Failed Fashion Blogger Epiphany: Pinterest Is Not Social Media

social media phone

Back in 2012, when Pinterest was still pretty new, Refinery 29 named me a “Pinterest Star” and I immediately gained thousands of followers. Wow, this Pinterest thing is a piece of cake, I thought! Pretty fun and addictive, too.

Since then, my number of followers has inched slowly upward somewhat steadily, and I often get close to 100 repins every day. Still, I was vaguely aware over the years that my obsessive Pinning was not doing much for my blog. But I didn't know what I could do differently, so I continued pinning the best images from my blog posts, repining stuff I thought was cool, and keeping my fingers crossed that something good would come of it.

But, while I find mindless Pinning quite enjoyable, nothing much did come of it, and I recently decided to dig into my analytics and see what was really going on. Turns out I'm receiving exactly one visit per day on average to my website from Pinterest. One! Not very impressive for a so-called Pinterest Star.

pinterest star day

So when I heard about the Pinfinite Growth webinar that IFB hosted last week with Melyssa Griffin, I was intrigued.

The very first and most important thing I learned is that Pinterest is not, in fact, social media. It's obvious when you think about it: no one comments much on Pinterest, and it's the place everyone goes to find inspiration—not really to connect or interact.

But if it's not social media, then when the heck is it? Answer: It's a search engine. And that means to use it well, you need to learn how to use SEO to rank in the highest-level results, you need to know at least a little bit about Pinterest's inner workings so you can use its algorithm to your advantage, and your pins need to entice users to take that extra step and click through to your website.

The webinar touched on some basic ways to do this. One that was particularly eye-opening for me was not to pin images that you like, but that your readers will like. That's a shift in thinking that I can imagine benefitting any business far beyond Pinterest.

She covered much more—but instead just talking about Melyssa's strategy tips, I'm going to try them out for myself and share the results with you all here at IFB. Stay tuned for my upcoming columns where I'll be testing out the Pinfinte Growth techniques and digging into my numbers to see the effects. See you back here in two weeks and happy pinning!

[Photo by Anna-Alexia Basile]

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About The Author

In addition to being editor at IFB, Kristen writes for Forbes, Eat, Sleep, Denim, and her own blog, Stylenik. Previously, she served as the San Francisco editor for Racked, covering the intersection of retail, fashion, and technology. She has written about everything from human cloning to luxury shopping for publications including Wired, Gizmodo, Refinery 29, and the San Francisco Chronicle. She lives in a '70s house in '70s clothes on the Northern California coast. 

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2 Responses

  1. ReaderRita

    But if you pin only things that your readers will like, doesn’t that take your personality and you out of your blog/board? I mean, the reason I look at other people’s pinterest boards is because I want to see something I don’t know about, something that will spark an idea in me; not something I could’ve pinned/thought of myself. I want to see other people’s o-pin-ions (sorry, couldn’t resist).
    I value individuality, not uniformity; I want to see someone else’s vision, not a mirror.
    I guess it boils down to it being the difference between doing something because your soul moves you to versus wanting higher click numbers.

    • Kristen Philipkoski

      I see your point, and as a journalist for many years I’ve thought about this approach many times. Do you want to challenge and spark new interest in your readers, or give them what they already know and love (which can feel like selling out and/or boring)? I believe there’s an art to finding the balance between the two ends of the spectrum. If you can find the topics (or pins, or Ig posts or whatever) that will both surprise and delight your fans, plus help you garner new fans, you’ve found the secret sauce.

      This is if you want your blog to also be a business. If you’re just in it for the creative expression and don’t care whether it earns money, then you really don’t have to worry about any of this stuff.