How does Pinterest work? So glad you asked! Pinterest is a giant Pinboard (think old-timey cork board with push pins) for all the ideas and products people like to save.
Oh, and it is a LOT of fun. Pinners spend hours looking for ideas! But, they’re not JUST hoarding those ideas. The people who use Pinterest are doers and buyers. They try new recipes, experiment with DIY projects, collect money-saving tips, and plan everything from remodels to purchases and parties.
Read on to learn all the basics of how Pinterest works. Here’s what we’ll cover:
How Does Pinterest Work for Users (Pinners)?
People use Pinterest to save ideas, products, to collaborate with friends, and to bookmark things to read later. Pinning is typically a solitary activity where Pinners browse and save ideas and products that will help them improve the quality of their lives, their work, health, and even their wardrobe or hairstyle!
It’s different from truly “social” networks where people share information and images about themselves and their personal or professional lives.
Facebook and Instagram are about presenting the best version of you to the world.
Pinterest is for inspiration to transform yourself into the best version of you.
There’s no reason to feel like you’re too late to the game, either. While some well-known brands are having great success with their Pinterest marketing, 97% of all searches are unbranded – meaning even a relative unknown can be discovered by new customers who are ready to buy!
What is a Pin on Pinterest?
A Pin is a visual representation of a product or idea which someone saves for later use on a Pinterest Board. Each Pin is composed of four elements:
When someone clicks on a Pin, it will enlarge to show the full image and description. If they click again, they will be taken to the link associated with the Pin – usually a blog post or product page with more information than can be included on the Pin. Your Pins can be saved to other Boards owned by other Pinners.
What is a Pinterest Board?
A Pinterest Board is a collection of individual Pins. Pinterest Boards give you a way to organize ideas.
For example, you might create Boards to organize ideas about a bathroom remodeling project, a vacation or trip you are planning, books you want to read, or recipes you want to try.
Pinterest Boards are always owned by one Pinner, but they can be shared. A shared or “group” Board allows other Pinterest users to add Pins to the Board.
How do Group Boards work on Pinterest?
Shared boards are commonly called “group” Boards. They’re useful for collaborating and getting feedback from friends, business partners, clients, and family. Not sure which outfit is best for your high school reunion? Your BFF can chime in and even add her own Pins as suggestions.
Secret Boards and the Pins on them are visible only to you and anyone with whom you share the Board. They’re perfect for planning surprise parties, sharing research, or for any other “just between us” purpose!
A Pinterest Profile can hold up to 500 Boards – though it’s hard to imagine how anyone would keep track of that many Boards!
The difference between Boards and Pins on Pinterest
What is a Pinterest Profile?
Your Pinterest Profile holds all your Boards, your Pins, and all your settings. Some of the information that appears publicly include:
Your username: appears as the words after https://pinterest.com when you go to your profile.
Your first and last (optional) name or business name: appears in bold letters at the top of your profile.
The profile description and website URL also appear prominently on your profile.
Follower and Following counts.
Saved Pins (Pins from other people’s sites)
How Does Pinterest Work When I Follow People or Boards on Pinterest?
When you follow a Profile or a Board on Pinterest, you’re telling Pinterest you want to see more of that. So, their Pins will start to appear in your home feed. These signals you give to Pinterest also allow it to show you “picked for you” Pins it thinks you may like.
What Does it Mean When Someone Follows Me on Pinterest?
See above. 🙂 It’s great to have followers on Pinterest – your Pins will likely get more exposure and the social proof can be powerful, but Pinterest doesn’t serve up everything that is Pinned by the people and Boards you follow in the order it was Pinned. Not anymore.
Also, your Pins may be seen by people searching – whether or not they follow you.
Followers are good – but traffic from Pinterest is better. Try not to worry too much about your follower count and make sure your Pins are optimized for search instead.
How do Pinterest Saves or Repins Work?
You can Pin an image from around the web, or you can “Save” an image that’s already on Pinterest to your own Boards.
How Does Pinterest Work If I Have a Business Account?
There are a lot of organic ways to promote your pins, like using Pinterest SEO, linking to your website, and featuring it in your email sends.
The only other way to promote your pins on Pinterest is to participate in their ad program. Here is a great guide from Pinterest itself on starting out their ad program. It can be a great option as well, considering the great metrics Pinterest is showing for conversions.
If you’ve ever asked yourself, “can I sell things on Pinterest?” the answer is a resounding YES. In fact, you can multiply your traffic and sales by attracting perfect-fit customers with Pinterest!
And you’re in luck, because Pinterest and online shopping are a match made in Ecommerce heaven.
Using Pinterest to Sell More Products
With 200 million monthly active users, Pinterest is a place where people go to be inspired, to learn about new ideas and products, to plan their best life.
It’s not a social network where users curate a vision of how they want to be seen. It’s a discovery destination that helps people curate ideas to support their own vision of their best possible selves.
All of that inspiration and planning – along with Pinterest’s beautiful images, leads to sales.
And as for traffic, well, Pinterest drives 33% more referral traffic to shopping sites than does Facebook, 71% more than Snapchat, and 200% more than Twitter! Clearly, the potential for YOUR online store on Pinterest is huge.
It also means you have an opportunity to reach people much earlier in their decision-making process.
Understanding this important difference in the way people search on Pinterest compared to say, Google or Amazon, is key to getting your products discovered and increasing your sales.
9 Strategies for How to Sell on Pinterest
The investment you make today in great images, compelling descriptions, and high-converting landing pages can pay off for months and years to come.
In fact, while most of your reach on social networks occurs in 24 hours of posting, on Pinterest “half of site visits take place 3.5 months after the first pinning, while half of orders take place 2.5 months after the pinning,” says Pinterest.
This also means that when you decide to use Pinterest to sell more, you should be patient, realizing that, as in life, overnight success on Pinterest is the exception rather than the rule – but with consistency, sales and success WILL come.
#1: Use Keyword Research to Find the Best Product Keywords
When people search on Pinterest (and there are 200 BILLION searches per month), they’re not usually looking for something specific. In one recent Pinterest webinar, the presenter said, “I don’t go to Pinterest to find Nike shoes. I go to Pinterest because I don’t know how to dress myself!”
