Welcome to the Marketing in the Wild podcast. I’m Julia from Stratos Creative Marketing, where we are obsessed with finding real-life examples of the good, the bad, and sometimes wild, in marketing.
Julia: I have gotten a lot of questions over the years about Pinterest, and I have zero answers. So we brought on Cali today to talk to us about Pinterest. Before we get into the details, tell us about you, your name, where you live, your business, all the things.
Cali: Thank you for having me on. I am Cali, as you said, and I am the owner of the Halcyon Hive. A lot of people cannot pronounce that one. The Halcyon Hive is my very small little marketing agency that focuses exclusively on Pinterest marketing, at least right now, it does. I am in the Midwest in St. Paul, Minnesota area. I think I started in 2018. Previously to this career, I was in retail management. I worked for Target, Macy’s, and some smaller retails in my previous career, like a decade worth of that. During that career, I ended up getting married, and had two kids, and was finding that working nights, weekends, holidays, and missing out on all the fun family stuff was not so fun. So I decided to hang up that career and start something from scratch, which growing up, I said I would never be an entrepreneur. There’s too much stress. Here we are. But my sister, as Julia knows, and maybe some of your listeners too, Angela, off Saffron Avenue, she is a web designer. She’s had her business for well over a decade now, and she’s the one that pushed me to do this. She’s like, “Cali, you can do this. You won’t regret it.”
I made that leap in 2018, leaving Target. Scariest decision in my life, but the best. The timing too, happening before the pandemic, getting out of retail, that was really nice.
Julia: No kidding! I worked retail for a while, and it is like a whole different blogging. People think it’s just a job, but it is exhausting.
Cali: Super exhausting. Yes. It’s very, not only physically exhausting, running around everywhere, but mentally, especially when you’re in leadership roles, being the one that has to resolve conflicts with customers and so on. So it was a lot. And not to say that being an entrepreneur isn’t stressful, because it is.
Julia: It’s a different kind of stress. And I think there’s something when you choose the stress, for better, for worse. As business owners, we’re choosing the stress rather than having it thrust upon us.
Cali: Yeah. And we have the freedom and flexibility to take a break, step away. Like, “Okay, I’m just gonna go and run some errands right now, and I’m gonna step away from my computer.”
Julia: How did you choose Pinterest, of all the things?
Cali: Exactly. Starting out, Angela, my sister, was my first client. She was like, “You can come in, and why don’t you help me do my social media?” Because I’ve always had an interest in marketing. I had my own Instagram and stuff that I was trying to start. I was gonna do a blog. I’m a terrible writer, so that just never happened. I was like, “That’s where I’ll start.” But I decided to hop into social media and learn the marketing side of it all, and so I took over. She had a Pinterest account to start with, and obviously her Instagram, and Facebook and all that. I dug in there, and really learned a lot. Besides, I also took some courses and did some training stuff. I learned really quickly that I didn’t love doing Instagram for someone else. It didn’t feel authentic for me. I’m terrible at my own Instagram marketing, if anyone’s gone on mine, they’ll see I never post. I’m working on that. But Pinterest, now that was an area that I was like, “This is good. There’s a lot here.”
Julia: What do you like about it?
Cali: I used it personally when I first came out, and loved it then, because I’m such a visual person. As I started to learn about the marketing side of it, and how the algorithm works, and just the potential to get new people to your products and website and everything, it was fascinating to me. The amount of information that I was learning, and knowing other businesses weren’t utilizing this yet, I figured let’s niche this way down to focus just on Pinterest, because there’s so much information to share and teach and help people with, and it’s constantly evolving. As we know, Pinterest is changing all the time, so it keeps me on my toes. That’s how I niched down to Pinterest exclusively, because it keeps me busy.
Julia: It’s a really cool platform. My husband invests poorly, everybody. He doesn’t do a great job. Don’t follow him.
Julia: It’s a hobby. It’s a glorified hobby. It’s so mad, he always tells me about all the money he could have made.
Cali: I wonder what money we are making.
Julia: He’s invested in Pinterest, so he follows the news. I just saw this week that a new API conversion is coming out, which is cool.
Cali: Yes. I was literally just researching it today. I was reaching out to my Pinterest contacts, just to see what more information they could get to me.
