Earlier this month, we learned Better Homes and Gardens ranked in the top five brands for Pinterest boards with the most repins, likes and comments. Generating more than a million repins, BHG’s Blogger Recipes We Love board won the top spot for Pinterest board with the most repins. The Blogger Faves from BHG.com board claimed the No. 2 spot for most repins and No. 4 spot for most comments. The boards also ranked in the No. 2 and No. 3 positions for boards with the most likes.
According to Better Homes and Gardens digital editorial manager Kaelin Zawilinski, BHG started growing their Pinterest audience early on when a few team members received beta Pinterest accounts. Employees from both the print and digital side of the magazine formed an internal group that led the charge to get BHG on Pinterest. “We knew it was a good fit for the brand,” said Zawilinski.
As the digital editorial manager, Zawilinski believes BHG’s brand is always evolving and focused on growing among people and age ranges. “It’s all about creating the place where she [the reader] lives. It’s about the home and family she creates there,” said Zawilinksi, “It’s not only her mom’s magazine anymore, it’s her magazine.”
As it turns out, Better Homes and Gardens is based in Des Moines, Iowa, the hometown of Pinterest founder Ben Silbermann. “Our offices are right across the street from Ben’s high school,” said Zawilinksi, “In 2011, when Pinterest had just started, I was at a conference and had the opportunity to speak with Ben. I told him how we were using the site and he was floored.”
Zawilinski contributes BHG’s Pinterest success to content. “It all comes down to our content,” said Zawilinski, “It’s the type of content that really works well on Pinterest, it’s all very pin-able.”
BHG’s digital editorial manager admits her favorite BHG boards – baking and DIY boards – tend to fall in line with the brand’s more popular boards. “The most surprising engagement we’ve seen is the number of repins for the outdoor patio images,” said Zawilinski, “Overall, the boards we thought would do well, typically didn’t, but the images we thought were ‘okay’ end up with the most engagement.” Zawilinski said that in the beginning, her team tried to keep their Pinterest boards more niche, but have found more success when they focus on broader themes.
Lucky for us, Kaelin Zawilinksi (pictured below) agreed to be part of our “5 Questions With” series, offering up key insights into how her team has generated BHG’s level of engagement on the fast growing social network built on images.
5 Questions With Better Homes and Gardens Digital Editorial Manager, Kaelin Zawilinski
Amy Gesenhues: In the scope of your total social media marketing efforts, how long has it taken you to grow your Pinterest audience?
Kaelin Zawilinski: Better Homes and Gardens was one of the first magazine brands on Pinterest and we launched our account in July 2011. Several of our editors (both print and digital) were on Pinterest in the early beta stages and felt like it would be a great social media addition for our brand. A print digital duo led our efforts to test and eventually the roll out strategy for BHG’s Pinterest presence. BHG.com is filled with highly pinable content so it made sense for our brand to be on this platform. Around this same time, we saw Pinterest jump from our 116th social referrer to the top five, and since September 2011 it has been our No. 1 social referrer.
The growth has been very natural and steady for our following on Pinterest. While growing our Pinterest following is very important, we also want to maintain real engagement so we’re sure to promote it to people who will enjoy our content. We never use techniques designed to artificially grow followings like auto follow.
Amy Gesenhues: When creating a Pinterest board, what goals and metrics are most important to BH&G and can you directly relate your Pinterest engagement to conversions, website traffic and subscription sales?
Kaelin Zawilinski: Our goal when creating a Pinterest board is to find a topic that our readers would be looking for in one spot. We also watch what people are pinning from BHG.com using Curalate and identify trends that we might not be covering in board topics that we should be.
We’re very focused on our engagement with pins and it is something that we watch very closely and learn from for all of our pins. That’s why we were SO excited to see BHG at the top of the charts for repins, likes and comments in your recent article. Our engagement rate is high on all of our social platforms, but we also find that they coincide. For example this is a Pin of the Day on Pinterest that also performed well on Facebook:
We track pins, repins, and we pay special attention to organic pins (pins that originate from users vs. repinning of our pins). Social has been an important part of BHG’s stellar growth. At 58 percent growth in comScore unique visitors year-over-year, this is the highest rate of growth in our competitive set. We track all sources of traffic, but do not comment on conversion from specific sources.
Amy Gesenhues: What have you learned about the Better Homes and Gardens audience via your Pinterest boards?
Kaelin Zawilinski: We’ve learned so much about our BHG audience through Pinterest. We’ve been able to attract a younger reader to the brand via Pinterest which is a great way to attract new subscribers and BHG.com visitors. We also can see the topics that she is most interested in from what she is pinning – she’s very DIY focused, loves the step by steps, is baking up a storm and starts getting inspired for the holidays WAY earlier than we anticipated. Bloggers have also played a big part in our Pinterest strategy. We can get a better idea of what BHG content is inspiring these influencers and have been able to find creative ways to work with them by seeing what they are pinning.
Amy Gesenhues: Has your success on Pinterest influenced your other social media marketing efforts, content on bhg.com or your print publications?
Kaelin Zawilinski: We have learned a lot from Pinterest and through that we’ve been able to apply those best practices to our other social media platforms as they make sense. The biggest thing we’ve taken out of Pinterest is to be an early adapter of up and coming social platforms. We’re always looking for what will be the next big social driver and we‘re not afraid to try it out and see if it works well for the brand and if it takes off as another source of engagement for BHG.
The print team uses a lot of data when they make decisions about what goes in the magazine. Pinterest is one of those sources along with primary research, natural search trends, newsletter performance, and more. BHG’s content is very pinable and now we try to identify the content that we know will do well on Pinterest so we can get it on to BHG.com faster so it can be pinned. We’ve also started to feature top pinned content in the magazine to make sure our readers know they can find ideas from us there too.
Amy Gesenhues: Can you give me an overview of your social media team and how your time and efforts are divided between each channel?
Kaelin Zawilinski: We have a small but mighty social team. Our dedicated social media editor oversees all of the platforms along with a part-time social media assistant who does post writing and pinning. Digital and print editors also help with social initiatives.
As far as time spent on each platform, it really depends on the month and what big initiative is coming up on which platform. With social you never know what the next big thing will be so we’re agile and flexible and ready for the next platform to emerge to spread the fabulous inspiration that Better Homes and Gardens offers our readers.