So, if you are using the same keyword list for Pinterest that you use for Google, it’s time to branch out.
“Getting your business to show up online in unexpected, yet still relevant places, can increase the likelihood of people saving your Pin or clicking on your ad,” suggests Pinterest.
While you should certainly use your product keywords, you’ll find some less direct keywords will also be very helpful. Start with your typical words and work your way out. Need an example?
Let’s start with the example of Nursery Bedding. What’s one step beyond a search for “nursery bedding”? You could look at it from a couple of different perspectives:
The expectant parent might look for this when they’re in a place where they’re ready to consider nursery bedding:
Decorate a nursery
Baby’s room ideas
How to plan for baby
What to buy when you’re expecting
First-time parent tips
Someone looking for gift ideas for the parents to be might search:
Baby shower gift
Baby shower gift ideas
Unique baby shower gift
Ideas for new parents
Pinterest gives us a great tool in its guided search bar, which can help you expand your keyword ideas. Just enter a keyword, like “nursery ideas” into the search bar and hit enter.
Clicking on any of the relevant tiles will likely give you even more options. These are words that Pinterest says people search in connection to your original search term. Use this method to build out your Pinterest-specific keyword lists.
#2: Optimize Your Pinterest Business Profile
While more action happens in search than anywhere else, that’s no reason to neglect your profile. Especially if you are linking to your profile from your site, in email newsletters, and elsewhere, you’ll want it to look good.
Use your keywords when choosing your username. Remembering that 97% of searches are unbranded, unless you’re an unmistakably famous brand, consider leading with keywords. For example, rather than just “My Brand Name,” try “Home Furnishings | Nursery Bedding | Decor – My Brand Name.”
There are a couple of simple, but important technical steps you can take to give your products and content a better chance of appearing in relevant search.
Make sure you are using a business profile. Not only is this a requirement if you are promoting your business on Pinterest, but business profiles also provide certain advantages over personal accounts, namely:
Forget the “80/20” or “20/80” rule. There may be, in theory, no reason you have to Pin anyone else’s content to your Pinterest account. “Sacrilege!” you say? It’s true. Sarah Hoople Shere, Head of Product Marketing at Pinterest, confirmed this for us.
Create One Board to House All of Your Content
You can and should Pin your content to more than one Board. It’s good practice to have one Board that contains all of your blog and catalog content and nothing else. You’ll likely find that Board, being a unique resource in the Pinterest universe, performs well in terms of engagement and traffic.
Create Niche Boards to Showcase Your Blog Posts and Products
Let’s say you sell and/or blog about vintage women’s clothing, accessories, jewelry, and home decor. You might have the following Boards (among others):
Unique Vintage Clothing and Accessories – Brand Name Here
Vintage Women’s Clothing
Vintage Women’s Accessories
Vintage Home Decor
When you add a new necklace to your site, you’ll share it to the most relevant Board first to give Pinterest the most specific signal about what your content is so that they can display it in the most relevant searches and feeds. So, in order, share it to:
Vintage Women’s Accessories
Unique Vintage Clothing and Accessories – Brand Name Here
Vintage Home Decor
To avoid giving Pinterest mixed signals (which could hurt your distribution and search placement), do NOT Pin your new listing to the irrelevant Vintage Home Decor Board.
Each time you create new content – whether product listing or blog post – make sure it has several relevant, specifically-named “Homes” on your profile. If you need to create new Boards along the way, go for it!
This one is so important, and it’s worth repeating: Share new content immediately and to the most relevant Board first, then schedule it to go to the other relevant Boards over time. Ideally, for an SEO boost, you’ll change the description each time you share your Pin. Try to make it tightly relevant to the Board title.
You’ll want to make sure you schedule your new content to all relevant Boards right away so you don’t forget! Grab a [sc name=”free trial of Tailwind for Pinterest”] now and get your new content out and scheduled with Board lists and interval Pinning so it gets on to every relevant Board with natural spacing and at the best times for engagement.
Board Descriptions Matter – But Not For the Reason You Might Think
Have you ever searched Pinterest for a Board? If you try it, you might notice, as I have, that the first results are often Boards with no description at all. So, then, are they really important?
Yes! You see, Pinterest looks at several signals to determine where your content should show up in search and other feeds.
When creating pins, automate your Pinterest strategy to save time and create the perfect pins to advertise your products. Try using Pinterest templates to quickly create beautiful and personalized pins.
Since we’re interested in selling more on Pinterest, these tips will be especially helpful:
Lean into seasonal events and everyday moments. Whether you’re talking about a time-specific holiday or a recurring everyday moment (think dinnertime or bedtime stories with the kids), bringing in moments can increase your sales up to 20%. This also drives urgency for faster conversions.
Pins with CTA in the text overlay tend to have a 6% higher online sales lift.
Include pricing and feature information in your Pin descriptions for an average 28% sales lift.
Create consistency between the Pin and the landing page visually for an average 13% sales lift.
Creating multiple images is a great way to increase the distribution of your content on Pinterest in a way that appeals to a wide variety of your followers and other Pinners.
Try with text overlay and without. Specifically, try a direct call to action in your text, such as, “discover,” “find yours,” “start now.”
Create a collage of products in a category. Share a lifestyle image with product images beneath (lifestyle images often convert better than a straight product shot). Turn user-generated images into stunning Pins that inspire!
When you save a new Pin or reshare one you’ve shared before, try switching up your description to target a new group of keywords for Pinterest SEO.
This will enable your images to appear in more search results!
#7: Collaborate with Other Business Owners
Tailwind Communities are groups of like-minded business owners – usually made up of those who blog about a certain niche topic.
If you have a blog, you can use Tailwind Communities to add in your best content, which your Community Members can then share out – potentially expanding your reach and growing your traffic.
If you’re not a blogger, you might use Communities to find quality content to share to your own account to keep your account active during times when you’re unable to create your own fresh content.
You may also find valuable partners for potential content collaborations in your Community.
#8: Engage Your Followers to Reach New Customers
Sounds a little contradictory, doesn’t it? But, if you want to reach more than just those who follow you, you need to make sure what you’re saving to Pinterest engages your followers. Why is that?
