Hashtags on Pinterest is a topic of some contention and lots of confusion. Do hashtags work on Pinterest? Should you be using them? Are they worth the extra effort? Before we jump into the topic more deeply, full disclosure: I’m firmly in the camp “No Pinterest Hashtags”.
The first to understand about Pinterest is how different it is from other social media platforms that use hashtags – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. Those other social media channels are… very social. However, while Pinterest does have a social portion such following, messaging, likes etc, its focus is more akin to a search engine. I know that personally, I tend to use Pinterest as a second Google of sorts for specific topics such as recipes, crafts, and design inspiration to name a few. In fact, one of the things I talk about in my course Pinning Exponential, is how, if you want to grow your blog with Pinterest, you have got to stop thinking about it as a social media and instead treat Pinterest as a search engine. So with that in mind, let’s jump into the topics of hashtags.
Hashtags Are Clickable – Sort of
Yes, hashtags are supported on Pinterest. By supported I mean that (some) hashtags are clickable. While there are no official rules regarding hashtag use on Pinterest, they work more or less the same way as they do on other social media platforms – you click them and you’re giving a feed / search results page for that hashtag.
However, the support within Pinterest for hashtags is pretty dang limited. The only hashtags that are actually clickable are those in a pin’s description. Hashtags in any other places – pin title, board title and board descriptions – are not clickable. So adding hashtags in a place other than a pin’s description? Pointless.
Hashtags Give Crappy Results
So keeping that in mind, you might think that adding hashtags on a pin’s description would give you the upper hand? Not so much. The reality is that while hashtags on a pin’s description are supported (aka, clickable), the search results will leave a lot to be desired.
There are two problems when searching on Pinterest by hashtag. First, the search will show pins that have the words or phrases from the hashtag in all sorts of combinations. Second, the results will include pins that do not include the word or phrase in the description at all. These two factors combined make search by hashtag on Pinterest pretty dang pointless.
For example, I searched the hashtag “#BoyToys” and got everything from a mermaid tule costume, crockpot mandarin chicken, to a Hawaii resort review, to the ABCs of One Tree Hill. I clicked on each of those pins and for the life of me I cannot figure out why they’d show up on under the hashtag of #BoyToys at all, except for the One Tree Hill pin since apparently B stands for Boy Toy. However, searching for “Boy Toys” brings up a pretty solid search. As in, I get pins that do have boy toys on them.
What this means is that within Pinterest’s search algorithm, while hashtags are allowed, it is not built for hashtags. As a blogger or marketer, using hashtags on Pinterest is more hurtful than useful. Sit back for a moment – if you’re writing a blog post about the best boy toys, in which of the two search results above would you want to show up?
Use For Marketing Purposes Only
The only reason that you might want use hashtags in Pinterest is for marketing reasons. That is, to further help spread the work on a specific campaign, purely as an extension of marketing efforts in other social media campaigns. I know a lot of brands require them when doing sponsor posts.
For example, Hershey’s #LetsMakeSmores campaign made use of the hashtag on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. So if you click on the hashtag on Pinterest, all pins from that campaign will show up (including one from yours truly). The same would happen on the other social media platforms.
The different between the #LetsMakeSmores and the #BoyToys hashtag though is the intentional effort and planning behind it. It wasn’t just one random blogger using the hashtag to better show up in search results – it was hundreds of them and the hashtag was used as a grouping tool. Honestly, this is the only time I would ever consider making use of a hashtag on Pinterest. Ever.
What To Do Instead
So what’s a blogger to do instead? Here are a few things you can do instead of using hashtags that work much better when it comes to Pinterest marketing
- Write detailed, interesting, keyword rich descriptions for your pins –
- Have pin descriptions auto-populate by adding alt tags to your images –
- Make sure you have Rich Pins turned on for your blog –
Pin descriptions are the driving force in Pinterest. In my course, Pinning Exponential, I show you how to write detailed, keywords-rich descriptions that get clicks.
This is one of those little secrets that will make a huge difference. You can make sure each pin from your site has a killer description by filling out the Alt Tag in each image since Pinterest auto populates from there.
I have previously raved about Rich Pins and with good reason. They are a fantastic tool in ensuring your pins are optimized for maximum results by adding extra bits on information to each of your pins.
Hope this clears up some confusion so you can continue to rock Pinterest!
Source – Moz “How Hashtags Work“