Are you making the most out of Pinterest?
As the third most popular ‘social media’ platform (actually, it’s a visual search engine but let’s roll with the former) if you’re a blogger, and Pinterest isn’t a major part of your marketing and growth strategy, you’re doing it all wrong.
If you love highly targeted – and seriously motivated – free traffic, there’s literally no better way to get eyeballs on your blog posts, products, services and affiliate promotions.
To really leverage Pinterest’s power, however, you need the right tool for your blog!
This post looks at two of the best Pinterest tools to help you gain more social shares and grow your blog. Current blogger fave Social Warfare and new-kid-on-the-block Tasty Pins. You’ll learn why you even need a dedicated Pinterest-focused tool at all, and what sets these two apart from other WordPress. tools.
This post contains affiliate links. I may make a commission if you buy a product or service through such a link. Please see my Affiliate Disclosure for further information.
The skinny on why Pinterest matters to your business
In a nutshell, Pinterest is a captive audience of motivated buyers and potential followers actively seeking content like yours. They’re not on the platform to interact socially, they’re there to plan, purchase and get inspired.
Its 200 million monthly visitors are mostly female, college educated Suburbanites with wallets open, ready to spend on things that “help them be their best selves“.
This demographic is changing, however. With men representing around 50% of new signups, there’s serious potential for bloggers of both sexes to leverage Pinterest before it becomes another crowded youtube or facebook.
The best part? Content pinned to Pinterest has a long life-span. Unlike regular search engines, which are focused on dishing up only the freshest content, a Pin can remain in circulation and go viral months or even years after it’s pinned.
The direct competition
If you’ve ever tried to gain traction on facebook, you’ll appreciate just how over-crowded this platform has become. Organic reach is virtually non-existent and what Solopreneur has time for the moderation and presence required to cultivate a group on a platform you don’t even own?
Twitter is great for peer-to-peer and industry interactions, but in my years of experience, I’ve come to realise your ideal blog audience probably isn’t hanging out there.
What about Instagram? It’s everyone’s fave feel-good visual platform and brilliant for cultivating a community, but notoriously trickier at generating quantifiable leads who actually click through to your website and sign up to your newsletter.
The trouble with Pinterest sharing buttons
A while back I was hired by an established and highly respected provincial art gallery to help with their social media and website strategy.
They were old school and hesitant about the idea of either Instagram or Pinterest – both ideally suited to their highly visual offering.
When I eventually persuaded them to look at their analytics in more detail, they were shocked to discover their biggest driver of traffic, outside of organic search, was Pinterest. They didn’t even have a Pinterest account!
People were still pinning their website content anyway.
And this is the blessing – and curse – of Pinterest (stay with me, we’ll get to why in a moment).
If people are able to ‘Pin’ any image from your website to their own Pinterest boards – and without some deliberate website coding on your part, they nearly always can – they’ll go ahead and pin whatever darn well tickles their fancy.
Thanks to generic sharing buttons and browser extensions, people are able to pin your website content, regardless of whether you have a presence on the platform. Smells like the best kind of juicy free marketing, right?
Well, kind of…let’s do a little experiment…..
I loathe green tea flavoured anything (weirdly, I love *actual* green tea, but not so keen on things flavoured with it).
Let’s pretend a good friend is coming over for lunch and they LOVE green tea. I’m at a loss for inspiration so I head over to Pinterest to see what’s out there. I type in ‘Green Tea Cupcakes’ as a start.
Here’s a screenshot of the search results:
Anything immediately catches your eye?
Notice how very few of the results contain text? I’m immediately drawn to the results with a text overlay because I don’t want to have to click through on a bunch of images to ascertain what the recipe contains. I came looking for muffin recipes, but that exquisite looking ‘Matcha Chocolate Bark’ intrigues me and looks too, too good.
#truthbomb Text overlay wins out every time on Pinterest.
