Do hashtags really matter on Pinterest? Should businesses use them?
I see that many bloggers and companies involved in Pinterest encourage to use hashtags giving a lot of tips on how to do it properly. Of course, I don’t mind, but I’m just curious what is the real purpose or what are advantages of doing that. I want to answer this question from the point of view of a company that wants to conduct Pinterest campaign to advertise its products or services. First, we need to understand how hashtags work on Pinterest. Very simple – Pinterest just uses them as a search query. So if you click on hashtag in a pin description – for example #fashion – it will lead you to search results for the query – fashion. Nothing more.
As you may see pins may include in their description: – our key word with hashtag – #fashion – pin number 1 – just key word with no hashtag – fashion – pin number 2 – no key word – pin number 3 What does it mean? Analyzing results for many other, more or less popular keywords, we’ll notice that for the search engine of Pinterest hashtags don’t matter. Pinterest treats a keyword with hashtag the same way as this keyword with no hashtag. From PSEO point of view Pinterest just ignores it. Hashtag doesn’t count as a factor that may have an impact on search results. So who has advantages of using hashtags? For me, the main beneficiary is Pinterest itself. First of all, hashtag is clickable and if hashtag attracts some pinner attention enough to click it, he will get more results related to the hashtag. For Pinterest that means more pins viewed, more pins probably clicked and higher average time that user spent on the site. Of course, a user is also very happy, because he may see more pins related to his intention/interest and what is very important – he will see first-top of search results with probably best pins according to Pinterest search engine. Ok, so we already have two beneficiaries, but hold on – what about us? What are the consequences for our business? Our main aim was to conduct Pinterest campaign to attract potential customers. Suddenly, a pinner that was watching our photo clicked on the hashtag and was moved to search results list. What happens next? Here we’ve got two following possibilities: 1. We are lucky and the list of search results display only or almost only our pins. So the pinner may choose other photos that come from our account. This is hypothetical situation and in reality – especially for broader and popular queries – it is almost impossible. We would need to have extremely strong Pinterest account in order to achieve that. However, for more precise queries it would be more possible. For one of our former customers, for “lingerie wholesale” query, in the first 400 results displayed, there were only 2 pins that didn’t belong to the customer. However, we still didn’t use hashtags. Why? Let’s imagine situation when we stop our campaign and search results are changed – there are more pins of our competitors. And this is what I want to describe as the second possibility. 2. We are unlucky and search results display few of our pins among the others or it is even worse – there are only our competitors’ pins. So what is the point to give your potential customer a chance to see your competitors offer? It is madness to include hashtag consciously if we know that we can lose our customer. It’s like creating a link on your advertisement – “click here to see my competitors”. Ok, maybe your pin is so incredible that after they see other results they definitely come back to you with conviction that your product or service is the only choice they can make. Lucky you but to be serious and honest – I doubt it because it’s very risky business. By putting hashtag you give another clickable place but don’t forget that the only clickable places on and around your pin should be those that lead to your website or to your Pinterest account. With hashtag it is not possible, however, there is still one exception that I need to mention. It is hashtag with your brand name. This is the only exception which usage I may understand. Anyway, I still wouldn’t do that. For me, bolded hashtags, especially those with your brand name, look a little spammy and may discourage your potential customer. But it is just the matter of sense of taste.