Julia: Let’s talk about that, and let’s save it for a little bit later, because I’m curious about your thoughts. Let’s start basic, what makes a really good pin? What makes a really bad pin?
Cali: Well, you got to think of the big picture on Pinterest. So if you’re a marketer, you’re a business using Pinterest to attract people, you wanna think about what’s gonna stop the scroll, as they say on social media. What’s gonna catch that user’s eye, not only visually but the content that you’re sharing. Pinterest is a platform that is focused on inspiration, obviously more recently shopping. They’re really ramping up e-commerce and shopping on there, and also education and learning. People go to Pinterest to learn how to do things and whatnot. So if you can create content for your audience that aligns with those, then on top of that, creating a beautiful pin that’s eye-catching, stands out, maybe you use animation or video on it to catch the eye as someone is scrolling. Because some people, they’re browsing or whatever, they’re going really fast through it, you wanna be able to pop out. So I always recommend to people, when I’m creating pins, to do a search for whatever keyword is that you’re creating this content for, and look at the aesthetic of all the pins and see how you can stand out. So use the keywords that you’re seeing, but if you see a lot of really light and airy content visually, try a dark pin. Do a dark overlay on an image with some white text on it. You’ll notice that those pins tend to get more engagement than pins that look all the same.
Certain industries, you’ll notice they all use similar colors. And right now, it’s a lot of neutrals. We’re seeing a lot of neutrals. So think about what pops of accent colors you can pop in there that just catch the eye. So the content, obviously, that’s how it’s gonna be shown as far as the algorithm goes, like what are people searching for, so the keywords that you’re using, and then obviously, the pin design plays a big factor.
Julia: That leads me to my next question, do you have to have content rolling out all the time?
Cali: Not necessarily. No. Because as a business owner, I’m sure many of us have a hard time staying on top of our blogs, and content, and all of that. You may have really great content, but you’re not pumping it out every week. Maybe it’s once a month or, in my case, a couple times a year. But you don’t have to just use blog content, you can share it. Say you have a little bigger picture, and maybe you’ve created some TikTok videos, if you’re on that, or you’ve created reels, or YouTube videos, think about those other areas you’ve created content for, and use that for pins. You can send it. It doesn’t have to just be pinned to your website, you could pin content that links to other social platforms to help drive traffic that way. Obviously, the best way is to drive it to your website, because that’s your client domain, and you can get better analytics. But you can link your Instagram – at least I used to be able to. It’s been a while since I’ve set up an account with that. I think YouTube, as well. So with that, you could see in the analytics when someone clicks on one of those pins that links off to those social platforms, so you could see the types of engagement they get.
Julia: Yeah. I think that’s one of the biggest obstacles that I hear about, is people are like, “Well, I’m not producing a blog a week, so how am I gonna do pins?” To be fair, I’ve also thought the same thing, because I don’t know anything about Pinterest.
Cali: Exactly. Some other options then would be to just create fresh pins, some new pin designs for existing content that you already have, because even though it’s the same URL that it’s linking back to, if it’s like a new image, a new pin design, Pinterest will see that as a fresh pin, so you can always create. Especially if you have a blog post that performs really well, or if there’s something that’s trending on Pinterest or seasonal content, go back and create some fresh new pins. Test out different things with it, try and animate a video pin or a carousel pin. There’s a bunch of formats you can try out. Or idea pins, I don’t know if you’re familiar with idea pins.
Julia: No. Tell me about those.
Cali: This is also a great thing if you don’t have content to link to. Idea pins are unique in a way that you can’t put a URL on them. They stay on Pinterest, but they get more reach and more engagement than your regular pins. You can treat them almost like a micro blog post. It’s basically like a slide of pins. They used to be called story pins, because it was similar to Instagram stories or it was like a series, except they don’t expire. They don’t disappear at the end of the day. But they’re great for creating inspiration content, little how-tos. If you use the Pinterest app, you can just record it, like a TikTok video or Instagram, you could just record it right through the app, really quick in the moment. They have different editing features like text, and music, and stickers and stuff, so you can make it fancy.
Julia: That’s awesome.
Cali: Those are really great. What I love about them – well, it’s love-hate, I guess. I love that you don’t have to create a big piece of content on your website in order to make these idea pins. The downside is, because there’s no link on them, people can’t click off them to go to your site, you might do the call to action that says, Follow Me on Pinterest Story, Get More Information on Instagram, or Click the Link in My Bio to go to my website. So there’s ways you can get people off there, but it’s not as direct.