I click for a close-up to see if the info satisfies my need. It contains a succinct description of the recipe ingredients and sounds yummy enough to click the website link:
The link takes me to a beautifully shot, easy-to-follow recipe from Jee at Oh how Civilized!:
By now, I’ve clicked out of Pinterest and I’m mentally devouring Jee’s recipe. This is definitely the one for me. I’m in a rush though, I have to grab the kids from school so I hurriedly decide to Pin the recipe directly from the website.
Jee has a Pinterest hover button installed, so if I hover over any image, it says ‘Pin It” and I can save it directly to Pinterest. Let’s say I hovered over the shot of the white chocolate seen above.
If I save that to one of my Pinterest boards, I’d probably remember what it relates to but other people searching for a green tea recipe would see this in search results:
The description is still great, but there’s a bit of a visual disconnect between this image and ‘green tea’ recipes. Another user might see it in search results but skip over it. #missedopportunity
What happens if I’d used the Pinterest Browser button instead?
This is better. I get a selection of all available images on the page. The downside is I get images which aren’t related to this recipe. Frustratingly, the image with the text overlay – the one that lead me to this recipe from Pinterest – is nowhere to be seen:
It’s less of an issue if I select the first or second image, but the others probably aren’t the most optimal images to encourage other Pinterest searchers to click through to Jee’s website when searching for ‘green tea muffins’ recipes.
#truthbomb Pinterest users aren’t usually thinking beyond their own boards and needs. They certainly aren’t thinking about how your pins might look in other people’s search results!
Sadly, you can’t be there in person to tell visitors what to pin. So what’s the next best thing? A tool that lets you control exactly which images are pinned!
Let’s summarise the problem with conventional sharing tools…
Problem #1 – Too much choice is a dangerous thing.
If you have a webpage with lots of images – along with links to other posts, ads, videos, you name it – whenever a visitor hits a generic Pinterest browser ‘share’ button, they’re going to be faced with a wall of visual options to ‘pin’.
To compound this issue, Pinterest is very clear about the preferred size and dimension of pins. Vertical pins win out over horizontal pins and specifically pins with a 2:3 ratio, or if we’re being really swotty, they should be 600 x 900 pixels exactly.
Unless you’re in the habit of making every single image on your website fit these dimensions, it’s easy to see how you have little control over what users share to Pinterest.
If I’m being super charitable it’s fair to say, people don’t always pick the ‘best’ image – the one YOU would like them to share on Pinterest. Cheekier types might be quicker to point out the mindbogglingly awful images some people see fit to pin to represent a given web page:
Ain’t nobody needing that sorry little square of an image showing up in search results…
The bottom line?
If people are saving low quality or random images which aren’t immediately identifiable with your post’s given topic, other users may not be compelled to click through to your content.
This is a waste of valuable Pinterest real estate and a missed opportunity for clicks, shares, sign-ups and sales!
Problem #2 – No hashtags
No hashtags in your Pin description. Pinterest will also match a user’s search terms with any hashtags present in the description.
Jee’s description is great, but it’s missing any relevant hashtags. It’s one thing to create beautiful, click-worthy images and a Pinterest-optimised description, but the absence of hashtags means you could be missing further chances to be found in search.
Problem #3 – A Pinterest-optimised description, but no Alt text for search engines and screen readers
This one is really common. Some bloggers do remember to add a Pinterest-optimised description but fail to add Google-friendly ‘Alt-text’ (the text that screen readers use to describe the image to visually impaired people). This is bad for SEO and your organic search results.
Another version of this common mistake is when bloggers ‘hide’ Pinterest-optimised pins in their blog posts using HTML code. In the absence of a Pin description properly coded into the HTML, most sharing tools will simply pull the description from the Alt Text field (if present).
Worse, many code-focused bloggers will actively tell you to place a Pinterest-optimised description (with keywords) in the Alt Text field. Great for your Pinterest SEO, but bad for Google SEO. You can’t ignore one in favour of the other.
