Followers Only a Small Piece of Pinterest Content Discovery

Acquisition of fans, followers and likes was a staple of the early days of social marketing. The issue is that many organizations still map success to their follower count vs. focusing on the real value created by social marketing.

I have written many posts recently on the importance of organic reach, influencer impact, earned media value and the move towards discovery vs. retrieval and I am constantly working with my brand partners to keep them ahead of the curve while being focused on creating value.


Part of this process is to work closely with publisher & platform partners to stay informed not only on the latest features, but more importantly to understand strategic positioning of their platform and how they create value for brands.

I have worked closely with Kevin Knight of the Pinterest Marketing team for a few years now. He was at Facebook when we initially met and then made the transition to Pinterest. His background provides the ideal experience to outline the role of a follower on Pinterest and he did so with a great post on the Pinterest business blog “Why you don’t need as many followers as you think“.

Pinterest is less about followers and more about discovery with followers being a “gateway”.


Here are some excerpts from Kevin’s post.

Instead of thinking of followers as your audience on Pinterest, think of them as the gateway to your audience on Pinterest.

Here’s what we mean: People use Pinterest to discover, save and do things that inspire them. Repinning is the action they take when they save things they want to do or buy later. While people’s main motivation to Pin is to save things for themselves, anything they repin spreads to their own followers who are looking at their home feeds to discover things from people with similar tastes and interests.

That means the number of people who actually see your Pins is often far greater than your number of followers. In fact, the average Pin gets repinned 11 times. Don’t forget that if you have a website with the Pin It button installed, there are probably already people Pinning from your website. That means your Pins are getting discovered by people who follow those Pinners and people who find your Pins in search results and category feeds — a group that may or may not include people who follow your Pinterest profile.

So, while it’s nice to have lots of followers, they’re just one part of spreading your Pins to many, many more people on Pinterest.”

In addition to what Kevin’s post outlines is the importance of the Pinterest Interest Graph. To recap, an interest graph is an online representation of the specific things in which an individual is interested. And because the focus of Pinterest is based on what people are indexing on the web and then categorizing by interests, the Pinterest Interest Graph is the foundation for their business


The key to the interest graph for Pinterest is the ability to create personalized experiences that change based on an individuals life stage and interests. The association is less with people and more with things. This may include life events such as marriage, children, etc… and Pinterest hopes that by focusing on interests they are building a sustainable platform that can grow with users over time and continue to provide both utility and relevance based on discovery.

In order to map value, it is important to not only understand the bits & bytes of a platform, but to dig deeper and focus on the role that the consumer plays in the distribution, amplification and discovery of content as this is a key element of driving value from social marketing.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360


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