Welcome to episode 436 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Kate Ahl from Simple Pin Media.
Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Michelle Cehn. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
How to Find Success on Pinterest in 2024
This is Kate’s sixth (!!!) episode on The Food Blogger Pro Podcast because she is our go-to resource when it comes to all things Pinterest. And there have been a lot of changes to Pinterest in recent years!
Kate is here to explain those changes (sunsetting Idea Pins, evolving algorithms, and the rise of video) and more in this interview. She also shares more about how her team at Simple Pin Media manages Pinterest accounts for food creators (including Pinch of Yum) and what success looks like on Pinterest.
If you’re confused about Pinterest strategy (who isn’t?!) and/or need some motivation to get back into posting on the platform, this is the interview for you!
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- How Pinterest has changed in recent years (hint: video! algorithm!).
- Why you need to focus on user engagement when planning your Pinterest content.
- How the Pinterest algorithm has evolved.
- How to think about brand partnerships on Pinterest.
- Why Idea Pins are no longer a thing (and what the new format looks like).
- How to repurpose Instagram or YouTube content for Pinterest.
- What success looks like for Simple Pin Media when managing a Pinterest account (like Pinch of Yum’s).
- How to track Pinterest analytics in GA4.
- How to hire out the management of your Pinterest account.
- Simple Pin Media
- Rhodium Weekend
- The Simple Pin Podcast
- Pinterest Investor Overview
- Follow Kate on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn
- Join the Food Blogger Pro Podcast Facebook Group
- Food Blogger Pro Cyber Monday Sale
Thank you to our sponsors!
Thanks to Raptive for sponsoring this episode!
Become a Raptive creator today to start generating ad revenue on your blog and get access to industry-leading resources on HR and recruiting, SEO, email marketing, ad layout testing, and more. You can also get access to access a FREE email series to help you increase your traffic if you’re not yet at the minimum 100k pageviews to apply to Raptive.
Interested in working with us too? Learn more about our sponsorship opportunities and how to get started here.
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
Transcript (click to expand):
Bjork Ostrom: This episode is sponsored by Clariti. You spend a lot of time on your blog content, from planning to recipe testing, to writing, to promoting, but do you know if each of your posts are bringing you the most traffic they possibly can? With Clariti, you can see information about each and every post, which is automatically synced from WordPress, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console, so that you can make well-educated decisions about where your existing content may need a little attention. Think broken links or broken images, no internal links, or missing alt text. You can also use information that Clariti pulls about sessions, page views, and users to fuel the creation of new content, because you’ll be able to see which types of posts are performing best for you.
Get access to keyword ranking, click-through rate, impressions, and optimization data for all of your posts today with Clariti. Listeners to The Food Blogger Pro Podcast get 50% off of their first month of Clariti after signing up. To sign up, simply go to Clariti.com/food. That’s C-L-A-R-I-T-I.com/food. Thanks again to Clariti for sponsoring this episode.
Emily Walker: Hey, there. This is Emily from the Food Blogger Pro team, and you are listening to The Food Blogger Pro Podcast. Today on the podcast, we’re welcoming back Kate Ahl from Simple Pin Media. She also happens to be our Pinterest expert, and believe it or not, this is her sixth episode on the podcast. She’s our go-to resource when it comes to all things Pinterest, and as you probably know, as a food creator, Pinterest is constantly changing, so there are always lots of updates and tips and strategies from Kate, and we love to hear all about it.
Today, Kate is here to explain lots of recent changes to Pinterest, including the sunsetting of Idea Pins, evolving Pinterest algorithms, and the rise of video on the platform. She also shares more about how her team at Simple Pin Media manages Pinterest accounts for different creators, including Pinch of Yum and what they consider success to look like for those creators. If you’re feeling confused or unmotivated about sharing content on Pinterest, this is a really awesome interview, lots of tips for how to approach sharing on the platform, what to prioritize, and just kind of everything you need to know about Pinterest as we head into 2024. So without further ado, I’ll let Bjork take it away.
Bjork Ostrom: Kate, welcome back to the podcast.
Kate Ahl: Yep, thanks for having me. Great to be here.
Bjork Ostrom: This is old hat. Is that the right term, old hat?
Kate Ahl: Yes. I know-
Bjork Ostrom: Like it’s just-
Kate Ahl: How many have we done?
Bjork Ostrom: I think this is six-
Kate Ahl: Okay.
Bjork Ostrom: Which is probably pretty close to a record. And the reason is because the world that you live in is a world that’s really important to the world that we are in.
Kate Ahl: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: So as food creators, content creators, food publishers, the world of Pinterest is a really important platform because, we’re going to talk about this a little bit, but it drives a lot of traffic. Things have changed. It doesn’t look exactly the same, but even before we press record, I looked up in our dashboard … So in Raptive, if you’re a Raptive publisher, and I’m guessing this is true for Mediavine as well … For other folks, you can go and you can look at like earnings from traffic source, and within that, they will sort order like where you’re earning the most from, and I found it really interesting.
I actually learned this from Chelsea. She has a site called HerPaperRoute. I was at a conference called Rhodium, and she was doing a little round table, and she’s like, “Pinterest is always like a top-performing traffic source for us from an ad perspective,” and so I was like, “Oh, interesting.” I’d not looked at that area of the dashboard for a long time, and I saw in September, it was $75 RPM, which is crazy. It’s super significant, so it makes a lot of sense for us to continue to think about, “How can we be strategic about Pinterest?,” and you’re a great person to talk to about that.
For those who aren’t familiar, can you share why? You’ve lived in the world of Pinterest for a long time, share a little bit about your background, and then we can jump into the questions.
