New & updated best practices that you must know if you are using Pinterest for business. All summed up and explained in this comprehensive post, check it out!

Pinterest Best Practices for 2018: Summed Up & Simplified

You might have heard about the interview between Tailwind and Pinterest’s Head of Product Marketing that went down last week.

We got answers to our most burning questions straight from the source (high five, Pinterest!).  The interview was full of precious info, and some of the revelations might come as a surprise!
I’ve summed up the highlights and what you need to do to be aligned with the latest Pinterest changes! Dive in!
(Haven’t seen the interview? If you want to watch it first, go here).

This is a long post, so here’s a handy-dandy contents table:

1. The First 5 Rule
2. The Best Repin Ratio
3. Fresh Content vs. Repeat Content
4. Why ‘claiming’ your site is important
5. Best Pin Image Size(s)

 

The Mysterious ‘First 5 Rule’

This rule was scrapped by Pinterest shortly after being introduced. Oh, well! 🙂

Pinterest’s new rule left everybody confused and guessing as to what it exactly means in practical terms. The rule says:

“The first 5 Pins you save each day will be prioritized for distribution.”

Here’s the latest:

  • The day starts at midnight UTC  (check what that is for your timezone)
  • Your first 5 pins get distribution priority over your other pins
  • It only affects the new Following feed

What this means

The Following feed is a space dedicated to content exclusively from the people you follow. As opposed to the Smart Feed (the default Pinterest page), it shows your pins in real time to your followers.

For optimal user experience, Pinterest spreads out the content from various pinners in the Following feed. It keeps you from overloading your followers with too many pins at once.

 “The idea is that Pinterest shares the first five Pins from someone you follow, then moves on to showing the newest Pins from the next person they follow, and so on.
In other words, we’ll get back around to showing your next five Pins, but that would appear after the content from other people they follow.”

This distribution system also gives each account an equal chance to reach their followers through the Following feed. The ‘rotation’ resets at midnight UTC every day.

For example, if your Ideal Customer  follows 80 Pinterest accounts, including yours, when she goes to her Following feed, she will see pins from all those 80 accounts  evenly distributed in her feed. This provides an optimal user experience for her, and equal chances for all active accounts to get seen.

What you need to do

  • Schedule your most important, most engaging pins for after midnight UTC, but..
  • .. take into consideration when your followers are actually active on Pinterest! If you appear in the Following feed at 12:01 AM UTC, but your followers are asleep, nobody will see your pins.
  • Whether you’re pinning manually or with a scheduler, make sure your first 5 pins of the day are your own, and they are impeccable: eye-catching, vertical image, keyword-rich description, Rich Pin etc.

Content Ratio: 50/50 or 80/20?

This is one of the surprising bits! 🙂

There is NO magic ratio! The reason for this ties in with my next point about fresh content.

Pinterest LOVES it if you are pinning your own content, especially if that content is ‘fresh’!  However, since no content creator EVER will be able to produce enough content to consistently pin only their own, Pinterest is happy for you to fill in the gaps with well-curated, quality content from others!

What you need to do

  • Keep pinning consistently on a daily basis
  • Don’t worry about keeping to a certain ratio
  • Pin your own products as much as you want, but prioritize quality over quantity: rather have a handful of top-notch, well-optimized pins, than a bunch of average ones with sub-par pin graphics and lacking SEO  (Don’t have time for this? I can help!)

 

Fresh vs. Repeat Content

You’ve probably been pinning your own content like this:

You go to Etsy, you pin your image from your shop manager, add it straight to your brand board, then you go to Pinterest and repin that original pin to all your other relevant boards out there.

Now we know that this is not the best way to do it! If you’ll only implement one thing from this admittedly long post, make it this.

 “As the content creator, it’s best for you to save a fresh version of your pin…

We know that pinners love fresh content…with the implementation of the Following feed, now more than ever it matters a lot to save your content while it’s fresh…

Our favorite type of fresh content is brand new content in the world e.g. a blog post that you just wrote, but a brand new pin from a 2-year-old blog post still counts as fresh.”