Pinterest serves up your Pins to your followers first. Their engagement – or lack thereof, tells Pinterest how fast and far to distribute your Pin – or not!
If your followers don’t engage, there’s a good chance your Pins won’t appear high in search and in other feeds.
If, on the other hand, it really resonates with your followers, Pinterest gets the signal that this is something worth spreading!
So, how can you engage your followers? Look at what you’ve Pinned that has already proved to be engaging.
Whether those Pins are for your own site or they link to other people’s content, you can learn something from each one! Look at the Pin image. Is there something about it that makes it especially appealing?
What about the Pin description? Do keywords or style of writing stand out to you? Maybe it’s a particular topic or trending style that you see over and over in your top Pins. Let that inform your content AND Pinning strategy.
Another key to engaging your followers is to Pin when your followers are most likely to be on Pinterest and engaging.
How do you figure that out? Let Tailwind do it for you! The SmartSchedule analyzes your content and the activity of your followers to generate suggested timeslots for your schedule. Try it out for free!
#9: Advertise Your Products on Pinterest
In a hurry to get started? Pinterest Promoted Pins can help you get in front of a larger audience, fast. Targeting options such as keywords, interests, audiences, locations, gender, and more enable you to pay to reach your best potential customers right away.
The potential of Pinterest to help you sell more with your ecommerce business is enormous – and exciting!
The long-term success of your Pinterest marketing depends on consistent, quality Pinning which engages your followers. Beautiful and inspiring images, effective use of keywords, and niche Boards which showcase your Pins will help your content go far beyond your followers.
Prefer to learn in a webinar? We’ve got you covered. This one-hour, on-demand webinar will walk you through everything you need to know to sell more with Pinterest.
You may have noticed a new product name on one of our classic Pinterest tools lately.
Don’t worry, you’re not seeing things – Tailwind Tribes has become Tailwind Communities!
Here’s some backstory in a June 2020 letter from our Founder Danny:
A Letter From Our CEO
In 2017, we introduced a product called Tailwind Tribes. At the time, we thought the term “tribe” represented the community atmosphere of the product and seemed like an appropriate name on the surface.
We were wrong to do so.
“Tribe” is a term many Native nations hold in esteem with deep meaning and connection, but the term also has a challenging past.
Over time, we started to get a few messages stating concern over the use of the word “tribes.” But there weren’t many messages…so, we noted the concern and kept on our present course. One day, if we kept hearing from enough people who were upset about it, we’d make a change.
But that’s the problem when it comes to discrimination and racism. If you rely on the majority perspective to guide the proper action, you’re going to end up being in the wrong an awful lot. Because the majority isn’t the group at risk of being oppressed.
And we fell into that trap. Our privilege was on display.
In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, our team started having a lot more honest discussions about racism and how we can work intentionally to become more anti-racist. Inclusion has always been one of our core values, but this moment in history showed that we needed to push beyond Inclusion to be the type of company we want to be.
One such discussion focused on the name “Tribes.” Could we feel right about offering a product with a name that isn’t only not Inclusive, but downright offensive to some of our members?
Our answer was “no.” So, we’re committing to changing the Tailwind Tribes name and branding by the end of the year. We don’t want to keep adding to the trivialization of the word “tribe,” nor propagate its hurtful connotations to Native communities.
We’re working through the plan and will seek feedback as we choose a new name, especially from members who have expressed concern or are impacted more personally by this decision. Once we have a new name, it’ll take some time to implement the changes in our marketing materials and software, but we expect to complete the transition by the end of the year.
We promise to continue to listen and learn so we can do better. Thanks for being patient with us. We hear you — and we promise to keep doing just that.
After months of careful planning, discussion, and seeking input every step of the way, we’re pleased to introduce you to Tailwind Communities!
Tailwind Communities is a tool that enables you to connect and grow with other Pinterest creators just like you!
Connect with Pinterest creators, get inspired by fresh ideas, and build relationships with members in more than 20,000 Communities.
With our Community tool, you’ll be able to share your Pinterest content to a Community, and other Community members will view, schedule and share your content to their audiences.
This helps build is so helpful because not only are you sharing your own content, but you are leveraging the collectively large audience of your peers.
Here is how it works:
Let’s say that you have created a Community with a few of your friends (we would call this a Community Lead).
While you are creating and scheduling Pins, you’ll be able to hand-pick content you would like to share with your Community Members.
Since other Community Members are doing the same, you end up with a pool of content by people you know and trust—helping you share new, inspiring content. You can also assign Community Admins to help invite and manage your Community.
Although collaborating, networking, and sharing content is not a new strategy, Communities makes it easier for anyone to build relationships and develop a healthy marketing strategy on Pinterest.
If you are a current Tailwind member and would like to use Communities, please reach out to us to learn more. If you are a current Communities member who would like to invite someone to a Community, head over to this article on “How to add Members to a Community“.
Happy Pinning! We’re so glad you’re a part of our Community!
Do You Really Know What Drives Your Referral Traffic from Pinterest?
There’s a good deal of confusion about what drives traffic from Pinterest to blogs and websites. An individual site will often see ebbs and flows in Pinterest traffic month to month or week to week. When this happens, it’s easy to jump to conclusions as to why traffic from Pinterest increased or declined. If you do that, though, you’ll generally be wrong.
The thing is: Pins can take weeks or months to go viral. This makes interpreting changes in traffic from Pinterest more difficult than it is for real-time social networks such as Twitter or Facebook. Often, a growth or decline in traffic from Pinterest is NOT due to something you did recently, but the impact of actions taken months prior.
This blog post provides an in-depth analysis of what drove one successful blogger’s traffic from Pinterest to change over time.
I’ve gone into great detail using screenshots from her Google Analytics account (with her permission, of course!), so that you’ll be able to repeat the steps below with your own data. The first time you do it may take 20-30 minutes if you’re newer to Google Analytics. I’d strongly recommend you spend that time, though. The insights may change your Pinterest strategy forever.
Recently, Tailwind member Louise Myers of louisem.com wrote in with a question that caught my attention:
Can you imagine why this caught my eye?
