Why I'm Seriously Losing Pinterest

Even the Pinterest logo somehow manages to be pretentious and dull

Last week, I was confronted with something horrible. Somebody that I follow on Twitter had re-tweeted a blog post by a mutual acquaintance. Someone whose posts I love to read.

There was nothing untoward about the tweet. Nothing to suggest anything out of the ordinary. Just the title, a link, the attribution and a qualifying statement. So far, so normal. So I did what anyone would do in this situation.

I clicked. I took one look at the post, and hammered the back button. Then hit unfollow.

I’d just had my first real introduction to Pinterest.

Like you, your grandmother and anyone else who’s been within twenty feet of a computer since Christmas, I’ve seen all the hype about Pinterest. How it’s the future of human communication. Why it’s the antidote to the social failure that is Google+. Why if we don’t all embrace Pinterest right now we might as well go live in a cave because we’ll be rendered unable to function in the bright, shiny future.

I don’t buy the hype. And neither should you. Because Pinterest is bad for your blog, and it’s an irrelevance for your business.

Why Pinterest is Bad for Your Blog

How do you judge the success of a blog post? Is it page views? RSS subscribers and email signups generated? The amount of traffic that it drives to converting parts of your website? A combination of the above?

If you’re judging success on those metrics (and you should be), then you really need to add the following meta tag to your website and ban people from ‘Pinning’ your content:

<meta name="pinterest" content="nopin"/>

Because when someone sees your blog post and ‘pins’ it, they’re stealing visitors from your site and handing them over to Pinterest. Sure, they’ll still do the nice thing and promote your post for you, but you’ll see no benefit.

In fact, the Russian spinners who habitually lift, tweak and republish my content (Здравствуйте господа!) do more for my blog than Pinterest does, because they at least accidentally leave in a few dofollow links.

Behold! The future of marketing!

Because while people might read your content on Pinterest, they’re not going to sign up for your email. They’re not going to read your other content, buy your ebook or drop you an email. They’re just going to move on to the next piece of pinned content and forget all about you.

But…” I can almost hear the Pinterest fanatics cry; “Pinterest is brilliant for your business! It’s the future of marketing!

It’s not. Grow up. Get a grip.

Nobody Ever Buys Things From a Scrapbook

Pinterest, when you strip away the hype, is an online scrapbook. Only instead of pictures of celebrities, pretty dresses and nice furniture, scrapbooks occasionally feature something newsworthy.

If you’re targeting Pinterest with your marketing campaigns, you’re on a fool’s errand. Because, as I’ve mentioned above, all that putting content on Pinterest delivers is traffic for Pinterest.

Unlike the share button on Facebook or the RT button on Twitter, Pinterest doesn’t pass on the all of your carefully-crafted your marketing material. It just lets people crib the bits that they like.

There’s a reason nobody’s ever built a marketing campaign around giving people pictures torn from an Argos catalogue. It’s because nobody’s ever going to be convinced by one section of your advert, out of context, in someone else’s scrapbook.

Unless you’re selling clothes, or at a push, furniture, you’re not going to generate any interest on Pinterest.

In fact, there’s only one reason I can see that anyone in marketing would need to have one.

It’s a Swipe File

Just screams ‘professionalism’, doesn’t it?

If, for some inexplicable reason, you want to make your swipe file public, sign up for Pinterest. Use it to collect those straplines, opening paragraphs and snarky rants that you turn to for inspiration in dark moments. And then file them next to longcat and that chaise longue with the pattern you like.

Just don’t waste your breath telling us that it’s the future.

And don’t steal my content.


Whether you agree (correct) or disagree (wrong) with my views on Pinterest, share your thoughts in the comments section.

13 Comments comments for "Why I’m Seriously Losing Pinterest"

  1. Barry Adams at 2:10 pm

    You unfollowed the hapless tweeter? Bit harsh, really. Yes you’re right, Pinterest is all hype and no substance, but so is ‘Inbound Marketing’ and if I were to unfollow everyone who mentions it in a non-ironic way I’d have a very empty Twitter stream very quickly.

