As a Pinterest expert and educator, one of the most common things I’m asked about is… how to get followers on Pinterest!
And my answer has changed over the years of helping clients and students with their Pinterest strategies. Because there have been some debates. Some experts will say getting followers on Pinterest is important… others will say it’s just not.
But which is true? Should we worry about having lots of followers – or shouldn’t we? And if we should, then should we be making that a priority?
And, of course… the question that’s most often asked… How do we even get followers on Pinterest anyway?
If you’ve been wondering these things yourself lately, then you’re in the right place! In this post I’ll be covering: (CLICK to jump to any section… 👇)
Ready? Let’s get some clarity here! Starting with…
Is getting followers on Pinterest actually important?
If you’d asked me this question two years ago, I would have said, “Eh. Not really.”
These days? My answer is more of a “Yes, BUT…”
Getting followers on Pinterest is not as important as it is on other social platforms. And getting followers on Pinterest is not as important as other parts of your Pinterest strategy, like:
- Doing your keyword research and using targeted keywords in all the right places on your profile
- Creating visually compelling pins that encourage pinners to click through
- Consistently, but not spam-ily ;), pinning high-quality, original content which directs to your content and offers
These basics will be the backbone of a Pinterest strategy that works. Because Pinterest is a search and discovery engine – not social media.
So optimizing to get discovered by the right people in searches (and smartfeeds) is more important than racking up followers.
That is unlikely to change anytime soon. But other aspects of the platform have shifted – and so has my tune on whether follower count on Pinterest matters at all. Here’s why…
1. Pinterest followers do play a role when you pin fresh pins.
We’ve always known that followers play a role in signaling the algorithm about how a new “fresh” pin should be distributed (to whom, how often, etc). When you first pin a piece of content, a brand new pin image and url combo that’s never been seen on Pinterest before, some of the first users to see that pin come from your followers..
And since your followers are among the first people to see your shiny new pin, they are the driving force of early engagement. Engagement on a new pin sends a signal to the algorithm that says “Hey! Some people are interested in this pin, so let’s show it to more people!”
Remember: Engagement on Pinterest = saves to boards,
close-ups/clicks, and outbound clicks.
Having a larger following on Pinterest can help “boost” your pin’s rank in search results IF your followers are engaging with that pin. HOWEVER, it is MUCH BETTER to have a small, engaged audience than to have thousands of followers who don’t care much about your content – and thus aren’t engaging.
In fact, a large following that is not engaged can actually hurt your pin rank in search results – because if your FOLLOWERS aren’t engaging, that sends a signal too, one that says “If they don’t care, why would anyone else?”
And we really don’t want to send THAT signal!
Of course, getting your pins to rank higher is a little more complicated than that. In addition to getting early engagement on your pins by your followers, there are a myriad of other factors that affect how Pinterest’s algorithm decides when and where to show your pin to others, like:
- Whether you’re using the right kind of keywords in the pin title and description
- Which board the pin was saved to first – and what keywords you’ve used in the title/description of that board
- Whether you’ve pinned from that same URL recently
- The relevancy of the pin (i.e. seasonally or contextually appropriate)
- Your website SEO for the content represented by the pin
- The visual quality of the pin image
- How long you’ve been using Pinterest consistently
- Whether you’re paying to promote the pin… etc.
2. Pinterest has signaled to us that, more and more, followers may matter.
In December 2020, Even Sharp, Co-founder of Pinterest, in this Video introducing the Pinterest Creators Festival said:
“… For the last 10 years, our mission as a company and as a platform has been to bring everyone we can the inspiration to create a life they love. And we’ve worked hard and aspired to build a positive place online, a place where people can go to open themselves up to new possibilities for their life….
And ultimately, everything on Pinterest is about taking action.
It’s about getting offline, taking these possibilities you’ve discovered, and doing them, and building a life you really, really love.