In aggregate, our members see a substantial improvement in traffic from Pinterest after they start using Tailwind. I take great pride in that fact. But it’s equally important that we understand what’s going on in cases when our members aren’t seeing the results they’re hoping for. By doing so, we not only learn how to help them, but also generate ideas for new features that will benefit all Tailwind members.
What was different for Louise in particular? Why was her traffic from Pinterest declining? Was it somehow our fault? Did we guide her down the wrong path? I needed to know.
So, I spent a good part of the weekend investigating the issue and outlining the process- for her to repeat in the future. However, when we talked her through the results they were so interesting that she immediately said: “A lot of bloggers could benefit if they knew this.” And this blog post was born.
Step 1: Let’s see how Louise’s traffic from Pinterest trended over time to get a sense of the problem we’re trying to solve. We looked at a full year to see if any abnormal seasonal trends pop out.
LouiseM.com Weekly Pinterest Referral Traffic Jan 2015-Jan 2016
Looking at this chart the issue in question is clear. There is a nice bump in Sessions referred from Pinterest starting in May, peaking in late July and declining back to prior levels by November. This size of the bump is pretty substantial: 2,847 weekly sessions from Pinterest at the highest point, which was up 4x from ~700 per week in March-April.
See your own in Google Analytics, go to: Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals, then click “Pinterest” in the table. The navigation menu should look like this:
Step 2: Where is traffic coming from within Pinterest? Getting a quick sense of which pages are driving the traffic can hep us figure out what caused the rise and subsequent decline. Was it from the Smart Feed? Search results? Individual pins?
This table breaks out referral traffic from Pinterest by the specific page it came from.
Row 1, which reads “/” refers to the homepage, where the Pinterest Smart Feed is shown. ~16% of traffic referrals came from the Smart Feed. Some quick math tells us that is too small to account for a 2-4x increase in traffic for 5-6 months of the year. However, it’s also far more referrals than any single pin drove during the year. So, it’s worth looking into to make sure we don’t miss an important clue- for instance, if the louisem.com domain might have been penalized or flagged as SPAM.
See your own in Google Analytics, go to: ACQUISITION > All Traffic > Referrals > and click on the “pinterest.com” link.
Step 3: To isolate just referral traffic from the Pinterest Smart Feed, click on the “/” link in the table above.
Louise’s traffic from the Pinterest Smart Feed remained steady year round
Okay, this is a good sign! Traffic from the Smart Feed is pretty consistent year round. There’s no sign of any penalties or major changes for the domain. The one noticeable dip is around Christmas time, and was likely driven by Pinterest pushing more holiday/seasonal pins in the Smart Feed, or perhaps simply lower user activity while people were offline for the holidays.
Step 4: Now, we can conclude the bump and decline in traffic is related to traffic coming from individual pins, not the Smart Feed. Since there aren’t any really big outlier pins (e.g. 5+% of traffic), the issue must be wider than say if a single hyper-viral pin surged and declined. Let’s investigate further by looking at how many pins drove traffic in each month…
Pins driving traffic to louisem.com by Month, in Thousands
1,000s of Pins
WOW – louisem.com hit a hot streak from June to October 2015! The number of pins driving traffic to the site more than tripled from prior levels!
See your own in Google Analytics: Go back to the chart in Step 2 above and change the date range to cover a specific month. Then look at the total number of rows at the bottom to get a ballpark estimate of how many unique pins drove traffic to your site in that month. Here’s what that looked liked for Louise when we looked at just January 2015:
Step 5: This is really interesting. Seeing so many more unique pins driving traffic to Louise’s blog mid-year suggests that something went viral around that time. At the same time, we know from Step 2 above that no single Pin drove more than 1.92% of the Pinterest referral traffic for the year. So, instead of analyzing the lifespan of each pin one by one, let’s look at if any particular blog post on louisem.com went viral.
Top blog posts receiving traffic from Pinterest on louisem.com in 2015
EUREKA!The top article drove almost half of Louise’s traffic from Pinterest in the past year! The next two account for over 25% more. So, just three articles drove about three quarters of her traffic from Pinterest!
See your own in Google Analytics, go to: This view is the table under the line graph if you followed Step 1 above.
Step 6: Let’s see if Pinterest referral traffic to these three big articles corresponds with the mid year bump.
See your own in Google Analytics: Click on the Shared URL in the table from Step 5 for each URL you want to investigate.
URL 1: Best Inspirational Quotes
WHOA- This bump looks familiar, eh?
URL 2: Color Psychology Brand Colors
This post peaked early in the year, and then produced slowly declining steady traffic. Doesn’t appear to impact the bump.
URL 3: The Psychology of Color
This post was pretty steady after getting traction early in the year – doesn’t appear to contribute to the bump.
EUREKA! URL 1 has a rise and fall almost identical to the mid year bump. From June to October, that one URL drove nearly two-thirds of all traffic from Pinterest! Looking at the magnitude of this URL’s referral traffic from Pinterest, the peak in late July is ~2,100 weekly sessions. That’s IDENTICAL to the growth from ~700 weekly sessions to 2,800 weekly sessions observed for all Pinterest traffic to louisem.com.
So, the entire bump in traffic (and subsequent decline) can be explained by one viral post!
In fact, when we remove that one post from the overall Pinterest referral report, the trend looks very different. The bump has disappeared!
The bump is gone! Without the top viral post, traffic is steady year round, except for a seasonal dip during the holiday season. This makes sense, since Louise’s content is not topically relevant for the holidays.
Notice that this post was published on April 8th, 2015.Yet, it didn’t start going viral until late May and peaked at the end of July. It took a month and a half for this post to go viral and nearly 4 months for it to hit its peak! Then, it continued generating substantial traffic for many months after. Think about how that compares to most blog posts, facebook status updates or tweets, which will tend to peak within 24-72 hours of publication.
I raise this point because there’s an ongoing debate about whether or not you should delete pins- and it’s being debated without data to back up the various opinions. In an Online Blog Con webinar just this week, our Marketing Manager Melissa and host Karyn were asked by an attendee if she agreed with some bad advice previously given from the creator of a certain black/grey hat scheduling bot to delete any pin that had not gone viral within four days. Louise’s example in this blog post and many other viral pins like it give plenty of reason NOT to hastily or automatically delete Pins. I personally had a pin go viral on my account about six months ago; it had ZERO repins two weeks after it was pinned, but has since grown to more than 6,000 repins! So, in short, don’t believe everything you read. Look for hard data to support opinions. If someone can’t offer it, they are likely just repeating something they heard elsewhere. And be skeptical of advice that suggests fully automating any aspect of social media. I’ve yet to see anyone reach true long-term success via automation on any social platform.
