Pinterest Group Boards: Are They Still Relevant In 2018?
Pinterest group boards are a popular marketing strategy for bloggers, however there are changes happening at Pinterest. Based on comments from Pinterest, one of these changes is the future effectiveness of Pinterest group boards. I’ve noticed many bloggers dismissing this revelation from Pinterest – claiming their group boards are the only reason they get traffic. This has lead to lots of confusion in the Pinterest marketing world. Do we use group boards or not?
For the past month I’ve run a test where I gradually stopped pinning to group boards, started creating new pin images for all 150+ posts on Mommy Is A Wino, and then ONLY pinned them to personal niche boards. I explain the results of this test a little later in the post. Suffice it to say, I will not return to using Pinterest group boards again any time soon.
By not following the advice of well known Pinterest experts and instead following the advice that Pinterest has given in interviews, I have had fantastic results. I highly recommend you read through the entire post to understand what Pinterest is telling us as well as how to apply this information for yourself.
What’s Going On With Pinterest?
Pinterest is a business going through massive changes right now to further build their business. So ask yourself, ”What is Pinterest’s business?”
Pinterest is in the business of sharing content that users find useful. Additionally, they are in the business of sharing the content creators produce to their users. Without content from the creators – that’s us as bloggers – they have no platform.
Pinterest understands this. They also understand that if we, the creators, find success organically with their platform we are more likely to spend money on promoted pins. They need us more than we need them. We have other options besides Pinterest to drive traffic – like SEO.
Pinterest cares about us. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, but they do care. They continue to make changes in order to make sure that their platform is helping us, the content creators, get our content in front of the everyday users. The relationship between content creator and Pinterest is getting stronger. There will be some growing pains, and we will need to make changes in order to adapt.
Pinterest Group Boards
In a recent interview, employees from Pinterest made some interesting statements about group boards. At the 37 minute mark in the Buffer interview this was said:
The way you should be using group boards is if you are collaborating with another profile or pinner on something. Don’t use it as a way to drive traffic or gain distribution because that is not the original purpose of group boards. Something you’ll see over time is group boards will become a less effective strategy for gaining traffic. We are actually starting to down rank some of the content coming out of group boards just because we see that users like to see content from people they are explicitly following rather than seeing content from all the collaborators. We are definitely trying to promote content from the boards and users than the collaborative. Use group boards if you are collaborating on a project don’t think about it as a way to build traffic or things like that.
I know that is a long quote, so let’s break it down.
The Original Purpose Of Group Boards
“The way you should be using group boards is if you are collaborating with another profile or pinner on something. Don’t use it as a way to drive traffic or gain distribution because that is not the original purpose of group boards.”
The original purpose of Pinterest group boards was to collaborate on things like sharing home decor ideas between husband and wife or to share Christmas shopping lists between parents and children.
The purpose of group boards was never meant to be a way to borrow audiences and drive traffic to your blog. While this was useful it was not the original purpose. Pinterest does not want group boards to be used for this purpose.
Think of it this way – if the original use of group boards was to collaborate with friends and family on projects, is Pinterest really paying attention to pins on group boards? Those pins are meant for personal projects, not to drive traffic. Why would Pinterest organically promote pins on group boards when they most likely won’t appeal to anyone other than the people you are collaborating with?
Pinterest Group Boards Will Be A Less Effective Strategy
“Something you’ll see over time is group boards will become a less effective strategy for gaining traffic.”
Remember, this is straight from Pinterest. If you are wondering how this will happen let’s talk about how group boards have been working.
You join a group board and in part of joining this group board you are following that board. The smart feed and follower feed have been showing group board contributions (pins to the board) within those feeds.
When you see someone re-pin your pin from a group board chances are pretty high that that pin showed up in the stream of another group board contributor. This is good, and their followers now see your pin on their board because they re-pinned it from their streams.