Julia: That’s fascinating. We talk a lot about content repurposing, and I could see that being huge. Even if you had one blog post a month, you could make several different pins with the link, but then you could even take some of the tips from your blog post, and make them into idea pins.
Cali: Exactly. Another thing I like to do is use some of the other content-type resources on Pinterest. There’s a tool on there, if you have a business account, go under your analytics, it’s called trends. Trends.pinterest.com is the URL to get to it. https://trends.pinterest.com/. It’s a great tool that you could see what is currently trending on Pinterest, and that’s a great way too, to see – obviously, Halloween we’re close to that now. We’re almost past the Halloween trend now on Pinterest, because people search early. You can go on there and see specifically in your industry, you wanna look at your interests and look and see what’s trending, and just create something based on what’s trending, because it’s already being searched, and then you’re just riding that wave.
Julia: Right. I could even see it working the opposite way. If you created a couple idea pins and they were performing really well, then you could actually create more content on that.
Cali: Exactly. Definitely.
Julia: That’s a little bit about how Pinterest could intersect with email and social media. How do you see Pinterest helping your clients grow their social platforms or their email list?
Cali: This is one of my favorite things to do with Pinterest marketing, is creating a Pinterest funnel basically. Pinterest is going to be at the top of the funnel, you’re gonna be attracting people who’ve never heard of you. Pinterest is great because the people who search on Pinterest aren’t searching brands. So 97% of searches on Pinterest are unbranded. So they’re just gonna search web design templates or something, or website templates. When they find you, one of the things that I always recommend to my clients when I’m running campaigns for people is to create an opt-in funnel. So you have a freebie, maybe you have a super awesome valuable freebie, have it on a landing page on your website. Don’t make a landing page in your email provider like MailChimp or Flodesk or any of those, have it on your site and just do the embed form. Create pins that showcase this freebie you have. So the pin links to the landing page, you get them on your email list and then you can start to nurture them.
People love free stuff, so it’s a great way to get people on your list there. Plus these are really great funnels to promote. You could throw 20 bucks a day or something on it, and push it out to people who are searching for keywords and interests to get a little extra boost to it. And then of course, you can always go back in and do retargeting stuff, but that’s a little more advanced to the ad stuff. You can also do the same thing with your social media; create pins that link to old Instagram posts that you have that maybe performed really great, but now it’s been buried. Create a pin and link to that. Make sure you get the URL of that post and not just your Instagram page, because you don’t want people searching for it. But that’s another thing, is to drive people to your Instagram and then use that call to action; follow me on there.
Julia: What I really like is it seems like Pinterest can almost help complete this circle of this connection between all of these other marketing tools. I don’t know your thoughts on this. I haven’t heard it recently, but especially four to five years ago, a lot of people were saying Pinterest is not social media, it’s more of a searching platform.
Cali: Exactly. Yeah.
Julia: And so, using it as how you might put Google ads up or things like that, thinking about it differently than social media, I think can only help as you’re building your business or your other marketing.
Cali: Exactly. Pinterest has tried to fit into the social media bucket with using likes and engagements on pins, and comments; you can comment on pins, but people, they don’t use it like that. And say with followers on Pinterest, I noticed this when I talked to other clients and stuff, there’s still an emphasis of people wanting to get followers on Pinterest to grow their account with followers. Pinterest doesn’t work like that with followers. They’re a search and discovery, they’re SEO-based. So people might search for a keyword, see one of your pins, click on it, love it, go to your website, do something, but they never follow you. They’re not gonna hit follow based on this one pin. You may get some followers if they’re seeing your content a lot, but again, it’s not the goal. So it’s an inspiration, like I said. It’s that top of the funnel. But what’s cool about Pinterest is it can actually be full funnel. You can do inspiration, like prospecting, get new people, people to you, but since they’ve engaged with your content on Pinterest or clicked off to your website and so on, basically, that algorithm works just like it does on Instagram; you’ll start seeing more content from that person you’re engaging with.
So they may now see something else that you share later on somewhere on Pinterest and be like, “Oh, yeah. I did wanna buy that.” And then they actually can go and click a product, go to your site and check out if they want it. So there’s a full, from cold audience to retargeting those warm audiences.
