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What You Need To Know About Pinterest’s Activity Changes

What you need to know about Pinterest's activity changes

Have you noticed anything weird with your Pinterest account lately? No descriptions? Pins that suddenly have 1,000s of repins? You’re not alone and don’t worry – there isn’t anything wrong with your account. Pinterest is just rolling out some new changes.

Here’s what Pinterest’s Help Center says on the matter:

If you’re on the web or the Android app, you may notice that Pins include some new info about how they’re being collected across Pinterest.

You’ll now see the total number of repins and likes the Pin has gotten across all of Pinterest (before you only saw how many people saved your copy of that Pin).

We also added a way to see all the boards where a Pin was saved. Just tap “See all Pinners” to see the full list—you may find a few boards you want to follow.

Right now, you’ll only see these changes on Android and web—they’ll be coming to iPhone and iPad soon.

We’re always trying to improve Pinterest, and your feedback is a big part of that. Please let us know what you think!

Although this post has since been changed, Pinterest’s Help Center previously commented on their new description tests (UPDATE: The test for universal descriptions is no longer live):

  • “We’re no longer requiring that you add a note when you Pin, and we’re only showing you the note on a Pin if it was specifically added by it’s Pinner. We hope this is more useful than assuming everyone wants to keep the previous Pinner’s way of describing a Pin.
  • We added universal descriptions, created automatically from a variety of sources, to make sure Pins without personal notes have some useful information on them. We’re continuing to refine these to make sure they’re the best descriptions available.”

These new tests are bringing about a few major changes that Pinners are beginning to see – Aggregated Repins shown with an activity feed, the need to include a personal note when Repinning, and universal descriptions. So what exactly do these changes mean for pinners?

Repins – Now based on popularity of Pin across Pinterest

We’ve all seen that lone image with 10 Repins, yet the exact same image popping up in your feed later with 5,000 repins. Perhaps it’s even your content and you know it is bordering viral status on another board.

When you come across the first image with 10 repins, you aren’t getting the full story. Even the 5,000 repins doesn’t accurately cover the true popularity of that post. Behind the scenes, that pin actually has 5,000 pins from the initial pin,  then influencer Sally pinned it adding 300 repins to the count as well as receiving general love across of all of Pinterest adding another 70 to the total.

Summary Pins Example

Needless to say, when you add all those pins together, reaching a full 5,380, this pin is incredibly popular! In a way, it almost makes the first image with 10 repins seem a little deceiving.

Pinterest is working to tell the full story at first glance. Insert the summary pin.

Now each individual pin of a specific image from a specific URL will get “credit” for the engagement from its sister pins. This summary pin is the reason why so many users are reporting seeing drastic increases in the number of repins for pins in their feed. All of the repins for that image and specific URL are being combined together to tell the full story.

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 2.23.28 PM copy

While some fear that this will take away the power of a viral pin, we prefer to have the outlook of Cris Goode, Owner of Recipes that Crock:

I’m optimistic on summed up repins, in the end, I think it will help content creators… I think images just became even more important than they already are.”

Cris is 100% right – summed (or “aggregate”) repins should produce an optimistic outlook for Pinners. It’s especially encouraging for users who create quality content from the start. Summed repins go back to the source – the original blog post. The more compelling, engaging and darn right awesome that content is, the more likely users will be to pin it.

While creating sharable content is always the goal, let’s take a look at what that looks like in application. Your blog followers might not have an incredibly engaged Pinterest following. Before, your image would sit nicely on their board yet enjoy few to no repins. It’s appreciated, but not necessary adding the momentum you hoped for. It might even be the culprit behind that initial 10 repin image we discussed. Now, Pinterest is rewarding you for each time you entice a reader to Pin your image, regardless of their following. Every individual share adds to the entire, or summed, total.  

It’s almost a snowball effect. You create awesome content. Users share it from your site. Pinterest adds up all the shares. Boom. Houston we have liftoff. Well, that might be dramatic. But you get the picture.