Why? Because the Alt Text field was not developed with Pinterest or SEO in mind at all. It’s meant for visually impaired screen readers to read out a description of what the actual image conveys, not a Keyword or SEO optimised version, which may not fully convey what the image is about.
Don’t fret, my SEO-conscious friend. It’s OK to add pertinent keywords to your Alt text field, so long as the description accurately conveys what the image is about to a visually impaired user. If not, or it’s missing completely, then this could affect your organic search ranking.
Most sharing tools – premium or freemium – do not solve these problems. Few give you precise control over which images are shared or provide the option to add a Pinterest-optimised description, alongside a search engine-optimised one.
Pinterest is simply too good a source of free traffic to let these details slide.
Enter Social Warfare Pro and Tasty Pins! There are tons of tools claiming to be Pinterest-friendly but these two premium WordPress plugins are the only two I’ve found that truly tick all the boxes.
Both work in very different ways and have features that may appeal to you for different reasons, depending on your niche and audience. Here’s the skinny on each:
Built from the ground up by a ‘rag-tag group of entrepreneurs and WordPress enthusiasts’, Social Warfare was designed to meet the needs of bloggers demanding more control over what is shared to the main social media networks, particularly Pinterest.
There’s a free version, which has basic features, but the Pro version is worth the investment if you’re serious about getting the right message with the right visuals to the most popular networks.
Social Warfare Pro features
- Customisable share buttons
- Share to 14 social networks
- Add a custom Pinterest Description
- Alt text field left alone
- Add a ‘hidden’ Pin
- Add a ‘Pin It’ button as users hover over your post’s images
- Add Floating share buttons
- Click To Tweet
- Toggle share counts on/off and set a minimum number of shares for Social ‘Proof’
- Set Facebook, Twitter and Google+ custom descriptions and images
- Bit.ly Link shortening
- Share recovery feature
- Analytics Tracking (UTM)
- 45-Day Money-back guarantee
What does it cost?
$29 per year with access to premium support.
What’s great about it?
The ability to control not only what Pin is shared to Pinterest, but also to Facebook and Twitter. The floating share buttons are also a seriously cool feature (you can see them here on this page as you scroll up and down – please feel free to share to your followers!) along with the ability to toggle share counts and set a minimum threshold for that oh-so-critical social ‘proof’.
What could be better?
The ability to add more than one hidden Pin and setting up Facebook ‘Open graph’ tags and Twitter Cards can be buggy and confusing for the non-technical. Support can sometimes get overwhelmed if there’s a WordPress update causing conflicts.
Who is it best for?
Anyone needing the ultimate ‘all-rounder’ social sharing tool. Quite simply, no other sharing tool gives you quite the same level of control over what is shared to Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.
This relatively new plugin was developed by the husband and wife duo behind the phenomenally successful food blog, Pinch of Yum. (They’re also behind the excellent membership site Food Blogger Pro, aimed at helping food or visually focused bloggers start, grow and monetise their blog).
These guys know a thing or two about Pinterest growth and what it can do for a highly visual, recipe-based blog, and they set about creating a plugin which beautifully fills the gaps of other sharing tools (and you don’t need a recipe-based blog to benefit). It can be used as a compliment to popular sharing tools such as Addthis, Shareaholic and yes, Social Warfare.
Tasty Pins Features
- Add a custom Pinterest Description
- Alt text field left alone
- Multiple Hidden Pins
- Disable photos for pinning
- 15-Day money-back guarantee
TASTY PINS NOW ENABLES YOU TO ‘FORCE’ A SPECIFIED HIDDEN IMAGE TO BE THE PIN THAT WILL BE SAVED – NO MATTER WHICH IMAGE YOUR VISITOR HOVERS OVER!!!
What does it cost?
$29 per year with access to premium support. You can purchase it as a one-off and forgo ongoing support, which makes it much more economical if you’re on a budget.