What this means

Pinterest users love fresh content, so Pinterest wants to see content creators post fresh content to the site. All clear so far. But when it comes to the definition of fresh, things get a bit confusing!

So what’s fresh according to Pinterest?

The bestest & freshest: 

  • If you upload a new product to your shop, and upload a new pin with a brand new image to Pinterest

‘Kind of’ fresh:

  • If you create a new image for an existing product, and upload it as a new pin to Pinterest
  • If you upload a new pin with an already existing image, but change up the pin description

Not necessarily fresh, but better than a repin:

  • If you upload a new pin instead of repinning an old, existing pin with identical features (same image, same pin description). Use this method scarcely when pinning within the same board.

What you need to do

When pinning your own content for the first time to your boards:

  • Create a new pin (not a repin) for every instance of your pin! Upload a brand new pin through Etsy (or directly via Pinterest) for every board you add your pin to.
  • Make sure to save the first instance of your new pin to your most relevant board. This is probably NOT your brand board. Pinterest will prioritize the first instance of your pin. Saving it to the most relevant board gives Pinterest extra context of what your pin is about and this will help your pin’s distribution. (You do have keywords in your board titles & descriptions, right?)
  • No need to change up the description between the instances of your pin.
  • Space out your pins by 10-12 hours

When “looping” the same content to a board:

  • Create a new pin (not a repin) & change up the description.
  • Only loop if the pin’s content becomes relevant again.

 

If you usually add your pins to a lot of boards (e.g. group boards), this process is going to be more cumbersome than repinning.

The good news is that there’s a tool that can help you save time and make the process super easy! It allows you to create your pin once, and will add it as a fresh pin to all of the boards you want, at the times you want, and even give you suggestions on the best times to post! If you’re not familiar with Tailwind, now’s the time to try it!

Take it for a spin for free here. You’ll get 1 month & 100 pins for free.
(If you sign up for a paid plan, I will also get 1 month for free, at no extra cost to you.)

 

Claiming ownership of your content

We prioritize content that is coming from the owner of the website that those pins link to.

Claiming your website on Pinterest is an important part of ‘legitimizing’ your business account. As Etsy sellers, we unfortunately don’t have the possibility of claiming our website in our Pinterest profile.

How will Pinterest know what is our own original content, then?

What you need to do

If you fill in the space under “Claim your website” with the URL of your Etsy store, Pinterest will recognize when you are sharing your own content. (Yes, even though you can’t actually claim the site!)

To add your URL, use this structure: yourshopname.etsy.com

 

screenshot of pinterest claim your website

Pin Image Dimensions

Pinterest Best Practices guide seems to offer 3 optimal image ratios:

Pinterest vertical aspect ratio recommendation

Turns out that’s not the case! The interview clarified that the one ideal aspect ratio for pin images is 2:3 (600×900 or 735×1102 pixels).

If you deviate much from the 2:3 ratio, particularly if you go much taller than that, you might see less distribution, or your Pins might be cut off in certain parts of the Pinterest app.
2:3 is recommended because it is your safest ratio across all of the spaces.

What this means

When Pinterest started truncating long pins in the main feed (starting around Nov 2017), it became clear they wanted to do away with the gargantuan vertical pins that used to be so popular on Pinterest. Now further measures are being rolled out to restrict those pins.

Here’s why you don’t need to start worrying about your images that might not precisely fit these dimensions:

  • A minor deviation from the exact ratio will likely not impact your reach in a major way, or at all.
  • There are other important factors that weigh in to your pin’s quality rating (looking at you, SEO).
  • Pinterest is constantly experimenting  (don’t we know?)
  • What works best for your account will largely depend on your audience

An alternative ratio – 1:2.1

In spite of the recommendation, the smart feed continues truncating pins at the slightly larger, 1:2.1 ratio (600 x 1260 or 735 x 1560 pixels – until now, this ratio was understood as one of those recommended.) 

This is the maximum size your pin can be before it is cut off in the feed, and we can’t talk about pin image dimensions without discussing the benefits of this ratio.