Kate Ahl: Yeah. So I’m coming upon 10 years of having my agency, Simple Pin Media, so I feel like I’ve seen so many different iterations of Pinterest, work with so many different clients, and for us, it allows us to see a holistic picture of each niche, each type of account, and so when people come to us and they say, “What kind of growth can I expect?,” we’re like, “Well, what are the variables you want to discuss?” And so for us, it’s just been really fun to, I guess, be that Pinterest interpreter, because sometimes Pinterest uses really big marketing language, and people say, “I don’t understand what they mean by any of that,” and so we get to distill that down and give it to people in our podcast, and then our clients and our community. So yeah, I’ve been in this online space now for 13 years. So I was doing, actually 14 years, doing Facebook marketing, affiliate marketing before that, and I’ve always understood the mind of a content creator, and I too am a content creator, so it’s been fun for us to help people leverage Pinterest in a way, like you’re seeing, right, that it’s kind of this sleepy one behind the scenes.
It doesn’t have any dopamine hits or anything like that, so a lot of people are really trying to … They’re trying figure it out, but almost, I think they’re trying too hard. It’s like, “Don’t overthink it.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. What do you mean by that, like they’re trying to get too tricky, and it’s like you just got to-
Kate Ahl: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s like … What would the New England Patriots … I remember at their peak, they would always say, “Trust the process,” like all of these hardcore football guys, Tom Brady, and I think that was the slogan they would use, but it almost feels like you could apply that to Pinterest like, trust the process.
Kate Ahl: 100%.
Bjork Ostrom: The process looks different, though. It evolves, it changes a little bit. If you were to say, “Trust the process,” five years ago, it wouldn’t be the same as it is today. What does that look like today for Pinterest?
Kate Ahl: Yeah. I think the only thing I would say from today to now is it’s still search and discovery. That hasn’t changed. It hasn’t become more social, it hasn’t become like Instagram or anything like that. The change, really, to today is video, and video being forward on Pinterest and something you can leverage, whereas five years ago, we were all saying, “I don’t know if video’s going to work on Pinterest,” but it is now.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It was around that time, there’s kind of that Hands and Pans for Facebook. Maybe it was five, six, seven years ago. Video was huge on those other platforms. Instagram starting to introduce that, but really, I think the change is Video Plus.
It almost feels like short/real type video, and five, six, seven years ago, video on Instagram and Facebook was important, but it was still kind of in this category of like video within kind of horizontal player. Maybe it’s more the typical video, and then Snapchat influences these other platforms, and now, we have this new type of video. Is that similarly present on Pinterest? It feels like maybe Pinterest is always a little bit lagging in some of those trendy types of mediums, but always gets there eventually. And so are they there yet, or does this still feel kind of early for that type of content for Pinterest?
Kate Ahl: Yeah. I would say they’re there now, and that’s been one of the things they’ve focused on. They changed up their CEO, and I found that their old CEO, who was their founder, moved much slower. This new CEO was a former Google exec, has a lot of e-commerce experience, and so I think what we also saw was the rise of TikTok and all these other platforms kind of chasing what TikTok had.
Bjork Ostrom: Yup.
Kate Ahl: And the great similarity with Pinterest is that similar to TikTok, it’s this informative, hacky type of stuff, so those videos, they do really well on Pinterest because people are like, “Oh, this is great. This is what I want.” It’s not about someone’s day or it’s not about the influencer. So I think it’s definitely there. I will say though, what we’re seeing on accounts, people will ask us, “Does video work on Pinterest?,” and it all comes down to how your users are engaging with your content.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Kate Ahl: So we find some accounts, even in the food space, images, static images will still do really great and images will fall flat, or another account will be really great with video, and their static images will fall flat. So it’s hard to be consistent across the board to say, “100% you should do video and Pinterest,” because it all depends on the type of engagement.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I said Snapchat, you said TikTok. I think TikTok, really being the one that was influential in this type of real-based, video-based content, but the other change that it feels like happened across all platforms, but TikTok being the leader is a switch from a social media, social algorithm like, “Who are you following?,” and then I’ll show you that content to a content-based algorithm. So I’m going to show you the type of content that is going to be the highest probability of you sticking around whether you follow them or not.
Kate Ahl: Yup.
Bjork Ostrom: Have you seen the same thing on Pinterest, where there has been this change to surfacing content that is just content that people might interact with as opposed to somebody you follow?
Kate Ahl: Yeah, exactly. I was reading an interview from their chief technology officer, who was talking about AI and machine learning, and that’s primarily where they put their focus. It’s all based on user engagement so that when you open up your feed, it’s all filled with things that you’re interested in. So they’re looking at signals like saves, closeups. I don’t even think they’re taking in impressions as much, because impressions, you don’t necessarily have to engage with it, so they’re taking all that and saying, “Okay, we don’t care who you follow.”
“We don’t even really want to prompt you to follow people. We want you to prompt you to follow topics and interests.”
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Kate Ahl: So very similar to … I think there’s so many similarities between TikTok and Pinterest.
Bjork Ostrom: Yup.
Kate Ahl: It’s just Pinterest isn’t as big.
Bjork Ostrom: Yup. And so you said closeup. What is a closeup?
Kate Ahl: Yeah, it’s where people would be scrolling through the feed and they click on the pin to get it bigger.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it.
Kate Ahl: So just really that, and that is an indicator of interest.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Like it’s in that content algorithm. When somebody clicks on something, it gets closer, then it’s like, “Oh, that’s an indicator that you’re interested in this thing,” which is an indicator that you’re going to stick around longer, which as a platform, that’s what they want, so then they’ll prioritize that type of content. So in our world, one of the things that was so great five years ago is you have a pin, maybe it goes viral, people click on it, they go to your site, they interact with it. One of the changes with video is that now, somebody just interacts with that video, but what does clicking look like within a video?
