Understanding the Latest Pinterest Algorithm Update - 2020
Learn all about Pinterest Marketing best practices and what you should discontinue ASAP.
Don't miss my Q&A session with a Tailwind representative.
by Dama Jue
Is your head still spinning after the latest Pinterest update? (Announced Feb. 2020) If so, you’re not alone.
Content creators, bloggers, online businesses, and Pinterest managers are all scrambling to understand the algorithm changes and try to get a good foothold for moving forward.
Don’t fret, I’ve been doing my research and am dying to pass along the latest and greatest information that you need to know about the Pinterest update and the one thing you need to do consistently to see success with Pinterest marketing this year. While most people really do tend to “freak” out when updates happen and algorithm changes are released, it’s important to remember that changes occur because the brands feel that they have a better understanding of what users are actually wanting and needing. (Be sure to read all the way to the bottom to check out my Q&A session with Melissa Megginson from Tailwind from a few days after the updates were announced!)
Pinterest and Tailwind Announce Updates to Best Practices for Pinterest Marketing February 2020
In a live webinar hosted by Tailwind (click here to watch it) in February 2020, Pinterest Partner Manager Lucy Matthews and Tailwind CEO Danny Maloney chatted all about updates to the Pinterest algorithm and best practices for 2020. All good, right? The only problem is, the Pinterest rep was quite tight-lipped about any actual changes, and Tailwind reps were reticent to share any specifics. However, I can summarize the biggest takeaways from the interviews right here for you.
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The number one Pinterest marketing strategy is…
Create fresh pins and consistently
The message from Pinterest was loud and clear: create fresh pins.
What is a fresh pin, anyway?
Backstory: a “pin” is a clickable image found on the Pinterest app that is created by the users and can be saved to others’ boards. Previously, many marketers tried to create false engagement by saving their own, often years-old pins multiple times. However, since Pinterest adjusted their algorithm to introduce the Smart Feed, and pins on your feed are no longer shown chronologically, this is no longer a valid strategy. Some might reupload the same pin graphic, same url, and only change the description, in an effort to trick the algorithm into treating it as a new pin. Pinterest was clear: these strategies are not effective.
Back to fresh pins…
Pinterest is all about NEW IMAGES
Creating a pin with a brand new image is the ONLY way that that pin is going to be considered new or fresh. Straight from the lips of Pinterest themselves.
For Pinterest to see your pins as NEW pins, each pin you upload needs to have an image that has never been uploaded to Pinterest before, by you or anyone else.
Fresh pin = new never-been-uploaded-to-Pinterest-before image + any url
What is the benefit of creating new pins for Pinterest?
Right now, it’s going to give you the biggest benefit to create new pins because the Pinterest algorithm values relevancy. This means that the algorithm craves and prioritizes new pins to disperse to all the Pinterest users. Pinterest sees less value in sharing the same pins and realizes that consumers feel the same way. Aren’t we all a little tired of seeing the same pin 3 times in a scroll-session?
New pins will get the priority of being distributed in front of users and in smart feeds. (THIS IS HUGE!)
We also learned that pins that are continually shared over and over without changing out the image or creating new pins will be deprioritized, or released last in the algorithm, which may result in lower user engagement or clicks through to your site.
Creating new images helps to indicate your account isn't spam
There have been many Pinterest accounts this past year that have been swept up into the “Spam” category by Pinterest. Some of them are valid while others are not truly spam accounts.
See my post on stolen pins and accounts marked as spammers here.
The biggest takeaway to remember about sharing pins is that you do run the risk of appearing spammy to Pinterest if you are pinning the same pins over and over (and over again). Their algorithm detects that and can result in your Pinterest account being shut down because of it.
The more new pins you create, the less likely something like this is to happen. (If your account does happen to get marked as spam, you should email firstname.lastname@example.org to start the process of getting it reinstated.)
need a little help getting yourpinterest account and boards set up?
- 360 done-for-you board ideas for your Pinterest account for 12 popular niches
- Pinterest profile setup guidelines and best practices
- My killer technique for brainstorming new boards and categories for your content
Understanding how this affects using Tailwind as your Pinterest scheduler
Once the Pinterest rep shared the latest information about their algorithm update and hopped off the webinar, the outcry in the comments from those tuning in live and active on the platform every day grew to a roar.