We’ve mostly done this by helping people connect with what inspires them, with ideas. And we’ve decided this year it’s time to push that mission of inspiration even further to connect all of our users with people who inspire them. And that’s you, that’s our creators…”
Now, whenever I read or hear anything like that from Pinterest leadership, I am always reading between the lines a bit. And from what Evan said above, it seems like followers may likely become more of a focus in the future.
Of course, the better your account ranks overall, the better your individual pins will rank which ultimately means more traffic, more clients, more sales!
Again, getting your Pinterest account to rank higher is a little more complicated than just having a large amount of followers. At its core, Pinterest is still about its users discovering your ideas and inspirations in their searches.
This is why having an optimized profile is ESSENTIAL, and truly where you must start for success. No amount of followers will save your profile or content from poor keyword choices, irrelevant board topics, or lack of quality and consistency. #SorryNotSorry!
It can be tricky to discern whether your own profile is really up to par. So if you need help assessing whether your profile is indeed optimized for attracting clients to your content and offers, I have a little shortcut for you…
If you’d like some help figuring out if your Pinterest profile is ready to attract clients, you can start by taking my quiz! Answer a handful of fun questions and I’ll:
✔️ help you identify where you’re at now / how optimized your current profile is; and…
(this is the BEST part! 👇)
✔️ give you specific next steps – based on YOUR results – to optimize your profile!
You can take the quiz here. It’s quick, fun, and FREE!
3. More followers on Pinterest may mean more saves.
A recent Tailwind study gave the Pinterest creator community some helpful new insights, and this was among them!
The study looked at 2 million accounts that were getting “higher than average” numbers of saves. They also looked at all pins created for the first time and/or saved during the month of January 2021. (Several hundred of these pins had over 5,000 saves!)
The study uncovered a trend that accounts with larger followings tended to have more saves per pin than other accounts. 😲
And one group of accounts consistently had higher than average saves per pin, and these accounts all had an average follower count over 50K!
Note, though… The study found that these accounts were ALSO creating new pins more often than other accounts, so the cause-effect relationship here isn’t conclusive. (A larger pool of fresh, new pins, running promoted pins, or simply being active on Pinterest for a long period of time… These could also all be contributing factors. However, it does seem that having more followers, regardless of other factors, tends to correlate with getting more saves on pins.
(Oh, and… It’s important to note that we don’t know how this impacts impressions or, perhaps most importantly, CLICKS, as the study did not examine those metrics. But, we do know that higher numbers of saves often trickles down to result in more clicks in the future, so it’s worth noting.)
Quick recap: How getting followers on Pinterest may help you.
Now, before we get to the “good stuff” – how to get more followers on Pinterest – let’s recap what “getting more followers” can do for you:
- Early Engagement – Your followers are among the first people to see your new pins. When your followers engage with your new content, it alerts the algorithm that this content is worth showing around to others who may not be following you. More engaged followers leads to more pin reach, which leads to more click traffic, more clients, more sales!
- Pinterest may be emphasizing matching user searches to not only individual pins – but whole accounts! Having more followers may help rank your account higher and signal to Pinterest what kind of users would be interested in your content so they can make more and better matches. This increases your reach, which leads to more click traffic, more clients, more sales!
- More Saves – Studies have shown that more followers may correlate to getting more saves – which is a metric of engagement. More engagement can lead to more click traffic, more clients, more sales!
Did you notice a trend there? All of the reasons you might want to be thinking about how to get more followers include those ultimate outcomes we all want from Pinterest marketing!
While, again, having a larger number of followers isn’t enough to guarantee those outcomes for you (clicks, clients, sales), it’s certainly looking like a contributing factor!
Convinced yet? Yes? Good!
Now that you know why we should even be thinking about getting more followers, I’m going to tell you EXACTLY HOW you can get more followers WITHOUT shady tactics that can cost you big!
How to Get Followers on Pinterest – the right way.
I’m all about taking action on what we know.
So taking the” whys” and ”what fors” of getting more followers on Pinterest into account, let’s think about what you can take action on.
