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The Wave System: How to Get Your Facebook Page Updates Seen By More People

Did you just write a killer blog post? Or do you have an event/product to promote?

The Problem of Sharing Links on Facebook

If so, you probably rely, at least partially, on linking to your webpage through Facebook. But lately Facebook is showing outbound links to such a small percentage of your page followers, that it’s potentially detrimental to blogs and businesses alike.

Bloggers have it worst because even when people click on a link through a Facebook and decide to share a blog post, they don’t share or interact on the Facebook post–they do it directly from the blog. So the Facebook post gets no interaction and therefore Facebook views it as irrelevant. Before I developed the Wave System I’ll outline below, my outbound links were being seen by less than 10% of the followers on my page.

I’ve spent a lot of time and money to acquire the fans on my pages; but when I write a blog post or have a sale that my readers can benefit from, Facebook doesn’t allow me to tell anybody about it.

Sound familiar?

Within 20 minutes, any post with a link from your Facebook post falls so far down the feed, it’s rendered useless.

By this time, you should know that the more interaction you get on a post, the more people will see it. If you have figured out a way to get people to interact on your promotional posts, I’m all ears. I’ve tested on 10 different pages and still haven’t figured it out.

Since payment buttons, squeeze page, and blogs usually exist outside of Facebook, you need people to click a link—a link that Facebook doesn’t want to show them.

You’re then left with two bad options:

Bad Option #1 – You can continue to post sales material multiple times a day and preface it sheepishly with words like:

“hey guys,

In case you missed it earlier, just a reminder we’re having a big sale on our super premium widgets today.”

This way more people will see the ad, but it also means you’re no longer adding value to your followers and will probably get your page hidden.

Bad Option #2 – You can decide to pay for Facebook’s “pay to promote” feature. I like Facebook ads, but am I the only one who has noticed that it gets more and more expensive? It costs me $1,000 to promote a SINGLE POST to the followers on one of my pages.

I already run Facebook ads continuously, but $1,000 to promote a single post to my existing fans is almost never worth it–especially to promote a blog post and not product sale. And, for almost every Facebook page owner that runs a small business, it’s out of the question.

To put it bluntly, you’re screwed. All that time, money, and effort you spent building up a Facebook page has gone for naught. Facebook is evil right? Would you agree that they are greedy pigs that are systematically squashing small businesses?

I don’t…

Facebook is Forcing Marketers to Evolve

Facebook used to be a place where lazy marketers could get heard. All they had to do was put sales pitches in the feed and generated big email lists that turned into sales. But now I can’t log onto Facebook without seeing a marketer (or even the occasional social media expert) complaining that Facebook is evil and is making it impossible to succeed.

Make no mistake; Facebook is still the most powerful marketing medium on the planet. That is, of course, if you know how to use it.

I say this because, through a lot of experimentation, I’ve developed a system to select the posts I want Facebook to show to my audience for free. With a bit of planning, I’ve repeatedly gotten status updates with outbound links to my blog posts and event promotions to 50-75% of the users on my page. And no, I don’t do this by combining my links with cheap pictures, motivational quotes, or memes.

This article will teach you exactly how to trick Facebook into showing your blog posts and promotional status updates, which get little to no interaction themselves, to the majority of your users for free. In addition, I’ve included a bonus section at the bottom where I show you how to identify specific groups within your page and target them, also for free.

The First Step is Understanding EdgeRank

EdgeRank is the Facebook algorithm for determining relevance. While the specifics often change, the constant is that Facebook is trying to figure out who and what you want to listen to. It does this largely by tracking your interactions.

“Like” an update, click on a picture, watch a video, or share an article, and your affinity towards whoever shared that article goes up. (Note: This is obviously a very superficial overview about EdgeRank, but it’s enough to understand my system below.)

The Wave System – How to Manipulate EdgeRank and use it to Your Advantage

I’ve been experimenting on 10 different Facebook accounts for two years. Despite all of Facebooks changes, it has always worked and will always work in a predictable pattern.

I’ve used the Wave System to build multiple fan pages with 15,000+ members in a matter of months. Not only that, these are users who are avidly interested in my business and purchase my products.

I’ll be sharing one example of each different type of post I used in the example from the picture below. This was a promotion for a conference I’m holding. The result was that Facebook showed this post 78% of my fans for free. It did this because of the insane relevance I was able to build up in the days previous using my 4 step system below.

Ptdc seminar 1

It takes some planning on your part. Here are the 4 steps to the Wave System:

Step 1 - Collect what you predict will be a series of very viral photos. Whenever you come across something that you think will get a ton of interaction, put it in a special folder.

There are probably pages that already serve your demographic. Take a couple of hours and go through their archives. Download the viral memes or pictures that do the best on your competitors pages and put them in your folder—why start over when somebody else has already done the work for you? (Note, always give proper attribution to photos if you can. Most people don’t on Facebook, but don’t be a jerk like most people.)

Step 2 - The most viral pictures and status updates concern a controversial or often discussed subject pertaining to your industry or the perception of your industry.

Write the biggest public misconceptions about your industry. What is it that gets under your skin as a professional? Write that down.

Next, on that document, note the side of the controversy that your audience firmly sites on.

Below is a picture of an example I used to generate a lot of shares and likes leading up to my conference promotion. I know that trainers get frustrated when people say that they need to wait for everything to be perfect to start working out (because it never will be). So I posted a viral photo and added in a bit of a rant in the description for good measure.

Meme 1 pre launch

Step 3 - 2 days before you plan on putting out a promotional post start to publish 4-6 viral pictures or status updates that you expect get a ton of interaction. Pull them directly from your file in steps 1 and 2. Refer to my post called, “When is the Best Time to Post on Facebook?” to pinpoint, to the minute, the best times to publish these posts for your audience.

The more people that interact with these multiple posts the better. Continue to publish 4-6 times a day generating as many likes, comments, and shares as possible. The purpose is to generate as much relevancy from as many of your fans as possible towards your page.

The most effective status updates in terms of gaining relevancy are those that hit on a public misconception that affects your industry. It’s likely a source of common frustration and one that your audience will want to share to help education their friends and family by sharing the post. Below is an example I recently used.

Written statement

Step 4 - When it comes time to post your promotion, publish the post with your sale or call to action. For the next 2-3 days, wave in and out viral materials.

Your promotional post will not get much interaction. But, because you’ve build up so much relevancy the previous two days, Facebook will show automatically show your post to more people.

For the next 2-3 days, wave in and out promotional materials with viral posts. This way, Facebook will continue to show your promotional posts to a higher percentage of your page users.

How to Use Questions

One other option for increasing affinity to a large group of people is to ask questions that you expect to get a lot of interaction. I poll my audience for two distinct different reasons: information collection and relevance building. Allow me to give an overview of both.

Information Collection Questions – My Facebook page is my focus group. Often I’ll ask them questions like, “what topics do you want me to cover in the coming weeks?” or I might be doing one of my many experiments. For example, if you read my article linked above on the best time to post on Facebook, you’ll note that I did an experiment where I wanted to find out the most common times my following exercised. So I asked them, and hired administrative help to graph it for me.

Relevance Building - Getting a lot of comments on a status update is a fantastic way to increase relevancy to a number of followers on your page. Sometimes I’ll rile up my audience by choosing a controversial subject that affects them, arguing one side, and asking for their input. Below is an example (note that this was two days before I promoted my conference):

Question pre launch

Bonus Section – Using the Wave System to Pre-Select Your Audience

I was in a social media gathering last week and a good question came up. The question (paraphrased) was, “My Company offers different services that appeal to different types of people. Is it a problem to promote all of the services to my entire page or will that turn off the groups that aren’t interested in that one service?”

I’m in a similar situation here. My page for personal trainers promotes both nutrition and exercise products. I use the Wave System to manipulate EdgeRank to pre-select my audience.

The best way to illustrate this is with an example:

Let’s say I’m going to be promoting a nutrition program in 3 days time. I would start the wave system as per the steps above, but would only use viral photos that were nutrition based. This way, the people who were interested in nutrition would like and comment on those posts. The people who weren’t interested in nutrition would ignore them.

