Should I be using hashtags on Pinterest? For years, the answer was a resounding, “NO!” The explanation from Pinterest being that they don’t work the way people expect, are confusing, and could actually work against you by sending people to other Pinners’ content. Noted.
That’s all changed now! The official Pinterest help files confirmed what we’ve seen coming for a while – Hashtags are back! If you came for tactical information then here’s tips and tricks for how to best use hashtags on Pinterest.
According to Tiffany Black, Head of Content Business Development and Corporate Development at Pinterest:
It is true that In the past, I think that we were dissuading people from using hashtags. We are actually changing that such that you can and are often benefited in the future by using hashtags. As far as best practices go, the rule of thumb is use authentic hashtags but don’t keyword stuff essentially. So I know on other platforms you can often see people putting 50 or 100 hashtags on something.
It’s not the volume of hashtags that’s really useful, it’s actually making sure you are using the hashtags that people will likely be searching for. So not trying to do like 100 because actually doing too many will decrease rank in some capacity because we will think it is possibly spam.
So I would say we haven’t figured out exactly what the right number is. I don’t think that we will probably come out with an exact number but you know keeping it reasonable and using ones that are relevant to the content and authentic is the way to go.
So what changed? According to Vanessa Kynes who recently visited Pinterest headquarters (jealous!):
One huge change to Pinterest is the use of hashtags. Jackie (Pinterest) explained that brands really wanted to utilize hashtags because they had become so commonplace on other platforms and basically the language of #marketing.
Hashtags Start Popping Up!
The changes started to appear long before this week – it was back in June, in fact, when I first saw them. On my phone, I caught a few glimpses of Pins with colored buttons containing hashtag phrases. Clicking on one of those brought up related Pins filtered for that phrase.
What you can’t see (sorry) is that the description did NOT contain any hashtags, so Pinterest was adding those in. Good news for those of us who have been following the direction of Pinterest all these years. Now, I did notice in one hashtag-click search that a Pin with hashtags in the description came up first, so that gives further weight to the idea that we should be using them from now on.
I haven’t spotted any of these in weeks, so it could be that this was a visible representation of the search functionality that is now built in. Hard to say for sure!
Hashtag Suggestions on Pinterest?
A few weeks back, my friend and fellow Pinterest geek Tina Gammon told me she was typing a description on her phone and accidentally hit the hashtag key. Pinterest started suggesting hashtags for her! At first they were pretty random, but if you entered a relevant tag, the options got a lot more targeted.Notice, too that it tells you how many Pins use that hashtag. This feature also seems to have disappeared, so you may or may not see it at this time – or ever.
Oh, and it’s interesting to note that the documentation about NOT using hashtags disappeared from Pinterest’s help files at about this time.
A Whole New Way to Search Pinterest
According to Pinterest,
“Hashtags are a new way to reach users interested in your content. When a user searches a hashtag the freshest pins with that hashtag will appear at the top of the feed. When a user searches the same phrase without the hashtag, it will pull up the original search results page.”
The key here is that hashtag searches are going to be chronological!
What Hashtags on Pinterest Means for Marketers
Start using them! Here’s the official recommendation:
When inserting a hashtag, we recommend you be specific and descriptive. Use words or phrases that describe the content in the Pin – we recommend you add no more than 20 hashtags per Pin. It’s best to be objective and use hashtags that make sense and are relevant to the Pin. Depending on your Pin, consider using hashtags that are timely (e.g. #oscars, #backtoschool, #halloween) and/or hashtags for evergreen content that works well on Pinterest (e.g. #mealplanning, #hairgoals, #homedecor). This is to help make it easier to for users to filter and find relevant content they are interested in.
“No more than 20 hashtags”! That’s a lot! Don’t feel compelled to use them all. Focus more on being relevant and remember that fresh Pins are the ones that will show up in hashtag searches.
Remember, too, you should feel free to make some of them season or event specific!
Should I go back and add hashtags to old Pins?
You could. But because Pinterest has explicitly said that hashtag searches are serving up fresh Pins, I don’t plan to. Instead, use them from now one, perhaps even repinning all of your own content and adding hashtags.
If you use a platform such as Social Warfare, which allows you to write custom Pinterest descriptions for social sharing, you’ll want to add hashtags there, and also in your alternate text box when you upload pinnable images.
It’s always exciting to see Pinterest grow and change to make our experience more relevant and rewarding. How will you alter your Pinning strategy to include hashtags?
What About Hashtags on Promoted Pins?
Right now, Promoted Pins do not appear in the search results. However, when people repin your Promoted Pins, THOSE could! So, I’ll be including those in Promoted Pins. The official stance from our Pinterest rep is that they don’t help and they don’t hurt, but now we’re allowed to use many (it used to be you could only use one). Still, if saves of those Pins have hashtags, they could show up in hashtag search!
Hashtags are in, but you know what else is helpful for growing your Pinterest account? Consistent Pinning! Get a free trial of Tailwind today and see how much time it can save you every day.
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Alisa Meredith is the Content Marketing Manager at Tailwind. Pinterest marketing speaker and teacher (Social Media Marketing World, Agents of Change, etc.), other obsessions include her dogs, cats, and Wrightsville Beach near her home in Wilmington, North Carolina.