What’s great about it?
The ability to disable pinning on individual images within your blog posts. If you already use a social media sharing tool, or if anyone saves a pin from their browser extension, this gives you absolute control over multiple images. Oh and you can ‘hide’ any number of images so they will only show when a share button is clicked!
The new ‘force hidden pin’ functionality now gives you absolute control over what is shared to Pinterest – so your vertical, Pinterest-friendly pins (with text overlay) will always take priority, whatever image a user hovers over. I Love this feature!
What could be better?
The ability to bulk edit images with the ‘disable’ feature in previous posts. Right now, you have to manually select each image, check the ‘disable’ box and update. Can get laborious if you’re cleaning up old posts with lots of images you don’t want pinned.
The new update renders this unnecessary. All you need to do is hit the ‘force hidden Pin’ checkbox, select the appropriate Pin and you’re all good! Easy!
Who is it best for?
Anyone with a visually focused blog looking for a Pinterest-optimised extension to their existing social media sharing tools.
So which Pinterest sharing tool is best for your blog?
I’m going to let you into a little secret here. I purchased Tasty Pins for this review thinking it would be a simple case of ‘this one or that one’.
The truth is, they do slightly different things and one isn’t a substitute for the other.
To my surprise, I’ve decided to keep both.
Here’s why. Social Warfare is my go-to social sharing tool, but as a blogger with 90% referral traffic from Pinterest, it still has certain limitations. Let’s say you’ve selected a specific Pin for sharing. Maybe you’ve hidden it or placed it at the beginning or end of your post.
If a visitor decides to share the post via the Social Warfare buttons, well everything is tickety boo; your Pin image – with Pinterest-optimised description – is all that shows to them. They literally have no option but to Pin this pin. So far, so good.
But look what happens if a user opts to share via their browser’s sharing button. If you have a ton of images in your post, these will also be shown alongside your chosen Pin:
#overwhelm! We’ve already established that too much choice is a bad thing. We only want to direct users to the pins we want them to share.
This is where Tasty Pins really works beautifully in tandem with Social Warfare. The ‘disable’ feature allows me to disable most, if not all of the superfluous images on that post. Here’s what happens once we do exactly that:
My main, chosen Pin is the first image. But this cleaned-up selection means users are far less likely to experience overwhelm and choose an unsuitable image to pin (the second image is pulled from my sidebar and can’t be removed without deleting it altogether). A huge improvement.
Even better, Tasty Pins allows me to hide multiple alternative images without clogging up my blog posts – this is just not possible with Social Warfare. Ideal if you like to A/B test different pin images to see which are most likely to get pinned.
There’s no plugin conflict and the browser extension pulls the Pinterest description from Social Warfare, meaning there’s no need for duplication in Tasty Pins ‘Pinterest Description’ field.
I usually avoid adding more plugins than is necessary but these two work so well together, there’s no way I can live without both now!
If you’re looking for a powerful compliment to your existing social media sharing tool or plugin, it would probably makes sense to opt for Tasty Pins, particularly if your blog contains lots of visuals and you simply need more control over what’s shared to Pinterest.
The new ‘force hidden Pin’ feature is the icing on the cake (pun intended) as it really gives you absolute control when users are pinning with a hover button too.
This means you no longer have to manually deselect every unwanted image from appearing – making it super easy to go back through all your old blog posts and force one hidden Pin with a juicy text overlay. So much better for Pinterest and encouraging others to click your Pins!
If your budget only allows for just one tool and you need an amazing ‘all-rounder’, one sharing tool that gives you control across the big social networks, and the all-important ability to hide pins and control what’s shared to Pinterest, Social Warfare is the one for you.
And if you can stretch to both? It’s a marketing match made in heaven – no more worrying about how your brand and message is shared by others. When used together, these plugins totally have your back.
But shhhh, don’t tell anyone else. It’s our secret : )