While it is “proper etiquette” to go to a group board and re-pin from that group board, it’s unlikely that most people have the time to go to 50ish group boards in a day to repin. It’s also unlikely that every contributor on each of those boards even has time to do this weekly.
As a workaround to this time limitation, contributors have relied on pins from group boards showing up in our smart feeds and follower feeds in order to stay active pinning from group boards. What if suddenly Pinterest were to stop showing pins from group boards in smart feeds and the follower feed – would anyone actually pin from the group boards? As much as we all like to play the part of “perfect Pinterest user”, none of us are. We try our best but who’s got time to track and care for that many group boards?
Pinterest Users Prefer Content From People They Follow
”We are actually starting to down rank some of the content coming out of group boards just because we see that users like to see content from people they are explicitly following rather than seeing content from all the collaborators.”
When you join a group board you are, essentially, borrowing the owner’s followers. However, when you pin to a group board, you are still the owner of your pins. Pinterest is telling us here that pinners do not like seeing pins from people they do not follow. So going forward it’s not unreasonable to expect that if someone follows a group board, but they do not follow you, they may not see your pin in their feed given that Pinterest is saying they are down-ranking pins coming from group boards.
Overall, if Pinterest is not prioritizing group board pins in feeds anymore, you will see a decrease in your group board traffic. That decrease may not happen today, it may not happen for a month, it may not happen for a while but it will happen. When it does, will you be prepared?
Should You Stop Using Pinterest Group Boards?
I’m not comfortable telling you yes, but I’m also not comfortable telling you no. You are going to have to analyze your group boards, do some testing and figure this out for yourself.
Unfortunately, there is no objective way to actually tell if a group board is working well for you or not.
You can find out some information on a group board from Tailwind*, however, they do not give you the full picture. Unless every person on the group board is on Tailwind and allows Tailwind to track their Pinterest account, you will have incomplete stats because not all board activity is presented.
The fact of the matter is you can only see how group boards are doing if you are watching your notifications closely. Additionally, keep in mind that you are going to see a lot of repins from group boards versus personal boards if they are the only boards you’re pinning to. Make sure you are pinning to your personal boards with the same frequency as your group boards to determine how your group boards are performing compared to your personal boards and also which group boards are good for you. Ask yourself if they are really worth your limited and highly valuable time as a blogger.
Creating Niche Boards
Even if your Pinterest group boards are rock star traffic producing gold mines you still need to focus on your personal niche boards. If, for whatever reason, Pinterest does stop showing pins from group boards you don’t want to have to start all over again from scratch.
Having strong personal niche boards will help you become a more established Pinterest user and drive more traffic to your blog. Most importantly, it means you are prepared if group boards stop producing traffic for you.
It’s not enough anymore to have a food board, home decor board, DIY board and other generalized boards. You need to niche them down. Turn your food board into breakfast, dinner, and desserts. Once a board has a lot of pins niche it down further and continue to do this repeatedly.
The reason you want to do this is simple. If you have a roundup post of dinners, you now can pin that single post to several different boards. More niched boards for your pins also makes it easier for Pinterest to identify what your pin is and show it in relevant search results – increasing the likelihood of your pins being found, repinned, and clicked.
Additionally, there is nothing wrong with having several niche boards that are all on the same topic. For instance, I have Parenting Tips, Motherhood, Toddler Life, and Raising Kids. The pins on all four of these boards will fit on any one of these four boards. However, that is 4 places that I can add a pin for a parenting post.
Create new niched boards weekly. Update your account weekly. Stay on top of your boards and keep building them. When a personal board is no longer providing enough traffic or is not getting interaction, I recommend creating a new niche board using new keywords and archiving or deleting the board that isn’t working for you anymore.
Remember – before you delete or archive a board to move all your old pins to the new board. A pin has a long lifespan and you want to make sure you don’t delete them.
At this point you are probably extremely interested in what my new strategy is and how well it’s working out for me. Below you will find everything I did throughout the month of June as well as my results from switching my strategy away from pinning to Pinterest group boards and only pinning to personal niche boards.