Like should we separate, kind of like we do on Instagram? Like Instagram, for us, we don’t think of it as a traffic driver. We think of it, personally, this is for Pinch of Yum or for Food Blogger Pro, which is a smaller account, but similarly, thinking about how we can use Instagram, we think of it as a platform to build a following and to speak to people, and the way that we monetize it for Pinch of Yum is we work with brands. They pay us to get in front of that audience that we’ve built, or on Food Blogger Pro, we get in front of people and they are aware of Food Blogger Pro and potentially sign up for a membership. We’re also starting to get into sponsorships as well for Food Blogger Pro, more niche audience, but have a kind of similar offering.
So do you feel like creators need to start to detach from the idea of traffic, or it’s almost like maybe hybrid? Because like as I shared, for Pinch of Yum, it’s still a really valuable source of revenue, and at the end of the year, we’re getting six figures from Pinterest as a traffic source without needing to do a ton of work, but that looks different than it did five years ago. So how should we, as creators, be thinking about Pinterest, and do you see people starting to work with brands there as well for the video content?
Kate Ahl: Yeah. So there’s two things, I would say, as far as working with brands. I think Pinterest in early 21, 22-ish started to create these brand partnerships, but it really didn’t take off. They had this ability for us to work together, tag each other, all those kinds of things, and then a third-party agency would facilitate that. That has kind of gone by the wayside. So I think if there’s any brand work that’s going to happen, it has to be more at the one-to-one level with the brand, and then you include Pinterest in that.
Bjork Ostrom: Like right now, we’re having a conversation with a brand about a holiday campaign. They’re asking about Instagram and TikTok. We could potentially build the case for Pinterest as well.
Kate Ahl: 100%.
Bjork Ostrom: Add it to the campaign-
Kate Ahl: Yeah, and you should.
Bjork Ostrom: Yup. Yeah.
Kate Ahl: Yeah, because that, for a lot of brands, gives residual traffic, especially when it comes to holidays. You work with them this holiday, it comes around next one, and now you see another level of engagement.
Bjork Ostrom: Yup.
Kate Ahl: So I think there’s that there. As far as addressing the Instagram, like build awareness versus Pinterest, build awareness and not drive traffic, I don’t think that’s the case yet. I still think the user base is primed to move off the platform and still very much frustrated with no links, which I think is why in this year, ’23, they did away with Idea Pins. Actually, it was a year ago. This time they said, “We’re we’re done with them,” and I think that was because their user base was like, “I see these either short form videos or slides, but it’s not going anywhere,” so then Pinterest said-
Bjork Ostrom: And they were so used to that.
Kate Ahl: Right.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Kate Ahl: So it’s like, “Why frustrate the natural habit of your user?,” so they merged that into a video format that does click. So what we see it as is a teaser. It’s a way to do a step one through five to pique their interest so they can go to learn more, because a Pinterest user does not think … They think I’m gathering ideas, but I’m not taking action on the platform, which I think is very different.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s different than Google, which in our world, if you’re looking to make a recipe, it’s probably because you’re in the mindset of like, “I’m going to make this tonight, or this weekend, or for Thanksgiving,” and so the user intent is more action-oriented with a search result, whereas for Pinterest, let me know if you feel like this is true, the user intent is more exploratory. “Hey, I’m going to start to gather some ideas of potentially what I could make for Thanksgiving, and I’ll put these in this little bucket, create a board and put it in that area, and then I’ll go back and revisit it when I actually want to do that.” Does that feel accurate?
Kate Ahl: Yeah, it does. And now, what we’re seeing is Pinterest is owning that even more. What they’re realizing is, “Yes, this is our ecosystem,” where I think probably a couple years ago, they were fighting against that. They were like, “We want to be like Instagram. Let’s do Idea Pins,” or, “We want to be like TikTok.” Now, they’re saying, “What can we do to fuel the growth of discovery so that you can get more sales, that you can get more clicks?”
They’ve often toyed around with this idea when it comes to e-commerce, having a buy button on the platform, but they’ve really always kind of pushed back at it and said, “We want that point of sale to be on your site.” So that’s another indicator that they’re not really moving in that direction, but they want to say … I think their big selling point, I read this yesterday in their investor report, is, “We want to be the place that is the great informer of purchases and consuming content. That’s what we want to be.” So leaning into it, I think is great.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s great, for Pinterest to lean into that and say like, “Hey, we’re just going to own this. We’re not going to try and shift this massive ship that is going in this certain direction. We’re just going to embrace it and double down on that.” Can you remind everybody what an Idea Pin was and kind of the thinking behind it, and then it sounds like now, that’s no longer a thing?
Kate Ahl: Yeah. So we had them come up with this idea of a Story Pin, which is what it was first called, which was what this hybrid of like an Instagram Story and an Instagram Reel kind of put together. Then, they realized the idea of Story Pin sounded weird, so they went to this thing of Idea Pin because people on Pinterest find ideas. So it could be anywhere from one to 15 slides where you could put static images or you could put video in there, and their whole thought was, “If we can get people to watch these, they’ll stay on the platform longer, and we’re not going to include a link, so you do have to watch them.” So as a creator, you had to come up with all these fancy ways to call to action to people to search on your site.
