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2021 Pinterest Traffic Changes to Improve Your Marketing

March 14, 2021

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Tailwind recently did a study on Pinterest traffic and put together a guide with their findings. The study took place over a period of a few months and tracked millions of pins. Out of those millions of pins, they looked at pins that had been saved 5,000 times or more. The study looked at accounts that were high engagers and ones that were low engagers. Obviously high engagers are getting the most traffic and interactions from Pinterest, while the low engagers are not.

What they found was quite interesting.

Before I dive into what was found, first, I want to talk about Pinterest pre-2021.

How Pinterest Traffic Works

Pinterest, as we all know, is considered more of a search engine than it is a social site. The platform wasn’t being used to get a lot of followers, to engage in discussions, and it wasn’t being used as a personal platform for your family photos.

pinterest is not social media
Louder for the people in the back

While followers and interactions happen on the site, it wasn’t really pushed as something you should do. Pinterest didn’t really encourage followers and not a lot of discussions were being had on the site. It really was more about finding something you wanted to learn or researching something you wanted to buy.

And Pinterest experts had varying advice on how often to pin. Some stated you should pin 5 times a day and then see if that’s enough. They suggested playing around with pinning up to 50 pins a day. The numbers for how often and when to pin have gone up and down and seemed to be based on your industry.

Boards were seen as a place you could attract your audience. So many users were rearranging their boards and they were creating board covers for them. The advice was to create your brand using the covers and to make sure your top boards are seen first and foremost. People spent time rearranging the boards so they were organized and grouped for the best views.

And don’t forget about repins. Pinterest wanted you to share the love by sharing other people’s content. A repin could go a long way and last a long time on Pinterest. Repins and newly saved pins were no different. This slowly has faded and morphed with an emphasis, as we’ve seen over the past several years, into “fresh pins”.  But we still didn’t see a big change in repins. People were still sharing other’s content 70/30 or 80/20 and getting results.

Pinterest also made it easy to search keywords. You entered your keyword and a bunch of bubbles would appear with more keywords. It was easy peasy to find keywords in an instant.

Pinterest Goes Public

On April 18, 2019, Pinterest went public. Like other social sites, this meant that their focus was now aimed at shareholders (and making money) and less on their private interests. And with that shift, came some big changes.

Let’s look at these changes along with how Pinterest traffic has changed.

Pinners Need to Pin More

Whatever the advice on pinning has been so far, the current stats show that high engagement accounts are those that save at least 20 pins each day. No more 5-10 pins. You are going to have to ramp up those numbers a bit if you are on the lower end.

In the Tailwind study, they looked at 5,000 pins, and the ones that got the most engagement were the accounts that were saving 20 pins a day. And let’s be clear about the number. Tailwind is suggesting no more than 25 a day. So set your goal around 20-25 and see how that helps your traffic. Speaking of pinning, Tailwind also found that there really is not much of a difference between pinning directly to Pinterest and pinning to the Tailwind queue for your first set of pins. Some people were frustrated with Tailwind and thought manual pinning increased their traffic, but it turns out that Tailwind was slightly better. If you want to know for sure, you can email Tailwind and they can run a script to see the results of manual vs. scheduled pinning.

Save Those Videos

Also from the study, Tailwind says that 30% of those high engaging pins were video pins. Specifically, they were how-to demonstrations. We’ve all heard video is “it” so test those out and see how this improves your traffic as well. One thing to note is that Instagram has been downgrading Tik Tok videos on their site. But Pinterest loves them, so if you use that platform, try repurposing that content on Pinterest.

Tailwind also noted that the 1:1 ratio videos do well on Pinterest. You can do the 9:16 as well, but the 1:1 (or a perfect square–like what you see on Instagram) is what’s working. Again, testing is going to be important for your account.

Follow & Engagements for Pinterest Traffic

Do you want to know how many followers on average the highest engagers had?

50 thousand!

Isn’t that crazy? And also seems a bit impossible. But the important thing to take away here is that you are going to want to put a little more focus on followers. Not only that, but the highest engaging pins were ones with reactions, comments, and “tries” with photos. So interacting is another way you will increase your Pinterest traffic.

If you are finding it difficult to get followers, here are some suggestions:

  1. Reach out to your email list or add a signature suggesting they follow you on Pinterest
  2. Create posts or images asking your audience on various social media accounts to also follow you on Pinterest
  3. Use Woobox on Facebook which adds your pins to the platform
  4. Use MiloTree plugin for visitors on your site
  5. Add your Pinterest content to your website (pins, feeds, follow buttons, ect)

Most of us don’t have anywhere near 50,000 and we don’t know why the higher engaging pins had this many. Could it be they’ve been on Pinterest since the beginning? Use this stat to focus more on getting some followers, but don’t stress about that number.

Pinterest followers GIF

Claim Your Website

What about low engagers? Well, it turns out that only 3% of them actually took the time to claim their website. And on the other side of it, 80% of high engagers had claimed it. That means that some Pinterest users haven’t claimed their websites and it is affecting their traffic. So if you haven’t claimed your site, go do that now.

People are a bit afraid of this process because it has code involved. Yes, some people are code allergic, but trust me, this process is really quite simple. If you have WordPress, it couldn’t be easier. You can check out my video below (Start at the 1:40 mark).

Fresh Pins vs. Repins

Let’s talk about repins for a second. Repins on Pinterest are now called “Saves”.  When you save a pin, it has already been placed on Pinterest and is shared on other boards. You can save your own pin or others can save that pin as well. When you share the pin to a Tailwind Community, that’s also a save.

