5 Things You Should Never Repin on Pinterest
Adrienne Wolter | 21 Jan 2016
Pinterest is a traffic giant. After Facebook, it is the second largest source of social referral traffic on the web, and it delivered about 5% of total traffic in 2014.
Pinterest means big business for companies that take the time to release eye-catching product photography and blogs that take the time to put together Pinterest-friendly images.
Still, for such a traffic-heavy site, it has a lot of repeated content. A full 80% of the pins on the site are “repins,” or images that a user saw someone else share and decided to re-share on their own account.
No matter which way you slice it, you are very unlikely to only share original content on your Pinterest account. In fact, most of what you share will likely be repinned from others, and that’s okay.
The Difference Between Companies and Consumers on Pinterest
Something you’ll quickly come to realize, if you ever have used Pinterest as an individual and later set up a business account, is that consumers use Pinterest in a very different way to companies.
Your average user will log into Pinterest now and then when they have time or need a little inspiration. Maybe they’re bored, or they want to look up that recipe for slow cooker roast beef that they saved four months ago.
They’ll log in, and the first thing they will see is their feed, with recent pins from those they follow and a wall of suggested and sponsored content.
Usually, they won’t just pin one thing and move on – they’ll go on a pinning spree, scrolling down the page and repinning whatever catches their eye.
According to Ben Silbermann, the founder of Pinterest, “The things you collect say so much about who you are.” Individual Pinterest users curate boards full of their dreams and desires, and the resulting collections say something about who they are.
Companies must operate more strategically. They must pin continuously throughout the day instead of in bursts (though this is less important since Pinterest’s switch to a non-chronological feed).
By default, business accounts seem more advertorial, so they really need to provide obvious value for people to follow them. Instead of making their boards about who they are as a company, they must make them a reliable source of inspiration and ideas for their followers.
Images you repin represent your brand on Pinterest. That’s why it is so important not to repin images that aren’t inspiring or that link to low-quality material.
If you want to be respected and grow an audience on Pinterest, your repinning strategy needs to be decided early on and upheld consistently.
With that in mind, here are five things you should absolutely never repin on Pinterest.
1. Ugly Pins
Pinterest is arguably the social network most reliant on great imagery, so it’s a bit of a no-brainer that you shouldn’t be pinning things that are ugly.
Sure, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but there are certain kinds of images that are just undeniably lackluster and that don’t belong on Pinterest.
Certain kinds of product photography are not very inspiring; maybe the shot makes the item clear and easy to understand, but it suffers because of a lack of context.
Lots of eCommerce stores are guilty of this, but I find that pharmacies with no clear Pinterest strategy are some of the worst offenders.
If you are posting photographs you took yourself, a high-quality camera is ideal, and be sure to follow some basic photography tips in order to take better shots.
You’re up against a lot of extremely high-quality competition on Pinterest. Slapping up just any smartphone shot is something I see realtors doing a lot…
While these are rather obvious no-nos, you’d be surprised how many businesses decide they want to pin an image of a specific product and they find it and repin it with no clear attention paid to the quality of the image. They just wanted that specific thing, so that’s what they used.
The problem with doing this is that your followers don’t care about seeing that specific image; but it will stick with them how ugly the pin that made it into their feed was.
Before you repin something, ask yourself, is this image truly up to par with the quality of the images I regularly see on my main feed? If not, you should pass on it.
2. Images That Are the Wrong Shape
Pinterest is geared towards the narrow and tall. Infographics are the right shape to do well on Pinterest (though, if they break the rule above, they still will not succeed).
Portrait images (those that are taller than they are wide) are the right shape for Pinterest; landscape images are less so.
Just look at how tiny this horizontally-oriented pin looks on this board; it takes up a a tiny sliver of space compared to the pin to its right!
Unfortunately, you know what the most common “featured image” shape for blogs is? If you guessed landscape, you’re right! This is why it is so important to make dedicated images for sharing on Pinterest.
While making a rule that you should never repin landscape-oriented images is probably a little harsh, it’s worth mentioning that you are more likely to see good engagement on portrait images, simply because your followers are more likely to notice them.
If that’s not enough for you, just look at how few repins that pin received to those around it. It was repinned one time; meanwhile, the images at all four sides received 10, 15, 18, and 38 repins!
3. Pins with a Broken or Incorrect Link
It is important to follow the links attached to the things you are considering repinning, for many reasons. In fact, the rest of this post will show you just how vital this habit is.
