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Is there any phrase that strikes despair in the heart of those of us who rely on online marketing for our livelihood as much as:

algorithm change

*shudder*

This isn’t just me, right? I wasn’t the only one who was blind-sided a few years ago when after years of carefully growing the “likes” on our official Facebook pages, Facebook announced that the algorithm would be deprioritizing posts from businesses/author pages (unless we paid, of course)? And whose traffic/ reach plummeted to 2-5% to the point that it barely made sense to bother?

Or what about when Instagram announced that they were doing away with the chronological feed, and that the algorithm would now be deciding which posts we see first (or at all).

Which is why, when my beloved Pinterest announced some recent-ish algorithm changes, I immediately felt my stomach sink.

Turns out, my despair was premature. Because dare I say that the changes are … good?

I’ve spent countless hours researching the changes, watching and reading interviews with actual Pinterest employees, as well as carefully combing through the wealth of information provided by Tailwind ( ← affiliate link).

This article isn’t intended to be a comprehensive overview of those changes (too much for one tiny blog post!), but I am able to sum it up for you guys:

Pinterest is now actively prioritizing fresh content.

What does this mean?

Translation: Pinterest is now to rewarding users who upload new pins.

That means that re-pinning content even if it’s your own content, while certainly not taboo, is not going to be prioritized in the Pinterest home feed.

Now, it’s always sort of been the case that fresh content is the way to go on Pinterest.

I’ve talked plenty on this blog about how authors tend to use Pinterest the wrong way: they think its primary purpose is to create “mood boards” for their books, and find photos of Henry Cavill, Mila Kunis, and a really gorgeous penthouse that represent the characters/setting in the book.

And while that’s totally fine for personal use and creative inspiration, it won’t move the needle when it comes to the business side of your writing.

In order to use Pinterest for business (yes, you writers, are businessmen/women) you need to be creating pins (graphics) that drive Pinterest users to your website. Period.

That hasn’t changed.

What has changed is that the days of re-using your own pins are over. It used to be that best practice (or at least common practice) was to create a couple pins for your book or blog post, and then re-pin or “loop” them.

The logic here was that because Pinterest likes popular content (the more people that pin or click your content, the more people Pinterest will show your pin to), by re-pinning your own content, you were essentially telling Pinterest “Hey, this is getting re-pinned, it’s therefor popular, you should therefore distribute it to more users!”

Change GIF by memecandy

As of 2020, Pinterest still likes good/popular content, there’s just a new, more important factor: fresh content.

Did you know that roughly 80% of Pinterest pins are re-pins, and only 20% are fresh, new pins?

That means a lot of people are consuming pins, but not a lot of people are creating pins.

Pinterest wants to reward those creators, thus you want to be a creator.

What that looks like for writers:

When you’re creating release day graphics for Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, create graphics for Pinterest at the same time (just be sure to leave the date off, as Pinterest is an “evergreen” sort of platform, and you don’t want to “date” your book)

Create multiple designs for each book. Yes, it’s more work, but each “fresh” design gives you potentially thousands of more views on Pinterest, even if you don’t have thousands of followers (remember, Pinterest is a search engine, not a social media platform—followers aren’t a particularly important metric).

While you can certainly pin the same pin (graphic) to multiple boards (for example, I have a Lauren Layne Books board that has plenty of overlap content with my Romance Books board), instead of constantly recycling that same pin every couple months in an effort to “make it go viral,” you’re better off creating a brand new graphic.

Note: Pinterest is smart enough to know when when it’s seen “that design” before. Slightly moving your text or book cover to the right or left doesn’t count as a “fresh content” within their algorithm. Use a NEW design. I know it sounds like a pain, but Canva and PicMonkey ← (affiliate link) have tons of designs so you can create fresh content while still staying on brand. One of my favorite tricks is to combine my “veg out” time with Pin designing. I can create and schedule at least 5 new pins for Passion on Park Avenue while watching a New Girl rerun.

Not convinced? Listen to this:

An average book pin for me on Pinterest gets about 500+ impressions. A pin that performs well that easily get a couple thousand impressions. That means that while getting in my Schmitt fix and “vegging out,” I can also generate at least 2,500 opportunities for someone to discover my book.

new girl schmidt GIF

The Pinterest Algorithm in 2020—For Writers