My Niche Boards
When I started my new strategy of avoiding and not pinning to group boards, I had already had several pins scheduled in Tailwind* to go out to Pinterest group boards through roughly half of June. I left them alone, resulting in a slow decline of pinning to group boards.
The first thing I did for this new plan was create several new niche boards. When you are creating your new boards pick a keyword for the title. Don’t get fancy, just use a plain keyword for that board. For example, if the board is about parenting you can use a keyword like “Parenting Tips” or “Raising Kids”.
When you create a board using that keyword, Pinterest will recommend pins for the board. If the pins do match the boards keyword go ahead and write out a keyword rich description. If the recommended pins do not match what you want for the board, delete the whole new board and try again with a new keyword for the name.
Next, add a couple of your pins to this board followed by filling the board with great third party pins. Once you have 20-30 pins on the board go ahead and start scheduling out your new pins and new third party pins to the board.
If you haven’t already guessed, I use Tailwind to schedule out my pins. This can be done manually as well, however you will likely need to do some hefty tracking in a spreadsheet. My pinning strategy can easily be managed by creating Tailwind board lists.
A board list is a group of boards that you designate. I use the lists to put like niched boards together for easy scheduling. Going with the previous parenting niche – I have Parenting Tips, Raising Kids, Motherhood, Toddler Life, Activities for Kids, Toys and DIY for Kids, and Pregnancy boards all on one list.
If you are a niche blogger you may not need to create a lot of board lists. For lifestyle bloggers, however, you will need to set up several niched board lists.
Once you have your board lists created it’s time to start your pinning strategy. First, create 2 or 3 new pin images for each blog post. You can take your time creating images. I am still working on updating and creating new images for all of my blog posts.
When I schedule my post “How Busy Moms Can Feel More Human”, I pick my parenting board list, but I remove the “Activities for Kids” and “Toys and DIY for Kids” boards since this post doesn’t apply to them.
For my example, we’ll assume I have 3 new images to pin.
I schedule image #1 on day 1 with a 1 day interval, then image #2 on day 2 with a 1 day interval, and finally image #3 gets pinned on day 3 with a 1 day interval. The 1 day interval means that the image will be pinned to 1 board a day.
Here’s how this plays out:
- Image #1 gets pinned to board #1 on day 1, board #2 on day 2, and board #3 on day 3.
- Image #2 gets pinned to board #1 on day 2, board #2 on day 3, and board #3 on day 4.
- Image #3 gets pinned to board #1 on day 3, board #2 on day 4, and board #3 on day 5.
Each image gets pinned to each appropriate board, staggered across the boards, and only 1 time per day.
I schedule approximately 50 pins a day through Tailwind*. If you run a multi niche blog, like mine, you will want to try to space out similar pins over the course of a few weeks.
For instance, a post in one category starts on day 1. On day 2 you start pinning something from a different category and then another category on the day 3 and so on through each of your categories. This way you aren’t pinning clusters of the same category to the same boards each day and not pinning to those boards for days on end when you start pinning in the next category.
There was one point in the scheduling where my schedule was filled with nothing but my own pins. THIS IS OK. Pinning 3rd party pins is not necessary. We do it mainly so that we can stay active on Pinterest throughout the day. Pinterest does not reward or punish accounts based on the number of 3rd party pins they repin. The pins from your confirmed website are the ones that matter.
Everyone has their own take on how to handle pin descriptions. Here’s mine.
In your pin descriptions, use a keyword phrase at the beginning. Then add a couple of keyword rich sentences explaining the post. From there add up to 20 hashtags.
I set my descriptions up inside of my actual blog post for the purpose of being making it easy to control and change descriptions as needed. To do this, add this
<img src="/example/pinterest/image.jpg" alt="alt attribute" data-pin-description=”Insert description here”>
within the img tag of your Pinterest images. Pinterest will use this description on every pin created from this image – including those pinned by visitors to your blog.
