Recently I was invited to begin using Pinterest’s “Promoted Pins” program in conjunction with my clipart business. The invitation came directly from Pinterest sometime after their beta testing ended (if you’re interested in signing up, there’s a waiting list you’ll want to get on). I was happy to receive the invite because ever since Pinterest updated their algorithm, I’ve seen a dramatic drop in follows and re-pins. I was intrigued by the opportunity to have my pins served to a larger, yet more targeted audience. Anything to get a leg up was welcomed news, especially considering that Pinterest is the biggest draw to lead buyers to my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
How it Works
Promoted pins show up in a user’s newsfeed just like regular pins with one little exception: they include a line stating that the pin has been promoted by that particular company. Unlike Facebook where ads for companies stand out more garishly against a backdrop of personal content from friends and family, promoted pins blend in with the rest of a user’s feed, making re-pins and click-throughs feel more natural on the user’s end. The content for these promoted pins are delivered to people who share similar interests such as a sports fanatic being delivered content about health, fitness, and nutrition. To be clear: it’s not as though someone whose boards are primarily about teaching would be seeing pins related to automobile maintenance. These promoted pins work in tandem with carefully selected keywords. More on that in a moment.
On the business end of things, signing up is relatively easy to do. They require some basic information such as name, address, and a major credit card to set up an account. Once registered, each business is given access to a “promoted pins” page which tracks total impressions, re-pins, clicks, individual campaigns, and such. The layout of the page is clean and simple, very much like Pinterest itself. Unlike Facebook which has so many pages of analytics (that truthfully, I’m not all too sure on), the promoted pins page on Pinterest is easy to navigate.
How to Promote a Pin
1. Click on the “Promote” button at the top of the screen.
2. The “Pick A Pin” page loads up for you to select a pin you’ve already pinned anywhere on Pinterest (including collaborative boards). From here, you can choose to search through “all pins,” “30-day most clicked,” or “30-day most re-pinned.” You also have the option of searching by keyword or URL.
4. On the “Add More Details” page, you’ll refine the pin to enhance its performance through placement targeting, selecting an audience, and deciding on cost-per-click (CPC) campaign details. Let’s start by looking at keywords for your pin.
I’ve selected a product I created for art teachers. It’s a roll-a-dice game based on Pablo Picasso. Pinterest gives four suggestions for me to begin determining appropriate keywords: art history, Pablo Picasso, history, and oil pastels. It offers these terms based on the text in the pin’s description, URL, and image name. When terms are added (which I will show you in a moment), the estimated weekly impressions number will rise (see the star in the image below) and that term will be added to the list of terms in the far right panel.
When you type in a term (or click on one of the suggested terms), a scrollable list of additional suggested terms becomes available. You can click on and off each term to see it’s impact on your estimated weekly impressions number.
Just like with selecting keywords to use in your TPT product listings, you want to consider both broad and narrow keyword targets. For example, I went ahead and selected the following keywords for this:
- Pablo Picasso
- Painting – This bumped me up from less than 5k to 78k
- Art Projects – 80k bump
- Pablo Picasso Art – 2k
- Elementary Art – 6k
- Sub Plans Art – 1k
- Sub Plans – 1k
- Third Grade – 10k
- Fourth GRade – 9k
- Fifth Grade – 1k
- Spain – 9k
- Artist – 4k
- Art – 136k
- Arts and crafts for kids – 60k
- Art ideas – 21k
- Education – 29k
- Homeschool – 12k
- Homeschooling – 4k
I ended up with an estimated weekly impression rate of 463k.
5. Jumping down to “Audience,” Pinterest gives you the ability to tailor your promoted pin according to a specific location. This is more in line with people promoting pins for a brick and mortar store like a restaurant. This doesn’t benefit my business, so I skipped over it. The next section asks you to select a language. I went ahead and said, “English (United States)” and “English (United Kingdom).” After that you have the option to select a specific device or devices that the pin would be seen on. Since my pin isn’t device-specific, I didn’t select anything here. The default for not selecting anything is “all devices” which is what I want. And lastly, you have the choice of selecting a specific gender or even “unknown.” Again, I left it at the default setting since my product is for people of both genders.