When you first create your pins and post them to the most relevant board, this is known as a “fresh pin”. It’s fresh the first time you share it, but after that, it becomes a save. It’s no longer new. So any content being seen for the first time ever on Pinterest is considered a fresh pin, while any pins being seen for the second, third, fourth times is seen as a save. Got it?

Yeah, it’s a bit weird. But here’s the reason this is important to know. From those pins Tailwind studied for high engagements, they learned that 71% of those pins were fresh pins and 29% were saves. This shows us that all this “fresh pin” talk is pretty accurate.

You might be thinking how on earth you are going to be able to come up with fresh content. I know, it’s a big change. But here’s the thing: repins or saves are still being seen. Pins from 2014 still show up and repins still make it to the top of the feed in search. It’s not that saves (or repins) are dead. It’s just that once you pin them for the first time, they see diminishing returns every time it is shown again on Pinterest. And this leads me to my next point…

These images at the top of the feed in a search are saves (repins)

Creating Fresh Pins and New Content

It might seem overwhelming at first to have to create a constant flow of pins. In fact, Pinterest even suggests that you pin mostly your own content. So that 80/20 rule (80% your content, 20% others content) is no more. This doesn’t mean you can’t ever save content that isn’t yours, but Pinterest is truly wanting you to spend your time creating content and sharing it.

Let’s think about this for a second from the Pinterest standpoint. They want their shareholders to be happy, which means they need to have you on their website more often. Ads are becoming more important whether you are clicking on them or creating them. Visual content is also important, so videos are helping brands too. Pinterest is focusing on the shop features on their site and is making it easy for products show up in the search. They have incorporated a way for you to “try on” makeup or use the visual search by looking up other images to find similar ones. Pinterest is allowing users to be on their site and shop without ever leaving the platform. And although Pinterest wants you to leave their site to visit the URL, they also want you to stay on the site, use the features, and come back the next time.

The Pinterest Lens feature allows you to find similar content

Getting the Most Out of Every Piece of Content

My take-away from all of this “fresh pins” talk is not to make 100’s of pins per piece of content, but take content that you already have and repurpose it.

Let’s consider this blog post that I’m writing. When I’m done, I’ll have around 2000 words. Instead of allowing this post to be a “one and done”, I will use it to create videos (I’ve already done a Facebook Live and posted it to YouTube), break it up into smaller content and post it on social media (Instagram, Pinterest quote graphics, Pinterest pins, Facebook, etc).

I can break this post up and turn it into a mini-course or create a blog series based on this data. These ideas are just a few of the things I can do to repurpose my content. There’s also email series, podcasts, transcripts, slides, lead magnets, cheat sheets, ebooks, kindle books, and more!

Ok, so now that I have all this content that I’ve created, guess what? I can create new pins for each one, or I could take my social graphics and pin those to Pinterest. Now I have filled up my queue for a week or two and I can do it again with my next piece of content. So while it seems like a lot to create all these pieces, you are really just taking what you’ve already done and adapting it for a new audience. Then you can create 5-10 pins for each of those pieces and add them to your Tailwind queue.

From a blog post, you can create a checklist, social posts, other written content such as ebooks or downloads, videos, podcasts, or really anything you can think of. Get the most from your content.

Repurposing Old Content

So you might have some older posts that did well on Pinterest. Look at your metrics and see your stats to determine what content worked on the platform. Then, rewrite your post with new details or updates. You could also turn the old content into any of the other types I’ve mentioned above. Now you have new content that you can create new pins for.

Finding Keywords on Pinterest

Pinterest changed the way you find keywords, so my friend Amy put together two SEO videos (here and here) that I think are amazingly helpful. It’s free, so go check them out on Youtube.

Basically, you used to be able to see all these bubbles with keywords when you did a search, but now they are hidden. She shows you how to find them again, but more importantly, she shows you how to correctly look for the terms without the bubbles. My opinion is that Pinterest will probably get rid of those eventually anyway, so it’s good to know a few ways to find those terms for your research.

Other Pinterest Traffic Changes for 2021

In addition to what I’ve mentioned above, here are a few changes to incorporate into your strategy:

  • You no longer need to use hashtags. They are done for.
  • Don’t waste time on board covers. No one is searching your profile boards anymore and the dimensions for the covers change all the time.
  • Don’t waste time rearranging boards either. Again, no one is looking at your boards that closely.
  • Pin engagements ramp up for 60 days and then drops off. This is a huge change because pins used to get traction forever and a day. Now Pinterest is changing it so that your pins get a lot less traffic after the 60 days.
  • The best thing you can do is run tests on your pins. It’s the best way to know what your specific audience wants.

Watch My Facebook Live Update

Correction: Tailwind did a study on millions of pins, not 5,000. They pulled out the pins that had 5000 saves or more. Big difference! Sorry about the slip up with that!

Final Thoughts

If you are interested in the study that Tailwind did, you can download it or watch their Youtube discussion (links below). While keeping abreast of all the changes seems daunting, it just requires a few tweaks as we go. Every platform changes and you need to learn to adapt. I’ve seen some people give up on Pinterest claiming it’s too hard to get exposure. I disagree. Traffic patterns change and if you are looking at those numbers monthly and annually, you’ll start to notice how your content trends. For the best engagements, it’s a good idea to create content and use the tips above to improve your numbers and your overall marketing efforts.

Pinterest Traffic Changes

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About the Author

Pinterest graphic designer and digital strategist for business owners and change-makers who want to be seen and heard.

Michelle Buck

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