Then, when it comes time to put my first promotion up, the people who my content pre-selected would be shown the promotion and those who aren’t interested in nutrition wouldn’t.

It’s not perfect, but it works reasonably well.

Facebook is not evil, quite the opposite. Facebook is powerful and, if you understand how to use it, can be the most important marketing tool at your disposal.

Never forget though, the purpose of Facebook is not to collect fans; it’s to find your audience so that you can get them off of Facebook and onto an email list. Use the Wave System to get people to your squeeze pages and into your marketing funnel.

Jonathan Goodman is a 2X author and the creator of Viralnomics. He is currently offering free enrollment to his 20-day content creation course.

What Progress Have You Made on Pinterest? [Discussion]

This week has given us a chance to look at Pinterest from a few different angles.

If you’ve not had a chance to get into Pinterest, I hope that our Complete Guide to Pinterest got you inspired to set up an account and start pinning. If it didn’t, EcoKaren’s story of Pinterest success should have convinced you of the pulling power of the network.

Our look behind the scenes of Pinterest practice with Jade, my own Pinterest consultant, hopefully gave you a bit of insight into the ways you can learn more about the platform—or find someone who already does! Her expert advice on creating Pinterest Personas should help you take your first steps toward setting a Pinterest strategy for your blog.

Pinterest

Today, we’re interested to hear your stories. Have you already established a Pinterest account for your blog? If you  have, how’s it going? How are you managing it, and what kinds of results are you getting? Let us know of your successes—and the other stuff!—in the comments.

If you’re not yet in Pinterest, we’d love to hear why not. Is it that you don’t feel your audience uses the network, or is the problem time constraints—or something else entirely? Is there anyone among our readers who uses Pinterest personally, but not for their blog? I’d love to hear from you, too.

So let’s get talking. How’s Pinterest helping you as bloggers? Let’s hear about it!

ProBlogger Challenge: Create a Pinterest Persona

I struggled a lot when I first started managing the Pinterest account for Digital Photography School.

I knew that I wanted to focus on visual curation, and that I wanted to provide a comprehensive overview of techniques and tools. There were so many possible boards I could create and I didn’t know what was the best tactic or idea. Should I spin this topic off into a separate board? Should I avoid creating this board altogether?

Then I accidentally stumbled across the concept of a Pinterest persona. My partner and myself are amateur photographers and I found myself asking whether I would be interested in the content that I was pinning. If it didn’t seem relevant then I wouldn’t pin it. This saved me so much time when making decisions and has allowed the DPS brand to maintain a very consistent focus.

It’s what today’s Challenge is all about.

mannequins

Image by SebastianDooris, licensed under Creative Commons

What is a Pinterest persona?

A Pinterest persona is simply a description of the type of person you are targeting with your Pinterest account. This is very similar to the concept of a blog persona. The difference is that Pinterest users have a different level of savvy and you want different behaviour from different groups.

Darren has previously written about creating reader profiles/personas to help with your blogging and identified the many benefits:

  • It personalizes the blogging experience.
  • It informs my writing.
  • It identifies opportunities.
  • It can be helpful for recruiting advertisers.
  • It identifies ways to connect with your readership.
  • It will identify opportunities to monetize your blog.

I recommend that you check out that article and see the type of profiles he created for Digital Photography School readers. I adapted these for my Pinterest Personas, and you can adapt them for yours, too.

Your persona description should include information about:

  • how people discover your boards
  • why they repin certain types of pins
  • why they use Pinterest in general
  • what inspires them to leave comments
  • why they like a pin.

I recommend you wait at least a month after starting your Pinterest account before creating personas.

How can you create a persona?

What creating a pinning persona, ask what actions you want people to take when they visit your Pinterest account.

Read this article at the Social@Ogilvy blog. It helps you figure out how your users differ from your blog’s profile. The author recommends that you answer three key questions:

  • How does the person behave in social media?
  • Who influences the users in social media?
  • How will the users engage with the brand or branded content?

You can figure this out by monitoring the types of people that currently interact with your profile. You will notice different behaviours for different types of people. You can then create profiles based around these.

You may notice their needs are different than you thought they were. You may also notice that your Pinterest account isn’t currently meeting their needs. This is fine—it’s all part of the normal Pinterest learning curve.

Your challenge

Your challenge is to create two or three profiles based around the types of people that your Pinterest account is targeting. These won’t be set in stone—instead, they will evolve as you learn more about your followers.

Your next step is to evaluate your Pinterest account and see if you are meeting the needs of these types of people. Be objective. If you’re not serving all of them well, what can you do to better cater to your followers? What changes will you have to make to your Pinterest workflow to accommodate them?

Over to you

Do you have social personas to help you with your account? Are you having any trouble creating them? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see how I can help you.

How My Old Blog Post Got Half a Million Pinterest Views [Case Study]

There’s a lot of information on the web, including ProBlogger, on how to maximize Pinterest to get traffic to your site. Between tutorials on how to optimize Pinterest as part of your social media marketing strategy, Darren’s own experiment on Pinterest, how to create Pinterest-worthy graphics, and how to run a Pinterest contest, there are some great tips out there.

But I wanted to share my own personal experience on how an old post on ecokaren received almost half a million pageviews—50% of all-time page views on the post—just from Pinterest. Along the way, I’ll share some tips (and some of my biggest pet peeves) that you can use for better a Pinterest experience.

Crowd

Image by unknown photographer, licensed under Creative Commons

Ecokaren on Pinterest

Now this wildly pinned post from ecokaren—which received over 490,000 pageviews and was pinned more than 129,000 times—is about … how to wash a washing machine.

Woah, did you read that right? 129,000 pins and 490,000 pageviews?

Yup. You read that correctly.

And the post is about washing a washing machine?

Yup. Again, you read that correctly.

I was shocked too when this old post started receiving crazy traffic without my trying, never mind that it was from a newly un-shrinkwrapped social media site called Pinterest. One person’s pin of the post was repinned over 1400 times and has more than 300 likes. I should buy her a drink! Or maybe send her my homemade laundry detergent.

Now, the post was not your typical pin-worthy post. It had no huggable furry animals, no wise quotes, no cute babies nor scrumptious gourmet food. Nor did it have trendy ensemble suggestions for a fashionista or bare-chested Ryan Gosling wannabe.

Instead, it had a few small, individual photos of moldy interior of a washing machine and how it looked after it was washed. Not pretty at all, as you can see here.

clean front loader bottom

So how did a boring, three-year old post get pinned so many times, to the point that it now continuously brings traffic from Pinterest? How did I make pinning sexy? (No, sex has nothing to do with it.)

My top Pinterest tips

Here are my unwritten (now written!) rules on pinning and driving traffic to your site.

1. Be active on Pinterest every day

It’s a no-brainer, right? But it’s true. I pin or repin almost every day, even if it’s just one pin. It’s always better to pin original posts than just repin what others are pinning but either way, I’m active on Pinterest daily.

And when do I pin? The prime time for pinning is between 4 to 11pm US EST. I pin while waiting at the bus stop in the afternoon, waiting for my daughter. But I also pin early in the morning, while my coffee percolates. It’s a perfect way to spend time in the morning.

2. Don’t just pin your own stuff

The unspoken rule of pinning is similar to StumbledUpon. It’s better to high-five others than yourself. (Did you try high-fiving yourself? Yeah. Doesn’t work well.)

You don’t want to be bragging about your post or product all the time. If you compliment others by pinning and repining, pretty soon, others will do the same for you. Sure, you can pin your stuff once in a while but it’s always better to pin that of others.

My general rule of thumb of ratio is 1:6 in pinning my post to those of others. Again, this is not written in stone, but it’s my own unspoken rule. And remember, don’t ever violate Pinterest’s copyright rules when pinning. Just don’t go there.

Karen Lee's Pinterest social media icons

3. Install a Pinterest button with a counter

It’s obvious that you need a Pin it button on your posts. I use the Pin it extension or widget from my bookmark bar. But it’d be easy to have a Pin it button somewhere on your post too. Don’t make readers have to search for it. Make it easy for them.