END ASIDE /
Step 8: Okay- we know this one post was behind both the rise and fall of Louise’s Pinterest referral traffic as it went viral and then died down. But how did it go viral in the first place? Who pinned the pins that sent it viral? Let’s analyze the most viral pins linking back to the Inspirational Quotes post.
How Long Ago? (wks)
Pinned by You
All but one of the most viral pins linking to the post were pinned by someone other than Louise. This is common; it is much more likely that other people pinning your content will send your posts viral than you pinning your own content. This is one reason we started inviting Tailwind members to submit their content to our Suggested Content library circulated to other members. By surfacing our members’ content to other members in contextually relevant ways, the number of unique Pinners organically pinning from each members’ content grows, signaling high content quality to Pinterest.
Also noteworthy: Almost all of these pins were pinned 24 to 38 weeks ago, or between May 3 and August 15, 2015.
Note: This data is not from Google Analytics. It can be obtained through the “Most Clicked Pins” report in Tailwind (see Monitor Your Domain section), or recreated manually by visiting each pin one by one and recording the relevant data.
Commentary – Why do Viral Pins fade?
This is a good question with a very complex answer. The simplest analogy is perhaps to think of Pins in the context of other popular media. Eventually, the best movies get removed from theaters, top TV series come to an end and hit songs fall out of the Top 40. They may be replayed forever on-demand, in syndication and on “oldies” stations, but not with the same frequency or audience size they once enjoyed.
Even the most viral pin must eventually trail off. Once a user has seen a given Pin a certain number of times, it becomes less and less likely they will engage with it. As that engagement rate declines, it’s only correct for Pinterest to show other Pins in its place. Think of how boring Pinterest would be if you saw the same fifty viral Pins everytime you logged on. That certainly wouldn’t align with Pinterest’s mission to help you discover and save creative ideas.
The implication for all of us is clear: To succeed over the long-term, you must continually create new, high quality content that your audience will love.
So, what does all this mean for Louise?
Louise now knows exactly why her traffic grew so quickly from May to July- and why it came back down to earth from August to October. One highly viral post exploded and eventually faded off, after many many people had seen it. To get back to those heights, she needs to focus first and foremost on creating more excellent content that people will love and share.
Did Tailwind cause the growth and/or decline in traffic- or was the timing merely coincidence?
We can say for certain that neither the rapid growth in traffic from Pinterest, nor the subsequent decline was caused by Tailwind. The pins that drove the growth in traffic were actually pinned before Louise started using Tailwind. And, remember, all but one of the viral pins was pinned by other Pinners, rather than by Louise herself.
What does all this mean for you, who has valiantly persevered to the end of this post?
Realize that this is the nature of Pinterest. Pins live forever and it often takes months for Pins to really go viral. So, you can’t judge tomorrow’s results based on what you did today.
Rather, you should think about Pinterest like planting a garden. Planting seeds today by creating and pinning great content will drive the value of your harvest months later. The exception to this is Promoted Pins, which are designed to enable more immediate and obvious results by letting you buy promotion right now for specific content.
In this analogy, Tailwind is one of your gardening tools. It can save you a lot of time, help improve your results and allow you to plant more seeds with less effort. If you save even one hour of time per week by Pinning more efficiently, it pays for itself in no time- and you should see a more robust harvest as the seasons go by.
If you’ve been thinking about upgrading to Tailwind Plus, I’d like to offer you a special reward to thank you for reading this long, detailed post. 🙂
Use this link to create your Tailwind accountand you’ll start with a $15 credit. That will either cover your first month of Plus or take a nice chunk out of the Annual Plus plan, so you end up getting 5 months free instead of 4. Once you’re a member, you’ll also get your own referral link to earn an additional $15 for every paid member you refer. It doesn’t take many referrals to rack up a free year of Plus service!
Have you been frustrated with your Pins’ recent visibility? Or perhaps overjoyed by a sudden growth in Pinterest repins and referral traffic from Pinterest? Either way, you are not alone.
Over the past year and a half, many Pinners have noticed seemingly unexplained changes in their engagement and referral traffic. And in most cases, the reason behind these changes is the Smart Feed (or Pinterest Algorithm). The Smart Feed has taken over the prime real estate on Pinterest that users see immediately after logging in. In so doing, it has changed how most Pinners use Pinterest.
The details of the Smart Feed can get complex, but at a high level:Pinterest got a makeover.
Unlike typical makeovers that touch only the surface, the Pinterest Smart Feed makeover changed what you see from the inside out. The Smart Feed was designed to increase the relevance of the Pins a user sees for their personal interests. Instead of a simple chronological home feed made entirely of new Pins from Boards a user follows, with the Smart Feed users now see a mix of Pins that are relevant to their Likes, Interests, and the Boards they follow. This has massive implications for which content is surfaced to users and when.
Rather than being listed chronologically in a user’s feed, Pins are processed through a service layer called the Smart Feed Worker. This (software, not human) “worker” scores Pins based on how valuable its algorithms estimate the Pins are for a specific user. Then, Pins are sorted and stored into Pools of content available for later use.
At launch, there were three core Pools of Pins: the Following Pool, Related Pool, or Interest Pool. The Pools are named as such based on the reason the Pins may be shown to you. For example, the “Following Pool” would contain pins from Boards that you follow. Today, it may well be the case that other Pools exist, e.g. a Promoted Pool for Promoted Pins and a Picked For You Pool (if separate from the Related Pool).
Within the Pools, Pins are ranked in order of estimated quality. So, within the Following Pool Pinterest is determining that of all Pins pinned to Boards you follow, some specific Pin is the single highest quality, most relevant Pin for you right now.
These Pools of Pins will later be combined to create the Smart Feed content you see when logging into Pinterest. This is done by a second service called the Smart Feed Content Generator.