What are ways to responsibly get legitimate followers – people who are genuinely interested in following what you pin?
Let’s discuss 3 specific strategies and how you can leverage them to get more followers on Pinterest.
1. Get followers on Pinterest – by regularly sharing your pins and boards with your larger audience.
You probably already have an audience for your work or content somewhere – an email list, a social channel, clients… So, leverage it!
People who are already familiar with you and love your content are likely to engage and save your pins when they see them on Pinterest. Encourage them to FOLLOW you, and now you have another ENGAGED follower.
How exactly can you encourage your audience to follow you on Pinterest?
- Use catchy CTAs on your social posts. For example, let’s say you just created a free printable or mockup and are already planning on sharing it with your followers on Instagram or Facebook. Consider sometimes redirecting them to Pinterest to see the new pin you just created to display or highlight that content.
- Use pin graphics or collages in your email campaigns. One way to do this is to include a section that mentions or displays “what we’re pinning.” Another way could be to include a button or link to a specific board. Use CTAs here also, to encourage your email list to take action on your pins, visit a specific board, and follow your profile!
- Embed Pins or Boards on your site in blog posts or resource pages. Some website platforms might have plug-ins or built-in ways to display pin or board widgets. But you can also always visit the Pinterest widget builder to generate a code snippet which you can then paste into the /body of your post or page.
A good idea is to create a board that is relevant to your blog topic, embed it somewhere in the text, and encourage readers to visit the board for more information or ideas. For example, if you just wrote a blog about “How to Plan Your Next Course Launch,” then you might embed a Pinterest board to the post that includes a collection of pins relevant to this topic. If you have other blog posts relevant to the topic, be sure to pin them to that board too!
- Add a Pinterest tab to your Facebook Business Page. Did you know you can actually link your Pinterest to your Facebook Business Page? With a third-party app, you can add a tab which will display your recent pins to the left navigation bar. While this might not get the most attention, it certainly can’t hurt! One recommended app is Woobox and you can follow the instructions in this guide from Lifewire. Caveat: I haven’t done this personally so can’t 100% vouch for this app, so make sure to do your research and check the Facebook TOS before using it. There are likely several different apps you could use… just look around.
Ultimately, you want to SHOW your audience that you have a Pinterest profile, and what kind of content they can expect to see there. Many times people in your audience aren’t following you on Pinterest because they don’t know you’re there. Cross promote, cross promote, cross promote!
2. Get followers on Pinterest – by using The MiloTree Plug-in.
Piggy-backing on the idea of leveraging your existing audience, is this method of getting your Pinterest account in front of visitors to your website. While putting embeds in your blog posts is one way to alert and encourage visitors to follow you on Pinterest, this requires them to be viewing that particular post. What if they are on your home page, about page, or contact page? Places that a board or pin embed wouldn’t exactly seem appropriate?
MiloTree is a plug-in that allows you to utilize pre-built pop-ups on your website. With minimal effort, you can configure these pop-ups to allow your visitors to follow your Pinterest account without ever leaving your website!
MiloTree doesn’t require much technical skill, claims to take less than two minutes to set up, and costs a modest $9 per month. You can additionally use this plug-in to push your other socials or email subscriber list.
Note: You’ll have to decide for yourself whether followers are high enough on your priority list to make this a focus on your website.
3. Get followers on Pinterest – by creating 💡 idea pins (f/k/a story pins!)
Story Pins debuted in September 2020, and like all new features Pinterest has played with over the years, is taking some time to roll out to everyone. If you have access to them, they can be quite valuable for generating impressions and followers.
UPDATE: As of May of 2021, STORY PINS ARE NOW CALLED “IDEA PINS!“… 💡!
Idea / Story Pins de-centralize the idea of getting users to click through to a website in order to view the content. They make the content readily visible within the pin itself.
These pins are like “carousels” with the ability to have multiple pin images functioning like a mini-slide show. The last image of an idea pin features the content creator’s Pinterest account profile with a prominent “follow” button.