    Better to do what I do: without mentioning a specific person, mock the hype. Mock it aggressively with plenty of vitriol and snarky humour. It works – trust me. Few in my twitter stream dare mention ‘inbound marketing’ seriously these days.

    • Andrew at 2:20 pm

      Well, I’d only been following them a while and noticed that they’d stopped RTing and started re-publishing through Pinterest (thus stealing all that razzmatazz I mention upstairs).

      You’re right on the snark though. I usually don’t need a reason to unleash it, and now I’ve got a great reason.

    • James Carson at 6:08 pm

      Agree with this – the hype is unjustified since the audience of myspace is 400% larger, and that’s dead apparently. Also the copyright is dubious at best – found this interesting http://www.willcritchlow.com/post/18003556603/pinterest

      Barry, not entirely sure what the issue is with Inbound Marketing – it’s just a name for a collection of disciplines in the same way that SEO is.

  2. Bel at 3:57 pm

    Interesting. A friend of mine got started with her Pinterest site recently. I thought it was a photo hosting site. 😀 I think I don’t need that tag, nobody but the Russians ‘read’ my blog anyway. 😀
    Anyway, thanks for the warning, I’ve linked to your blog now.

  3. Amy C. Teeple at 6:06 pm

    Yesterday I clicked on a Tweet from someone who usually shares good stuff. It was a link to pins of an infographic on Pinterest. What annoyed me (and should have annoyed the blogger who was promoting it instead of complaining) was the pin was too small to even read. It was a large infographic that needed to be bigger than Pinterest could even show. I then had to do a search to find the original blog post so I could actually see the information. It was frustrating really – why didn’t the blogger just link to his website instead of the pins on Pinterest. I look at Pinterest as a fun way to share stuff with friends or to post ideas that you want to keep – yeah, like an online scrapbook. I doubt it will be the next big thing in marketing.

  4. Tea Silvestre at 6:51 pm

    I don’t adopt early for just these sorts of reasons. I think there’s quite a lot of gunk that needs to get worked out before we all drink the Pinterest kool-aid.

    Having said that, I DO have a few Pinterest boards of my own. And you’re right. They’re all swipe files. I don’t usually promote my pins in social media, so I guess I’m complying with the spirit of what you’re saying here. Will certainly be sure to keep all of this in mind the next time I pin.

  5. dan barker at 11:19 am

    I can’t really empathise with this post. It’s a bit like complaining about Google Image search, or Google Reader – both of which mean your content is viewed ‘off-site’, but that some of that traffic makes it through to the site itself.

    Pinterest is probably a wave that will largely be forgotten about in time, but it can be useful for certain sites.

    “all that putting content on Pinterest delivers is traffic for Pinterest”

    One of the sites I work with (a UK site) now gets around 1,000 visits a day from it. Another (US site) has had 50 sales from the last 2,000 visits.

  6. Betty Hakes at 11:16 pm

    I agree with Dan Barker. My websites traffic from Pinterest increased by 200% in only one month.

    I believe Pinterest has it’s place in the fashion, food, home decor, craft industry and few others. I don’t believe it’s right for other industries, especially consulting and information based products.

    Personally, I like it but I’m not crazy about looking through all the pictures, however, some people LOVE the site and are making decision of what to wear and buy online. Additionally, it’s a good and inexpensive branding solution for certain products.

    As with everything, we need to use it for the right reasons 🙂

    Have a great weekend!

  7. Shashank Gupta at 5:29 pm

    Andrew, refreshing post. Pinterest has been generating a lot of hype lately, and in the melee I never really managed to find time to check the ‘Cons’ of this latest Social media Fad. Have to agree with you, that Pinterest, does not drive any business to websites 🙂

  8. Lunatix at 11:59 pm

    I also agree. 40% of my website graphics are on Pinterest. Referrals from Pinterest are 3/100,000 visitors. This is outstandingly poor. I have lost 30% of my traffic relative to last year, and I still rank marvelously on search engines.

    Pinterest is a third-party scraper, a vampire, and a pirate ship.

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