Most sharp social media marketers understand the critical nature of fine-tuning their Instagram strategy. They spend their days working to consistently grow follower count, posting perfectly curated content with thoughtful and strategic captions, scheduling photos and videos at optimal engagement times — not to mention the fact that brands are investing major capital into the entire process. We’re here to tell you to take everything you know about Instagram marketing, turn it upside down, and voila! You have a seamless organic Pinterest strategy.
Many brands have a much more firm grasp on the ins and outs of Instagram, so they’re often left wondering…how do you take your Instagram strategy and make it work for Pinterest? We hear you — they are both visual marketing channels. But when you factor in a niche audience, as well as different algorithms, objectives, and user experiences, you’re playing a whole new ballgame. While there are some transferable practices, we’ve got a few tips to help you master your Pinterest strategy, to feed the self-operating engine that brands are tapping into.
1) Follower Growth
On Instagram, a key indicator of success is follower growth. Brands invest heavily in engaging their followers through thoughtful and curated storytelling on their feed, with the hopes of building strong brand awareness and a captive audience. And for good reason — your followers are served your content as soon as they tap into Instagram. To gain new followers, your content either has to be shared (social network, duh) or featured on Instagram’s discovery feed. On Instagram, your followers are often your ceiling for how many views you can attract — with Pinterest, your followers are your floor.
Think about it. The entire purpose of Pinterest is not for social networking, but for discovery. When logging onto Pinterest, the first thing a user sees is a discover feed with content that the algorithm has selected based on their interests and previous searches. Pinterest groups pinners by their interests. This allows Pinterest to figure out which interests overlap, which topics certain demographics are interested in, and ultimately, how to serve engaging, topical information to the right audience at the right time.
So how should you be thinking about Pinterest followers strategically? A base of followers is important, and consistent growth can help you with overall reach and impressions. The age-old rule, quality over quantity, applies to your followers, too. Because pinners see their discovery feed first, brands need to optimize content for maximum reach. The way to do this is by delivering content that resonates with your follower group, as highly engaging content has a better chance of being distributed to pinners with similar interests, demographics, and most importantly, intent.
Building this strong foundation of followers is critical so that your content reaches your target audience, increasing engagement and views over time. Keeping tabs on spikes and dips in your follower count to ensure quality content is contributing to your growth is paramount. Another key metric to monitor is unique monthly viewers, which can tell you how effective your content is performing across the Pinternet.
2) Posting Cadence
The right posting cadence is a highly sought after recipe to success on the ‘Gram. From what we know about the algorithm, how often you post daily and weekly can impact your place in the feed, and per-post engagement. For some brands, posting more than once a day can have diminishing returns for post engagement. What’s more, the best time to post on Instagram has become a science amongst social media managers (so much so that the Dash Hudson Scheduler predicts the top-performing times for your brand to post).
With Pinterest, because the overall objective is for content to be found — and pins have an engagement-generating life span of years rather than days — the precise time you post isn’t as precarious. What is more important is consistently posting to feed the Pinterest engine. The best practice is a minimum of five posts per day, with some of the top Pinterest players posting up to 300 times a week. Because timing isn’t as strategic, or time-sensitive, brands can easily bulk schedule their content for the week with staggering times to find their rhythm.
While the hour of the day that you post on Pinterest might carry little weight, brands instead need to take a more macro approach to content planning. Pinners are planners, which means that you need to be thinking about timely and seasonal content (such as holiday campaigns or back to school) way before the event takes place. Translation: when you are thinking about the best times to post, instead of thinking within minutes and hours, consider weeks and months.
3) Content Flow
Of course, posting cadence and the amount of content you are posting goes hand in hand. Instagram is a social network, which encourages sharing content and following friends as well as aspirational accounts. Like any good conversation, no one wants their feed taken over by one voice. Hence, the importance of selectively choosing the content you’d like to share for maximum impact. With Pinterest, you are feeding a search engine with content from your brand that you want to be discovered, especially for your organic strategy. And what does a search engine need for your best chance of visibility? A plethora of content to encourage reach and multiple touchpoints with your Pinterest audience.
These days, brands have tens or hundreds of thousands of pieces of unique creations. Between your original social content, website imagery, product shots, to user-generated and paid content, there is no shortage of visuals to pump into Pinterest.
Speaking of all this custom, untapped content that brands have lurking in their libraries — what is the best way to optimize this for Pinterest?
On Instagram, especially for feed content, every post is a precious opportunity to tell your brand story, garner loyalty, and create engagement. Feed planning is real, my friends. The Instagram aesthetic has become such an industry standard that some brands are starting to break out of their millennial-pink hazes to stand out.
On Pinterest, there is a common misconception with brands that their content needs to be perfectly curated and highly aspirational to succeed. Well — we are here to say that is simply not true (infographics are on the decline, you know). Pinterest is all about stimulating inspiration; therefore the ideas and creative don’t need to be fully baked. It’s the platform for stirring up the imagination, so how can brands cook up easily digestible content? The best in class Pinterest leaders are starting from the bottom of the cake pan with their creative, by aligning their website with their Pinterest pages. By optimizing product shots to make them easily pinnable, feeding 30 or 300 posts into the search engine weekly becomes a breeze.
Another seamless way to succeed — optimize content based on Pinterest’s creative best practices. Any 9:16 content will do, however, 2:3 is their recommended ratio. Different sizes are typically accepted on the platform, but they may end up being cut off in-feed or not shown at all. Video performance in Pinterest is also on the rise, with brands seeing a major lift in brand awareness and consideration intent by leveraging video content. Though often looked at as a daunting endeavor, creating video content for Pinterest is easier than you think. Easily repurpose videos in your library, stitch them together, and optimize them in 9:16 format through Dash Hudson’s Story Studio. Opt-out of sound, but invest in a strong visual start for best feed results.
Different platform, different purpose. On Instagram, brands are engaging their audience and aiming to entice them to follow along on their journey. This ultimately builds brand loyalty and organic awareness. To get a pulse on content performance on Instagram, engagement (likes+comments/followers) and effectiveness rate are the ultimate metrics of success. Secondly, brands focus on growing their following, optimizing for reach, and if they are investing in a link in bio solution like LikeShop, conversions and web site traffic get a seat at the table.
On Pinterest, you are looking for growth in two ways. It’s no secret that website traffic, click-throughs, and (hopefully) revenue, are all part of your SEO plan. From a top of funnel awareness angle, savvy brands are also tracking impressions and Pinterest engagement (link clicks+comments+close ups+saves/impressions). This tells you who you are reaching, what pinners are searching for, and how are they interacting with your pins and products.
How to know if your Pinterest strategy is driving results? First of all, don’t compare reach and impression numbers with Instagram; it doesn’t translate. Pinterest offers a much more curated audience based on their likes and search terms, not to mention they are likely in a purchase mindset. Move your focus from follower growth to prioritizing monthly unique viewers, as this indicates how far your content is going. Pinterest engagement will tell you if your pins are catching attention, and give you benchmarks for future content and campaigns. And, of course, keep an eye on what content is driving the most website traffic — because let’s be real, driving potential buyers to your site is priority number one.
Same Same, But Different
Brands should be investing in both Pinterest and Instagram for maximum ROI and a well rounded visual marketing strategy. The key differences outlined here can help optimize success on these unique channels. One thing is for sure — pairing these visual marketing powerhouses together stacks your chances for success on social.
Header image: @cosstores
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