Also, they created like a creator monetization program so that people would create them. Then, when I think they switched CEOs, they realized the creator program is not working and this Idea Pin thing is not working as well, so they infuse them into a new format called video, and if you have old Idea Pins, these are taken and put into just one slide, if you will, and then it scrolls through, but now we have the link. And so some people will still see Idea Pins on their account. I don’t know why they have not been phased out completely, but for my account, they’re gone, but we do have something called an Idea Ad. So don’t confuse when you see that in your dashboard, you’ll see create Idea Ad.
That is not the same as the old Idea Pin. I actually really don’t know why they have it. Could be for bigger brands just to do awareness where there’s no link, but that’s kind of the lowdown on Idea Pins, now Video Pins.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. And so let’s say you’re a creator and you are kind of Instagram forward, and you’re like, “I’m going to create an Instagram Reel.” And for us, we might make a one-minute Instagram Reel, highlighting a recipe. We’ll also then post that to TikTok. Is the idea then that you’re posting that in the same way to Pinterest, and anything that would be different when you’re posting it to Pinterest than the other platforms?
Kate Ahl: Yeah, that’s exactly what we’re doing too, is we’re creating the reel before we put anything on it, any words, any music, we’re downloading, I guess raw edited video to upload natively to Pinterest to use some of their features. The only ones we don’t do are things that are timely. They have an end date to them, or they have a really deep tie to the creator. I would have to watch it because I follow you, and I would know about what you’re talking about. We exclude those, but I definitely think repurposing any of your food content that’s walking people through a process or showing a behind the scenes, 100%, you should put that on Pinterest.
Bjork Ostrom: And the reason for not doing something that’s timely is because of the way Pinterest works. You could do it on Instagram, you could probably do it on TikTok, but with Pinterest, it’s more of a slow burn.
Kate Ahl: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Like it’s going to live there forever, it’s going to have kind of … Kind of similar to YouTube maybe a little bit, in some sense. Like it’s going to be a piece of content that you don’t want to have it be irrelevant in a week. Is that the general idea, like you want to upload something that’s going to be able to live forever?
Kate Ahl: Yeah. I think your example of YouTube is fully correct, and when you think of YouTube, we’re working through it right now, you’re thinking of building this bank of videos and you know all those are going to be working for you. It’s very similar with any pin or any video on Pinterest. You know it’s going to be working for you long-term, so I don’t want to post about my Black Friday, Cyber Monday sales in 2023 because it’s going to be irrelevant if somebody finds it in 2024.
Bjork Ostrom: Right. That makes sense. When you upload those, you said you can include links, and what does that look like? How do you do that well?
Kate Ahl: Yeah. So when you upload your video, it’ll walk you through all the prompts now to do title, pin description. We have these things called tagged topics too as well. You want to complete those. I believe you can have a max of 10, and then right below that, it will add a URL.
So when somebody’s watching the video, they click on the title, it just goes straight to your site. We have also tested, especially for myself, YouTube. So for a long time, we said, “Do not drive traffic from Pinterest to YouTube.” App to app integrations are clunky. However, we wanted to get a little risky and test it with ours, and it’s been working.
It’s actually been not getting an amazing amount of traffic, but we’re not seeing zero. And usually, when we see zero, it means that either the link, it is just not a good integration, but we are seeing it as like a teaser that goes to the long-form, and being very clear about that, like you’re going to go to YouTube. And it’s another way to, for us, elevate our YouTube views and get some external traffic over there. You can certainly direct them to your site too if you have a video there.
Bjork Ostrom: I love that. So when you say for us, you mean, you referenced you being a creator, Simple Pin Media is a creator, and your incentive is different than, let’s say somebody who monetizes via ads, where you just want to get people engaged, you want to build trust, you want to increase watch time on any platform, and so it makes more sense for you, or at least what you’re testing, is to put something that’s short video on Pinterest that maybe talks about a specific topic, and then links to the long-form interview video, like explainer, and then that’s maybe 10 minutes long, 20 minutes long, and the hope is somebody then goes to YouTube and watches the longer version of that. Is that right?
Kate Ahl: Yeah, exactly. So an example might be if we’re teaching people how to tag their products on Pinterest, there might be a less than a minute video, tapping into that confusion, and then telling them there’s longer, and then underneath that, we’re going to get them on our email list. That’s, our whole goal with Pinterest is email list. Our whole goal with YouTube is that too. So even if somebody doesn’t go there, we still have a blog post on our site that has a pin leading to it. So it’s kind of like now, we have multiple pathways to get to that point of getting them on our email list.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. I love that. And I think what’s great about that is it’s this reminder that platforms are tools, and our job as creators is to figure out how to use the tool, and just because one person is using the tool in a certain way doesn’t mean that we need to use that tool in the same way, and so for you, it’s going to look very different than maybe what it would look like for a food creator, or somebody who’s an e-commerce business, and so it allows us to kind of have this blank canvas of a tool and think strategically around, “Okay, there’s this new feature, videos on Pinterest. How do we approach that given our goal?” And if your goal is email list, you know the best way to do that is by having some call to action in a short-form, but also long-form video.
I think that’s great. Before we continue, let’s take a moment to hear from our sponsors. This episode is sponsored by Raptive. You may be like the many other Food Blogger Pro members and podcast listeners who are working towards increasing their traffic to be able to apply to an ad network. Raptive, which is formerly AdThrive, for instance, requires a minimum of 100,000 page views and brand safe content to join the community.
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So more page use equals more money, and it can really add up over time. That’s why so many Food Blogger Pro community members are interested in getting their page view numbers up, so that they’ll be able to apply to an ad network and make money on display ads. So if you’re in the same boat and are interested in getting some traffic tips delivered to you for free, head to Foodbloggerpro.com/raptive. The 11 weekly emails you’ll receive are designed for creators who have a working knowledge of SEO, keyword research, and email list, but haven’t yet been able to crack that 100,000 page view mark. Go to Foodbloggerpro.com/raptive to opt into this free newsletter series.