Why would I argue against Pinterest’s recommendation?

  • Because the 2:3 ratio makes you lose out on precious real estate.
    As long as the feed truncates at the 1:2.1 ratio, your 2:3 pins will be at a relative disadvantage in size compared to other, longer pins.
    Long pins used to be popular for a reason: the longer a pin is, the more it draws attention.The space your pin takes up in the feed remains an important factor for getting engagement, and the more engagement you get, the more your pin gets distributed.

It’s worth considering what might get you more traction in the algorhythm: sticking precisely to the ideal ratio, or getting more engagement?

  • Because the 2:3 ratio is NOT optimal for design.
    The 2:3 ratio makes it difficult to get creative with your pins, to feature various products, to include engaging, adequately sized text, not to mention your website link and a call-to-action! Oh, did I mention the fastest way to kill any design? Cramming and crowding and jamming it all together! So yeah, I definitely see a dilemma there…

On the other hand, the 1:2.1 ratio:

  • Maximizes your real estate in the Smart Feed, which may lead to higher engagement
  • Can comfortably accommodate various photos, text blocks, call-to-actions etc., allowing for a creative, more interesting pin design, which may also help with engagement.
  • Product pins are more complex and require a bigger canvas: you need to showcase your products in a meaningful way and also include context, branding and whatnot – not just stick a fancy stock photo on there with a large overlay containing your blog post title. Amiright?!
  • In my understanding, it does not deviate significantly from the ideal ratio and remains above the cut-off line.

What you need to do

The bottomline is: even though the 2:3 aspect ratio is the official recommendation, it might not be what works best for your account. What works best for you will be what appeals most to your audience.

The Quick Fix:

Stick to the ideal 2:3 ratio when creating images from now on. (No, you don’t have to re-do all your existing images. Focus on creating new content.)

The Strategic Approach:

Create 2 pins for the same product: one with a 2:3 ratio (e.g. Canva’s template), and another with the 1:2.1 ratio (600×1260 or 735×1560 pixels).
Don’t change anything else, and be sure to pin them at the same time to the same board. Rinse & repeat this a few times to see a pattern emerge.

 

What if you have extra-long, viral pins that drive you traffic?

These are definitely targeted by these updates, and it sounds like extra-long pins could be slowly phased out of the feeds. You might see less and less traction on them with time.
It’s not clear how much an already viral pin will be restricted in distribution – we’ll have to wait and see! But at least you can get prepared and create more, ideally sized images to replace your traffic source!

Did I leave anything out? Do you have any questions?
Let me know in the comments!

Rainbow sparkles & unicorn snuggles!

10 thoughts on “Pinterest Best Practices for 2018: Summed Up & Simplified”

    1. Hi Sheila!

      Pins might be displayed differently across the different parts of the Pinterest app, but we have no exact info on what that means for mobile phones. For me, the Android app shows pins in 2 columns, and only the really long ones are truncated. This is why it may be a good idea to experiment with 2 sizes for each pin you create.

  1. Wonderful, Tundi. I’ve just read it through but feel like I need to read it through again with a cup of tea to get my head around all this info. I listened to the Tailwind interview myself and didn’t manage to glean as much as you did from it. So thanks very much for this – it’s super useful. And congratulations on getting your first blog post out! 😀

  2. So much information Tündi. Thank you 🙂
    I´ve being lazy and not working on my pins …
    I have to make a schedulle and put all the things I need to do and actually do them 🙂
    Kiss

    1. Thank you Helena, you’re too sweet 🙂 Yes, writing things down is the 1st step towards getting shit done! (coming from a master procrastinator). If you are overwhelmed, just take a sheet of paper and write a ‘brain dump’ that is anything and everything that comes to mind!! After you can start creating the structure. I might actually create a post with tips on staying track with your Pinterest game! Good luck and see you around! 🙂

    1. Thank you Ellen, glad you enjoyed it! 🙂 I’m adding a Pinterest widget soon so you can easily bookmark any content, stay tuned!

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