Pinterest and Instagram: Optimizing for Visual Social Media – #TypeACon 2013 Liveblog

Today’s last session seems a natural followup to the previous one. This is Pinterest and Instagram: Optimizing for Visual Social Media with Heather Durdil and Sonja Foust. So once I get a real camera and start taking better pictures, I hope to know how to better utilize Pinterest and Instagram as platforms!

Blog Photography for the Photographically Challenged

Sonja will be talking to us about Pinterest, while Heather will be talking to us about Instagram.

Why You Should Care About Pinterest

  • Pinterest accounts for 25% of retail referral traffic.
  • Pinterest referral traffic overtook Twitter referral traffic in March 2013.
  • Sonja’s personal referral traffic is a whopping 70% – 75% of whom are new visitors.

Optimizing Your Images for Pinterest

Size does matter. Maximum width is 736 px, minimum width is 200 px. Optimize first for your blog (Sonja uses 500 px) and then for Pinterest. If your image is under 200 px, they will add ugly bars on the side.

Aspect ratio is also important. Maximum aspect ratio is 1:3 (width:height) to show the whole image in the stream without being truncated. The ideal aspect ratio is 2:3.

You must have a Pin It button on your page. Because of copyright issues, many people won’t pin things without permission from the image owners. This is perfectly respectable. By having a Pin It button, you are granting permission for people to pin your posts. By using the button, you can also specify which image gets pinned. Use a plugin.

Watermark your images for your own protection. This will help people find the source of your image if it gets improperly pinned, and makes it harder for lazy thieves to steal your images.

Overlay text on your images to help tell the story behind the pictures. Strategize about that.

Name your image files descriptively. (NOT IMG_3514.jpg) Rename your image files something that makes sense, like “Veggie Dip.jpg” or something. Use your alt attributes when you post images on your blog, because sometimes this is the text that Pinterest uses when people pin from their browser.

In your Pin It plugin, write a snappy description, maximum 500 characters. Make sure the description is from the point of view of the pinner, not your own POV.

Pinterest just implemented new meta tags. They can fix all those problems like when people pin the wrong images from your site. You have to dig in and change the HTML for each and every image, but someone will probably go ahead and write a plugin for that soon…so keep it in mind. This is a very powerful tool that you’ll want to take advantage of.

Check out for more information about Pinterest meta tools and such.

Pinterest does have analytics built into it, but you need a business account. Google Analytics can be far more helpful though, and you can drill down into your referral data to see which pins your traffic is coming from. You can also check out:

You can also schedule pins by using:

Scheduling pins can sidestep pinning overload, and can help you out if you are generally on the site at a different time than your audience is.

Building community on Pinterest is not just about putting your stuff up in drive-by fashion.

  • Have well-organized boards with descriptive titles
  • Respond to comments, if appropriate. If someone asks you a question or if someone leaves you a compliment, it’s appropriate to respect. Don’t respond to haters.
  • Pin stuff you love. Don’t separate your pins into business and personal.
  • Always write your own descriptions when you repin. (Yes, I do this already.) Make sure the description is in your voice and makes sense coming from you.

Your Instagram Profile Must Haves

  • A short bio.
  • A link to your website. (Put it in the clickable field. Not as part of your bio.)
  • A photo of YOU. (Not your kid, your pet, or an awesome sunset.)

Let Your Photos Do the Talking

  • Get right up in the picture’s face. Move your body around when you need to.
  • Take different perspective shots. (As an example, she has her reflection two ways in silverware.)
  • Take pictures that tell stories.
  • Make your photos interesting to the eye.
  • Sometimes you just need to pull over to the side of the road, and you don’t need to use a filter at all.
  • Take lots of photos until you get the shot you want.
  • Photography is art. It’s objective. As long as an image resonates with you, that’s all that matters.

Editing, Posting, and More

Heather takes 95% of her pictures in the Instagram app. Instagram photos don’t have very high resolution, so make sure you save the original images.

Outside apps you can use to edit:

When posting a photo:

  • Include a short and sweet description
  • Use hashtags when appropriate, but don’t overtag
  • Don’t like your own photo
  • Send people to your blog by directing them to your link in your profile
  • Remember that your photos are searchable if you are public

Things to Remember


  • Update your bio
  • Update your photo
  • Update your URL
  • Use hashtags (and use hashtags for inspiration)
  • Participate in photo challenges to help with your photography
  • Engage with your community
  • Have fun


  • Include links in descriptions
  • Use lots of hashtags
  • Share every photo across all of the platforms you use
  • Worry about numbers, just engage with your community
  • Post photos that you will regret posting later
  • Repost without permission
Christina Gleason (976 Posts)

That’s me: Christina Gleason. I’m a professional copywriter, editor, and blogger. My company is called Phenomenal Content. (Hire me!) I'm a multiply disabled autistic woman doing my best in this world built for abled people. I’m a geek for grammar, fantasy, and select types of gaming, including Twitch Sings and Plants vs Zombies 2. I hate vegetables. I have an intense phone phobia, so I’ll happily conduct business over email or IM instead.

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