Julia: Let’s talk about e-commerce. It is something that is not new-new, but it wasn’t part of the original Pinterest, back when I first started a long time ago. Are you seeing good results with that?
Cali: Yeah. Actually, most of my clients I work with now have an e-commerce aspect to their business. So they may be service providers, but they offer a digital product, whether it’s a course, or templates, or something like that. I love working with those businesses. I’ve had clients too that are just Shopify physical product sellers too. If you’re on Shopify, you’re like the cream of the crop for e-commerce on Pinterest because you get the most integrations. I sent out an email today to my list about Shopify’s hosted checkouts on Pinterest, so basically, your product catalog on Pinterest that’s being pulled from your Shopify store. If someone clicks on one of those product pins, right within the Pinterest app, you can select your customizations and hit checkout, and it’ll integrate with your shopping. It all goes to Shopify, but you don’t even have to leave the app on Pinterest. So it really streamlines and removes any roadblocks to that conversion. But for people who aren’t on Shopify, like myself and a lot of other digital product creators, you can still leverage these shopping tools.
So I’ve set up catalogs so people can get the shop tab and become verified merchants. You’ll get that little blue check, you get little perks to that, like more reach on their product pins, there’s more promoted pin campaigns that you can use, there’s shopping campaigns and so on. So I definitely recommend, if you’re a service provider, create some small digital products because you can really use that to make some passive income on Pinterest.
Julia: That’s a good industry to keep in mind, e-commerce. What are some other really great industries that you see good success for, in Pinterest?
Cali: Yeah. Obviously, the big ones would be home decor, people searching for inspiration on design, all the way through shopping for products for their home. I don’t work with a lot of bloggers who blogging is their business, but I know in the past, the blogging industries, the food and the home decor, health and wellness, all of those were really big. But I feel like based on what I’ve seen in different threads and forums and stuff, that they’re seeing reduced traffic from Pinterest, and that’s because there’s more emphasis on this e-commerce. My advice to those folks would be to create some small products and really lean into this e-commerce side. You can really tag things in your blog posts and create product pins and stuff. But no matter what industry you’re in, you know the big ones on Pinterest, like the home decor and health and stuff, but I work with a lot of designers, like web design, graphic design, photographer, service-based businesses, and you could still see success. Your audience will be smaller than the platform, but there’s people there searching for your content.
Julia: I think that’s where even the trends.pinterest.com can be really helpful, because even if you’re in an industry that might not be as popular per se, if you’re following some of the trends, you might still get a lot of traffic.
Julia: All right. Ads, conversion. Tell me what you learned about the API conversion.
Cali: I was just digging into it, so I don’t have a lot of info on it yet. It’s all new. The big thing about it, taking a step back, when running ads or when you wanna run ads on Pinterest or any platform, you need to set up your tracking tags, like your Facebook pixel or the Pinterest tag and so on. As we’ve been seeing these past few years, and as we know going on, all the privacy things that are changing on Google, and Facebook, and all of that, those cookies, those tracking cookies are being limited a lot, and so it’s harder to create these audiences to target to. And so, probably in the next couple of years, there’s not gonna be those tracking cookies. Your tags aren’t gonna be able to work, so you need these APIs, which I’m still learning, this is very developer-type stuff.
Julia: Also, everybody, at the time of the recording, this is October. I don’t know when this is coming out, and so we may have a lot more information.
Cali: Definitely. But the goal is to be able to switch over to this Pinterest API. I know other platforms have APIs, and like I said, I’m not a very techy developer stuff, I know very little about that, so I can’t speak to specific details. But basically, it’s the solution for when these cookies and tracking tags no longer work for advertising and stuff. It’ll measure those engagements and things, and be able to share that information with Pinterest in a more privacy protected way, I guess.
Julia: Right. What I love about it is that for the average consumer, it’s gonna mean that we see the things we wanna see, and that we don’t see the things that we don’t wanna see. Like when I go to Pinterest, please don’t show me any cars. I don’t wanna see them.
Julia: But other people in my life, that’s why they go on Pinterest. And so, I think that that’s where it’s helpful for the consumer. For the business owner, it can help us really know, what kind of ROI am I doing? Because otherwise, once the tracking goes away, it’s gonna be really hard to say, “Well, this sale came from this place.”