Thanks again to Raptive for sponsoring this episode. So how about the people in the food space that are doing Pinterest well, or even like for the companies or the brands that you manage, knowing that a huge part of Simple Pin Media, you work with brands and companies to do paid on Pinterest, which we can talk about, but you also do organic for people, like Pinch of Yum, where we’re like, “We don’t want to manage it internally. We don’t want to keep up on it. The extent that we’re going to keep up on it is our quarterly or twice a year calls with Kate to get an idea of the landscape, but to have somebody who really thinks about a day in and day out managing it”? What does success look like to manage a Pinterest account? So for either if somebody’s doing it on their own or if they worked with Simple Pin Media, what would that look like?
Kate Ahl: Yeah, I would say first, for our food creators, it’s going to be the consistency, and not just consistency and pinning. I think a lot of people hear that and they think, “Okay, I am going to pin 10, 20, 30 times a day. I’m just going to keep that flow going,” but oftentimes, what we see with food creators, which makes sense, is that they get burned out and exhausted. So there’s not this regular content flow going forward, so then, they go back to old content and they just create new images, thinking that’s going to keep their Pinterest traffic afloat, and it doesn’t. What we’ve seen over and over again, is that Pinterest is looking for new content.
It could even be new content twice a month, but we look for that. That’s probably one of the biggest things. When we’re working with clients, and maybe we’ve worked with a food creator for a long time, they’re hitting a point of burnout, and they’re like, “I really can’t do it anymore.” So we have to adjust expectations to say, “Your traffic is going to take a hit,” because this element on your site of consistent content creation does play into it.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Kate Ahl: And they understand that, so it’s watching that. It’s comparing year over year. I think another thing to look at is we have four really weird years that we’ve gone through, with the pandemic, with the rise, with the recession, with all these things, so helping our clients adjust to, “What is an appropriate level of growth right now?” I had that question with a blogger the other day, and it varies, and so there’s really no way to say what your growth will be at the end of the year, but I would say in the situation that we’re in now, it’s maintaining and keeping up that flow, keeping it fresh, making sure that there’s nothing … “What are the changes that have been on Pinterest?”
“What are the things they want us to do or not want to do? What are the keywords that we’re targeting? Is there other things that we can do to make sure that Pinterest algorithm, that AI is understanding what this account is about?,” because that’s another thing too, is when we talk about playing to the algorithm, it’s almost like on Pinterest, there is a general algorithm, but there’s kind of one for each account, and it’s not like I could say, “Hey, Pinch of Yum all of a sudden double down on this type of food, and it’s going to go crazy.” Your users might not love that. It might be a switch for them, all of a sudden, to see that in their feeds, because they’ve been interested in your content. So I think that’s a big thing. Staying on top of analytics with the G4 switch, that’s been really interesting to be able to track Pinterest traffic differently as a event-based-
Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk about that, for those who aren’t familiar?
Kate Ahl: Yeah, I hate- Yes. I would say this is like the bane of my existence right now. So I would say with the switch to Google Analytics 4 from Universal Analytics, with Universal Analytics before, we would just see any kind of click. We would see people coming to the website, and it looked like a higher number, to be honest, and now with the switch to G4, it’s like one person, that’s it.
Like you just see that, but I do know that we’re working with somebody to see if we can really get more granular, so I’m trying not to be resentful of G4. I’m trying to see what are the advantages of us to track like, “If they did this, then they did this, then they did this. Can we track more cleanly our Pinterest traffic in a way that we understand that whole, I guess, process that they’ve gone through?” So I’m not fully there yet, but that’s one of the things we hope to develop by the end of the year, is just a greater understanding of learning about the Pinterest traffic. Because we couldn’t for a while, and Google cut off those links to where you could really see the pin that was driving the most traffic, then it was kind of hidden, but Pinterest Analytics have gotten better, but I still think we want to marry the two together.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Previously, in Universal Analytics, you could really drill down and see specifically like, “Oh my gosh, this is the all-star, hero pin that’s doing really well,” and that is just helpful as you use analytics. I haven’t looked at or explored that or tried to find it, but it sounds like in Google Analytics 4, that’s not available in the same way.
Kate Ahl: You have to custom-build it.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay.
Kate Ahl: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Kate Ahl: So it’s got to look different, and then you’ve got to add in another layer of tracking. We’ve done UTM codes for a long time to be able to track in there, so that might be the way that people do it to test it. That’s another thing that we like to look at, with what I mentioned earlier, “Does video do better for you, or does static images do better?”
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Kate Ahl: And that is one of the things I always tell people, when you listen to somebody else’s strategy, take those things into consideration like, “Are they doing a deep dive on their analytics, and you just haven’t done a deep dive yet?”
Bjork Ostrom: Yep. Can you explain what a UTM parameter is, or UTM link?
Kate Ahl: Yeah. I can’t … It’s like Urchin. Do you know the other TM?
Bjork Ostrom: No, I don’t know what the actual letters-
Kate Ahl: Oh, okay. So I think it’s like Urchin-
Bjork Ostrom: Urchin Tracking Module. But I-
Kate Ahl: Yeah, exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: That wasn’t in my head. That was from Google.
Kate Ahl: Okay, got it. So basically, you have your pin link on Pinterest … Or let me back up. You upload in a pin to Pinterest, and at the point where you can add a link, you add a snippet of code, the UTM code to the end of that link, and what that does is it fuses with that Pinterest link. Basically, you pin it.