To take it one step further, I like icons with counters. I was f-l-o-o-r-e-d when I saw “108k” on my Pin It icon on that washing machine post when its pinning frenzy started. That number will be over 127k by the time you read this. Your posts’ readers will see that number too, and they will be more inclined to pin it, seeing that it’s a wildly popular post.

Why? Readers feel validated when their views are in line with the popular majority. They want to share that feeling with their followers, and that makes them want to pin.

4. Engage your pinners and interact

Add nicely and thoughtfully constructed personal comments to pins. Not one word comments like “nice” or “

They don’t allow interactions. A real sentence or two will.

Also, reply to comments on your posts that have been pinned. I always check the comments people are leaving on posts of mine that have been pinned or repinned. I thank the original pinner and leave replies to other commenters too. Some people are shocked that “ecokaren” is “that personal” and actually came to comment. That always cracks me up. I feel like a total celebrity when I read comments like that.

5. Upload your blog logo

Load a generic blog badge or logo on your landing page, so that even if there is no image attached to your post, at least your logo or badge for your blog will be pulled up on Pinterest for people to use.

I loaded my logo into the sidebar so if there is some reason an image doesn’t load up for visitors to pin, at least they can use the blog’s logo. I see my badge on Pinterest once in a while, alongside comments like “Awesome site!”—and that makes me grin.

6. Teach people something

My all time record-breaking pinned/repinned post is about washing your front loading washing machine. Yes: a very sexy topic indeed!

But apparently, people had so much trouble with moldy-smelling front-loading, high-efficiency washing machines that they were pinning and sharing my post for “solving their problem.”

So even though the post was written three years ago and images are ugly, it finally got the attention it deserves—albeit late—and all because of Pinterest. All because the post taught readers something. It solved a problem.

How do I know that? I receive emails from housewives weekly, (I don’t mean to stereotype housewives but let’s face it folks, who does the laundry the most often in your house?) thanking me for the post.

I also created a Welcome page for email subscribers and about 75% of the signees are from the post. And in the comment section, they describe how I solved their front-loading washing machine mystery. I feel their warm hugs daily.

Karen Lee's GA image on Pinterest

Optimizing your post for Pinterest

Here are some clean stats for the post (as of January 21, 2013):

  • Publish date: June 2009
  • Total pageviews: 965,085
  • Pageviews from Pinterest: 489,014
  • Average time: 1:27
  • Bounce rate: 57.21%
  • Approx. number of pins: 127,000

And the post is getting more views as you read this.

So, it’s great that this little star of a post is getting oodles of eye balls. But what did I do optimize it?

As soon as I noticed the traffic, I made a few key changes to the post:

  • I added related links into the body of the post to other posts readers might be interested in, like how to make dryer balls out of orphaned socks, how to make homemade laundry detergent, how to clean your dishwasher, and more. And now, those posts are getting traction on Pinterst. I can tell you are fascinated by these topics too!
  • I added affiliate links to relevant products on my Amazon affiliate account. I’m not a millionaire yet, but it’s paying the bills.
  • I cleaned up the images. Okay, so the images are still not Darren’s quality but I cleaned up the images that were dingy and blurry looking. A moldy washing gasket is never that pretty but the older images were dark and less desirable for pinning.
  • I added text to the images to make them more pinnable and gain attention right away.
  • I added watermarks to images so that even if someone pins (or “steals”) the images, anyone who sees them will know where they came from.

If you want to get more exposure on Pinterest, some of these ideas might work for you, too.

Pinterest peeves

Finally, I wanted to highlight my biggest pet peeves about Pinterest. These are things I always avoid—as does any good citizen of Pinterest!

  • I abhor when people don’t give credit where credit is due on Pinterest. In other words, they steal your image and don’t link to your post. So I started watermarking all my images. And I check on Pinterest to make sure the images are linking back to my site occasionally. So far, I haven’t discovered my image being hijacked, but I have seen plenty of other pins that do not link to its original post. I think that is wrong!
  • I wish there was an easier way on Pinterest to see all the pins that others pinned from ecokaren. Currently, there is no way for me to search my URL or name on the site to see all the images or posts that are pinned. I still have to use Google Analytics for the stat. Not cool. I’m hoping that Pinterest will improve pinning visibility for blog owners before long.
  • There isn’t a fool-proof method of searching for Pinterest users. I tried to search for pinners and more often than not, they don’t appear in the search results. Again, I have better luck using Google. Something is wrong with that picture.
  • I wish there was an easier way to conduct contests. A Pinterest contest is one of the best social media campaigns you can do for your business or your blog. At Green Sisterhood (http://greensisterhood.com), we manage Pinterest contests for our clients and they require a lot of maintenance. A tool that finds boards and pins that have been repinned the most would be ideal. Again, let’s hope Pinterest adds functionality for this kind of thing soon.

Are you listening Pinterest? If you can make these four things happen, I’d love you even more!

Pinterest lessons

Solve people’s problems!

On Monday, Jamie highlighted the fact that attractive, inspirational content does well on Pinterest, and that’s true. You can put up pretty images or cute animals pictures and even life changing quotes with awesome graphics on the network.

But nothing—and I mean nothing—gets people’s attention like solving problems that they have been struggling with.

Ask yourself, “What would I want to pin and repin?” That’s the post that will get pinned the most.

Do you have a personal success story on Pinterest? What was the post about? Tell us about it in the comments.

Contributing author Karen Lee is a co-founder and managing partner of Green Sisterhood, a network of green women bloggers with aggregated monthly page views of over 2.5 million pageviews. We help companies to increase online branding awareness with content and social media marketing strategies, like Pinterest contests. Karen is also a founder and publisher of ecokaren where she writes about importance of washing your washing machine and on greening your life.

Do You Need a Pinterest Consultant? Interview with Jade Craven of dPS

Back when Pinterest was brand-spankin’-new, we heard the same cry from a lot of Problogger.net readers: “Not another social network! Who has time for all this?!”

Who indeed? Each social network is different, and they all require slightly different approaches and skills.

One potential solution for more than a few bloggers is to hire someone to help develop and implement a Pinterest strategy. But where do Pinterest experts even come from? What do they know that we don’t? Can they really deliver a return on the investment you’re making into Pinterest?

We thought we’d go behind the scenes with Darren’s own Pinterest specialist, Jade Craven, to find out what Pinterest consultants do, and how they can help bloggers.

Jade, we know you’ve been instrumental in helping Darren build a Pinterest following for dPS (check out the dPS Pinterest account here). But Pinterest’s pretty new. What were you doing before Pinterest hit the scene?

Jade Craven

Jade Craven, Pinterest Pro

I was just a normal person trying to make it in the blogosphere. I could only work part-time due to illness, so I was scraping by on whatever client work I could get. I’d spend the rest of my time learning as much as I could and doing little experiments.

I used to be a professional blogger. In operating in the marketing space and became disillusioned with some of the activities I saw. Now I tend to focus my research on the lifestyle- and women-orientated niches.

I also wrote the Bloggers to Watch list for Darren for four years and occasionally consulted with people on product launches. Basically, I was obsessed with word-of-mouth and curation, and was learning as much as I could about it.

And how did that work prepare you to work on Pinterest? What skills do you need to make the most of this network?

Well, I’ve been doing this for four years. It meant that I had developed very good research skills and intuition, especially around the subject of content curation.

Curating content is one of the most important things you can do as a blogger. There is just so much information out there and it is very easy to get overwhelmed.

This skill is vital when it comes to Pinterest. The only difference is that you are curating content over the long term via multiple boards, instead of curating content for a single blog post or page.

I also find that it can take a lot of research and experimenting to know what works for different demographics. Most of my research previously had focused on how ecommerce sites could use Pinterest. My overall strategy was based on a hunch, but the day-to-day decisions are based on specific research and case studies.

Right. So how did you land a job as a Pinterest consultant, when the network’s so new?

It was one of those cases of being in the right place in the right time. I was working for The Village Agency as a paid intern. My employer, Justine Bloome, asked me to focus on Pinterest. She is pretty savvy and had a hunch that it would take off.