We also have a personal reason we are positive about the changes. We are hoping that the summary pin will kill the debate about deleting pins once and for all. Rather than skimming across your board to see pins with little to no repins, you’ll be looking at how well that pin has done across all of Pinterest. It also has even more potential to gain momentum as it matures on your board. Why delete maturing pins? It makes it even worse that you will be pulling away from the full total of the pin.

Another reason we’re feeling positive about this change? You can still track your individual Repins in Tailwind using the Pin Inspector.

Tailwind Pin Inspector
See your individual Repin count with Tailwind’s Pin Inspector tool.

While Pinterest is showing a united front for Repins on the site, Tailwind still allows you to see which individual Pin is gaining traction. This can help you understand what boards and descriptions are working for you. It’s a win-win!

Another reason we’re feeling positive about this change? You can still track your individual Repins in Tailwind using the Pin Inspector.Click to Tweet

Custom Notes – Add Your Own Description

(UPDATE: While the description tests are no longer live, it is still, and will always be, considered a best to add your own description to a pin)

We’ve all seen it. The Pin that has been repinned hundreds of times with a description simply saying “OMG – @melmegg that is SO US!” This results in the pinners’ inside joke being tossed around Pinterest, yet provides zero context for the rest of us.

To help solve situations like this, Pinterest is stepping in to revamp the description arena.

Gone are the days of leisurely repinning without changing the description. @Melmegg’s inside joke ends with her pin. Hopefully you took a quick sigh of relief. We did. Pinners are no longer able to keep the description of a previous Pinner (or what the pinner before them) wrote.

Pinterest wants to hear what you think about the pin.

This move is encouraging you to write your own description, reaction or ideas about the image. Not sure what to say? Technically you don’t need to fill out anything (although we definitely advise against that – we’ll get there in a second). If you leave the space blank, Pinterest now fills in what they are calling a “universal description” that has been created by pulling information from a “variety of sources.” This way, Pinterest ensures that the information in the description is either your unique description of the post or relevant information for other users.

While we’ve always been able to write a custom description, it’s an underutilized, and often times ignored, activity. If you’re a regular reader of the Tailwind Blog, you know that adding your own description to Pins is a step you should always take. Descriptions are part of a strong Pinterest SEO strategy, after all. It may be more work, but it is a big opportunity for savvy Pinterest marketers.

And it just got more important.

Brittany of Equipping Godly Women said it perfectly:

“So the fact that Pinterest isn’t carrying over descriptions–does this have to be a bad thing? What if it just makes the average pinner’s Pins less likely to show up in search, but it makes our pins MORE likely to show up in search (due to decreased competition) because we know to add descriptions?”

Sounds pretty good when Brittany puts it that way. There’s another way to look at this new description approach. Beyond having control over your own profile and Pins, requiring a personalized note on each Pin could encourage other Pinners to give their sincere opinion about images from your domain.

According to Cristina Maloney of Martha, Martha, this change is potentially a huge advantage:

“Maybe it will encourage readers to put their own description/raving reviews in, increasing social proof for our articles.”

What This Means for You

Now for the money question, “What does this mean for Pinners?”

To be honest, this is the early stage of an update. Pinterest is testing out new ways of approaching Pins. While many users have switched to the new format, the change is not fully rolled out. Yet.

It’s hard to say all the different ways that these changes will impact pinners. This ambiguous territory is causing a lot of discussion around the web.

Overall, this change doesn’t need to be cause for alarm. Our own CEO, Danny Maloney, has several great points about why all of these changes are a positive for the platform:

“It’s a really interesting set of updates. I can see some immediate positive impacts of this:

(1) by incentivizing Pinners to create personalized notes, there’ll be more unique content and the interest graph should fill out faster, improving recommended content,

(2) universal descriptions should help solve for low quality pin descriptions (e.g. keyword stuffing or just emoticons),

(3) the aggregation of content stats across Pinterest instead of by individual Pin should end debates like “does it matter if I repin or create/schedule a new pin from a piece of content?” and focus more attention on the impact of content.”

