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 all changed this week. Though you may or may not see functioning, linked hashtags on your account today, according to Tiffany Black, Head of Content Business Development and Corporate Development at Pinterest, hashtags are back:
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 Are 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.
What Hashtags on Pinterest Means for Marketers
Start using them! Follow the advice of Pinterest’s Tiffany, above, and use a few relevant hashtags that people are likely to use when searching for your Pin. Don’t try to game the system, keyword stuffing with irrelevant tags. It won’t work for long, and no one wants spam on Pinterest!
It remains to be seen exactly how they’re going to appear. Will they simply be clickable links in descriptions, or will they adopt those hashtag buttons pictured above? One thing is for sure, they ARE gearing up to make them an important part of Pinterest search, so we need to start using them.
Should I go back and add hashtags to old Pins?
You could. But I would suggest instead working them in from now on. What you might want to do (what I plan to do) is to edit the Pins in your own blog board – the one that houses everything you’ve ever written. That way there is at least one version of a Pin out there that links to your content.
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?
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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