Now, whenever somebody clicks on that and comes to your website, it’s now tracking. Now, you know exactly which pin they clicked on. Whereas where we’re at now, we can’t really see that very clearly, so it allows us to kind of follow the flow of traffic.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s almost like we have Tile for like our … I have a Tile for my wallet, and then I just got the Apple Tag-
Kate Ahl: The AirTag?
Bjork Ostrom: For AirTag for my keys. It’s almost like … And it’s free. You don’t have to pay for it, but attaching those to different URLs, so then within Google, you can say, “I want to see specifically this link. I want to track this link and see how people interacted with it and how people got here,” and it sounds like in the video example that you gave, one of the ways that you could think about doing that is for all of your Pinterest links that are video related, you could create a UTM parameter that categorizes those as video links, and so then, you can start to separate it out and see like, “Okay, let’s take a look and see,” like, “How much video traffic did I get from Pinterest?,” but the bummer is you have to do that in kind of a manual way versus it being automatic or fed into Google in a way that it was previously.
Kate Ahl: Yes, which can be labor-intensive.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Kate Ahl: I think if you are a fact finder, you got to stop yourself from fact-finding at some point, and just kind of go on it to the 10,000-foot level and be like, “Okay, I’m just going to take this.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yep, because you could spend all day in the weeds creating UTM parameters and tracking, and getting the analytics fine-tuned, and yeah.
Kate Ahl: And a beautiful Airtable spreadsheet.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. And for some companies, it makes sense, but for the majority of people listening to this who are solopreneurs or have a small team, probably aren’t at the point where you want to spend a ton of time doing that.
Kate Ahl: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. That’s really helpful. I think if you were to look out two, three years from now, this is maybe kind of hard to know for sure, do you see the general trend going more towards video, like continuing to be video-forward, and so for us, as creators on Pinterest, that’s an important consideration?
Kate Ahl: It is, and I think it’s an important consideration because Pinterest is putting priority on it. Even in that Investor report yesterday, they said there’s one billion videos being watched every day. Video views is what they called them, and so they are putting priority on it with having things be video-forward and doing a lot of education around how to help people create good video so that they do get engagement. So there is on Pinterest … I’d have to see if it’s still there, but in the app, I know at the top it says …
Okay, they removed it. It used to have the watch at the top, where you could kind of scroll through like TikTok.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Kate Ahl: They’ve pulled back on that. So now, your videos are just put into your feed, and so if you notice that you’re getting more videos, it could be because you’re clicking on it, and that’s that indicator again that Pinterest is like, “Oh, you like those? We’re going to show those to you.” And so three years down the line, I think Pinterest is going to say … They’re still going to say, “We want to be America’s shopping mall,” or I guess global, because they are growing globally. “We want to be that great informer, so if video gets us to that point and the e-commerce integrations get us to that point, we will push towards that,” and I think we look at who is on their like C-suite team, and they’re all former like PayPal, Venmo, e-commerce.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, transactional type roles.
Kate Ahl: Exactly. So if there’s any element to your business that is e-commerce … So for us, in the last year, we started a Shopify store to experiment with all of that. Pinterest is very friendly to digital products, which is great. So what do those integrations look like?
Do they make it easier? Do they make checkout? What are we seeing off of that?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Kate Ahl: And we’re about to do kind of our yearly, quarterly, yearly audit, if you will, to see if that worked, but yeah, I definitely think video two, three years down the line is going to be even bigger play.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s interesting. Can you talk about the Investor report? What is that? And I think it’s really cool that you’re reading those. It’s a great way to get an inside look at a company. Is that something that you always do whenever they come out with one?
Kate Ahl: Yeah, we do. It’s really fun to look at. So what they do is they release kind of a press release, which was released today, and then I believe today or tomorrow, they’ll release the recording and the transcript of the call. But what we like about this is that, one, we can see growth. So they hit 483 million users, which is a record high for them, and then I think it was an 8% growth or something.
You can look at where they’re at financially. I kind of see that as like, “What’s the health of the company that you’re working on?,” and for me, it’s important, right, because my entire business is based on them, so I really want them to be healthy.
Bjork Ostrom: Yup.
Kate Ahl: But then, we can get indicators with … When the CEO gives this main presentation to investors, we can see what it is their objectives are and kind of go, “Oh, now, we can see video is important. Now, we can see this is important and where they’re going.” They also had a recent like investor day or something like that, where they’re trying to get, I guess more connected to their investors to help them understand Pinterest. I did find it interesting that it was …
Well, it was kind of one of the first ones that they did to really explain, “This is where we’re going, more communication with investors.” So you can find them just by looking at Pinterest Q3 financial results, and it comes with like this graph, if you will, and then a lot of words and a lot of acronyms that I skip over. It’s like EBITDA and all these… I’m like, “Oh, okay. Okay.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like the financial reporting stuff.
Kate Ahl: Totally.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s interesting-
Kate Ahl: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, go ahead.
Kate Ahl: No. I would say if you look at it, just look at the top, look at what the CEO comments are, and then there will be kind of this investor back and forth that it’ll show the investor questions and who they’re from, and then it will be to the financial officer, but it’s interesting to me the type of questions they ask, and it makes me think like, “I don’t know if investors always understand Pinterest.” So I think Pinterest is trying to bring them together to say, “We’re not like the others.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah.
Kate Ahl: We are here on our own island.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s interesting, I just looked up Pinterest stock. Like you just Google Pinterest stock. So we’re recording this on October 31st, and in Google, it has like a recent event, Q3 earnings, call results available, but you can also see the stock, and it was up 17.88% today, which is like, “Oh.” Like there must’ve been something in there that was like a really good indicator to investors who, and even some of the headlines underneath Pinterest jumps on better than expected third-quarter results, but those Investor reports are so cool. There’s this SEO-focused blog by this guy named Glen Allsop, who, he goes via ViperChill online, but it’s called Detailed.com.
