I know I’ve been remiss by not posting here in a good while. Sorry about that! It’s definitely not for lack of motivation or desire. Something at work has taken a huge amount of my focus and blown me off track temporarily.

At first I wasn’t going to post about it. After all, it’s my other job – nothing directly related to writing. But then ….

The place I work is very small, which has some definite advantages. There’s more flexibility, for instance. Also, I get the opportunity to do things I probably wouldn’t have experience with otherwise. And you never know when some knowledge you pick up along the way could be useful in your writing.

Of course, taking on projects with no experience is a double-edged sword. Getting to work on projects outside my bailiwick can be loads of fun. Especially if I find I have a heretofore undiscovered knack for the new assignment. On the other hand, there’s no guarantee the unexpected task will be fun, interesting, or something I might be competent at. LOL

My latest duty, unfortunately, has me chasing my tail. Seriously! I do think, however, it may ultimately be helpful as a potentially self-published author. Although even traditionally published authors are doing more and more beyond the writing these days. Anyway, the assignment I’m struggling with is manager of the Pinterest account.

Please understand, I’m not a Luddite. I have personal social media accounts. Heck, WordPress is a type of social media. And I’m not confused about the Pinterest basics. Well, not after some quick research. Ha! I totally get that Pinterest is a visual search engine with social media features such as follows, followers, likes, etc. Not literal likes, but saves or repins by a user to one of their own boards.

Using it for a business, however, is different than using it for personal purposes. A business needs more than impressions, clicks and saves, which are the main measures of success in a personal account. A business needs click-throughs. Getting people to click through is not as simple as some suggest it is.

Although I’m obviously no Pinterest expert, let me step back and share the basics for those who may be unfamiliar with the platform – as I was before this whirlwind came my way.

Pinterest calls a user’s posts “pins.” When a user publishes a pin, they must assign it to a board. Boards are roughly analogous to subjects of interest. For instance, if I were to start a Pinterest account for this blog, I’d have boards titled Writing, Writing Process, Fantasy Books, etc. Basically, using boards, the member creates a filing system to help the Pinterest algorithm understand the pins being posted. That then allows Pinterest to share your pins with other users interested in the same kinds of things. And vice versa.

Each pin must have some type of visual media associated. While you can post many sizes of images and videos, the system has very specific preferences. The most favored format for a pin (at this time) is an image with a 2:3 ratio. Mostly, that translates to pins and videos that are 1000 pixels wide by 1500 pixels tall. That wasn’t a problem for me on the image side of things. I’ve worked enough with graphics programs that getting still images into the right format wasn’t difficult. Video, on the other hand, was not as easy a task. I’m not a videographer!

About now, you’re probably thinking my company should just bring in a consultant. Yes, yes, yes! Unfortunately, that isn’t in the budget. So, I continue trudging up the Pinterest learning curve like Sisyphus with his boulder.

There are helpers out there – websites, apps – that can assist you in putting a pin together in the right format and provide additional resources such as font choices and stock media. Thank goodness for that! There’s a whole ecosystem out there to support Pinterest pinning.

Regarding those images, the system is sensitive to the quality of your pics and videos. Pinterest wants pretty pictures, clear and NEW images. They aren’t draconian in their insistence on new images. It’s possible to reuse a particular pin and it’s image(s) a few times. Nonetheless, brand new images are favored by the algorithm. What does that mean? In a nutshell, it appears the system will share a pin with a new image/video more often and to more users than a pin with a repeated picture.

Here I should mention the different types of pins. The basic pin is just that: it consists of one image which may or may not have text on it. When you create almost any pin, you have the opportunity to create a title for it, a description, and include a clickable link. Be aware, however, that using a link you don’t own means the website owner has the option to fill the description with their preferred text.

After the basic pin is the carousel pin. A carousel consists of multiple images that users can shuffle through. Again, you have title, description and link slots. You also have the option to change the description text with each image.

Beyond the carousel is the video pin. Pinterest has specific requirements for their video pins – format, codex, file size, length, etc. I don’t have them memorized – yet. I believe the videos can be anywhere from 4 seconds to 15 minutes in length. Don’t quote me. Again, they prefer the 2:3 but will accept 1:1 and other display ratios. Audio is accepted, perhaps preferred, but not required since many users look at their Pinterest feeds with the sound off.

Finally there is the idea pin. The purpose of an idea pin is to help users find answers to questions. [And probably to keep users on the Pinterest platform longer.] For instance, an idea pin might show – briefly – how to make a grilled salad. Or you might find an idea pin showing users how to make paper flowers. Since I’m not long into this experience, I haven’t yet spent time researching these idea pins. I certainly haven’t created one yet. Probably because I’m so busy learning, I don’t have the time for ideas. LOL It seems, however, they can be a mix of media types – video and pictures – as well as just video or just pictures. They used to be called story pins, but I think that was a misnomer. If they were true story pins, short story and flash fiction authors would have a heyday!

There are Pinterest ad pins as well. I haven’t even begun to dig into those yet. No doubt I’ll get there. They’re reportedly cheaper than ads on other social media platforms.

In the algorithm, the system preference for pins and the associated accounts increases from basic to idea pin. What I mean is that when you post basic pins, the system is happy. When you post a carousel pin, the system gets a bit happier and even shares some of your basic pins more widely (impressions). When you post a video pin, the algorithm starts to get excited about you and your pins. Thus, you see even more pin impressions. I’m told an idea pin is most highly prized by the Pinterest system right now. Of course, I can’t speak to that yet.

The nuances of the system don’t stop there. Pinterest also expects you to be interested in other users’ pins, saving some of them to your own boards. I assume that must be the case since they keep sending me other people’s pins to consider. In the old days of Pinterest, I’m told, you could get away with mostly repinning other people’s content. That’s no longer the case. They’re looking for users to provide mainly fresh, new content but not completely ignore others. They want all their users to have impression, click, save and click-through opportunities, after all.

There are yet additional criteria that affect how the Pinterest algorithm sees your account and treats your pins. Board descriptions must be written and profile information filled in, etc.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention scheduling pins and pinning frequency. First, you can schedule up to 100 pins, I believe, in the Pinterest system. You can do that directly on Pinterest or you can use a scheduling app. Officially recognized schedulers may even help keep your account within the Pinterest best practices guidelines – for a fee, of course. Anyway, based on the information I’ve gleaned from several Pinterest gurus, the system likes regular pinning and regular activity by a user (reviewing your feed and such). Different folks will tell you different things, and Pinterest doesn’t spell it out specifically. I suppose they don’t want to inhibit their users. One expert says a daily upload of 5-15 pins will keep the system happy and more than 50 pins a day is probably too much. Fifty pins a day!!! I’m exhausted just typing those words. Ha!

So, perhaps you can see why I’ve gotten off track here. I will get back on the rails, though. In the meantime, while still reeling from the new assignment, I’m a little glad. Understanding Pinterest may well be something I’ll want or need once I’m at the publishing stage – whichever route I take.

Are you a denizen of the Pinterest boards? Do you use Pinterest to share about your writing? I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts and experiences.

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