Early on in Pinterest’s history, you would encounter poorly linked pins all the time. New pinners would pin images from wherever they caught their eye.
Sometimes, that meant pins would link to a Google Images search result page, which isn’t very useful months later when the results have changed.
Sometimes, that meant someone would pin an image off the homepage of a blog, but after a number of new things are posted, the post with that image would be pushed off the main page. Instead, these pins should link to a permalink, or a URL that will always lead to the exact page where the image can be found.
While Pinterest, the Pinterest browser extension, and “pin it” plugins on blogs have gotten smarter about how they draw a URL from a website, many of these old pins are still floating around.
Also, Pinterest tries to automatically fix broken links for its users, but the process doesn’t always work.
If you follow the link on a pin and don’t end up on a working page or one that seems to include the image, it is best not to repin the image – it is misleading. If you must repin it, use reverse image search to find the page containing the image, and create a new pin from the correct URL.
4. Pin Spam
Spam used to be a huge problem on Pinterest. Spammers liked Pinterest because it was easy to trick lots of people into blindly sharing that spam with their own friends and followers by repinning it without looking.
If you were one of the unlucky people who would click through, you might get redirected through several different URLs and sent to a website that tried to scam you or install a virus.
Pinterest has done a great job fighting spam, decreasing the time it takes them to respond to attacks from a number of hours to a number of seconds. Now, it is pretty unlikely you will chance upon a pin that leads to a site where you could get a virus.
However, there is still a lot of thinly-veiled spam out there on Pinterest. Low-quality sites lurk behind impressive imagery, that leads you to a barely-related article that happens to have that nice but usually irrelevant image in it.
One low-quality type of site I’ve seen succeeding on Pinterest is coloring page sites. These sites cash in on the adult coloring book trend by posting tons of images of lineart on their site, with instructions on how to print it out.
However, these pages aren’t usually high enough quality to print without blurriness, and mainly exist to attract people into pinning them to try out later, by which point other people have already repinned them, too!
If you notice that a pin leads to a spammy or low quality website, it is in your best interest not to repin it. Unfortunately, those pins that make it past Pinterest’s spam policies tend to do frustratingly well.
For example, this one has been repinned over 6000 times…
But the website it leads to is low-quality and covered in ads:
Not only that, but the image even says, right at the top and bottom, “copyrighted material.” This is the mark that Amazon puts on preview pages from its “Look Inside” feature, meaning that this image was stolen from a coloring book listed on Amazon! Which brings us to…
5. Stolen Images
Because of the massive amounts of traffic Pinterest is capable of sending, it can be tempting for some people to steal images that are performing particularly well on Pinterest and to post them on their own site to get some piece of the action.
When pinned to Pinterest, these pins look virtually the same as the originals – except, of course, they lead to a different website!
As previously mentioned, stealing coloring pages off of Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature is one thing, but spammers will sometimes scrape entire recipes off of blogs and post them on their own site for the ad revenue from the traffic they can trick into visiting their site instead of the food blogger’s. The same is true in the DIY niche, the travel photography niche…
It’s usually easy to tell if the image you clicked originated on the website you ended up on. Most bloggers watermark their work, so if the watermark on the image matches the site you’ve been directed to, you’re good. If there is no watermark, you can reverse image search the image to find its true source; typically, the original site will be the first result.
If there is no watermark, you can reverse image search the image to find its true source; typically, the original site will be the first result.
If you suspect that an image has been stolen, do not repin it; if you do, you are just feeding into the problem that makes stealing images appealing in the first place.
If you want to succeed as a business on Pinterest, you need to have a repinning strategy in place, and you need to follow it consistently. Ask yourself the following questions about any image you are considering repinning, and if the answer is no, really consider whether this is something you ought to repin.
- Is the image appealing?
- Is the image interesting?
- Is the image eye-catching in the Pinterest feed (not too tiny)?
It may take a little longer, but it is well worth your while to quickly check every pin’s link before you repin it. If you answer no to any of these questions, skip it, or pin it from another site.
- Is this a trustworthy site?
- Is this the original source?
- Is this the right permalink?
- Do I really want to send my customers here?
In the end, you can usually go with your gut. Pinterest is a very intuitive social network, and entirely based off of the things that inspire us. If the image and its link are uninspiring, move on; there’s always something better out there.