But one of the things that he does is he just does deep dive analysis on content sites that are public. So they’ll do these investor calls, and kind of like you talk about, they’ll share their numbers, and their growth, and if they’re consolidating or expanding, and how they’re redirecting certain sites into other sites. And so it’s another kind of example of somebody who’s really good in a specific vertical, finding different avenues to learn, and one of the best ways to do that is these investor calls because in some ways, they want to lay out their playbook to say like, “Here’s how we’re going to win, here’s what we’re going to do, here’s how we’re growing or not growing,” and you don’t get that information, but from the company being willing to share it, so it’s a great way to look at the-
Kate Ahl: It’s a little trick.
Bjork Ostrom: Behind the curtain. Yeah, I love that. So what does it look like today for a creator who hasn’t given a lot of focus to Pinterest, maybe kind of had it as an afterthought? How do you start to get that train moving forward?
Kate Ahl: Yeah. I would say, I always tell people, number one, you just have to decide to use it, and the best example that I use is for a long time, I was super dragging my feet with LinkedIn. I hated it. Then, I just made a decision, at the beginning of January last year, that I’m going to give it one full year to learn it and to see if I can love it. And that might be really … It’s dragging yourself out of bed in the morning.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Kate Ahl: So if you’re approaching Pinterest that way and you’re like, “Oh, I know everybody else is doing it, but I hate it and I don’t like it.” If you’re a type of person, “I’m a little bit more of a fact finder, so I want to figure things out for myself,” so I’ll do two routes. One, if you want to figure it out for yourself, you’re going to have to commit to learning it, which means just play around with a platform. You can’t break it, you can’t do anything wrong, but you have the general idea of keywords and images are the main things you want to focus on, so making sure your profile reflects your brand and your business, and then just start to get good at Pinterest images. They’re different than all the rest, so you’re going to have to create a vertical image, which is annoying, right?
I get that part. And then thinking about your end user, which you probably already know them, but you’re going to have to think about somebody who’s cold to you. They don’t know you. So what are they going to be searching to find you? What are your most popular recipes?
Start there, and just Pin at least five pins a day, depending on how much content you have, and do that for three months, and just learn it. Look at the analytics, high level, and that’s kind of the approach … When I was doing LinkedIn, I looked at it and I was like, “Okay, I know what parts aren’t annoying me now,” but I also know, “Now, I’m seeing what’s awesome about it,” and I think when you get to those three months at Pinterest, you start to see some movement.
Bjork Ostrom: Yup.
Kate Ahl: Don’t stop then, give yourself another three months to do one more thing different or better that you couldn’t do while you were learning, and then give yourself another three months to do one more thing. I would say too, one of the biggest things is you could certainly ask for help from other people. I know I did when it came to LinkedIn, but it really clicked when it was mine, when I understood why I was using it, what my goals were, and I started to understand the users on Pinterest because they’re different than everywhere else. So for my users on Pinterest, they’re very informative-based. They don’t really like anything that’s inspirational.
They want a how-to, they want to get straight to the point. You just learn that over time. So I want to keep encouraging people, especially in the food space, there’s going to be a discouraging point where you maybe feel like it’s saturated or maybe you feel like there’s no place for you, but there is a place for you, because people on Pinterest are searching keywords, they’re not searching brands. And I know we all have that kind of competitive, or I guess we get overwhelmed by looking at somebody who’s bigger than us, and we say, “There’s no place for me.” That’s what I love about Pinterest because all those searches are unbranded, so you have opportunity to get in front of them if you’re smart with your keywords and you have great images that can really hook people in.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. Yeah, it’s a little bit more of an even playing field for somebody who’s just starting out. If you create excellent content and it’s on par with the content of a huge site, you can still show up in the same way that they can. The field is a little bit more even than it would be, let’s say in SEO, where it’s like you’re going to have to work for a few years to start to get to the point where you’re getting stuff that’s getting picked up and getting a decent amount of traffic from it, so-
Kate Ahl: And I think one thing to note about that too, is that the way Pinterest works for a regular user is people repin all the time. So they’re working through recycling content within the platform. So Pinterest goes to creators and says, “We need your new content here.” So if you’re new and your content is new, you do have a little bit more of an advantage.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, interesting. This is going to be one of the things I was going to ask about before kind of a specific question, but you talked about new content. When you say new content, is that like a new image? And it could be an old URL. It’s like a new URL that is … That’s what new content would be, and then what you’re creating around that is kind of the supporting content on Pinterest, but Pinterest views new content as the URL. Is that what you’re saying?
Kate Ahl: Yeah, that’s what we see in all of our data with our accounts, because we’ve had … Like those ones that are burned out, they go back and they do a new image for an old URL, and they put that on Pinterest and they get into that rhythm. Their traffic stagnates or it declines. Whereas somebody who’s doing a new piece of content, and then they’re putting that on Pinterest, that fuels it, because Pinterest is like, “Oh, great, you’re adding to our ecosystem,” instead of, “We already kind of have this content in there,” but it’s sure-
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it’s like, yeah, a different way to look at the same piece of content as opposed to just an entirely new piece of content.
Kate Ahl: Exactly. We wouldn’t have seen that had we not looked at all these accounts and recognized the correlation. I could see how if I was functioning on just my own site, I might think, “Oh, this is working. It’s keeping it steady,” but if you were doing something else, it would keep it steady on an upward incline over time.