What does fresh pin mean? Can I still repin my content? How many boards can I share it to? What about SmartLoops? What about Tribes?
Basically, panic set in. Here is the long and short of Tailwind’s responses:
Don’t overdo it.
You can still upload and save the same pin that you’ve already pinned or scheduled before but it is recommended you do this in bulk using a scheduler like Tailwind and there does need to be time in between this happening. It is recommended that you use the Intervals feature in Tailwind when scheduling out new content and set the minimum interval (amount of time between when an image is shared to a new board) to be 7 days.
They also recommend only sharing a new pin to no more than 10 relevant boards. Once you’ve shared it to 10 boards, it’s time to create a new image. For ideas of how to create new pin images for the same content, check out the images Tailwind shared on their blog:
As shown above, you can create a nearly infinite number of unique images for fresh pins without having to take all new photos by zooming in or out on an image, flipping the image horizontally, changing the pin layout, and changing the pin’s text overlay, in content, font, size, color and position.
Tip: don’t make the changes too subtle, ie only changing the copy color but changing nothing else, or it won’t actually count as as fresh pin. Change at least two if not more elements.
Tailwind introduces Smart Guide
Tailwind has implemented a new “best practices” feature called Smart Guide to prevent spammy pinning. You can override it or disable it. However, I don’t recommend it. I also recommend sharing your pin to a max of 10 boards with a good interval in between each one, I usually use 8 days. In fact, I was implementing these best practices on my own and all my client accounts, well before these updates were announced. Spacing it out this way avoids being tagged as a spammer while still getting your pin to cycle through all the relevant Pinterest boards.
How many pins are too many pins to schedule out and pin per day?
The recommended frequency for daily pinning was recommended to be between 15-25 pins per day. This isn’t “concrete” by any means but it should give you an idea of what Pinterest is looking for from content creators. There is a max number of pins per day but Tailwind has warned that excessive pinning can “hurt your distribution, reduce your overall reach or put your account at unnecessary risk.”
So what exactly are the new best practices? (for the list-loving types)
- Do not reshare pins that are years old, no matter what bloggers are saying. Share NEW pin images. The content (blog post, YouTube video, podcast episode, etc) doesn’t have to be new, but for best reach, create a new image for it often.
- For the first time you share a new pin, be sure to share it to your most relevant board for that pin. Do not share it to a secret board and then repin it from there.
- Share your new pins to a max of 10 or so boards. Gone are the days of sharing a single pin to 34 boards, “relevant” and not so relevant.
- Use the interval feature to space out the time between when the new pin is scheduled to each of those 10 boards. Tailwind recommends a minimum of 7 days apart, I like to use 8-10 day intervals. If you haven’t discontinued the circa 2013 practice of repinning your content to every board possible, stop now
- Tailwind claims their most successful users share between 15-25 pins a day, including a mix of their own and others’ content. If you’re currently sharing 50+ pins a day, start scaling back.
Best way to keep up to date on all the Pinterest updates?
It can be tricky to stay up to date with everything when it all seems to change so quickly. One of the easiest ways to stay up to date on Pinterest changes and updates is to hop on my email list. I love to keep my tribe up to date on all things Pinterest.
If you have Tailwind-specific questions, such as regarding your Tailwind account or any new features, contact them at email@example.com.
My Q&A with Melissa From Tailwind at the Pinterest Headquarters
I was invited to meet with Tailwind Community Manager Melissa Megginson at the Pinterest Headquarters in San Francisco, CA. I had the best time sipping iced cofffee and chatting with Melissa about all things social media and, of course, about the latest Pinterest updates. I polled my followers on Instagram about what they wanted to know and took those questions and some of my own. Here’s what Melisssa had to say:
Pinterest Questions Answered by Tailwind
For Pinterest, what counts as a video pin?
For something to be considered an actual video pin, it depends on the file type. A .gif file is not considered a video pin on Pinterest. However, a .mp4 and a .mov ARE video pins. Basically, anything animated (even a static pin with small animated movements) would be considered a video pin on Pinterest unless it’s a .gif file.
How many video pins should we be creating for Pinterest monthly?
Honestly, it’s hard to say. They’re very new and there isn’t a ton of data on them. They are being pushed right now but make certain to only make a video pin if it makes sense. Don’t force it.