She was speaking and writing about Pinterest at the time, so I had a couple of boards dedicated to Pinterest. I learned a lot while building those boards, to the point where I was spending around ten extra unpaid hours on Pinterest experimenting and learning about the platform. It was amazing to be trusted so much.

Then, late last year, Darren made the decision to put more effort into Pinterest for DPS. He put out a tweet asking for suggestions on what to do and Justine, who is a good friend of his, put my name forward. I sent over a quote, we quickly set up 20 boards as an experiment, and it exploded from there.

Basically, it was a case of and being willing to work unpaid in order to build up a desirable skillset and being in the right place at the right time. Only one of those elements was something I could control, which is why I believe that some bloggers should strategically work for free.

Great point! So can you tell us what it is that you spend your time doing as dPS’s Pinterest maven?

I have a very simple workflow. My goal is to curate all the relevant articles that may be useful to photographers. I spent my first four months pinning the archives from the top ten photography blogs. I’d do a lot of extra work on top of what I was getting paid to do, because I wanted us to have an account that was industry-leading.

Now this workflow has simplified to scheduling one pin for every hour from Monday to Friday. I follow the blogs in Google reader, and skim through the list of updates. I ignore those that are only relevant for a short period of time. If I see a number of articles on the same subject, I consider making a separate board on that topic.

The rest of my time is spent monitoring competitors’ boards and seeing if there is anything I can do to improve our strategy. I research new board ideas, especially ones that may be related to product launches. I created several new boards based on dPS’s latest portraits ebook.

Wow, there’s so much to it. Can we step back for a moment and ask you what you feel Pinterest has to offer bloggers? It’s easy to say, well, Pinterest uses images, and that’s what makes it different from other networks, but other social networks let you post images. What’s different about Pinterest?

It shows how skilled you are at visual curation. Most forms of curation involve information being spread all over the place. You may have a weekly round-up post, or an awesome Recommendations page.

People will have to look in many places for that information, but Pinterest allows you to collect it all in one place. It allows you to show how up to date with trends you are. The descriptions you add to pins allow you to add context—to talk about why you think the image you pinned is relevant.

Look at the account for Interiors Addict. I will go to the Pinterest account over the blog because it’s a lot easier for me to discover, curate and organize the images that she has pinned here than to wade through her blog archives.

At its core, Pinterest is all about social discovery. It’s about leveraging your social networks to discover new things. There is no conversation or networking—it’s pure entertainment. It’s like Youtube, only you have more inclination to create and buy stuff later.

So in that case, we’d expect that the basic focuses of a Pinterest strategy would be different from other social networks.

Yes, I’ve found that the focus is completely different. On most platforms, the focus is community building and engagement. On Pinterest it is all about curation and social discovery.

So are there particular niches or audiences that the network’s suited to?

It’s obviously suited to images that show the end result of a project. This is skewed towards activities that are traditionally associated with women—cooking, crafts, and so on. But it can equally apply to men if you focus on the right niches.

I’ve found that the DPS audience is 50/50 male/female in terms of who’s repining and engaging with the content.

If a user finds your blog through Pinterest, will they expect your blog to look gorgeous? These users are obviously visual people, so does a blogger need to finesse their blog design before launching a Pinterest strategy?

It isn’t expected that your blog needs to look gorgeous. However, if you are using Pinterest graphics then it is helpful if the blog design is consistent with the image style.

Look at the design of Alex Beadon’s blog. She has the same design elements in her header and sidebar. That kind of attention to detail and consistency is is one of the reasons I chose her as one of this year’s bloggers to watch.

Having said that, people expect to find what they want in the description of a pinned image. If it is link to a blog post, they want a quality blog post. They will expect the other images in that post to be of the same calibre, but primarily they are there for the content. With fashion, for example, they either want to be taken to the store or to a site that describes how to put the outfit together.

Design is, and will always be, an important part of the user experience. But it is more important that people find exactly what they expect when they click a link on Pinterest.

Well, what you’ve said here makes me wonder if Pinterest is a doable addition for the solo blogger who’s managing everything themselves. Can they get traction on the site? What tasks should they prioritize in building a Pinterest presence?

It is doable for the solo blogger. You don’t need to invest as much time into relationship marketing. It’s just basic curation.

The main thing these bloggers should prioritize is creating a persona that reflects the Pinterest users they want to attract. Create a rough document outlining who the target user is as a person, and what you want them to think and do when they visit your Pinterest page.

This can help you decide whether it’s worth investing in another social platform and how much time you should dedicate to it. Editor’s note: Jade will be telling us more about how to do this later in the week.

The second thing they should prioritize is making their brand page look pretty. Organize your boards and focus on choosing beautiful images as the cover. That is what is going to encourage people to stick around.

And in terms of everyday activity and interactivity, what are your favorite tools for working on Pinterest?

I have two favourite tools. I am struggling to find one affordable solution that does everything—Problogger readers may have an idea. At the moment I am using two tools: Pingraphy and PinLeague.

Pingraphy is the tool I use for scheduling. It’s not very intuitive but it is free and simple to use once you get the hang of it. I usually schedule the pins for the week in one or two sessions, so it doesn’t interfere with my other work.

Pinleague is an analytics solution. It is free up to a certain point, but is pretty comprehensive. It tells you about what boards are popular, what pins are popular, and who your brand advocates are. You can even see how much income Pinterest is generating for you after you integrate this tool with Google Analytics. It’s really useful to help you tweak your strategy.

I used to make decisions by manually observing changes over time but Pinleague makes it so much easier. It means I get to spend more time experimenting and researching instead of trying to figure everything out myself.

Wow, great advice. Thanks so much for your time, Jade. We really appreciate your insights.

Thanks for having me.

Keep an eye out for some inside advice from Jade on ProBlogger later in the week.

Heavyweight Help: The Complete Guide to Getting Started on Pinterest

Do you lie in bed at night dreaming of getting a link from some high-profile blog like ProBlogger that would send you thousands of visitors and give your blog the exposure you need to take it to the next level?

I’d rather have Pinterest.

Pins

Image by hydropeek, licensed under Creative Commons

Don’t get me wrong: I’d love to have Darren share a link with his audience to one of my photography marketing posts. However, the reality is that you’ll get far more traffic, exposure, and income from Pinterest, regardless of your niche.

I believe that blogs in any niche, not just DIY crafty blogs, are missing out on huge amounts of traffic and exposure if they are ignoring Pinterest. If you want to see your blog grow in leaps and bounds in 2013, you’ve got to pay attention to Pinterest.

Pinterest has been a huge part of the reason that my 22-month old blog that shares business and marketing tips for photographers has grown large enough and profitable enough to have replaced our entire household income.

One post alone, which was intentionally optimized for Pinterest, has been shared over 11,500 times and made over five figures of income in the last 6 months alone. I’ll tell you more about it and why it was so successful in a moment, so keep reading.

Because I want to make sure that you fully understand the power of Pinterest, I’m going to start with the very basics before digging into the good stuff that will get you the blog success you’re looking for.

Honestly, if you’re short on time and don’t want to join another social network, you don’t have to have a profile and can simply read about how to make your blog more likely to be pinned. However, at least read through the basics and info about using Pinterest accounts so that you have a better understanding of what’s going on and how to apply that to your blog.

Here’s what I’m going to cover:

  • What is Pinterest?
  • Why care about Pinterest?
  • Basics of using Pinterest
  • Strategies for using your Pinterest account
  • Get your pins maximum exposure
  • Get more traffic to your blog using Pinterest
  • Pinterest tools for bloggers

So let’s dive right in.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a visual bookmarking site with a strong sharing structure.

Anatomy of a Pin

People “pin” photos or videos with links back to their original sources onto “boards” and a “description” that shows under neat the photo or video. These pins are then shown on the main Pinterest page, from newest to oldest, to all of the followers of that person.

Pinterest's Hover options

If someone sees a pin that they think is interesting, they can hover over the image and choose to “repin” it directly to one of their boards, or they can “like” it or “comment” on it.