Bjork Ostrom: Yup. That makes sense. Then, how about for people who are like, “That’s awesome, but I don’t want do it”?
Kate Ahl: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: You have a service-
Kate Ahl: Yes, you can hire us.
Bjork Ostrom: You have a service that you can work with people, and can you talk a little bit about what that looks like?
Kate Ahl: Yeah. I would say when it comes to hiring anybody, when it comes to doing anything for your business, especially when it comes to social media, I would ask yourself, “Do you need to understand it, or do you not need to understand it?” So I was never really going to hire someone for LinkedIn because I had done that before and it didn’t work because I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t have my goal in mind. So that would be what you think about first.
If you’re like, “I’m going to hire you, hands off. I do not care about this. I trust I had a referral,” great. Just tell people what your goals are, and then start to work in collaboration, because when it comes to Pinterest marketing, sure, we can create images for you, but we don’t create content, and very few companies are both the Pinterest person and the content creator person, so you have to have that role fulfilled, and so what we’ll do with some of our clients who say, “We just can’t do it yet,” we’ll kind of do like an accelerator package where we’ll get everything set up. “Here’s your images, here’s your profile, here’s your keywords, here’s your analytics.”
“It’s there for you. Now, you start creating content, and when you’re ready, we’ll pick up at this point,” so …
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome.
Kate Ahl: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Then, how about on the paid side? We didn’t touch a lot on that, but who would be the ideal client, or brand, or company, because I know that’s another version of what you do in our world, where we’re content creators, primarily thinking about content creation for organic traffic monetized via product, ads, or affiliate?
Kate Ahl: Yup.
Bjork Ostrom: But there’s another category of people who have a product that they can run ads against, and they can do it in a way that’s profitable where they spend a dollar on an ad and they make $2 on their product, and you can use all these different platforms, Pinterest being one of them, to run those ads. So who would be a good fit for that, knowing that that’s also something that you do?
Kate Ahl: Yeah, I would say number one, you have a product. You know exactly what you’re willing to spend on a conversion. You have a really great landing page set up that is built for conversions. A lot of people will come to us with a product, but they’ve never really thought about the copy and the flow and the funnel, I guess, of when Pinterest users land on this page, are they actually going to buy? We have people who will say, “Let’s just put dollars behind it, and maybe they’ll purchase.”
That’s not going to fix your problem. So look at that on Pinterest. You can do some organic testing with your product, and you can definitely look at your sales page. “Are people converting when they come from Pinterest?” But what we find is that that’s number one for us, or growing your email list.
Somebody really wants to figure out how they can grow that so that they can sell on the backside. They’re not necessarily selling on the front. We have a lot of physical product people, and then a lot of digital product people too that use ads. I would say the number one thing is really just knowing what you’re willing to spend. Pinterest, though, I’ll say, is going to take a little bit more time to figure out the optimization, anywhere from four to six weeks, and that’s hard because some people don’t want to invest that kind of like seed money in data to really get the information that you need, but once you do get the information, you could scale it, and you can put more money behind it.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. That’s great. The best way for folks to take the next step would be going to simplepinmedia.com, and then booking a discovery call with somebody on your team?
Kate Ahl: Yes. Exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. I would encourage … It’s one of the things I’ve been thinking of, even at this conference that I told you about. There’s a swag bag, and there’s this little like postcard, and it was like, “Free SEO audit.” I was like, “Okay. Let’s do it.”
Kate Ahl: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: And it was helpful. The company came back, and they’re like, “Here’s some things that we see, some opportunities,” and I feel like anytime that we can have a conversation or interact with somebody who’s an expert, they can offer an insider, an opinion on opportunities that they see, and sometimes it makes sense to say like, “Okay, I know that I’m not going to be able to move on this opportunity, so I’ll hire you to do it,” but maybe the opportunity’s like, “Hey, you can get set up and get running, and then once you get to this point, then come back, and then we can take over,” or whatever it might be. So for people who are interested in having that conversation and maybe seeing what it would look like to work together with Simple Pin, I would encourage everybody to go to Simplepinmedia.com and book that discovery call, have the conversation. These are people who spend a lot of time thinking about Pinterest and …
Kate Ahl: Too much time maybe.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. How about last kind of shout out. Are you posting on LinkedIn as well, or are you more following along?
Kate Ahl: I am.
Bjork Ostrom: And if people want to follow along with you there, how would they do that?
Kate Ahl: Yeah, just go to LinkedIn and search Kate Ahl, and you’ll see Simple Pin Media, I think pop up next to it. But yeah, follow me on LinkedIn. I’m posting over there. A lot of thoughts. It feels, like I was telling you, a little bit like how it approached Facebook in 2015, ’16, ’17, but here’s a great thing that I’m finding, is you can get a lot of great information about Pinterest over there from their executives, from their ad people because they’re posting. So I’ve followed all of them, and yeah, follow me over there.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. Cool. Kate, it’s A-H-L, Kate Ahl.
Kate Ahl: Yep.
Bjork Ostrom: Search on LinkedIn over there. We’ll link to that in the show notes as well. Our sixth conversation, Kate.
Kate Ahl: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Every time it feels, it feels so easy, because you have this wealth of knowledge, and really appreciate you sharing it with everybody on the podcast today, so thanks for coming on.
Kate Ahl: You bet.
Alexa Peduzzi: Hey, there. Alexa here from the Food Blogger Pro team. We hope you enjoyed this episode, and we so appreciate you being here and tuning in today. I wanted to let you know that we are actually running a Cyber Monday sale. It’s our best sale of the year, and it’ll start on Monday, November 27th, and it will get you, get this, $100 off of an annual membership to Food Blogger Pro.
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