How to Make The Most of These Updates

There is one thing that is clear, though. With every new update, or even in the testing phase, Pinterest is underscoring the importance of quality content. The Smart Feed works to showcase more user relevant content. The summary pin tells the full story of the image pinned by several different users. The universal description gives meaningful context.

Pinterest wants to create a better user experience.

With every new update, Pinterest is underscoring the importance of quality content. Click to Tweet

Hopefully you know where we are going with this. Yes, we are going back to basics. By implementing good pinning practices, in partnership with a strong strategy, not only do you protect yourself against updates, you can actually use these current and future updates to your advantage.

What do all of the updates have in common? They highlight relevant and engaging content for users. When you go the extra mile to make beautiful, compelling content that makes Pinterest a more welcoming place to browse, Pinterest rewards you.

So what does that look like?

We’re glad you asked.

Particularly with the new summed pins, we strongly encourage having a Pin It button on your website.  Make it easy for your followers to share your images. When all they have to do is click and Pin, they are much more likely to share. More sharing results in climbing summary Repins numbers.

Making it easy to share on social is step one. Optimizing for social media is step two.

Combine elegant and captivating imagery with relevant descriptions to make your pins shine. As a savvy marketer, you also need to weave in a few keywords. Crafting your own thought-out description gives Pinterest context as they pull together the universal description.  

If you’re just getting started on Pinterest, or perhaps you want a brush up on the basics, check out our tips for building your winning strategy. Make sure your unique strategy covers several pinning basics like:

    • Ensuring links work (No one enjoys landing on a 404 page, or worse, a spam page),
    • Pinning content that aligns closely with the board,
    • Using attractive, portrait-style photos,

Pinterest is Evolving

Things are (and always will be) changing on Pinterest. That’s a great thing!

With these updates, they’re encouraging high-quality content to take precedence on the platform. No matter what updates or changes they throw your way, by focusing on providing a positive experience to your audience you can turn every update into a unique advantage.

At Tailwind, our goal is to help you execute your Pinterest strategy. We know that doing so can help drive traffic to your website and increase revenue in your business. That’s why our marketing suite gives you the ability to schedule out pins, measure engagement and identify pins are most effective for your audience.

If you think all of that sounds good, wait until you check out our “Discover Content” area. Curating high-quality content just got easier. All you need to do is shoot me an email at [email protected] to get this tool added to your account! 

All of these things add up in your favor as Pinterest continues to roll out updates.

Have you started to see the new changes on Pinterest? Let us know what you think of them in the comments.

What You Need To Know About Pinterest's Activity Changes
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  1. Avatar

    Wow. This is so bad for interior designers and other artists of any kind I think. Descriptions are often where attribution for creative work is given. I know on many of my posts where I’ve used designer’s images…including my own design work, I have taken the time to credit photographers, designers, etc., so that those credits show up in the descriptions when pinned. If those descriptions are wiped out, then credits are lost in Pinterest’s platform. It’s hard enough to get proper attribution these days for photographers and original content creators. I can only imagine that this will create one more boundary/step away from original sources. As a designer, active in the design community on social media, I know that proper attribution is a heated and current issue that designers and photographers are feeling.

    I really appreciate the info you provide here. Learning a lot. Thank you.

    • Avatar

      My interpretation is the opposite Carla, the original description will stay, as created by the original pinner/creator. Subsequent comments that removed the original will not be repinned….but I’m not 100% on that! I haven’t seen any evidence as yet and I’m intrigued by these auto-generated descriptions.

      • Avatar

        I hope! That would be great as I currently take a lot of time appropriately labeling in my posts, so that pin descriptions will be accurate with accreditation. If that was wiped out and then Pinterest generated the description, that would likely not include names, I would think.