Cali: Exactly. That’s another thing too, that right now, it’s a little bit hard to measure. Pinterest uses a multi-touch attribution, meaning someone may find you on Pinterest, they see your stuff, they learn about it, whatever, and then they go on their way, and a week later, maybe they run into one of your Instagram ads, or Google, or something like that, and they buy from that point. Now, that platform will take last touch attribution. That platform will say, hey, I got this conversion, this is from me. But Pinterest looks at the big picture, they say, “But wait, you were first discovered on Pinterest.” Pinterest, in their own tracking platform – so you won’t see this on your Google Analytics – but on Pinterest conversion analytics, you’ll see view-through conversion. So if they just saw a pin and later on purchased within whatever your attribution window is, like 30 days or whatever, then Pinterest will show, hey, there was a checkout. Not necessarily they clicked and went and bought, but they interacted with your content in that time period.
Julia: I love that. Because I feel like Pinterest is seeing this bigger picture of what marketing really is. People will say, “Oh, somebody has to hear about you 12 times before they make a purchase.” Who knows how many times that actually is? We do a lot of organic social media, and it’s really hard to have attribution with organic social media, because it’s like, did they come into your door? Did they come into your shop first or did they find you on Instagram first? Who knows? And so, I love that they’re creating this bigger picture of like, hey, actually, marketing all works together, and you need all of these pieces.
Cali: Exactly. That’s what I really love about Pinterest too, is being able to see. Sometimes it’s hard to explain that to clients, because they’ll see in their Shopify or on their Google analytics, if they have e-commerce set up, they’ll see that last touch basically, attribution; like which ones were bringing in the conversions. But then I’ll be showing them the reports on Pinterest, and I’ll be like, “Hey, from your organic pins, from not promoting anything, you made like 5,000 in income this month.” And it’s like, hey, that’s really cool. But in order to see those conversion insights organically on Pinterest, you do need to have the API or the tag set up right now.
Julia: That’s really good to know. Thoughts on Pinterest ads. Have they helped your clients? Tell me about that. Are you seeing better results with organic, or does it depend?
Cali: You can get really great results organically, but it takes a lot of time. So you need to be consistent, pinning activity on there, creating content. And depending on how established your account is and how big your audience is, and the reach of those pins, it could take months to see actual conversions and stuff. The nice thing about the promoted pins and the ad campaigns is it just gives it a boost. And when you’re comparing Pinterest ads to Meta, Facebook ads, Instagram, and other ones, Pinterest ads can be less expensive. Obviously, the more you put into it, the bigger you can go, but when you’re looking at your cost per click, your CPC and your cost per acquisitions, and things like that, you can tend to get a lower number. If you’re running a campaign to, like that freebie to get those email signups, you can get that CPA for the sign up, so basically, what you’re paying to get signups, you can get that, a dollar per sign up. I’ve gotten it down super low for people, and it depends on the industry too. But that’s phenomenal, to be able to pay 25 bucks a day or something and get 25 emails.
So if you’re planning on launching something, or you have something coming up and you wanna grow your email list, do that sign up campaign. That’s the other thing too with Pinterest, organic takes a long time. Pinterest ads, you can’t do a quick one-week ad and see success. It takes time for it to optimize. So if you’re gonna run a campaign, don’t do less than a month. I would do four weeks minimum. Three months would be optimal because then you could really see those optimizations. And even better, if you have an evergreen funnel or something, just to run a low budget campaign for the year, always let it go, and then pop in and check if you need to make any tweaks. I manage ads, but Pinterest themselves, they have ad people who can help you out if you’re running ads on your own and you have questions. Obviously, you do have to take it with a grain of salt because they have Pinterest’s best interest in mind, so a lot of times it’s like, increase your budget, you’ll do better. Whereas working with an independent contractor on ads, we’re trying to get you the lowest cost for the highest return.
Julia: That’s awesome. Last question before we sign off. If someone was just getting started on Pinterest, where would you tell them to start?
