Pinterest: Friend or Foe to the Blogosphere?
When I first started blogging, my goal was the same as everyone else. I wanted to draw in readers and create a loyal audience. I scoured the Internet for advice on how to do this and the articles all preached the same thing: Market yourself. Experts said you must spend at least as much time visiting other sites, commenting on other blogs, and getting your name out there as you do on the actual writing. If you don't network, you may write amazing content but no one but your Mom will ever read it. I have found this to be very true...until now.
What has changed? One word: Pinterest. It is estimated that Pinterest is the fastest-growing social media site ever, even including Facebook. Over the past few months, millions have signed up so they can join their friends in the "Pin" frenzy that is overtaking America. The demographic flocking to Pinterst is largely young adult women, searching for everything from wedding ideas to recipes, to crafts for adults and kids. Of course, bloggers who market to people outside this demographic have not been affected as much by Pinterest.
Before Pinterest exploded, people who start out blogging were often surprised by how long it took to build up readers. There are literally millions of bloggers out there, all trying to acquire loyal readers. The process of slowly winning one follower at a time can be pain-staking. Pinterest is changing all that and proving to be a marvelous gift for struggling bloggers. Crystal Underwood is a great example. Crystal is a Mom with tons of ideas on crafts and activities for kids. She started blogging at Growing a Jeweled Rose only a few months ago. When she first started, she struggled to get even 100 hits per day. Then she discovered Pinterest. Crystal reports that she recently received over 7000 hits in one day. She attributes this entirely to Pinterest. She focused on using graphics to create a "pinnable image" and suddenly thousands of people were flocking to her previously struggling blog. Without Pinterest, Crystal would have blogged about the same content, but only hundreds of people would have seen it.
However, Crystal is not working alone. The true power of Pinterest comes when bloggers collaborate together. Crystal is part of the Kid Blogger Network, which is a group of over 100 powerful Mom bloggers. These women have a collaborative board on Pinterest, which boasts over 12,000 followers. Without this collaborative board, Crystal would have probably gathered a few hundred Pinterest followers and it wouldn't have been nearly as effective for her. These collaborative Pinterest boards are popping up all over the place and they allow bloggers to work together in a way that was never possible through other social networking sites.
Not everyone has seen results like Crystal did, with an over 7000% increase in traffic, but out of the the 40 bloggers surveyed for this article, every single one reported that their traffic has at least doubled or tripled or more in the past few months and they attribute it to Pinterest.
Even established bloggers are seeing huge spikes in traffic. Deborah Stewart from Teach Preschool has been blogging for two years now and has built up an amazing group of loyal readers with a bounce rate of less than 65%. She has acquired close to 30,000 Facebook followers, which is something even many successful business owners haven't achieved yet. Yet even Deborah has noticed major change in the past few months. Prior to Pinterest, her site gained steady, healthy traffic every month, but from just December 2011 to February 2012, her traffic doubled. This is a sharp increase for an established site like Teach Preschool. In December, most of her traffic (aside from Google) came from Facebook. However, by February, Pinterest had become her highest referring site (again, aside from Google).
Despite these wonderful outcomes, some disturbing trends are beginning to emerge. Over a dozen bloggers interviewed for this article reported seeing a decrease in comments, which tend to indicate the level of reader participation. A few bloggers did report seeing more comments, but one thing is clear: the huge spike in traffic hasn't brought an equivalent number of comments. In fact, the ratio of comments to number of page views is significantly lower than it was a few months ago. This begs the question: Are viewers merely buzzing through Pinterest without really reading anything? Many would argue that the entire purpose of blogging is to create a loyal and engaged group of readers. If people aren't leaving comments, are they really engaged or merely glancing at ideas, like they would a magazine?
Maria from Mama Mia's Heart2Heart has noticed a drastic increase in traffic (over 1000% increase), but when asked if she has also seen a spike in comments she says, "It really saddens me because I don't get too many comments anymore. I see that the post is getting viewed and being pinned but not a whole lot of comments about it. Someone mentioned about the bounce rate going up and I've noticed that as well. I'm probably getting many first time visitors on my blog through Pinterest."
With Pinterest yielding such large results, many bloggers report that they are spending less time on social outlets like Twitter and Facebook, since they get much faster results from Pinterest. It is certainly makes logical sense to spend your time where get the most bang for your buck, but will ignoring traditional social media outlets eventually be a detriment to bloggers, especially newer ones? Continued on the next page