The Smart Feed Content Generator mixes highly ranked Pins from the various pools into “Chunks”, or groups of Pins based on relevance of the Pins to you. When you view your Smart Feed, Chunks are assembled into a static view of the Smart Feed- or, in other words, the Pins that you actually see.
I suspect that Pinterest is frequently testing different Chunk “recipes” to see what works best. Often, as I scroll down my own Smart Feed I notice Chunks of Pins that are all from the same user, or all related to a given topic, or perhaps all “Picked For You,” amidst an otherwise varied feed. This could be coincidental, but it’s likely more intentional than that.
Like every good makeover, there are certain airs of mystery behind the Smart Feed. It’s what keeps things intriguing and interesting. For Pinterest, the key question is which specific factors are taken into consideration when scoring Pins- and how those factors are weighted against each other.
From various blog posts, publications and presentations over time by folks at Pinterest, we’ve learned of some key factors that may influence the ranking of Pins for the Smart Feed.
Domain Quality. Think of this as analogous to Google’s Domain Authority concept. Over time, Pinterest learns to trust certain domains more than others- especially for given topics or types of content. As the domain quality score increases, all pins from that domain should have a greater chance of showing. In this sense, by investing in increasingly high-quality content, you not only create great new Pins, but also increase the value of all of your content.
Pin Quality. This combines factors to score an individual Pin. Historical popularity is taken into account, along with factors such as freshness and probability that the pin is spam. Freshness seems to be becoming a more important factor in time. Whereas in the early days some Pins remained viral for years, today we tend to see even the most viral Pins will begin to fade as they saturate Pinterest over some number of months.
Pinner Quality. How much does Pinterest trust the Pinner who pinned this Pin as a curator of content? Or, more specifically- at curating the type of content you have shown an interest in? This is where factors such as Repin rates on past pins, quality of your boards and even gender can come into play. There’s an active debate at the moment about if Pinners who frequently pin to group Boards are somehow being penalized. I can’t say for sure, but if they are, I wonder if it might be because those Boards have been deemed low quality on average. Anecdotally, this could make sense, as many poorly curated group Boards are little more than glorified link farms.
Topical Relevance. Many discussions of the Smart Feed leave this out, but I believe topical relevance is key to content showing in the Smart Feed. Why? Well, as the Pinterest Smart Feed scores Pins in each pool, it only seems logical that they would use the Interest graph to inform the score given to a Pin. Pins pinned to topic-appropriate Boards may logically score higher within the Following or Picked For You Pools. Or, content that is consistently repinned alongside other certain Pins may have a better chance of surfacing in the Related Pool. And perhaps seasonal content (e.g. Christmas cookie recipes) will universally get a seasonal bump up in score at the appropriate time of year. For this reason, it’s important to always Pin to relevant Boards for each piece of content. More Pinning isn’t always better if it risks diluting the topical relevance of a Pin by placing it on irrelevant Boards.
Today, when you type a question into Google, it scours the web to find the best answer with remarkable accuracy. It even factors in recent searches, where you live, structured data, translations across languages and what is in the news right now! As a user, that is a really cool resource to have at your fingertips.
However, if you think back to Google at age six (as young as Pinterest is now), it’s capabilities were far more limited than they are today. Remember the days when you’d have to actually click through to a restaurant’s website in search results to find it’s phone number or operating hours? Or having to jump from site to site until to find the right local movie showtimes? I do.
As each platform moves from infancy into its teen years, it goes through a series of makeovers designed to help better serve its evolving audience. Pinterest is on a similar trajectory now- growing up to meet an evolving user base and expanding set of use cases.
Sometimes, platforms are vocal about adjustments. Enter Facebook with its new algorithms for organic traffic. Google updates make national news. Do you remember Mobilegeddon? However, Pinterest has tended to take a quieter, more thoughtful process to improvements rather than shouting from the roof top about every new update. I think that’s why, in part, we’ve been great partners. At Tailwind, we take a similar philosophy of trusting that a great product will eventually speak for itself.
For some, it will be frustrating to adjust to the new norm of the Smart Feed. But millions of others, will never have known Pinterest without a Smart Feed.For the rapidly growing base of new adopters, the Smart Feed is not a new norm- it’s just the norm.
In the long run, the Pinterest Smart Feed will give great marketers an edge. Updates like this will start to separate the spammers from those who provide truly high-quality content. By adopting quality Pinning habits and focusing on providing value to your user, over time you will separate your Boards and Pins from the other noise.
Here are several habits and best practices to adopt if you find yourself asking – “Why Aren’t My Pins Being Seen?”
Back to Basics
Some of these are going to sound simple. Yet, you would be surprised how often they are overlooked. As Pinterest continues to expand, these basic steps will continue to become more and more important.
First, verify your website. We often see non tech-savvy Pinners skip this step. We promise it’s easy to do. Not only will Pinterest recognize you as a verified (and perhaps more trusted?) source, you’ll also get access to power Pinner features such as native analytics.
Second, make sure your Pins are optimized (and well described) with relevant keywords. This isn’t just for Pins you actively publish; you should also think about default Pin descriptions for all pinnable content on your site. Many users don’t update default descriptions, so you should optimize for them in advance. Remember, there is a difference between optimizing and keyword stuffing. You want to have several keywords in the description, but focus on making the description enticing to your audience so they click-through to your site. Higher engagement rates with your Pins will improve your Pinner Quality score and Pin Quality score. And for Pins from your domain, it can raise your Domain Quality score as well. [clickToTweettweet=”Focus on making Pinterest descriptions enticing to your audience so they click-through to your site. #socialmedia” quote=”Use several keywords in Pin descriptions, but more important is to focus on enticing your audience to click-through to your site.”]
Bad Example: This Pin description is keyword stuffing!
Good example: This Pin description uses keywords that make sense and describe what can be found when the user clicks.
With the Pinterest Smart Feed in play, only great content will cut it. While you might have been able to skirt through with a few subpar Pins in the old system or get traffic by brute force and volume of Pinning, those days are over. You are now an advanced Pinner. You make beautiful, relevant, and useful Pins.
Bad example: Yes, even Tailwind is guilty of creating a few bad Pins in our early days. This Pin is not eye catching, does not use text overlay well, and does not have a good aspect ratio.
