Note: This strategy is one that I have adapted from my friends at Authority Hacker. They've built a fantastic resource of both free and paid content, and I highly recommend their pro membership if you are looking to build an authority site from the ground up.
By now, it's no secret that Pinterest is one of the best marketing platforms out there...as long as you're in the right niche. For visual topics like gardening, beauty, jewelry, animals, etc., you can easily drive hundreds or even thousands of unique hits per day to your site via Pinterest alone.
However, the most effective way to promote on Pinterest isn't what you think. Most people think that you have to:
- build a following by following other accounts
- pin tons of images to your own boards
- get your followers to pin and repin to your boards, growing your reach
While this will work at scale (tens of thousands of followers), it does not work at all if you are just starting out on Pinterest. If you have a few followers, or even a few hundred, the chances are very low that you will ever get enough traffic to make Pinterest worthwhile.
Unless one of your pins goes on a viral rampage, you will likely be spending a lot of time for little return.
The real secret?
Using group boards.
I say secret just because most people don't use it, not because it's an actual secret. Group boards are a tried and true method for growing a Pinterest following quickly. The problem is that people either:
- don't know about them
- don't put in the effort to become a contributor to them
First: What is a group board?
A group board is a board created by a specific Pinterest user who has allowed other people to contribute to the board. In some cases, these boards can have hundreds of thousands of followers and a few thousand contributors.
Many of the biggest boards were started when Pinterest first introduced the group board functionality. This means they've been compounding over time and their following is massive.
While I have had success starting my own group boards, oftentimes the effort is not worth the reward and it's better to focus on joining pre-existing group boards.
When you add a pin to a group board, your pin is shown on the homepage of every Pinterest user that is following that board.
This means that for boards with hundreds of thousands of followers, you are getting a hundreds of thousands of 'ad impressions' for free.
- Pin to different group boards
- Pin to group boards at varying times throughout the day
- Have fantastic imagery that links to great content
You have a recipe for creating viral loops that are self-perpetuating and completely automated. Plug in monetization on the back end and it's entirely possible to build a business from scratch off of the back of Pinterest.
I'm not certain how long Pinterest will have group boards that work this way, but for now it's a no-brainer to spend the time to get on group boards.
ok, How do i find group boards?
The best resource I have found is a site called Board Deck HQ. It's a curated list of group boards organized by topic, making it extremely easy to filter.
Even better, it shows the number followers and contributors, along with the average re-pins of the first 50 pins and links to the original creator of the board.
However, it's still hard to sort through a topic when there are hundreds of group boards. You need another layer of filtration to get anything actionable, so here's what I do:
- View boards in groups of 100
- Copy and paste the entire table into Excel or Google Sheets
- Add a column called 'Follower / Contributor Ratio' and set it to followers / contributors
- Sort list by highest followers -> lowest, and lowest follower / contributor ratio -> highest
In a perfect world, I want to be on boards with the most followers possible. However, many of the most popular boards are extremely selective or impossible to get on, so my next sorting criteria is the follower to contributor ratio. The lower this number, the higher my chances are of getting on a board. After this filtration process, I'm left with the boards that I have the highest chance of getting on.
Pitching the board owner
The final step of the process is the most tedious: you need to convince the owner of the board to add you as a contributor. For some reason unbeknownst to mankind, Pinterest has made this the least intuitive process possible, so there isn't one easy answer.
Here are the strategies I use to get in touch with a board owner:
- Comment on the 'welcome board' with my pitch to join
- Comment on the latest pin that the owner of the board has pinned to the group board
- Look at the profile of the owner for instructions
- Failing any of the above, stalking the owner down on their linked social media profiles (message on FB, tweet at them, cold email them)
Some owners have made it impossible to contact them in any way, which more or less means that they've stopped accepting contributors - just move on to the next one on the list.
Spending 4-5 hours to do the research and pitch group boards for your business can pay absolutely insane dividends for traffic and conversions down the line. Pinterest drives 3x the amount of traffic that any other social channel does for one of my businesses after I got on group boards.
If you have any comments or strategies, drop them below - always looking to learn.
If you enjoyed this article, you will likely enjoy a pro membership to Authority Hacker run by my friend Gael. Many other content promotion strategies are covered, as well as modules on creating content, building lead magnets, and growing reach.