Not everyone likes being sociable on social media. Despite their popularity as “social media platforms,” Pinterest and Instagram are not known for encouraging deep and engaging conversations. I imagine that’s a good bit of their appeal; whereas Facebook and Twitter success depend on building relationships, this is somewhat less important on Pinterest and Instagram. It would, however, be a mistake to say that it is irrelevant.


First, it’s worth your while to sign up or convert your Pinterest account to a business account, if you plan to use it as part of your strategy to build an author platform. Having a business account gives you access to Pinterest Analytics. Your boards and pins won’t look any different – you’ll just see more information, such as:

  • How many people are re-pinning your pins;
  • Which pins are re-pinned most often;
  • Which of the pins from your website are most popular.


Even if you’re not totally jazzed by analytics, consider this: knowing what works and what doesn’t helps you to decide where to spend your limited time.

Profile and About Board

Pinterest doesn’t leave a lot of room to tell other pinners about yourself.


But you can create a board that gives people insight into who you are and what you’re about.

[pin_board url=”” size=”custom” image_width=”100″ board_width=”500″ board_height=”500″]

Tips for Creating Effective Pins

Include a link. Where do you want people to go? What do you want to build a link to? Don’t forget this opportunity – each pin can contain a link to your blog, a particular post, a social media profile, or your book.

Ideally, your image has visual appeal, but consider its appeal as a mirror. There is a narcissistic motivation to sharing – and none of us are completely immune. We share things that reflect how we see ourselves and how we want others to see us. Consider that when choosing pinnable images and writing descriptions.

Next, write a brief, but keyword-rich description with hashtags used like index entries. If you think that the text you add to a pin doesn’t matter, consider this. This pin, from 8 weeks ago, is my most popular. Can you believe it? That thing’s just ugly – it’s got no real visual appeal at all! But it includes the full text of the blog post where it appears. I don’t recommend doing that; in fact, it was an accident. But because it’s got so much text, it is also rich in keywords and it shows up in search results. It contains a hashtag. I’m not sure which aspect of this pin contributes most to its success, to be honest – the topic itself (blog automation), or the various features of the pin – but it would be a mistake not to give your pins every possible advantage when posting them.

According to 6 Tips for Writing Effective Pin Descriptions on Pinterest, pins having descriptions that are at least 300 characters long are more “repinnable.” Never “stuff” your posts, pins, or tweets with a bunch of irrelevant keywords just to try to trap viewers into clicking something that will lead to your website or blog. Do give them a reasonable number of meaningful keywords – and make them hashtags if the platform supports them. What’s the difference between keywords and hashtags? Nothing, really. But on platforms that support hashtags, preceding your keyword with the # symbol turns them into links, and clicking the links works like entering the keyword as a search term on the site. It’s really just a shortcut to search.

Include a call to action. It could be as simple as asking people to repin your pin or visit your blog. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. People are more likely to respond if you do.-

Pinterest is also described as a “visual search engine.” Pinterest consists of content curated, more or less effectively, by its users. If you find someone who pins things you like and enjoy, you’re more likely to Follow them on Pinterest, re-pin their pins, and even leave comments – or questions – on their boards. It makes sense they’ll do the same for you – so look for pins, and not just your own, that will appeal to your followers.

Tag other pinners, just as you do on Twitter: @username to draw their attention to a pin or engage them in conversation. Don’t overdo it; don’t be obnoxious. And don’t invoke people if you don’t want them to show up! Remember this?

What I said, earlier, about Pinterest not being sociable? Tagging others and leaving comments on their pins has another advantage: the element of surprise.


There’s a lot of hype out there about Instagram for business. I think Instagram is fun, and has some potential to increase people’s awareness of you, your books, your blog, or your brand. I don’t think it’s the best platform for increasing pageviews on your website, and it doesn’t support live linking – except for one link on your personal bio. Make that one link count.

What should you post to Instagram? Stunning photos; fun, action selfies; intriguing snaps; original artwork; original images with inspirational quotes; and book covers. Short video? Sparingly, if at all – I unfollowed a friend there for posting nothing but short, rambling video rants. That seems better suited to Vine or Periscope. Overly commercial pages are a turn-off, too.

You can – and should! – include up to 30 hashtags per post. This is how you get discovered on Instagram. If you don’t want to include them in the description for aesthetic reasons, then be sure to add them to the first comment. You will definitely get more Likes, Followers, and comments if you use relevant hashtags.

Don’t bother with links, unless they’re very short, memorable, and easy to type. Most people view Instagram on their mobile phone, and links are not live on Instagram. So they’ll need to take the extra step of jotting them down and typing them into their browser. Consider creating a “landing page” just for Instagram, and use that for your one live link on your Profile. I use my website’s main page – If you use an Instagram-specific landing page, you can include all the links you want – and expand your call to action now that you have engaged readers who have already chosen to click your one link for more information.