Good example: Even though we didn’t always make great Pins, we usually do now! This Pin, with more than 11,000 Repins, has a strong image, uses text overlay well, and is portrait style.
If you happen to be guilty of a few less-than-stellar Pins than you would like to admit, you can make sure they shine by downloading our free guide, “What Makes a Great Pin.”
Fourth, implement Rich Pins. These are glorious and a must-have! Rich Pins are your way to include additional information within Pins from your domain, providing deeper context and catching Pinners’ attention more easily. There are six different kinds of Rich Pins today, each providing different ways to engage the viewer. Examples include Recipe Pins that provide the recipe on the Pin, Place Pins that showcase the location, and Product Pins which make it easier for Pinners to buy products.
This Pin is an example of an Article Rich Pin. Not the branding for the Tailwind Blog, and big bold headline.
A question we get often is: Since the Smart Feed “throttles” pins before releasing them to users, does scheduling Pins matter? In short: yes. It does. And here are some reasons why:
Some Pins will be visible in near real-time to some users. The home feed may not be 100% real-time anymore, but any experienced Pinner knows they can start seeing repins on a Pin within moments of Pinning it. Some users will see your Pins immediately- and optimizing their response can make a huge difference in how your Pins are scored for quality.
Freshness matters. Freshness is a key element in the Smart Feed’s scoring process. Engaged Pinners can blow through many hundreds or even thousands of pins in a single session. As they consume more content from their Smart Feed Pools and deplete the reserves, fresh content should surface higher and higher. Keeping a steady flow of fresh content lets you be there when a slot opens up.
For your sanity. The verdict is in among professional marketers: it is easier, more efficient and more sustainable to create content in batches for social media. Splitting up content creation zaps your mental energy from other tasks- including personal and family time on nights and weekends. Scheduling Pinterest content lets you do your job 24/7 without needing to be online 24/7.
To keep yourself honest. It’s easy to over- or under-pin when you don’t schedule Pins. If your strategy calls for pinning 10 times per day, scheduling provides an easy way to track if you’re meeting your goal (or perhaps overshooting and blowing through your content budget too quickly). We’ve noticed a substantial uptick in the amount people Pin after they start using Tailwind– some of this is likely due to the ease of use of our tool, but I believe some of it is due to simply being able to hold yourself to a regular pace of content creation more easily.
Seasonality. Scheduling Pins makes it easier to seed Pins for seasonal cycles. Since it takes a week or more for Pins to be indexed into search results, you need to plan ahead for holidays and other seasonal events. If you start Pinning for Christmas after Thanksgiving, you’ve missed the boat by multiple months. To get a better sense of when to Pin for major holidays, download our free printable Pinterest Calendar here as a handy guide.
Since Pinterest’s makeover is still relatively behind the scenes, there is a lot of speculation on practices that will help.Each month, several new rumors seem to emerge, generally with little to no evidence to support them. Be careful of which advice you act on- if people can’t back up claims with data, it may just be the good old rumor mill at work.
One of these myths is deleting nonperforming Pins with X days or hours if it hasn’t already gone viral. The challenge with that advice is that a Pin can go viral weeks or months after it’s pinned. If you delete a Pin, you miss the opportunity for Pinterest to algorithmically surface the Pins in the future. Rather than delete older and underperforming Pins, try to optimize them by strengthening the relevance of keywords in the description, or even adding descriptions in the first place to those old repins that just say “Yum” or “Want!”
At Tailwind, we are here to help you with every aspect of gaining traction with Pinterest. Our easy to use Pinterest Marketing suite helps you schedule Pins, discover viral and high performing content, monitor Pinterest, and measure results.
If you have questions or suggestions of practices that you have found successful with the smart feed, comment below.
Here’s a pinnable image for you. 🙂
Tailwind’s intuitive dashboard and clever browser extension help you to schedule a week of social posts in under an hour, at your convenience. To top it off our smart schedule makes sure that all of those posts go out when your audience are most likely to engage with them.
Tailwind members grow engagement on their post 2.5x faster than non-members on average. Start your free trial by signing up with Pinterest!
Faster and better product development – APIs standardize how software developers, such as Tailwind, can access data. This makes development cycles faster and leads to fewer bugs to fix, so we can spend more time building new features that empower you. Immediately, we are rolling out Tailwind v3, powered by the new Pinterest Business Insights API (see below).
Improved Brand Safety – Ensuring your brand’s safety is a big priority for us- and APIs can help keep you safe, both as a business and as a consumer. By ensuring developers use data appropriately, structured API technology and relationships help build a more organized, safer web.
An indication of Quality – As a two year old startup, we’re honored to be in an alpha class alongside great companies such as Salesforce, HootSuite and Spredfast. While being invited to access the Pinterest Business Insights API is by no means an endorsement of our company by Pinterest, we hope you will feel more confident investing in Pinterest and tools such as Tailwind that help maximize your benefit.
More Innovation – Tailwind has been helping build the Pinterest ecosystem since early 2012. We’re excited to see big social media platforms entering the Pinterest market, but also confident that our history of innovation with Pinterest is a substantive advantage. More competition will lead to ever faster innovation, driving us to deliver better solutions for you.
Announcing Tailwind Version 3
Tailwind v3 powered by Pinterest Business Insights API
Version 3 of Tailwind is up and running on the Pinterest Business Insights API. v3 expands on existing capabilities with enhancements such as a new trending pins view to show which pins from your boards have been most viral in a given timeframe, easier ways to engage your community, more flexible notification options to let you receive your data how and when you want it and a Weekly Summary Dashboard for an at-a-glance view across all of your data. The biggest addition, though, is a comprehensive Domain Monitoring capability to help you see which of your images are trending across Pinterest, how users are discussing your brand and which pins are driving your reach. Login to check it out>>
Monitor Domains on Pinterest with Tailwind
Tailwind is where it is today because of you. It’s now our responsibility to you to make the most of this opportunity. We’re looking forward to delivering more for you everyday, now with access to Pinterest’s Business Insights API. Please don’t hesitate to reach out anytime to learn more or share your thoughts: [email protected].
Tailwind has acquired PinReach, combining two innovators in Pinterest Analytics and Marketing.