The format of idea / story pins, with the clear focus on encouraging viewers to follow creator accounts, clearly shows the increased emphasis on connecting pinners with Creators, as we discussed above.
In addition, Idea / Story Pins:
- are featured at the top of the creator’s profile before other created or saved pins.
- do not disappear after 24hrs 🎉
- can be saved to boards just like other pins and can be found in search results
- allow for audio, video, image, and text overlay creating a wide variety of uses
- can be tagged with topic or interest keywords
- allow for “reacts” and comments from users
- include on-pin analytics for key metrics
But while Idea / Story Pins sound amazing, using them is what I call an “advanced tactic.” I would caution you against using them until your account has a well established foundation of boards and pins with quality SEO.
If you don’t have the right Pinterest keywords and boards, backed by thorough keyword research, then your account as a whole will not be well categorized by Pinterest’s algorithm. And the people who view your idea / story pins may not be very likely to actually hit that follow button at the end, if they even see the pin to begin with.
Your idea / story pins may not get the same caliber of results that they COULD get when used later once your profile is up to par.
Thus, you may want to stick this tactic in your back pocket and save it for later. It’s a great method, but because it relies on the Pinterest algorithm (whereas the other methods do not), you’ll just need to make sure your profile is sending the right signals to the algorithm before you are ready to use Idea / Story Pins. When you ARE ready to leverage Idea / Story Pins, check out this compilation of best Idea Pin examples Pinterest has put together!
Meanwhile, if you need to take a few steps back and get your profile and boards keyword-optimized, I can actually do that with you!
Consider checking out my Profitable Pinterest Boards Intensive. In a short, focused period, we can work together to perform keyword research, find and organize the keywords that will attract your ideal client to you on Pinterest, and get your boards set up optimally. It’s fun – and fast!
How NOT to Get Followers on Pinterest
Okay, last thing… ‘Cause it needs to be said! 😉
If you look around for other methods on how to get more Pinterest followers, you’ll find that uncomfortably often (especially in Facebook groups) some tactics are recommended that are honestly a little shady, if not outright spammy.
I’m talking about tactics like:
- Buying followers – This can be costly and results in low quality followers who are not within your ideal audience, or who are bots.
- Following too many people at once with the hope they will follow you back – You can be mistaken for a bot and have your account suspended.
- Follow / unfollow – Again you can be flagged as a bot/spam account and have your account suspended.
- “Follow Trains” on social media, where you and others are required to follow everyone in the chain – This may result in real people as followers, but may not result in ENGAGED followers that are within your ideal audience. This can also still get your account flagged as a bot or spam (see bullet 2 above).
In general, avoid any tactics that do not result in genuine, engaged followers or that could get your account flagged/suspended.
Conclusion: There are benefits to getting followers on Pinterest!
We can safely intuit that quality – and maybe quantity – of followers will likely become more and more important to your success on Pinterest over time. HOWEVER, it’s important to remember that…
Getting followers on Pinterest is not as important as it is on other social platforms, and…
Getting followers on Pinterest is not as important for your success there as:
- Doing your keyword research and using targeted keywords on your pins, boards – and in all of the right places on your profile
- Creating visually compelling pins that encourage pinners to click through
- Consistently, but not spam-ily, pinning high-quality, pins
While trying to get more followers on Pinterest is one factor in the whole grand scheme of Pinterest success, it is not the most essential factor. Pinterest is still about pinners discovering your ideas and inspirations in their searches. It’s core function is a search engine, and the driving force of every search engine is using the right keywords – the ones that will attract your ideal clients!
So, bottom line is…
An optimized profile is still THE essential foundation from which other tactics, like attracting more followers, grows.
Make sense? Cool. I hope this article gave you some clarity – and some ideas to pursue if you’d like to prioritize follower growth on Pinterest.
And remember… for a quick profile “check-up,” take my free quiz to find out if your Pinterest profile is indeed optimized for attracting clients to your content and offers! 👇