A reader asked me this week how you make a pin go viral.
If followers have nothing to do with a pin going viral, what does?
The funny thing about viral pins is they’re often caused by Pinterest users with very few followers.
At first, my reaction was that you can’t make something go viral, there’s an element of luck. But, then I got to thinking about some of my established blogger friends… they KNOW when they publish a post that it will be popular on Pinterest.
What does it take to go viral?
First, what is ‘viral’?
For most people, it means ‘a lot more visitors in a day than what I usually get’.
On Pinterest, that means you’re getting lots of saves and clicks.
Saves = engagement.
Clicks = traffic and engagement.
The more engagement you get, the more Pinterest likes your pins and shows them to people.
It’s the golden circle of Pinterest love.
Really, the question shouldn’t be ‘how do I go viral?’ it should be:
How do I get more engagement on my pins?
Here’s the answer in 9 steps.
1. Your Blog Is In A Niche That’s Popular On Pinterest
I agonized over my niche as a newbie blogger. Some of my more crazy ideas: should I make a site about marionettes? Babywearing? How to run a vehicle detailing business?
I didn’t even think to look at what was popular on Pinterest.
But you should.
The more popular your niche on Pinterest, the bigger your potential audience and likelihood that you’ll succeed.
Here are some of the biggest niches:
- Health and fitness
- Home décor
- Making money
- Personal finance
- Frugal living
- Beauty and fashion
Those are pretty broad niches. Chances are your blog might fall into one of them already. If it doesn’t, do some research on Pinterest and see if you can find popular blogs in your niche represented. If there’s no one… you might’ve picked a niche that doesn’t have huge traffic potential on Pinterest.
Notice, I didn’t include blogging about blogging. It’s actually a pretty hard slog to get decent traffic from Pinterest in this niche. An ordinary mom blog (about kids, babies or parenting) has oodles more traffic potential than a blog about blogging.
2. Write a post Pinterest users want to read
If there’s one thing that will change the course of your blogging journey it’s this one.
If you want to be a successful blogger, stop writing posts about your day.
No one cares. (They only care about their day, and how you can improve it.)
Stop writing posts about what you think your audience might like to know or need to know.
No, that’s way too time consuming.
Get on over to Pinterest and actually look at the posts that appear in your feed (and in search if you want to see what content Pinterest is ranking).
What are they about?
Here’s my home feed from my mom life blog:
- Lots of list posts and numbers – list posts will always be popular. Our brains love the specificity of a headline that promises us ‘x ways’.
- Lots of power words and emotive language: pain, sabotage, hacks. According to CoSchedule, posts with more emotional headlines get more shares than those that are less emotional.
- Headlines that show a specific benefit or takeaway for the reader. These posts are all about getting prepared, things to do to solve a problem, how to succeed at something, or hacks to make something easier.
- Large text with accents – notice how some of the pins use a different font, font size, or color to accent the most important words? If you’re doing this, just make sure you’re accenting the important words!
3. Write a Compelling Headline
Writing headlines is a skill – you need to work it to get better at it. Here’s how to do it:
- Study good headlines. If something makes you click on it, ask yourself why? Why’d you click it?
- Use headline templates, at least until you get the feel for what makes a good headline. Jon Morrow of Smart Blogger has an excellent free download called Headline Hacks that you can get to help you with this.
- Use the CoSchedule Analyzer to test your headlines before you use them.
- Write many headlines (5+) for every post. Choose the best one (or use several on different pin images and see how they go.)
4. Design an attractive and clearly readable pin
If you don’t think you have design skills… well there are plenty of templates out there for you to use. I even have some for you (for free).
When you design your pin you MUST remember that at least half, if not more, of your traffic is coming from the Pinterest mobile app.
You can check this for yourself right now if you want. Head over to your Google Analytics, scroll down the Home dashboard and take a look at Sessions by Device.
My mobile traffic is waaaay on the low side for this site. But, that’s pretty reasonable given a lot of my blogging friends will be at their desk or laptop when they’re reading my blog.
My mom blog? It’s around 90% mobile.
What’s that mean?
Design for mobile first.
- You want to take up as much vertical real estate as possible.