6. Next, choose a maximum cost-per-click (CPC) price for your promoted pin. Since you’re only paying for clicks-throughs to your designated URL (your TPT page, presumably, or maybe your own website), you will only be charged when people click your promoted pin and wind up on your “destination URL” page. The maximum CPC bid price is important because other businesses who might be utilizing the very same keywords you’ve chosen will have their chance to have their promoted pin show up in searches. So, you’re basically vying for your pin to show in up before those other businesses based on the cost for every click you set. In the same way that two people trying to win an auction will continue to push up the cost of the item they’re trying to win, if you set a higher price for the click, you’ll likely have your pin come in ahead of others. You might decide that a single click is only worth .50 cents to you, or perhaps it’s worth as much as $2.00. It’s really up to you. I went with .50 cents for my Pablo Picasso game.
7. At this point, you’re probably wondering, “Well, what if I decide that one single click is worth $2.00 but I only have $10 to spend today? And what if 20 people see my promoted pin, loves it, and clicks over? Am I stuck paying $40 for all those clicks when I can only spend $10 a day?” Simply put: no. If we jump ahead to the bottom of the page, you’ll see you can set a daily campaign budget.
Once your budget for the day has been maxed out, your promoted pin will no longer be served to other pinners until the next day. And now you’re wondering how many days this will go on for, right? That’s up to you. You can set your own start and end dates. I decided that I was going to run my campaign for 7 days and that I wouldn’t spend more than $2.00 a day doing it (because I have 16 other campaigns I’m testing out, otherwise I would have considered a higher price-point).
8. Lastly, you need to come up with a name for your campaign so you can track it. For the purposes of my promoted pin, I decided to call it by the name of my product, since I felt that would help eliminate confusion.
When you’ve filled in all the pertinent information, click the “Promote this Pin” button and your pin will be sent for review before being placed in the pool of other promoted pins. A new page will appear which shows you the specifics of your new campaign. You can check your campaign’s status on this page, too. Yellow, bolded text means it’s still pending review. Green means it’s approved.
And to see all of your campaigns in a snapshot, simply click on the “Promoted Pins” tab in the top, left column. You can also get back to this page from your Pinterest page simply by clicking the gear under your store’s name and selecting “Promoted Pins.”
Promoted Pin Pitfalls
When I first set out to promote some pins, it was mere days before the Teachers Are Heroes sitewide sale. I thought, “Ohhhh, this’ll be great! My pins will be approved quickly and I’ll have all of these promoted pins floating around when everyone else is online promoting their things, too. My pins will be seen by lots of people!”
No such luck.
First of all, the approval process is painstakingly slow right now. Pinterest clearly doesn’t have enough people to review all these pins. I’ve found the turnaround time can vary but has never been less than several hours at best. If you’re going to set up pins, be ahead of the game and get your pins lined up in advance of a big sale or storewide event you’re running.
As for approvals, my first 6 attempts at promoting pins flunked for a host of reasons. All of the following are meant to help you not fall into the same traps I did unknowingly:
- Excessive hashtags are a no-no. After a couple attempts, I’ve learned that no more than one hashtag in your pin is acceptable. Their reasoning: “Hashtags do not function on Pinterest the way they do on other platforms, and they tend to make Pins look like banner ads.” And fixing this was a huge pain. I thought I could simply go to my boards, find the pin, and edit it. It turns out that when I had original searched for the pin, Pinterest was plucking it off of a collaborative board. I wound up having to open a new tab, search for my pin, and edit every pin that popped up that was for my game in the hopes that one of them was the offender.
- Promotional material pins aren’t allowed. I have made an ad for the Teachers Are Superheroes sale and wanted to use it as a promoted pin. Nope! Forget about advertising a sale specifically. Their reasoning: “We do not allow ads with promotional information in the Pin image because Pins last forever. Long after your sale is over, someone might click on your Pin and expect it to still be on sale.”
- Improper grammar: The description in a few of my pins included some text that had more than one exclamation mark (yep!). As a teacher, I just had to chuckle over this. Their reasoning: “It looks like your Pin has improper grammar (such as excessive capitalization) or excessive symbology (such as multiple exclamation points). We want Promoted Pins to be tasteful, and improper grammar and lots of symbology make your pin look like a banner ad.” So be prepared teachers because Pinterest is taking a red pen to your pins!
Despite the pitfalls, I’m happy to be testing out Pinterest as a means of advertising. I think it lends itself better to teacher-authors who are striving to reach as many teachers as possible.
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