Embedded video on Pinterest

When videos are pinned, they can be viewed from right within Pinterest. It’s a great way to grow your YouTube presence and get more viewers.

Who uses Pinterest and what do they use it for?

Pinterest users are mostly women, who trust it more than Facebook or Twitter, although there are a growing number of men on the site.

Pinterest is a place where people dwell on the life they’ve always longed for and where they collect inspiring or useful morsels of information that make their life better. They plan their weddings, imagine their dream homes, long for their ideal wardrobe and collect snippets of inspiration that encourage them to be a better person. A person’s Pinterest boards are a collection of what they they wish they were, so it can be a very powerful place to market your business.

Why care about Pinterest?

Traffic

Pinterest can bring a lot of traffic to your blog, which you can then convert into subscribers and buyers. It drives more traffic than Google+, Linkedin, and YouTube combined, more traffic than Twitter, and Pinterest drives more sales than Facebook.

The thing that seems to set Pinterest apart from Facebook or Twitter is that there’s less conversation going on to get in the way of sharing links. Yes, you can leave comments and tag people on pins, but the focus is much greater on sharing, making this the perfect platform for your posts to go viral.

Grow your business

Pinterest is a great place to strengthen your brand, and can be used for an “about me” board or if you have several staff or bloggers, you can pin a photo of each person with a description and a link to learn more about them on an About us page on your blog. Create boards that would appeal to your ideal readers and they’ll feel a stronger affinity towards your blog.

It’s easy to promote your products, do market research, and provide resources to your current community. It’s even a great place to find ideas of things to blog about, particularly if you’re in the craft, DIY, food, or fashion niches (although any niche could find ideas on Pinterest).

Basics of using Pinterest

Now that you’ve heard about all the benefits of Pinterest, let’s dive into the mechanics of how to use it.

Getting started

Business profile or personal profile?

Pinterest allows you to create either a personal account or a business account. While they work the same way, you’ll have to decide which one fits your situation best.

Pinterest Boards and Profile

Number 1 imageYou’ll start by setting up your profile. Add an image and description of yourself or your blog and link to your various sites. You can put a URL in the description, but it will display as text and not as an actual link unless you verify your website through Pinterest.

You’ll also be selecting a username that will be part of your Pinterest URL, so you may choose to use specific keywords here for better SEO if you’re setting it up for your business instead of as your name.

Number 2 imageRight under your visible profile, you’ll see a menu with your stats and where you can choose to view your boards, pins, or likes or view the information behind the stats. By clicking on “Followers” you can see the people who are following you and decide if you’d like to follow them back or not. You can also edit your profile or change the order of your boards using the middle button.

Number 3 imageThis displays your various boards. This is the default view that people see when they visit your profile, so it’s important that you put the boards you most want them to see first. As most of my readers are photographers, I put some of the boards I’ve created as resources for them first and foremost. You can also hover over the board cover and edit it to be a different pin as the large image, otherwise it defaults to the most recently pinned image for that board. You can also reposition the image if you so desire.

There’s also the option to create collaborative boards, where you can invite other people to pin on that board as well. You’ll see this option when you’re setting up individual boards.

In addition, you can create three private boards that you share with people. These boards will not show up for other people when they view your profile, and the pins will not show up in your feed. You can share this with other people who will be able to add to the board. You can change a private board to a public board, but once a board has become public it can no longer be made private. Public boards cannot be made private.

Number 4 imageThis menu is where you can manually add pins and learn more about Pinterest and the tools they offer. If you select the menu with your name, you have links to your boards, pins, and likes and you also can find and invite friends to join Pinterest. There’s also a link to goodies here that lets you install a Pin it button on your browser’s bookmark bar that lets you pin any image and YouTube videos that you see online while browsing.

The Pinterest homepage

By clicking on the Pinterest logo, you’ll be taken to the main page, which is much like the newsfeed on Facebook.

Pinterest Main Page

This is where you’ll see pins from the people you are following. Pins are shown from newest (top) to oldest (bottom), and there’s no algorithm for how pins are ranked. They simply appear based on time.

From here, you can repin the pins you see onto your boards, or you can like the pins or comment on them.

You can also use the links at the top under the Pinterest logo to show everything being pinned at the moment (or everything in a certain category), only videos, popular pins, and gifts by price.

Other useful things to know

To add a price tag to your pins, simply put the price in the description.

A gift price tag

You can tag people in your posts by adding the “@” before their name. You must be following at least one of their boards to tag them, however.

Finally, there’s much discussion online about how using the hashtag before words will help you show up better in the search rankings when people search on Pinterest. However, this is not true in most of the searches I have done.

Using the # before a word only creates a link to a search for that word or for other pins also tagged with that specific hashtag. So if you use “#food” in your description, it takes you to the search results for “food” or “#food” and doesn’t rank you better in general.

16 Strategies for using your Pinterest account

The best way to use your Pinterest account is to share lots of content that complements your own content. Yes, you can share your own stuff, but make sure there’s lots of helpful things from other people there as well. It’s one of the best ways to get loyal followers who love your pins.

So, what kinds of things should you pin? How do you make the most of your Pinterest account?

1. Pin resources for your commmunity

My audience is mainly photographers, so I have several posing boards and boards with business advice (both from my blog and from others’ blogs).

For my wedding photography clients, I pin lots of wedding inspiration ideas: decorations, venue ideas, DIY wedding projects, cakes, rings, you name it. The possibilities are endless.

A great way to find good content for your boards is to use the search from within Pinterest to find popular pins of a certain topic and simply repin them to your own boards. Super simple and fast.

2. Customize boards for individual clients

If you’re a graphic designer, create a collaborative board where both you and your client can pin inspiration. If you sell real estate, create boards with home listings for specific clients that fit what they’re looking for in a home.

3. Sell stuff

Post images of things you sell and link back to your sales page. Add the price to the description using currency symbols to have it show up in the corner.

4. Offer coupons and promotions using Pinterest

Create a coupon or sales board where you list current promotions for your audience to see.

5. Create round-up boards on a certain topic

Go through your blog archives and create pins of your favorite content within a certain category. Then promote this board on your blog. Not only will you get extra traffic, you’ll get people digging into your archives and reading some of your best content.

6. Do a Pinterest contest or scavenger hunt

Have people search your blog for specific posts and images and pin them to a board. Then, leave a link to that board somewhere in order for the pinners to be entered into a contest. Or, have them search through your own boards and repin your own pins.

7. Network with other pinners in your niche or field

Since I’m a photographer, Pinterest is a great way for me to showcase other wedding vendors and tag them in the pins so that they can see the images of the products they provide.

Promoting other vendors or bloggers in your field is a great way to get their attention and start building relationships.

8. Create a community or collaborative board

Ask your readers to volunteer to create a board on a specific topic with pins from around the web. It will build loyalty to your brand and help readers identify more strongly with your business.

9. Find inspiration for your business

Have writer’s block? Search Pinterest to see what popular things in your niche are being pinned. If you’re a designer, check out popular designs in your field. Note what other pinners in your field are doing, and see what kinds of boards get them the most followers.

10. Create a review board

Have a board of reviews of various products that your audience would find helpful. If you sell your own product, collect reviews about it on a board as well.

11. Testimonial board

Much like the review board, except that you can put an image of the product up with the testimonial in the description. Bonus points for tagging the testimonial writer in your description. This is also a great place to put client success stories.

12. Grow your email list by pinning your free resource

If you offer a free resource in exchange for signing up to your list, Pinterest can be a great way to get more exposure. People love free things and tend to repin them like crazy if they’re really great resources.

13. Behind the scenes

Create a board showing the behind-the-scenes workings of your business and give people the feeling that they’re an insider if they follow your board.

14. Cover an event “Live” via Pinterest

Pin images from a live event to encourage people to follow you and bring more exposure to your event.

15. Create supplemental material boards

If you teach workshops or do online webinars, create a board with supplemental content and resources on it for your attendees to explore.

16. Learn more about your community

Follow several of your readers to learn more about their interests and what appeals to them. It’s a great way to see what they really dream of and long for in life and business.

