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You’ve gotta love tech, don’t you? Every once in a while something happens to keep us on our toes. Remember March 2019 when Instagram and Facebook were offline for a day due to a global outage? And it happened again in September 2020? Pinterest isn’t immune to such glitches: recently tons of accounts got shut down temporarily. People were getting emails that their ad accounts were suspended and they were unable to log in. Within the day it was fixed, but a lot of people are still complaining that their accounts lost many followers, or saw a significant dip in traffic which still hasn’t been recovered. While we never got an official word from Pinterest on the whole thing, my guess was they were cleaning out spam accounts. One question everyone seems to be wondering is Pinterest becoming pay to play? In other words, will running ads be the only way to positively impact their accounts going forward? Here’s what I think.

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Is Pinterest becoming pay to play?

It may be but there is always going to be room for an organic strategy (this will help too if it’s true about Pinterest becoming pay to play). Pinterest needs to make money and ads are how they do this,  so it’s highly likely. That’s why their strategy has changed to keep you on the platform.

How can I optimize my Pinterest account?

Whether or not you are choosing to run Pinterest ads right now, there are some key things you need to do to ensure your account is performing at its best.

Stay the course

If you are newer to Pinterest, in other words, your account is less than a year old, you can’t look back at your Google Analytics to see where your traffic is at its highest.

Remember the stats and information from 2020 will be unique because last year was anything but typical (#pandemic). Pinterest is a seasonal platform and it is normal to see Pinterest traffic go down in the summer months. Most Pinterest users are in the US where summer months are hot, people are typically outside and busy with activities. It was the opposite last year as searches were at a crazy all time high during the summer because we were all in lockdown. Pinterest searches usually rebound in the fall when kids go back to school and people start preparing for the holiday season.

If you have the Google Analytics data available, I recommend reaching back to your older data – maybe 2019, to start getting a sense of your typical numbers. The 2020 and 2021 information will be skewed because of covid, the homeschooling surge, the frenzy to find activities for the kids that didn’t involve other people, home cooking, and so on. Don’t let this distract you from your focus and your goals; remember Pinterest is a long game.

Is Pinterest Becoming Pay to Play

Focus on what matters

As business owners, we should be measuring KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators, over the long term. These are the measurable values tied to metrics in our marketing objectives.

Think about why you are using various platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Facebook. Most likely, you want to sell services, collect emails, make product sales, build brand visibility, or develop your expert status. Remember some of these metrics will be tangible, while others will not be so easy to gauge. For example, Instagram is all about engagement; Pinterest is search-based and great for growing your email list.

Your KPI’s should be reviewed quarterly and annually.

If you find the platform isn’t providing value for your time and investment, make the decision to leave.

Google Analytics will provide a lot of valuable insights. I recently reviewed my numbers and wanted to review where my traffic has been coming from over the last three months (April to June 2021). I have been producing videos and trying to grow my YouTube channel as part of my content strategy. The content is then repurposed to Instagram and Facebook, and into a blog post where it is then promoted by my tried and true, Pinterest. By looking at my numbers, I can see my Instagram has grown, but I also know I’ve been posting static images where the algorithm is now seeking video content there. My YouTube channel has grown, but since it’s only been three months, I know it’s not really long enough to make a key decision about my marketing strategy so I will continue that strategy.

Keep in mind when you are tracking your KPI’s, you also need to factor in the time it’s taking you to produce the content for that particular platform. In other words, you can’t really compare Facebook and Instagram to platforms like Pinterest and YouTube because those are search engines vs social media and engagement focused. I’m getting several DM’s on Instagram from people interested in my services or courses for a minimal amount of effort because I’m repurposing content, but I’m also investing time in personal engagement. So keep track of all your KPI’s.

Adjust your strategy

As with everything, Pinterest adds changes to the algorithm. Within the last six months or so, you may have noticed what worked in the past may not be working any longer.

It’s taking longer to gain traction for new accounts. If you have been online forever, you’re probably still doing okay, but with new accounts, what used to take 3-4 months is easily taking 5-6 months. If Pinterest is in your long term marketing plan, you need to pin consistently for at least 6 months before looking for solid returns on your marketing. This is one of the reasons people feel Pinterest is becoming pay to play and ads are more attractive because they jump start your marketing efforts.

