I love(d?) Pinterest so much I wrote a whole series about my affinity for the site and how I use it to inspire my work wear style.
Remix With Pinterest Series
When this change took place, I picked up right away that Pinterest no longer provided me a direct feed based on boards I followed, but instead systematically influenced the pins showing up in my Smart Feed. My first thought was “Just like Facebook… here we go again, trying to predict what I want to see… ” I wasn’t happy. I browse Facebook far less frequently than I used to because I couldn’t figure out why Facebook showed me more posts from “barely friends about whom I didn’t care” instead of cute, relevant updates from close family and friends. On Pinterest, I quickly realized my repin activity was declining significantly, because nothing I loved enough to repin was showing up in my feed.
I recognize that Pinterest needs to grow, mature, and generate income. I work in accounting and understand financial statements. Heck, my clients are all private equity and venture capital funds. I fully comprehend and respect the desire for Pinterest’s founders and venture capital investors to generate cash income and, eventually, liquidity, which will ultimately only come (at least in the long-term) with real dollars. That being said, I’m happy to see a few promoted or sponsored pins in my feed, especially if it means I don’t have to pay to use the service. But I don’t want to lose the content from pinners I worked so hard to find. (I know my dedicated effort in finding new boards and pinners is one of the things Pinterest is trying to do for me by using their new algorithms so I don’t have to search so much.) However, I don’t want my intentional preferences replaced by content Pinterest robots think I want to see. So far, they haven’t performed so well… (Maybe they should talk to Google who seems to know me better than I know myself. I digress…)
To be fair, I did stop seeing all those Wish List pins of things I could buy using someone else’s affiliate links. I respect the desire to monetize a content publisher’s media streams, but I want to see novel or new ideas about how to wear what’s already in my closet. I have enough clothes. And in an effort to be a somewhat conscious consumer, I prefer to shop secondhand when possible. Needless-to-say, I am happy to live without knowing what everyone else added to their Birthday List. Those boards can be saved for their moms and significant others.
I know with their new algorithms Pinterest only intends to enhance the user experience and help me find new pins, boards, and pinners upon whom I may not have stumbled. But on Facebook (and Instagram) and presumably Pinterest, these robotic algorithms seem to result in me seeing a lot of what’s popular at the expense of not seeing updates about the people I know and want to hear about or from (think, missing out on pictures of my little niece taking her first steps, which understandably isn’t trending, and instead seeing something about which I care very little like joe schmo’s ice bucket challenge, mega-retailers latest Pinterest promotion, or far worse, some really stupid cat video!)
I started my blog primarily because I had trouble finding consistent, relatable workwear style inspiration. I couldn’t find enough of it, so I decided to fill the void. I used Pinterest to diligently craft an intentionally curated feed full of work wear style inspiration that suited my tastes and felt real to me (as well as some recipes and DIYs that sparked my interest). And then, as a result of following a few slightly off-target boards in conjunction with Pinterest’s new algorithms, my feed started to fill with all those hyper popular, trendy pins that have been re-pinned eight billion times when instead I wanted something unique. And so many of these trendy pins from wildly popular personal style bloggers show fun and funky styles that would never suit my real life. Ugh! This is exactly what I have been trying to sift through and avoid for years!!
So obviously I can’t change Pinterest. And I really want to still LOVE Pinterest, so how can I make this well-intended change work for me (as a user searching for inspiration and as a blogger hoping to be discovered)?
I began by reading Pinterest’s explanation of the changes shared by their engineers. Most of this went over my head… But it did provide a starting point.
Then I read a few articles like Has Your Pinterest Traffic Tanked? from Blog Clarity and also Have You Noticed a Change in Your Pinterest Feed from HelloSociety Blog that helped me understand the gist of how functionality and feed development changed.
I also found this article, Pinterest Smart Feed: Implications for Businesses, from Business2Community very helpful in understanding how I can make my Pinterest feed more engaging and more favorable in the “minds” of the Pinterest algorithms.
So what does this all mean?
These articles give more information, if you’re interested. But generally, pins deemed to be of higher quality will show up in your feed currently. Lower quality pins will either not show up in your feed or show up later. High quality can be defined by many factors, but certainly volume of engagement by other users (repins as well as click-through rate), relevance to your Interests, Boards you follow, and pins you repin impact Pinterest’s definition of your perception of the quality of a particular pin. Pins that you see will be a mix of those from boards you follow as well as boards you don’t follow (hoping that you’ll happily discover a new pinner who shares a world of things you love).
Since educating myself on the new Pinterest “rules”, I’ve made the following changes as a user
- I reviewed all boards I follow and unfollowed several boards that may have had a few good pins but the general tone of which didn’t fit my needs.
- I updated my Interests to be sure I kept them as focused as I’d like my feeds to be.
- I deleted a couple of my older boards that I no longer used to ensure only my most loved and active boards spoke to Pinterest content generation algorithms about what I wanted to see. (Note: In doing this, I lost exactly seven followers (and no sleep over this) who had followed only those specific boards I deleted. But beyond helping Pinterest curate a more meaningful feed for me, I’d rather not attract new followers to sleepy boards with which I no longer engage anyway.)
As a blogger, I have started making a few changes to my Pinterest strategy as well.
- I have been more diligent about adding text to my images to describe the content of my post hoping to encourage pinners to more frequently click through to my blog.
- I now spend more energy crafting a meaningful and engaging caption to garner reader attention and generate interest beyond a little photo of my outfit for the day. I ask myself questions like:
- Why does the reader want to know more about what I am wearing?
- What personal style lessons can they take away or learn from the outfit I put together.
- Why does my outfit matter to them?
- If the the answer is “they don’t” “nothing” “they can’t” or “it doesn’t” then I probably could afford to write a better post. After all, I write about real-life everyday style. My outfits aren’t fashion breakthroughs or iconically trend-setting and beautiful just in their own existence.
- I have started drafting more posts that add value beyond the photo of the outfit. This gives me more to consider with respect to #1 and 2 above. And ultimately, it achieves Pinterest’s goal of generating and capturing higher quality content to enhance the user experience and make home feeds more meaningful.
Going forward, I surely will be more selective in what pinners and boards garner my follower status. If I don’t expect a significant amount of valuable information from them, I will be more likely to pin the one or two pins I love and not follow their board going forward. While I didn’t mind a few weak pins filtering into my feed before, I certainly don’t want them showing up at the cost of losing more desirable content from my feed.
What do you think? Are you a Pinterest user? Have you seen a shift in the content showing up in your Smart Feed? For better or worse? And do you care?