generated per day by this feature. I chose to keep the sharing window wide open from 1:00am until 11:00pm to spread out the distribution of pins, and avoid looking spammy.

Since this looping feature will pick the oldest pins on these nine boards and re-save them to the same board, I left the Automatic deduplication set to five days, which means after five days, BoardBooster will compare the original old pin with the newer re-save, and see which one has more saves. Whichever pin has the higher engagement will stay put and the other pin will get deleted, so my board doesn't fill with the same content repeatedly.

I like how this feature can be customized. Right now I have all nine of my boards on the same looping schedule. If I decide to pay for BoardBooster, I think I'll eventually change these settings, so each board has a customized looping schedule. Then I can pause the looping features on individual boards.

I think this decision would make my account look more authentic and allow me to create seasonal boards that may be paused for a good majority of the year.

Scheduler

My two newest boards on Simple Living and De-Cluttering Ideas are boards with fewer pins, so I thought I'd focus on growing the total number of pins I have in these two similar areas.

Basically, BoardBooster creates secret boards that I save to when I have the time to inundate those secret boards with content. Then BoardBooster follows my rules for how to dole out the pins from the secret boards onto my public boards without inundating followers with a ton of pins on the same topic.

BoardBooster did have to access my Pinterest account, so I had to type in my Pinterest password.  Shortly thereafter, Pinterest sent me an email requiring me to reset my password, which I did. Then my BoardBooster account was disconnected from Pinterest, so it could not save for me until I entered my new password and reconnected the two. No big deal, but something to pay attention for.

Since I have to find pins to stock two secret boards (Simple Living and De-Cluttering Ideas), I decided to keep this experiment low-key. I set my pinning window wide open again from 1:00am until 11:00pm, but this time I set the number of pins to one per board. I decided I would rather try to source pins for these two similar topics and potentially save pins manually as well.

As soon as I submitted these settings, BoardBooster displayed a confirmation message to make sure I understood that I needed to stock those two secret boards with pins.

A Peek at the Immediate Results

After I submitted my board to the Pin Doctor, I configured the Looping and Scheduler features. Then I saved about ten or so pins to my new secret boards for Simple Living and De-Cluttering Ideas Boards. I wanted to save more content to those boards, but Bernie needed a walk, so off we went.

After our evening routine, I sat back down with Pinterest and continued saving Simple Living and De-Cluttering Ideas to those secret boards. I found a few pins on Minimalism while I was perusing, so I saved those pins manually.

Then I remembered that I had received the Pin Doctor email results, so I spent a few minutes deleting pins with broken or missing links. I deleted one pin whose link was oddly redirected and found the original source. Once I found the Jane Austen infographic, I re-saved it with the legitimate link.

By the time the pups and I were ready to call it a night, I could already see BoardBooster working. Eight of the pins below are either looped or scheduled from my secret boards. The other six pins I added manually.

Around 6:30am on Thursday, I took another screenshot of my Pinterest account. All of my pins below have been added by BoardBooster.

I know some people set up BoardBooster and/or Tailwind, save content to those secret "supply" boards only, and let the tools share out the pins. They give up saving manually.

I'm not certain that I could or would go with that approach. I still use Pinterest as a good source of information on a variety of topics, so my saving is truly random, which I think only lends authenticity to my account.

Plus, I love using Pinterest!

When I look at my Pinterest Analytics regarding traffic to my blog, those numbers are down during the Sunday-Wednesday window of me making all the above adjustments.

However, the activity on my Pinterest Profile is higher during that same window.

When Pinterest defines "your Pins" they do mean any pins I've saved to my Pinterest account. Not just pins I created to promote my blog content.

When Pinterest defines "your Pins" they do mean any pins I've saved to my Pinterest account. Not just pins I created to promote my blog content.

I like that this line is going up! More people are saving my pins because I'm pinning more, both manually and with BoardBooster.

I like that this line is going up! More people are saving my pins because I'm pinning more, both manually and with BoardBooster.

My overall clicks are up as well, even though Tuesday and Wednesday show drops. That spike on Monday seems to be outweighing the decline in this short time span I've defined.

My overall clicks are up as well, even though Tuesday and Wednesday show drops. That spike on Monday seems to be outweighing the decline in this short time span I've defined.

Will the activity on my Pinterest Profile continue to rise? Especially in the summer when many users see drops in Pinterest activity?

Will I see more of my own content being saved? Will I see more traffic being driven to my blog?

As Kate Ahl from Simple Pin Media says, "Pinterest is a slow burn." I couldn't agree with her more. When I started saving my content from my blog, I barely saw any results. I just kept at it, though, because once a pin lives on Pinterest, it's there forever.

Since mid-2015 Pinterest consistently drives around 50% of my traffic to my blog. That's the slow burn of evergreen material. I'm going to give Pinterest and BoardBooster some time to do their thing. I'll also continue to save pins manually, but sporadically.

I'll report further results in about a month. Right now, I've spent zero dollars on this experiment, but my results post will include any expenses.

Book Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Book Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

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