A couple of weeks ago I visited the Pinterest UK headquarters here in London for a blogger workshop. While I thought I’ve been pretty on-point with my Pinterest game recently, I learned that a lot of what “Pinterest experts” are telling you to do is actually WRONG (OMG I KNOW RIGHT!?) So I’ve compiled a list of the myths that Pinterest HQ has refuted so you know what’s correct and what isn’t.
1. Pinterest is a social media network
Think about it— how much of a social element is there to Pinterest? There may be the ability to leave comments but I could count how many times I’ve left a comment on a pin on just one hand.
Pinterest HQ doesn’t call itself a social network, but instead a “search and discovery tool.” Because of this, you need to start treating it as more of a search engine than a social media platform. You can do this by focusing on creating keyword rich pin names, board names, board descriptions, and pin descriptions. Simple.
2. How many followers you have matters
If you’re using Pinterest Analytics (only available with a Business account, here’s how you can set one up), you’ll notice that there’s no way to analyze your follower growth. That’s because success on Pinterest isn’t measured by followers, it’s measured by engagement— repins, clicks, and even impressions are much better metrics to take into account.
The principle behind this is quite similar to social media networks— if you have 100,000 followers on Twitter but none of them retweet, click on your links or engage in any other way, the 100K number is pretty useless, isn’t it? On the flip side, an account with 1,000 super-engaged followers who click through to your site and love a good retweet is SUPER powerful! Same with Pinterest. So STOP focusing on your follower count— it’s a waste of time!
3. You need to be really active on Pinterest to drive traffic to your site
FALSE— you could not even have a Pinterest account and still get tons of traffic to your website through Pinterest. How? By making your content super-pinnable. Having tall, high-quality images with text overlay will get people pinning if you’ve given them some great content and an easy way to pin it. Make sure you also have the Pin It button installed on your site, and people will start to pin your stuff just because they like it. According to Pinterest, before you do anything else with your account, you should optimise your site for pinning.
Read next: How to Optimise Your Site for Pinterest
4. You should delete pins with low repin numbers to rank higher in Pinterest’s algorithm
This is a big NO, and came as a shock to me as I’ve heard so many “Pinterest experts” telling us to do this. Lizzie from Pinterest repeatably said during our session “Don’t ever delete any pins”, so when I asked her about deleting pins with low engagement, she said it was a great big FALSE, for a couple of reasons:
1. When choosing which pins to suggest to other users, there are a million different ways that Pinterest’s algorithm chooses these, but it has nothing to do with the “quality of the pinner” or how many repins a pin or a board has, and it’s the same for how your pins will appear in search results.
2. Despite what some say, if someone follows you, every single pin that you pin will show up on their home feed. The caveat is that they may not see it if they follow tons of other winners as your pin may get pushed down the feed quickly, but if you’re looking at Pinterest as a search engine and not a social network, you’ll have prepped your pins and boards to be found in the long-term anyways.
5. You should create custom board covers and make your profile look perfect
According to Pinterest it’s quite rare for someone to see your full profile page, so making your profile page look really cohesive and put together isn’t all that important, so don’t bother with custom board covers. HOWEVER— when it comes to choosing board covers, you need to think about how the board will look ON IT’S OWN when it shows up in search. You do want to choose an image that will draw the searcher to click or follow that board, and if you’ve created a board cover on the basis of how it will look with the rest of your boards on your profile page, it will look weird and out of context when it appears in board searches.
When I first created the Socially Jess Pinterest account, I planned on creating custom board covers that matched my branding, but after this Pinterest workshop, I’ve realized that choosing covers that reflect the content that is on the board is much more important than a cover that just looks pretty and fits in with your other boards.
6. You should be scheduling your pins
From the mouth of the Pinterest gods (ahem, I mean employees) it DOESN’T matter when you pin. There is no optimal pinning day or time because that’s not how it works, ok? So forget scheduling your pins (I’ve completely stopped it myself). If you want to pin something, just pin it right then and there. Yep. The only reason you should still schedule pins is if you have new content going live and you’ll be away on holiday, and you’re REALLY keen to get a pin live as soon as the post is… but this still seems kinda pointless to me. I’m even considering getting rid of my “Awesome” plan for Buffer because of this (yeah… I said it.)
7. There is no such thing as “too much pinning” or “not enough pinning”
There’s no optimal number for either and Pinterest’s algorithm doesn’t take this into account. Ever. So if you’re addicted to Pinterest, KEEP PINNING ALL THE THINGS and if you’re not, as long as your site it optimised for pinning, you’re good to go.
8. Pinterest reads the boards at the top of your profile as most important
Actually, Pinterest doesn’t care about which board is where. Who DOES care is Google, so move your seasonal boards to the top of your Pinterest profile when it’s their time so they can maybe get picked up in search, and then throw them back down at the bottom until next year.
9. You should only have boards related to your industry/niche
“Pinterest pros” have different opinions on this, but the Pinterest HQ gals said that having a recipe board for your travel blog’s Pinterest account in no way hurts you, so if you want to show a different side of yourself, go for it! If you’d rather not, then just go for a secret board.
10. You should join as many group boards as possible
The way that Pinterest Lizzie (that’s her new name now) described joining group boards was that you should only have a group board with “someone who you’d choose to go to a dinner party with”. I’d translate this to be picky about who you have a group board with, because you need to remember that your followers will also see ALL of the pins that are pinned to that board. If you’re part of a group board that just gets crap pinned to it all day and night and isn’t bringing anything relevant to your followers, then forget it.
My personal experience with Pinterest boards— for The Abroad Guide’s account, I am/was part of two group boards, one being for the Her Campus Blogger Network (where all types of college-related pins were being pinned, which is very relevant to my readership even though it’s not all travel related) as well as a general travel blogger board. Because the Her Campus board is very specific to my niche, it benefits both our account and our followers, because they see content that pertains to them and we get tons of engagement from a relevant audience (college students and bloggers). The general travel blogger board however wasn’t as relevant. My engagement rate was low and the majority of the content being pinned to it wasn’t interesting to my audience, so I left it and haven’t looked back.
Phew. Has this changed your outlook on how you should be dealing with Pinterest? It has for me. The main takeaways from this post are that you should treat Pinterest as a search engine and not a social network, and you need to make sure your site is completely optimised for Pinterest before you do ANYTHING ELSE. Now get pinning!