      • Avatar

        No that’s not quite right

    • Avatar
      Melissa Megginson

      That’s a really interesting point of view, Carla, and one I had not thought of before!

      Honestly, it’s difficult to truly predict what the universal descriptions will hold but I do believe Pinterest will try and protect content creators. One of the quotes I pulled about universal descriptions from Pinterest’s help center for this article has since been replaced, which suggests they’re still working on getting it right.

      Regardless of what happens with descriptions in the future, I think having Rich Pins should become even more of a priority. If you have Rich Article Pins enabled on your site, you are able to control what title is shown on Pinterest.

    • Avatar
      Matt Strong

      this is pretty shocking. Attribution of designers / artists work has plummeted since this change. I’m now reluctant to re-pin work as correct credit’s I add will be lost if my pins are re-pinned (I don’t want to compound a problem) … despite this blog i don’t quite understand what’s going on but it is clear that I’m seeing page after page of pins with no attribution. Pinners get more credit for distributing content than the artists themselves for producing it. Pinterest need to look at this ASAP.

    • Avatar
      john nielsen

      I completely agree. I used to add info to the description of pins on my fave boards. All this is now gone, when those pins are repinned. Now I only see generic descriptions, often just an “advert” of the site the pin is pinned from. This means my interaction with my pins are zero. And pinning has become less interesting for me. Im down to pinning out of old habit, and only a fraction of before. I see very few pins from my fave pinners as well.

  2. Avatar

    Phew, glad I got this now! I was just in the middle of doing a newsletter which talks about all of the changes happenging in the digital world.

    • Avatar
      Melissa Megginson

      Yay! Happy to help, Chelsea 🙂

  3. Avatar

    When did you guys start to notice this change? My traffic is on a constant drop since May 5/6th…

    • Avatar

      I noticed a dramatic shift about a month ago on my page (/flagandsteel/). My posting patterns and behavior haven’t really changed, but after a steady year-long rising trend I noticed a huge drop in audience since mid-April. Pinterest is saying I’ve lost a third of my audience in the last month.

      Weirdly though, I’m getting more followers than ever. I’m seeing 3x or 4x the number of normal daily followers since this drop in audience.

      I really don’t know what to make of this – how am I getting more followers at the same time my audience is plummeting??

      • Avatar
        Richard Livitski

        Totally agree with the traffic drop. The strange thing is that activity for each pin posted is about the same as usual…if it’s truly the case, then why wouldn’t the same amount of people be clicking thru to my site as before??

        • Avatar

          There is one thing I’ve noticed. At the same time my Pinterest traffic dropped, my ” Direct” traffic started increasing. Could some Pinterest click-throughs now be being reported as Direct by Google Webmaster Tools. Have you seen this too?

    • Avatar

      Same , there was an algorithm change around the start of April. My traffic from Pinterest halved. It’s climbing again now, I’ve been very active lately but still, it sucks.

      • Avatar

        Yes they have messed up a good thing quite severely.

  4. Avatar
    Debbie Sessions

    Overall I like the changes Pinterest has made. Recently I have received Group Board invitations almost daily. I remember this used to be a cumbersome task. Did Pinterest change something? I can’t see to find any info on it.

    • Avatar
      Melissa Megginson

      That’s interesting, Debbie! I don’t know of anything that Pinterest changed on their end re: group boards, but I do know they’ve been adding easier ways for users to follow Pinners (follow button after someone Repins your content, mobile follow buttons, etc.).

      My best guess is that the increased follow visibility has put your profile in better view of people to invite you to their group boards. Regardless, it sounds like you’re definitely doing something right!

  5. Avatar

    Do I understand correctly that Tailwind scheduled pins will count in the new summary pin counts?

    • Avatar
      Danny Maloney

      Yes, @tomylulu:disqus . All activity on a given piece of content will be summed up, whether scheduled through a Marketing Developer Partner (like Tailwind) or pinned organically.