Get your pins maximum exposure

Now that you’ve got all these awesome ideas to implement, here’s a few extra tips to make sure that your pins get maximum exposure.

The best time to post on Pinterest

According to Pinerly, the best times to post on Pinterest are between 2pm-4pm EST and again from 8pm-1am EST.

Optimize your pins and boards

Always write good descriptions. Use words that people might search for in the search bar to make your pin or board more likely to be found.

Use calls to action in descriptions to help encourage people to do what you want them to do. Want them to repin or comment? Want them to click through to the post? Ask them to. One call to action per pin is best.

To encourage engagement on your pins and increase the chance of them becoming popular, ask questions and tag people using the @ symbol to help get more comments.

You can put links inside the descriptions, but remember that these links are no-follow links.

Unlike Facebook, people are more likely to repin than to comment on a pin. Leaving comments on pins is a great way to stick out, gain exposure, and gain followers. Thoughtful comments on other peoples’ pins can go a long way, especially if you also tag someone else in it and get them engaged as well.

Getting lots of comments, repins, and likes quickly is the best way to get a pin to show up on the Popular tab of the main page and show up higher in the Pinterest search results, so you want to do everything you can to encourage interaction with your pins.

Make sure that all your pins go back to the original source of the image and not to a Google images page or to a blog homepage that will be updated and no longer relevant once the image falls below the most recent content.

When you create your boards, give them good descriptions and categorize them for the highest chance of getting extra exposure to them.

Share your pins on Facebook and Twitter

Pinterest automatically integrates with Facebook and Twitter, so get more exposure for your pins by also sharing them on Facebook and Twitter.

Getting more traffic to your blog using Pinterest

So how do you get people to start pinning your content so that you can get a piece of this traffic that you’ve heard so much about? Here are several things you can do to encourage people to pin your stuff.

Put an image in every single post you write

Pinterest is all about images. No image = no one pins your stuff. I know that it’s annoying to have to take the extra time to add images, but if you want Pinterest traffic, you have to do it.

I have found that Dreamstime has a decent selection of free commercial-use stock images that you can use, and you can always scour Flickr and other sites for images that have a Creative Commons usage license attached to them. I’ve found that these sites take a lot longer to sort through and often throw up low-quality images.

So what kind of images work best?

Beautiful, eye-catching images that are bright and appeal to emotions tend to do better than other images. Many of the popular pins are simply cute animals, particularly puppies.

Adding text to your images can increase engagement several times over. I personally like to add the name of my blog title to my image to encourage people to click through and see what it’s about. This both increases engagement and helps you to attract people who will click through to read the content. I suggest using Adobe Photoshop Elements or Gimp (which is a free download) to put text on your images.

Simple text-only quotes also work extremely well. Short words with few syllables and simple and understandable quotes do best.

This mini-tutorial image that summarizes a longer more-detailed post about how to shoot Christmas tree lights has been pinned over 35,000 times in less than two months and incorporates images, text, and valuable content that gets shared like crazy on Pinterest. This is an example of why I believe Pinterest is more valuable than a single link share from a big blog.

How to shoot christmas tree lights

Image used with permission

Still want more ideas about how to make sharable images for Pinterest? See this three-step guide to creating Pinterest-friendly graphics for your blog.

Put Pin it links in your captions

If you’ve updated to WordPress 3.4 or higher, you can now put links in your captions. Use the Pin it button creator to get the link you need to insert a Pin it button into your captions.

There are also Pinterest plugins that will do this for you automatically. I’ll list some of them in the tools section below.

Pin your landing pages

By sending people to your landing pages, you’ll help retain some of the traffic you get from Pinterest—and you can guide them through your sales or content funnel. This tends to help retain readers more effectively than through traffic to random pages that may not convert readers to followers as easily.

Use infographics

If you’ve got statistics to share, infographics are very popular on Pinterest. Infogr.am is a great free tool for making your own infographics that look amazing.

Protect your copyrighted images and graphics

If you are a photographer or graphic designer, add a watermark to any images you post on your site. This way, people will know the source of the image even if a pinner doesn’t link directly to the place you’ve posted it on your website.

If you do not want people to pin content from your website at all, you can add the following code to the header section of your site. It prevents people from pinning images from your site:

<meta name="pinterest" content="nopin">

You can put this on specific pages or posts or apply it to your entire site. While this will protect your images, you’ll lose out on huge potential for traffic and exposure if you do, so I do not recommend it.

Add Pin it buttons to your posts

Adding Pin it buttons to your posts makes it easy for readers to pin your content. You can use the free Pin it button creator to make each button individually, or use one of the plugins listed below to add it automatically—and make things easier on yourself.

Make it easy for people to follow you on Pinterest

Get your own “Follow me on Pinterest” button in the Goodies section of Pinterest. Put this in your sidebar, on your about page, and anywhere else you’d like to invite people to follow you. Here’s what one of them looks like:

Follow me button

You can also grab the URLs from your boards and link to them directly so that people can follow the boards that are most relevant to them.

Pinterest tools

Here’s a list of various Pinterest tools that you may find helpful.

  • Pin Count: See the pin count for a specific page or post on your blog. Just enter your URL.
  • See recent pins from your site: Want to see what people are pinning from your site in general? Go to www.Pinterest.com/source/yourdomain.com/ to see. For example, to see what people are pinning on ProBlogger you’d type in http://pinterest.com/source/problogger.net It doesn’t show you everything, but it will show you several recent pins if they exist.
  • Pinerly: Track your pins to see which perform the best and which of your boards and pins are most popular. The Pinerly Blog is also one of my favorite places to get information about what works best on Pinterest.
  • PinReach: This service gives you a Pinterest influence score similar to an Alexa ranking for your blog, as well as showing you most popular pins, your most influential followers, and other interesting information such as currently trending pins and users.
  • DIY Pinterest Analytics: If you’re super-geeky (like me) or want a very detailed way of tracking the ROI of your Pinterest campaigns, this three-part series will give you a great method for tracking the effectiveness of your pins. It’s not for the faint of heart when it comes to statistics! Most useful to people in corporate social media managing roles where you have to justify the usefulness of Pinterest to your business.
  • Pinterest “Pin It” Button Plugin: This is a free WordPress plugin that lets you select the default image and description to be displayed or let people select their own image. Lots of options that make this a great choice for bloggers. This is the plugin that I found works best on my marketing blog for photographers.
  • Pinterest WordPress Plugin by Tofurious: This Premium WordPress plugin automatically adds a Pin it button under every image in your posts and gives you the option to exclude specific images. It allows you to create a custom Pin it button (good for matching your current branding and creating direct calls to action) and allows you to insert a button at the top or bottom of posts as desired. It’s recommended for photographers, designers, food bloggers, DIY bloggers, and anyone with image-heavy content. Current price: $25.
  • Pretty Pinterest Pins Plugin: This one’s a free WordPress plugin that allows you to display your most recent pins in your sidebar as large pins. Can be filtered to only show pins from a certain category, and gives you the option to add a Follow Me button as well.
  • Pinterest RSS Widget Plugin: This free WordPress plugin allows you to display your most recent pins in your sidebar as small icons arranged in a grid. They can be filtered to show only pins from a certain category.
  • Wisestamp: Add a Follow me on Pinterest link, and links to other social media accounts at the end of your emails with this free tool.
  • Infogr.am: This service lets you create really great-looking infographics with ease, and is free.
  • Share as Image: Pin any quote as an image using this tool. There’s a simple free version, or a premium version for $6.99. It’s not necessary if you have photoshop or any other program that lets you create an image from text, but it’s handy and easy to use if you don’t have that capability.
  • Pinterest RSS Feed Direct Links: You can follow any Pinterest user using the following link: http://pinterest.com/jamiemswanson/feed.rss where you’d substitute jamiemswanson for the username you’d want to follow. You can also follow specific boards using the following URL (where you’d replace jamiemswanson with the username and blogging-resources for the board name you want to follow): http://pinterest.com/jamiemswanson/blogging-resources.rss

If you’re nerdy enough (and I say that in a loving way!) you could get creative with how you display pins on your site using the RSS feeds, but it’s easier to use one of the plugins above to do that for you if you’re not too picky.