Idea pins are the new content. Short form video is everywhere! TikTok, Instagram Reels, and even Facebook is rolling out Reels. Pinterest is pushing Idea Pins, or what used to be Story Pins, and video. You might notice when you search the top results are short form videos.

Why are videos suddenly so popular? They encourage creators to make dynamic content on Pinterest, and they also keep users on Pinterest for as long as possible so they can target you with ads so you will end up either clicking on an ad and/or buying something.

Along with a lot of marketers, in the beginning I did not find value in idea pins since they didn’t click out to anything. Idea pins a great strategy to grow your followers, increase clicks to your profiles where you could have an eye catching image for your course, product, lead magnet etc. along with the clickable URL to entice them over to your website to download or purchase.

Not to mention, if Pinterest is giving them importance, we as marketers must give them importance so needless to say, my opinion has changed and I have started creating Idea Pins for my own business!

My tips for utilizing Idea Pins:
– Encourage people to follow your profile and engage by leaving a heart or a smile. If people engage, Pinterest will share your content more.
– Users are also able to send comments through Idea Pins, and Pinterest will reward that engagement as well.
– Create more idea pins! Start slow and be consistent.
– Inspiration for content that performs well as Idea Pins are tutorials or simple steps (think “how to” or the “3 tips to do xyz”)
– Repurpose your content: IG Reels are the same size as Idea Pins so if you upload them to IG, add them to Pinterest too! The same goes with Tik Tok videos, but don’t repin them from Tik Tok. It’s important to upload them as fresh content in Pinterest.

Continue proper keyword research

Remember Pinterest is a search engine, so your keywords matter! And they should be strategically placed in your profile, your boards, your descriptions, your pin titles, pin descriptions, and pin designs. If you want to know more about keyword research, visit the module in Pinning Foundations.

Some content creators have been concerned because depending on your account and where you live, the search tiles at the top disappeared. Mine disappeared a while ago. Don’t despair! You can still find keywords using the top search bar. If you scroll down in the results from that keyword search, you’ll see additional suggestions from Pinterest right in your feed. It doesn’t get any easier than Pinterest telling you which keywords to use!

I also encourage you to utilize the Pinterest Trends tool. Not every search word that is in Pinterest is on Trends, but you can start typing in a keyword and then see suggested searches. It’s another way to find more keywords.

Summary of Is Pinterest Becoming Pay to Play?

  • If you have Google Analytics available for accounts pre-Covid, you may be able to gain insight from that data; time in quarantine has skewed Pinterst search results and search terms out of the ordinary cycles.
  • Review your KPI’s quarterly and annually focusing on your goals and remembering to take into account the time needed to produce content and provide engagement when deciding on return on investment.
  • New accounts are slower to gain traction, sometimes taking six months before showing solid returns on your marketing efforts. Pinterest ad campaigns can jumpstart this process.
  • Idea Pins and videos are being given priority in search.
  • Repurposing content such as Instagram Reels and TikTok videos can be a great strategy for Idea Pins on Pinterest; just be sure to pin as fresh content and not a repin from another platform. You can check out more ideas for repurposing your content here.
  • Thorough keyword research is still relevant and valuable, especially when creating promoted pin campaigns.

Is Pinterst becoming pay to play? Remember Pinterest became a publicly traded company in April 2019. There is still room for organic strategy, but if you want to speed the process up and see a return on your investment more quickly, you need to acknowledge it may be the reality. These changes are all designed to keep you on their platform longer.

If you want to learn more about running pin ads, you may be interested in

Karrie Chariton

Karrie Chariton

As an Online Business Manager, Launch Manager, & Tech Specialist, I remove the tech and systems barriers for women entrepreneurs so they can strategically grow their business without sacrificing time with their families. I am a wife, home schooling mom to 3, and cat mom. I live in Chicago, IL. I love reading, traveling, trying new restaurants, and watching movies.

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hi! I'm Karrie!

Online Business Manager (OBM), Launch Manager & Strategist, Tech Virtual Assistant, Pinterest Strategist, homeschooling mom of 3, wife, and cat mom!

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