When you’re creating a video pin, treat it the same way that you would a new pin. Fresh content, not the same video pin over and over – it needs to be unique. The same idea applies, however, as fresh pins. You can change the overlay, the crop, the length, the speed, etc to take a single piece of video and make it into many unique versions. My tip: just don’t share them to frequently. Introduce a new version of the video once a month, or perhaps every two weeks, at the very soonest.
I also asked Melissa to help me get specific with a video pins strategy. What kind of frequency works? Her recommendation is test, test, test it out. Try creating a new video pin a month and if that does well and you have the content, increase to two a month. She doesn’t recommend switching to a 100% video pin format, but definitely try your hand at creating video pins and see what works for you.
When scheduling video pins in Tailwind, should I grab the one already posted on Pinterest or upload a new one to Tailwind?
Upload the video pin to Tailwind directly to start scheduling it out. Melissa admits the video pin scheduling feature in Tailwind was problematic in the past, but is now working well.
What if I am having issues with Tailwind or have a suggestion for a fix that would help my workflow?
Every platform has its issues and Tailwind isn’t immune. One in particular I’d love to see fixed is the red bar of doom (you know you’ve seen it!). When you hit Scheduled but one of the pins in your drafts is missing a title, description or url, none of them will schedule, so you have to pour over your drafts to find which is missing a piece of data. I’d love to see those that are complete and ready to go move out of Drafts and into Scheduled when I hit the Schedule All button, leaving only the incomplete drafts behind. Melissa noted that and said she’d discuss it with her team, so hopefully we’ll see that update soon.
If you have a product/functionality/workflow suggestion, or are having tech issues with your Tailwind account, you can reach out to them via their chat feature. Here’s how:
In the lower right corner of your Tailwind dashboard, click on the blue question mark. You’ll see a pop-up question box, video guides, and a blue button that says Message Us. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Instagram Questions Answered by Tailwind
Will Tailwind for Instagram be able to schedule Stories?
Tailwind has a robust Instagram feed post scheduler but currently, scheduling Stories is not available. Some platforms offer this feature on their paid plans, but unfortunately, they aren’t auto-post. According to Melissa, Instagram isn’t likely to ever release that capability to partners like Tailwind, Later, Hootsuite or Buffer.
Why doesn't Instagram want to make auto-post scheduling for Stories available?
According to Melissa, Instagram has communicated to partners like Tailwind that Instagram Stories should be “of the moment, feel natural, and less curated” than feed posts and all the features like adding text, Stickers, locations, etc should be added in-app only.
The upswing to this is: if you’re nervous or hesitant to show up in Stories, either showing your face, snapshots of your day, anything, let it go, babe. The point of them is to be raw and not picture-perfect, so just go with it.
Do you have to type in your hashtags every time to get maximum reach or can we use the ones that auto-populate?
You can use the auto-populate feature or just copy and paste. There’s no penalty for doing that. Hashtags are fickle things and rumors always start to circulate about them or any time there is a change.
Bottom line: unless facts come from a partner or from the brand itself, it’s a rumor.
Are there Instagram lives available weekly to stay on top of changes like there are for Pinterest?
As of now, no. We used to have one but it didn’t get much traction so it was stopped. It might happen again in the future, but there’s nothing right now.
However, Melissa hinted at changes coming soon (think March 2020) to Tailwind’s platform on desktop for Instagram featuring a cleaner look, extra hashtag help, and additional planning features, as well as the release of completely new versions of their apps for Android and IOS, for both Pinterest and Tailwind. They know the apps were not very useful and glitchy in the past, so they’ve wiped the slate clean and are prepping to launch IOS apps very soon.
As you can see, staying up to date with the Pinterest updates offers great benefits to all of us as content creators and Pinterest managers. The more that we can familiarize ourselves with the current practices for both Pinterest and Instagram, the better edge we might have to take our Pinterest and Instagram accounts to a whole other level!
Do you have any questions about the Pinterest update? I'd love to help!
If you’d like to rather not stress about algorithm updates and all the minutiae and nuances of creating a successful Pinterest marketing strategy, let me handle it for you. I know you’re busy and ain’t got time for it. Tap the link below to schedule a chat with me about where you’re at with your Pinterest marketing efforts and how I can help take them to the next level.
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