So … does it work?

Yes. Yes it does.

Remember the post I mentioned earlier that has been pinned over 11,500 times and has made me over five figures of income alone on my young blog? Here’s exactly what happened.

The pinned post explains why I switched from delivering images to clients on DVDs to Flash Drives. That’s not super exciting, but it’s a solid post that explains my decision and addresses several hesitations that I know people have about switching over. It also contains an affiliate link to the company where I purchase my flash drives.

One of the hesitations I knew photographers would have was how to package them before sending them to their clients. So I took a few photos of my packaging to use as images in the post.

I used a few images in the post, but created a separate image that was tall, contained them all, and had the name of my post at the bottom of it. Tall images get more space in the Pinterest page, and the text told people that this was more than just images of packaging for flash drives.

I used the Pinterest “Pin It” Button plugin setting that let me select a custom default image (the tall Pinterest-optimized image I’d created) that people would pin when they clicked the Pin it button, instead of using the single images that were found in the post. While not everyone used those buttons to pin, many people did.

The image spread like wildfire on Pinterest. I got my highest day of traffic ever the day that post went live, and it came primarily from Pinterest.

Not only that, but the network continues to get me an average of over 300 pageviews per day—months later without any extra promotion from me. It’s almost entirely because of Pinterest pins. This results in constant income month after month simply from the extended exposure.

A link from a high-profile blog might get you a huge spike in traffic for a week or so, but I’ve never seen a link bring the long-term traffic that Pinterest can bring.

Have you tried Pinterest?

I want to hear your stories. Have you tried Pinterest, or are you still hesitating? If you’ve taken the plunge, which posts on your blog have received the most exposure from Pinterest? Why do you think they’ve been so successful? What hasn’t worked for you at all? Tell me about it below in the comments and let’s really dig in and share with each other.

But first, take a few seconds to pin this post and give ProBlogger a bit of a Pinterest boost. Let’s make 2013 the year of Pinterest for bloggers!

Contributing author Jamie M Swanson writes meaty posts about online marketing for photographers with easy-to-understand steps for totally rocking your business over at The Modern Tog. She is a Wisconsin Wedding Photographer who dreams of owning lots of land where her family can run and play and she can garden to her heart’s content.

Triple Your Facebook Likes in Two Weeks

This guest post is by Samuel of Internet Dreams.

Would you like some more cake after having a first slice?

Most of us wouldn’t be satisfied with just one slice of cake, so we end going back to the table and grabbing a second one. Heck, some of us would go for a third or fourth slice if we could!

For bloggers, the same goes for likes on Facebook. Facebook is like that party you want to go to—and it’s a big one since Facebook is the largest social network on the planet.

Most blog owners I know would love to get more likes on their Facebook pages.

Today, I want to share how I tripled my Facebook likes. This technique worked to help me get the Likes I wanted to see.

The right way to use Facebook ads to gain Likes

This technique is going to require some money, but it’s a small investment that’s worth every penny.

I’m a student that really doesn’t have much money at all.

But still, I can find a way to make the right investment for my blog. Just a small outlay—in my case, $5 a day—can propel your blog to new heights.

It helped me get thousands of new Likes for my Facebook page in a few weeks!

Let’s step through the best way to create an ad quickly, and use Facebook to target the people who are most likely to be interested in your blog.

4 Easy steps to tripling your Facebook Likes

Step 1. Create a new ad space in Facebook

First off, log into your Facebook account, look for the Ads option in the sidebar.

Create a new ad, and insert the URL to your Facebook page.

1. Choose the Get More Page Likes option

As you can see in the image below, there are several options you can take in order to grow your brand’s presence on Facebook.

get-more-page-likes

But for our purposes today, choose the first option. This can be one of the best ways to spend your money on Facebook!

2. Design your Facebook ad

edit-ad

This part needs to be well thought out, so take your time with it. Your ad is what all of those users will see—it needs to convince them to like your page.

Make the ad unique—something that will make users want to Like or check out your Facebook page. Consider your audience, and think about a message that will make them feel good about your brand or page.

I used the tagline “Want Your Dreams To Come True On The Internet?” It’s worked really well for me and has gotten the attention of many on Facebook.

3. Optimize your ad for the “right” people

choose-audience

What we want to do here is target the right people and get the most targeted Likes that we can.

Your topic or type of Facebook page might be different then what I chose, but take a look to see how each area is edited to best target my audience.

The arrows in the image above point out the most important areas that you need to edit.

Go over your blog and identify the most important keywords that you can use for the ad. Those keywords will be turned into topics that can be used as interest keywords.

Also, I like to target English-speaking countries since they seem the most responsive to my offers and updates.

4. Set up your money and budget for the ad

campaign-pricing

How much you spend is up to you. If you are looking to triple your likes in the shortest time possible, add as much money as you can to the campaign budget.

I personally started with a budget of $5 per day, which gave me a chance to see if the ad was performing at its best.

Also, set your pricing to Cost per Click, as this keeps it simple and ensured you’re only charged for user actions.

The $5-per-day budget has really worked for me, and let me triple my likes for Internet Dream’s Facebook page. Plus, I was able to do that very quickly and gather such an amazing amount of targeted likes.

Step 2. Network and connect

Of course, don’t forget good old networking and connecting as the most organic, and cost-effective way of encouraging others to check out your Facebook page.

Building real relationships is the deepest way to give other users a good impression of yourself. Have friendly conversations with the people you connect with on Facebook, and offer to help with your answers to their questions. Once you’ve done that, you can suggest the person Like your page

Here’s an example of a message I use on Facebook after I have connected with someone:

facebook-connection-thankyou-message

As you can see, I thank them for connecting with me, which encourages them to feel good about themselves and our connection.

I also direct them to my Facebook page and invited them to Like it, since people are more inclined to act if you ask them to.

There are many ways to connect on Facebook, and some of the situations you may face now could give you the change to gain a nice Facebook Like. Here are a few examples:

  • email conversions
  • commenting
  • Twitter conversation
  • Facebook profile status
  • Facebook friendship connection “Like the example above”
  • any form of conversation with a human being on the other side of the screen!

Step 3. Add a “Please like this blog on Facebook” CTA to your blog

If users land on your blog, they should appreciate it if it has a usable design and offers great content.

The main focal point of any blog is the article. This is your chance to rack up some free Likes.

At the beginning or end of the article, include a linked CTA to Like your Facebook page. Make it stand out, so it’s clearly visible to the eyes scanning your article.

Also placing your Like CTA in the sidebar will make it visible all of the time, no matter where the visitor is on your blog.

Internetdreams facebook like box

This makes the Like CTA persistent, even though it is not as effective as the CTA in the article. I made the mistake of placing the CTA too low in the sidebar, and just recently bumped it up, which has given me more Likes.

4. Use plugins to help you generate Likes more easily

There are several plugins that can help you get Likes for your Facebook page. Some are paid, but some are free for you to use.

One technique I use for my blog that helps me get likes is through the Thank You for Commenting page that I set up for my blog, which is shown below. This is a fine way to connect with those new users who have just commented on your blog. Asking them to like your Facebook page on your Thank You page can be a great way to get an extra Like.

Internetdreams thankyou page

As you can see, I ask users to follow or Like Internet Dreams on Twitter and Facebook.

A great plugin to use in this situation is the Comment Redirect plugin by Yoast. This free plugin will help you redirect your commenter to the right page after they comment—you’ll need to make sure to set up the Thank You for Commenting page like mine above.

Some other plugins I’ve found helpful for getting more Likes include:

Who wouldn’t like more Likes?

In this post, I have shown you some of the techniques I’ve used to rack up some new Likes.

I have found these methods to be the most rewarding, and I’ve worked really hard on each of them to fully enjoy the benefits they provide. The results are reflected in the title of this post—but only through the hard work I have put in order to receive those results.

I cannot guarantee the same results for you, since this largely depends how much work you are willing to put in. But I can promise you that with the hard work you put in through these four steps, the results will come.