We’re pleased to share that Tailwind has acquired PinReach, an early innovator in the Pinterest Analytics market.
Those of you who are familiar with PinReach know it as one of the first Pinterest Analytics platforms not only to be created, but also to be acquired. Last year, Nervewire acquired PinReach from its creators to learn as much as they could about Pinterest on behalf of their clients. Over the past year, however, they came to the conclusion that expanding PinReach to serve a rapidly growing user base ultimately didn’t fit their strategy. So, they decided to find a new home for PinReach that would offer the TLC its 30,000+ users deserve.
We’re honored that Nervewire chose Tailwind as the best home for those users. We work hard every day to provide the best-in-class pinterest analytics and marketing platform. That singular focus has led us to become trusted by over 3,000 of the world’s leading brands and agencies as they adopt Pinterest as a key part of their social marketing and communications strategy. We look forward to having the PinReach community join our existing customers in shaping the future of Tailwind.
What does Tailwind acquiring PinReach mean for PinReach users?
The most important thing this acquisition brings for PinReach users is access to more robust and reliable Pinterest analytics and marketing tools. Pinreach.com has been sunsetted; user accounts will transition to Tailwind.
To get started on Tailwind, PinReach users can take 2 simple steps:
You can learn more about Tailwind’s features on our site or the webinar, but here’s a brief overview of what you’ll be able to access as a Tailwind Member:
Profile and Board Tracking – see how your followers, repins, comments and more grow with time
Pinning Strategy Optimization – identify which content is or isn’t resonating with your audience, and optimize your pinning on days and times when they’re most active
Real-Time Trending Content from Your Website – see which images are trending and learn who pinned them
Advocate and Influencer Engagement – identify advocates and influencers, then contact them on the platform of your choice
Competitive Benchmarking – track competitors on Pinterest and see how you stack up
ROI Tracking and Analysis – from pin to purchase, we have you covered
You can use Tailwind for free. We also offer more powerful paid plans for businesses of all size, starting at just $29 per month.
What does the PinReach acquisition mean for Tailwind members?
In the immediate term, there will not be any changes for existing Tailwind members. Keep on using Tailwind each day to track and improve your performance on Pinterest; that’s what we’re here for.
In the long-term, acquiring PinReach will help us provide great new capabilities. For example, we’ve seen a lot of interest in Tailwind reports that identify influencers on Pinterest. This was PinReach’s primary focus, so we’ll be able to go even deeper in helping you build and manage influencer campaigns.
Adding PinReach’s membership to the Tailwind family will also help solidify our position as the leading Pinterest analytics platform. Our hope is that this will help us grow faster, meaning we can continue expanding our team and building even better products to meet your needs.
What does the PinReach acquisition mean for the Tailwind Team?
In short, more work. But that’s good- we like working hard for you! Growing our membership by 30,000+ new users is going to mean that much more responsibility for us and our future teammates.
At PinLeague, we pride ourselves on having a customer-centric philosophy. We believe your members should help shape this company as much as the team working to build PinLeague each day. That’s why we are constantly seeking feedback on everything from product features to our new brand name and -yes- pricing.
One area where we’ve received a lot of negative feedback this past year has been our Pinterest Analytics pricing model.
Our initial pricing model increased the price you pay based on the number of pins we track for you. It seemed like an interesting concept, but has fallen flat for a number of reasons:
Poor Predictability: Most customers don’t closely monitor the number of pins we’re tracking for them; this leads to surprises at the end of the month, which is bad if you’re working within a budget.
Lack of Control: You can’t control the number of pins being generated by competitors or their users, let alone your own. This leads to an ever-increasing pin count with no way to scale back if you need to. That’s bad.
Volume != Value: More pins being tracked doesn’t necessarily mean greater insights are derived. We should get paid for adding value, not just for units of effort.
It’s Just Confusing.
We heard you, and decided it’s time to change our Pinterest Analytics pricing model.
We know, change is scary. But, in this case, we believe change will be very good for everyone.
That’s right. We know our competitors are asking $1,000 / month minimum to access fewer insights and less data. We don’t care. We are reducing our average price. Why?
The Pinterest market is just starting to heat up. We want everyone to be able to participate, from start-ups and small businesses to the world’s largest enterprises (many of whom use us already).
People love a good value. We will continue to be the best value in the market, hands-down.
It will force us to be lean, focusing on your most important needs.
Effective July 22nd, we will be moving all existing accounts to a new PinLeague Analytics pricing model (you should have gotten an email about your account!). Unlike the old model, cost will not grow based on volume of pins tracked. Instead, you will be able to scale up or down based on which features you choose to make use of. This new model gives you control, predictability of spend and directly associates what you pay with what you get.
Retailers and e-commerce sites, from behemoths to Etsy hobbyists, are marketing their products on Pinterest to generate sales and brand awareness. To help, Pinterest has created a very simple way to add a price tag to a pinned image, so users know they can click through to purchase the item.
Adding a Price Tag to a Pin
Adding a price tag to your products on Pinterest is very easy. All you need to do is to include a dollar sign ($) or British pound sign (£) followed by the price to your pin description. This will display the price on your image in the form of a price tag “ribbon” in the corner of the picture:
There is a bit of a divided school of thought on the issue of whether or not adding price tags to Pins can help or hinder your Pinterest marketing efforts. Harvard MBA Josh Yang decided to study the issue. What he found was that product pins with price tags and pins without price tags (of a similar product) were repinned at about the same rate – 5.5 times and 5.4 times respectively. Price tagged pins were liked at a slightly higher rate though – 1.4 likes per pin versus 1.1.
These results applied only to individual users though. When Yang changed his focus to pins created by brands, the results were rather different. Looking at nearly three thousand pins he found that the re pin rate dropped quite dramatically when a price tag was present. His theory is that to Pinterest users an individual using a price tag does not seem commercially driven, but when a brand adds a price to a product on Pinterest, it is perceived as an advertisement.
If you are not sure about adding price tags to your pins you could always try a little A/B testing by pinning some images with price tags and some without. This will allow you to see what difference a price tag makes for your unique business. Tailwind’s free Pinterest analytics dashboard can help you track the results of your test!