My traffic has grown dramatically since I adopted this new strategy. I’m seeing more traffic on my pins that have never touched Pinterest group boards than I ever did on the pins I created originally and pinned to group boards repeatedly.
While the only thing that I changed from the old to new images was that I recreated them using a smaller size of 600×900 pixels in order to use the Pinterest recommended 2:3 size ratio. It is important to keep in mind that even though these are slightly different versions of each other, Pinterest will treat the new image as being completely different from the original.
Additionally, the titles and most of the description are the same between the old and new pins.
Below are two screenshots giving you a representative example of the difference I’ve seen in traffic. The first pin shown here was created prior to adopting my new strategy.
The second pin was only pinned to personal niche boards.
As you can see the second pin is doing far better than the first pin that was shared out to multiple group boards with large followings.
My traffic has also been climbing throughout the month of June. In the graphic below you see where my traffic was through all of May and how it’s growing through June.
While not all of this traffic can be purely associated with Pinterest, the majority of it is.
How Pinterest Combines Statistics
I mentioned earlier that it is important to keep in mind that in Pinterest’s eyes these are different images. Here’s why. The stats for your pins of the same image will get lumped together to show it’s overall performance. The first screenshot of the original pin shows the aggregate performance for that image across many pins.
However, the statistics in the second screenshot do not include ANY of the activity from the original pin because these are different images and therefore their statistics won’t be grouped together. The increased activity from the new image – that never was pinned to a group board – does not include any previous activity from the old image – making the performance of the “personal board only pins” even more impressive.
What To Do After The First Round Of Updated Images
Very important to note: do not continually repin the new images again and again to your boards. Once an image is pinned to all of it’s relevant boards your focus should be on creating new images for that post. The key to success is to continuously create new pin images for posts.
Once I’ve completed the process of creating the first round of new images for all of my 150+ posts, my plan is to continue creating more new images for each post but at a slightly slower pace.
I will create 1 new image for 2 or 3 blog posts each day for 5 days per week and then add those images into my pinning schedule. If you’re not already a pro at creating new pin images, as you create them repeatedly it will go faster as you go along. It now takes me only 30 minutes to create 3 new images.
Don’t forget that any NEW blog content will get 3 different pin images when the post goes live to add into your pinning schedule. You are consistently creating new to Pinterest content with this strategy.
Don’t worry if a post refuses to take off. Either update the post’s content and try again with more new images or you can let the post sit on your blog as-is and move on with new content. Not every post is going to be a winner.
Aside from the increased traffic to my blog, the biggest perk that I’ve found by using this strategy is the time savings. While it may take some time up-front to set it up, not needing to find, apply to, and monitor Pinterest group boards has been a tremendous time saver.
I have used this extra time to focus on updating posts for improved SEO and into my beginning contributions here at Blogging Tech Tips.
Another improvement I’ve seen since adopting my new Pinterest strategy is my follower count has been growing substantially and faster than ever before. I struggled for nearly a year to get up over 4,000 followers, but within a month of my new strategy I have surpassed this goal and now have over 5,500 followers and growing.
The Plan Of Action
Armed now with this knowledge, backed by statements from Pinterest, you now have to choose how you wish to proceed. Whatever you decide to do, is up to you. I advise you to be wary of the many “Pinterest Experts” whose advice goes against what Pinterest is telling you or is overly complicated for the sake of making themselves look like only they have the answers. The reality is that a winning Pinterest strategy is actually very simple.
If you do decide to adopt my strategy, be mindful of changing up your pinterest behavior too quickly. Take everything slow so as to keep your new behavior from looking suspicious to Pinterest’s spam bots.
Finally, stay on top of new updates from Pinterest. Remember, Pinterest wants their business to continue to grow. To do this, they need our help and they aren’t going to steer us wrong. As I mentioned at the beginning, it’s our content that keeps their site alive. Listen to Pinterest and follow their advice.
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