Cali: When you first start, or maybe you have a Pinterest account, but you’re switching it over to business, you’re starting out your marketing journey on Pinterest, you really need to optimize your account so that you’re attracting the right people. For example, I’m just gonna use the web design client or whatever. If you’re a web designer and you wanna track people to buy your website templates or as design clients, don’t have boards that are your recipe boards that you’re gonna make for dinner or things like that, home decor boards. Because anything that you have on your account is telling the Pinterest algorithm, this is the content she’s sharing, these are the people who are gonna be interested. And so, they’re gonna show those pins, and you’re gonna get an audience of people who – obviously recipe and home decor pins have a higher engagement than maybe a design pin does. So you’re gonna get a bigger audience for those pins than your content you really want to. You can just move things to secret, so you can still use those boards, but make sure you’re creating content specifically for the audience you wanna attract.
You can use tools like the audience insights tools. That’s one of the analytics tools on a business account. You could see where your audience is at right now, what they’re interested in, the majority of your audience, and then you could see what other interests that you can grow to attract the right people. So when I’m saying optimizing your account, that means hiding those boards that aren’t relevant to your audience, creating new boards that are, and then actively pinning to them or creating content. But keywords, do some keyword research and write on Pinterest, and see what other boards do your competitors have, or what words are they using for the web design example that I have. Are they saying, website template or are they saying website design template, or something, or WordPress template? Look at those words that people are using so you can utilize that. And then obviously, on your profile on Pinterest, optimizing your little bio section so people know, or Pinterest knows even, it’ll give them information about your account too, but what it is you do, and who’s your audience, and how you can help them.
Julia: Yeah. For sure. One of my favorite things about Pinterest is this idea – I don’t know how to talk about it, other than cross pollination. We are a social media company, we don’t do home decor design. But say that’s showing up in the trends, how could I create something that would cross pollinate with that? Do I have a client who does home decor? Could we do a case study about it? Could we do like a portfolio? Things like that where it’s not saying like, Julia at Stratos does home design, but I’m borrowing from that trend to boost my own thing.
Cali: Exactly. That’s where that trends tool really comes in handy too, to see search volume and what’s trending right now. It’s, how can you create pins or create content that could pull in something that’s trending, but not literal stuff?
Julia: Yeah. I think even with what you were mentioning, like keyword search, you might come across some of those things.
Cali: Yeah. The word aesthetic is a big one. People use aesthetics everywhere in social media. But if you’re creating marketing templates, title them something like boho aesthetic. People would love that, but it’s still for marketing.
Julia: For sure. That’s fascinating. It really means we just have to have our creative brains going.
Cali: Yeah. Think bigger, out of the box, kind of stuff.
Julia: This is awesome. Cali, I appreciate you coming and joining and answering our questions. If people wanna connect with you, where can they find you?
Cali: I am, like I said, not super active on socials, but if I get a DM or something, I’ll pop in. But I’m on Instagram, and Pinterest, and Facebook, which I hardly ever go on, at @halcyonhive for all of them. (Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thehalcyonhive/, Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/thehalcyonhive/, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thehalcyonhive/) My website too, thehalcyonhive.com. https://thehalcyonhive.com/ I don’t know if you’ll have show notes, but you can add that stuff in there. You can always reach out there. I have a blog with some information. I do have a freebie for people getting started. It’s a three-day email mini course to help you optimize and set up your account. So each day, it breaks down like, first, here’s how you do keyword research, here’s how you optimize your boards. So it’s kind of a guide to help get you set up. I have a couple other freebies and things on my website as well. I do have a couple digital products as well as my services. I’m working on others, hopefully I’ll get them out here.
Julia: She’s practicing what she’s preaching, just saying. She’s got some digital products. Cali, we’ll put all of that in the show notes, including your freebie, which I’m excited to dive in myself. Thank you for joining us. We really appreciate it.
Cali: Thank you so much for having me.
Julia: Friends, thanks for tuning into this week’s podcast episode. I am so glad that you have, if you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have, I just ask you to subscribe so you know each time we have a new episode coming out. If you loved our podcast and want to give us a rating or a review, I promise we will read each and every one of them. A special shout out to our friend, Carson Childers, who is producing our podcast. We really appreciate him and all the hard work that he’s done for us.
Also, thanks to the Stratos team. They have been behind the scenes doing all of the graphic design, brainstorming, et cetera, et cetera. Really, this wouldn’t be possible without them. I’m thankful for each and every one of you guys. Lastly, listener, we’ll be back next week and I hope you will be too.