- Your text needs to be BIG (HUGE) – have you looked at how your pins appear on mobile recently? They’re pretty tiny on a tiny screen.
- Your pin must be instantly readable – no small text, excessively frilly fonts, or low contrast colors.
Here are some guidelines for creating your pins:
- Your pin must be the right size: Pinterest suggests 600 x 900px or square images, but you can make your pins up to 600 x 1200 and they still seem to do well.
- Pins tend to do best if they are light, bright, and warm coloured.
- Make your text interesting: change the sizes, colors and fonts to highlight important words.
- Use a semi-opaque or opaque overlay to make your text readable against a stock photo.
Read more: Where to Get Free Stock Photos for Your Pins
5. Do keyword research and use those keywords in your pin description (also add hashtags)
Pinterest is not a social media site. It’s a search engine.
That means you need to use keywords to get your content found.
How do you know what keywords to use? You do research, using Pinterest itself.
Here’s how to do it:
- Type your topic into the search bar (go pretty broad for this first step, one or two words).
- Take note of any suggestions Pinterest offers you, you may like to change tack or add these into your keywords.
- Pinterest will show you tiles with keywords you can use to refine your initial search. Click these to get deeper and find long tail keywords.
Use these keywords when writing your post description. For a detailed guide to Pinterest SEO for 2018, check out my guest post over at Persuasion Nation.
6. Tech Stuff
There’s a couple of tech boxes you need to check before you’re ready to work on sending a pin viral:
- You need to have rich pins. Learn how to set them up here (it’s easy!)
- You should have the ‘Pin It’ button installed on your site.
- Use Social Warfare to set your pin description. Or, use the alt text of your image.
It’s also a good idea to have an email opt-in set up to capture new subscribers. Create an attractive freebie to offer that relates to your post topic so your new visitors might also end up sticking around afterwards!
7. Initial Pinning Strategy
This is where most guides will tell you to pin your pin to your main blog board then pin it to your other boards immediately.
Stop doing this now.
With the latest updates to the Pinterest Best Practices guide, you don’t want to do that and here’s why:
Pinterest takes into account keywords and relevance of the boards your pins are pinned to.
Your main blog board? Well, depending on how broad your blog categories are it could include everything from blogging tips to pumpkin bread recipes to how to get great deals on travel.
If you really want a pin to go viral, you need to leverage EVERYTHING you possibly can, especially for a new pin.
That’s why I suggest you start your pinning like this:
- Pin your new pin to your most relevant personal board. Why a personal board? Because it’s more likely to be a better quality board when it comes to keywords and relevance.
- Then you want to grab that pin into Tailwind and schedule it to your other relevant personal boards and later to relevant group boards.
If your content is seasonal, make sure you start early – around 45 days out!
8. Use Tailwind Tribes to push the pin.
Tribes can be really helpful for boosting a new pin… especially for new bloggers.
(So long as you have great content and nice-looking pins.)
Tribes are collaborative groups on Tailwind that allow you to submit your own content for sharing by others and to get a source of good content to pin yourself.
If you’ve just started a Tailwind Plus account, you get 30 submissions per month to use with Tribes. You can also join up to 5 Tribes before you need to upgrade with a Power Up.
9. Just keep pinning, just keep pinning!
A lot of bloggers pin their content once and that’s it.
Or they pin it once to all their boards and call it good.
Don’t do that.
You need to keep pinning! If you want to give a pin the best chance of taking off you need to work at it!
What that looks like:
- Using Tailwind to keep a queue full of pins going out onto Pinterest (both yours and others).
- Use Smart Loop (new Tailwind feature) to keep your pins looping through your boards.
- Using a manual pinning strategy like this one or this one to keep your best pins going out every day.
Ready, Set, Go (Viral)!
There’s a lot that goes into making a pin go viral: it starts with blog topic and content. Then your headline and design, and finally your Pinterest optimization and strategy.
But, you know what? It gets easier the more you do it. That’s why the big bloggers ‘just know’ when something is going to do well for them on Pinterest. Now you can too!
Did you enjoy this post? I’d love for you to share it with your audience on Pinterest or Facebook. There’s someone else out there who really needs to read this!