What are some ways you get more Facebook Likes? Share them with us in the comments.

Want to reach higher goals with these top wordpress plugins? Maybe learn how to get more followers? I am Samuel and I own Internet Dreams. Internet Dreams is a place where you can engage and learn how to set up and succeed with your blog or site.

What Content Works Where? Smarter Traffic (and Revenue) Building Through Social Media

Every time we publish a post on social media here at ProBlogger, readers comment that social media takes so much time—how can they get smarter about it?

Girl using computer

Image courtesy pictureYouth, licensed under Creative Commons

Today I wanted to give you a quick way to get a better handle on your social media activities, in about five minutes, using nothing more than your site stats (I’m using Google Analytics).

You don’t need to get any software or be using a certain tool to share your content. This is just a short, quick technique that anyone can use—social media newbie or superstar.

Is your social media “working”?

First, let’s look at the question we’re trying to answer here. Most of us want to know that we’re getting some return on investment on social media, but we also want to improve our work within each network, so that our communications are more targeted, and our returns keep improving.

So the broad question, “Is social media really working for me?” or “Is it worth my time?” are probably better refined to:

  • How much traffic am I getting from social media?
  • What’s that doing for my bottom line?
  • How can I improve on those figures?

That first question is very easily answered; any stats package will tell you how many unique visitors and pageveiws your blog is getting through social channels. It’ll also tell you what percentage of your traffic overall comes from those sources.

You can easily extrapolate that to an actual (if approximate) ROI provided you have an idea of the value you get from, say, each ad impression on your blog. Divide that by the number of hours you spend each month or week on social media and you’ll know exactly how much money you’re making for your time right now. It’ll be harder to track the ongoing, growing value of that time expenditure in less tangible terms, like what it’s doing for authority-building within your niche. But this is a start.

Similarly, if you have a special promotion you’ve been plugging through social media, you should be able to track how much traffic it’s sending to your landing page. And if it’s a dedicated landing page for social media traffic, you’ll be able to clearly see how well that traffic’s converting.

But what about the last question: How can I improve those figures?

The answer lies in looking a little more closely at what, specifically, is pulling the traffic through from each network.

An analysis

If you’re not sure how your social networks are performing when it comes to generating traffic, you might be surprised to look at your stats. Here are the most popular URLs on ProBlogger for the last month, for Twitter:

  1. 40 Cool Things to Do with Your Posts After You Hit Publish
  2. Ramit Sethi Exposed: How He Earns Millions Blogging
  3. Neil Patel’s Guide to Writing Popular Blog Posts
  4. Grow Your Blog Business: The Earn Millions in Your Flip-flops Framework [Case Study]
  5. How to Make $30,000 a Year Blogging.

And here are the most popular for Facebook:

  1. 15 Bloggers to Watch in 2013
  2. 40 Cool Things to Do with Your Posts After You Hit Publish
  3. Are You Wasting Time Guest Posting?
  4. Can You REALLY Make Money Blogging? 7 Things I Know About Making Money from Blogging
  5. 20 Linkbaiting Techniques.

What stands out to me here, above all else, is the potential for older content (like that last post in the Facebook list, which was from 2006!) to get traffic through reshares.

Obviously, with all your stats at your fingertips, you can go much further than the top five, but this snapshot gives a fairly clear picture of the differences between the content that appeals to the users of different networks.

Even at a glance, we might make some hypotheses based on these results:

  • Twitter users in this space prefer case studies and personal advice that comes with a sense of authority.
  • Facebook users in this space like list posts.
  • The most popular topics on Twitter seem to be about making money blogging.
  • The most popular topics on Facebook are about blog promotion techniques.

So of course, the next step is to test those hypotheses. I could go back into the stats archive to see if those statements are true over, say, the last six months. And I could test those statements using articles I have queued up for the next week or month.

There seems to be a bit of a dichotomy between headlines that work well on each network, so I could try different headlines on different types of posts and see how that goes. But it’s also important to remember that reshares aren’t just about headlines—they’re also about content.

So rather than just coming up with some great direct, list-style headlines for list posts in an effort to boost traffic from Facebook, I could see try other types of headlines on some list posts, and see how they perform on that network. In this way I can narrow down how important the headline is on each social network, as well as which types of content are likely to do well.

What next?

As I mentioned, this kind of analysis doesn’t take long—a five-minute review once a week (or, more likely for me, once a month!) will give me the information I need.

This information can help me shape my content to attract more users from each network, but it can also help me to devise information products or offers that best suit each network’s users. This can, again, help me optimize clickthroughs and conversions from those sources.

The more I get to know the data over time, the more effectively I can communicate to users of each network about things that interest them, and in ways that impact them. This can help me to build broad rapport but also to do market research, make valuable relationships, and more.

Not bad for a five-minute review! Of course, there’s a lot more you can do around social media tracking and assessment. But as I explained at the outset of this post, I wanted to show all those bloggers who think social media takes too much time that getting quantitative answers about the return on that investment isn’t hard or time-consuming.

And neither is making use of that information to make your social networking even more productive.

What sorts of social media traffic and revenue tracking do you do? Let us know in the comments.

How Embedded Social News Grew My Content, Traffic, and Engagement, and Saves Me Time [Case Study]

This guest post is by Brian Lippey of Guitar Shop TV.

Every blogger wants to offer the best content to his or her audience.

With Guitar Shop TV (GSTV), I set out to create an online community for passionate guitar fans and music lovers around the world.  My goal was to offer the best guitar-related content to my audience.

To achieve this, the GSTV team has filmed over 200 hours of original online TV content. We update our blog regularly—with everything from live performances and backstage interviews, to commentary on upcoming album releases and the latest guitar gear. We tweet. We post on Facebook. We even have an on-site guitar shop.

But audiences today have a large appetite for content! With over 100 million guitarists and countless guitar music fans in the world, it’s important that our content’s fresh, entertaining and timely. Guitar news happens fast, making it difficult to churn out blog posts on everything out there.

Our audience is also very vocal about guitar-related content, as is evident on our Facebook page.

As creator of GSTV, I was looking for a social news platform that could deliver top guitar content from across the Web directly to our blog and allow users to participate on a social level. We want to engage music enthusiasts, not talk at them.

Our research led us to new social platform, ROCKZi.

A social news platform

ROCKZi is a social news platform that helps us deliver a fun community experience and share relevant content with our users. Unlike other social platforms that draw your readers to their networks, with this one, the traffic is directed to my blog, which gave me increased opportunities to attract more music fans and expand our community.

The platform lets you customize the content so that it really speaks to your blog’s audience. It let us pick a news category that was relevant specifically to our blog. For most websites, a category probably already exists, but if not, you can create one yourself.

Easy to install

We literally embedded the platform on our News page in three easy steps.

I was relived I didn’t need a developer to completely redesign our website—we had it up and running on our blog in about five minutes. The platform allowed us to alter the appearance of the content, so it fit nicely on our news page and matched our web design.

The platform in action

Since embedding the platform in August, we have seen traffic to the site increase by 25%. The average time spent on the page has also increased by four minutes.

Our readers started to come back to our site more often to educate themselves on guitar-related news that had been shared by otehrs in our community. And when they are on our site scanning the headlines, they do more than just read.

The platform comes pre-loaded with social tools that let readers post comments on stories, vote the best stories to the top, or submit their own stories they’ve discovered on the Web about the latest musicians or guitar gear.

So you can see what I mean when I say that this tool gives our site more than just good content.

It’s adding a social experience to the site that is bringing readers back more often to engage with other readers around content our audience cares most about.

We’re getting more traffic than Sturgis in August! And readers can pin, post, Facebook or tweet stories right from the page on our site, allowing them to feel more like a part of the community.

All the interactions between your users and the content that’s shared on your site (votes, shares, comments, etc.) will generate direct links through their social networks that will point directly back to your blog.

Do you use a social news tool on your blog? Have you tried ROCKZi? Share your experiences with us in the comments.

Founder Brian Lippey has a background that combines music and business. In Guitar Shop TV, Brian combines his passion for and knowledge of guitars with his strong business acumen.