Do tag other Instagram users, especially if they pin similar things and share similar interests. The syntax is the same here as on Twitter and Pinterest: @username As with Pinterest, there’s an element of surprise – but it’s more common to tag others on Instagram than on Pinterest.

Your Turn

Give Pinterest and Instagram a try.

Do you find them easy to use? Are you having fun? Are they helping, do you think, in progressing towards your own personal goals?

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle, illustrated by Jordan Vinyard; A Puppy, Not a Guppy, illustrated by Ryan Shaw; and the newest release: A New Leaf for Lyle, illustrated by Carrie Salazar. She draws inspiration from her family, from her own childhood adventures (some of which only happened in her overactive imagination), and from readers both young and young-at-heart. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, J.J., whose love and encouragement make writing books twice the fun.


    • HollyJahangiri

      Hi, Janice! Everyone’s changing up their algorithms – Instagram, too. I guess it keeps giving bloggers new challenges and new posts to write, speculating on solutions to the “hits” they’ve taken with each change. 😉 Thanks for dropping by!
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…Pinterest and InstagramMy Profile

    • Holly

      Poor Mitch. Fighting hashtags is futile. But think of them as a live index token. And yes, on Instagram, they’re REQUIRED, it you want anyone but your current followers to see them.

  1. Karen

    Stopping in from A-Z. I LOVE Pinterest. My husband challenged me to actually finish all my pins. It has been fun…some work…some not so much. I do not dabble in Instagram unless my students show me something. Enjoyed your post.

    • HollyJahangiri

      Hi, Karen! Thank you for dropping by. 🙂 Why do you LOVE Pinterest? I’m kind of at that “I like Pinterest” stage – same with Instagram (I like it better now that it works seamlessly with my smartphone! It’s very clearly a mobile platform that grudgingly almost works on desktop, you know?) But since you spend time there, can you share any tips and what you love about it?

  2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

    I think the most important question about a social medium is Why?

    If you don’t enjoy the place for the social connections, spending time there is just one more form of work/advertising.

    And enjoying a place depends on how much of your life and time you are willing to spend on it.

    Everything takes more than I have, so I’m watching with a combination of fascination and horror how you keep listing more places to spend/waste time.

    And since the only call to action I have is ‘buy my book,’ it isn’t going to go well.

    I do the places where I’ve found kindred spirits who post interesting information – and talk back. But I’m way out in left field about being the right kind of participant for most of them.

    I’m fine with that. They won’t miss me.
    Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt recently posted…You like a writer’s style and voice – or you don’tMy Profile

    • HollyJahangiri

      Well, “buy my book” – by itself – is almost guaranteed to fail when it comes to social media. That’s something many brands are still struggling with (highly paid people with fancy marketing degrees struggle – maybe harder than the rest of us, sometimes, if that makes you feel any better). But I think you understand better than most – if you can’t enjoy the social interactions and don’t feel a particular platform makes sense for you, the most I’d suggest is to create a profile and use it to CLEARLY direct people to the places where you play and have fun. (I’d stake the claim and grab the name, in other words, then clearly funnel everyone where you really WANT them to be. “Buy my book” doesn’t work any better than a paid traditional ad, though, if you don’t build relationships – probably because your CUSTOMERS aren’t there TO buy your book. They’re on social media to enjoy time and conversation with friends, and to have fun. There’s ZERO motivation for them to do what you want them to do, if that’s the extent of your interaction.)

      I bought your book. 🙂

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

        Thank you! Hope you like it.

        I hadn’t thought about ‘claiming the name and the territory’ and redirecting.

        I will put it on the list, because it will take time – you need to do at least the minimum when you go to a new place. And I suspect people who like that place don’t think very much of those who hit and run, so the ROI would be very small.

        I have a Twitter account – every once in a great while I get a new follower there; I haven’t checked to see if they are real people – that would require expending a lot of energy in a medium I don’t know. My friend Julia Barrett retweets my posts (I hope it is automatic – she shouldn’t be spending any energy on it!).

        But many of those places give you NO exposure unless you are in the top few percent of active users (possibly in a subgroup – my name is familiar to those in the FB groups I join, because I participate).

        Too much like throwing breadcrumbs on the water with ducks nearby: consumed without a trace or a click or a recommendation.

        Get the flu (metaphorically). Take a month to recover because it is so bad and you are completely not yourself and utterly exhausted. Now try going to a new place every day, creating a profile, learning the never-similar controls, posting something, meeting the locals… You’ll see why I don’t.

        Not being negative – just realistic.
        Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt recently posted…Is literary fiction a category or a quality?My Profile


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