  6. Avatar

    Yes I’ve seen it. This sounds great, but my traffic still hasn’t recovered after the huge change back at the start of April. It’s down by around half. Although my followers are increasing even more rapidly now, around 150 per week, the number of click throughs has plummetted.

  7. Avatar

    Love TailWind. Thanks for this insightful post.

    I have noticed the new changes on Pinterest esp. after the Feb Algorithm change. My Descriptions went awol on most pins I took the time to redo them and still lost a good few…I was frustrated to say the least!

    Most of these changes have not yet created a positive change for existing Users even those with large numbers of followers. In fact many are really worried about the state of Pinterest and the meager traffic trickling thru to our blogs/sites. Because Pinterest is not really “A Socially platform” rather a Visual search engine (They have made it real clear on that front), there is very little one can do in terms of communicating with a Pinner other than repinning, Saving, Loving the Pin & Commenting. Very few people really respond to private messages!

    Since most pins are barely getting seen by anyone via the Smart feed, this is really causing worry and concern for Pinners.

    New users are simply not bothering to spend the time to let these changes settle in. They head back to FB,Twitter or Wherever. Begs the Qn. Are thes echnages comming thick and fast great for Pinterest’s long term growth? I sure hope so!

  8. Avatar
    Audrey Cutrer

    thanks for this article! very informative 🙂

  9. Avatar

    This is a useless figure to most Pinterest users who want to know who is repinning from their boards. It reduces the social interaction that once was a big part of knowing who was repinning fequently from you. Also they have totally destroyed the home feed by not allowing me to see the pins of 90% of the people I follow. They’ve turned a great thing into sludge.

  10. Avatar

    The new so called smart feed makes most pins I see redundant. It’s actually quite a narrow minded feed. I’m actually afraid to pin anything because I know I will get flooded with dozens of the same thing which is not what I am looking for.

  11. Avatar
    Melissa Jill

    Is it possible that the aggregate pin count on a specific pin on your board starts from your instance of the pin (either repining it from another user or from the original source) and then adds everything up from there — repins of that pin and then repins of those pins, etc. into eternity)? Looking at my repin numbers, this makes more sense. I know I have repined pins that are wildly popular elsewhere on Pinterest that have too few repins on my board to make it make sense that it is an aggregate sum of ALL the instances of that image across Pinterest. And when I search for a certain thing, i.e. “Ada thong sandals,” there are two of the exact same pin showing, from the same source — Style Me Pretty — and they have different repin numbers. If the repin number was an aggregate of ALL the instances of that image across Pinterest, I would expect the repin numbers of the same image from the same source to be exactly the same.

  12. Avatar

    For awhile I was seeing the total count of pins on my mac computer and I loved the change, but now I only see the number of pins for the ones pinned from my board. In other words, it’s back to the way it used to be. Do you know what that might be?

  13. Avatar

    I really enjoyed reading all the comments. It gave me a very different perspective on the pins. Pinterest has lost a good part of its appeal for me. 🙁

  14. Avatar
    Erulasse Aranel

    *sigh* the most annoying thing for me about the update is that now you can only see the first part of the pin description and no comments at all until you click on the pin, and there’s no way to change this . I mean, it’s great for people who want to just see the images, but I like reading full descriptions and getting a preview of the comments, and there’s no way for me to do that now!

  15. Avatar
    Upcycled Jewelry

    Interesting, I haven’t been able to get a single repin for a couple years other than with my group. I used to get hundreds, that same pin will get nothing now if I repin it! I tried deleting all of my pins with fewer that 5 pins but still no luck!

  16. Avatar
    Alissa Oetman

    I wish they would leave the sections of people and boards I’m following alone!!! I can’t find some of the people I was following with the new format – they’ve disappeared from my content – that’s crap. I’m not trying to market anything. I just want to be able to save ideas for my own use and if the format keeps changing, it makes it very difficult to find anything again. Guess I’ll have to find a different format to use if Pinterest can’t figure out that not everything needs constant “fixing”.

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