Last Updated on May 17, 2023 by Bert-Jan Schilthuis-Ihrig
Wondering how to go viral on Pinterest? Going viral on Pinterest won’t generate all of the sales, followers and brand exposure of your dreams overnight, but it can be a great way to skyrocket your account and build a solid foundation from which to market from.
I’ve gone viral on Pinterest several times. My account regularly reaches 2 million viewers every month, plus I’m a Pinterest manager! Here are my tips for how to go viral on Pinterest and explode your brand reach.
How does the Pinterest algorithm work?
Like all search engines, Pinterest aims to share the most relevant content possible with readers in response to their search history. If someone enters “vegetarian dinner ideas” into the search bar and is shown chicken recipes or haircuts, then they’re going to close the app and reach for Google, TikTok or YouTube.
The search algorithm’s goal is to always give users what they want to see. But there’s also another aspect to Pinterest marketing: the home feed, also called the smart feed.
Here, users are shown content that’s trending, seasonal or related to their past searches. It presents an enormous opportunity for Pinterest creators to go viral and have their content shown to millions of users.
📌 Save for later! 📌
Pinterest Is NOT A Social Network
You’ll never really take off on Pinterest without understanding this fundamental aspect of Pinterest marketing, and that’s this: Pinterest is not a social media platform. It’s a search engine. You need to remember this every time that you share content in order to optimize it so that it can show up in search results.
How to make your Pin searchable?
In order to make your pins searchable, you must include keywords in the:
- PNG, JPEG or MP4 file name
- Pin title
- Pin description
- On the pin itself
For added optimization, also include keywords in your:
- Board title
- Board description
Then when you publish a pin, you always save it to your most relevant board and this boosts your optimization even further.
Yes, any account can go viral on Pinterest, however, virality should never be the goal of your entire Pinterest marketing strategy. As a Pinterest manager, I never aim for virality for any of my clients’ accounts. That’s because virality has downsides: you attract a lot of people who don’t necessarily like your content, and it can also result in criticism and trolls.
Plus, the biggest downside of all: virality is temporary. ONLY virality that results in follower growth is ultimately good for your Pinterest marketing. Here are tips for making that happen.
How To Go Viral On Pinterest
These Pinterest tips will help increase your odds of going viral.
1. Don’t Commit Spam Practices
Let’s start with the quickest way to NOT go viral on Pinterest: using outdated best practices and getting flagged as spam.
Many creators accidentally break the spam rules on Pinterest even though their intentions were pure, so this is worth paying attention to. The most common forms of spam that I see on Pinterest are:
- Uploading pins you don’t own
- Creating pins for your homepage
- Using hashtags
- Creating tons of pins for the same URL over and over again
- Keyword stuffing
Keyword stuffing is particularly common, so let me demonstrate:
- GOOD Pinterest SEO: Want to create viral Pinterest pins that Pinterest users love? These Pinterest tips will help you find your best Pinterest keywords to help your pins rank in search so that you can go viral on Pinterest and improve your blog traffic.
You can find keywords for free using the Pinterest search bar:
Even though this is a bit repetitive, it’s still using complete sentences to tie together the keywords.
This, on the other hand, will risk getting your account flagged as spam:
- BAD Pinterest SEO: Go viral on Pinterest pin image blog traffic Pinterest boards relevant keywords viral pin Pinterest search bar rich pins
Learn even more in my Pinterest SEO guide.
I’m starting with this because spam behaviors will ultimately get you NOWHERE on Pinterest (either shadow banned or even having your Pinterest account suspended). Even if you do see some viral pins initially, you can’t build something long-term on Pinterest by trying to cheat the system.
A lot of the Pinterest tips I see on TikTok from Pinterest “pros” directly violate Pinterest’s spam standards and show no real understanding of the Pinterest algorithm, so let me take this moment to show you the secret handshake.
I’ve been on Pinterest as a creator since 2018, I write about Pinterest marketing for other publications and I actively create content and manage many Pinterest accounts across niches for clients. All the advice shared here is solid and not based on 6 months of success on the platform.
Action item: ALWAYS follow current Pinterest marketing best practices.
2. Have A Pinterest Business Account
This is less of a hot tip and more of a heads up on HOW Pinterest works: you cannot go viral unless you have a Pinterest business account.
How can you tell if you have a business or personal account? Look at your account page and see if you have a “monthly views” number listed under your bio.
If you don’t see this, then you don’t have a business account.
Action item: If you don’t have a Pinterest business account already, set one up today by following these steps.
3. Complete Your Account
An account that is not correctly set up will never see as much distribution as others on Pinterest. Simple steps such as completing your account settings and claiming your website have a HUGE impact on the distribution of your content.
I’ve seen accounts double their impressions just from claiming their website! Your account setup should include.
- Account cover photo
- Account profile picture
- Your name
- Name in account description
- Keywords and tone in account description
- Where to go next
- Claimed website – most important
- Personal pronouns
Find more about each of these steps and get steps to complete the use in my Pinterest account setup guide.
Action item: Using my guide, see if your account is properly set up and fill in any holes.
4. Know Your Keywords.
Distribution on Pinterest relies on keywords. Otherwise, how can Pinterest know when to show your content to your target audience?
Every creator on Pinterest should establish a bank of keywords that they KNOW users are searching for in their niche. This is an essential step for new creators on Pinterest, but it’s also something that season creators should do twice a year to make sure that they’re using the most up-to-date terms in their niche.
The best way to get keywords from Pinterest is to use software called Pin Inspector.
Pin Inspector is a keyword research software that costs only $40 for lifetime access and pulls hundreds or thousands of keywords in only a few minutes, giving you direct access into what your Pinterest audience is searching for.
The result? You making content that meets the EXACT interest of your target audience, which ultimately users engage with more and drive more traffic.
I have an entire Pin Inspector tutorial for you, but here is a quick glimpse and how this software works: insert a keyword into Pin Inspector and let it pull hidden data on what keywords users are searching for on Pinterest.
If you don’t want to buy Pin Inspector for yourself, I can also create a Pinterest keyword bank for you.
Action item: Gather as many keywords as possible for your niche and create a spreadsheet where you store them. Reference this as you optimize your account and pins.
You may also like: Honest Disadvantages To Pinterest Marketing
5. Optimize Your Account
This may seem redundant, but let me hit this point home: you must include keywords in your account structure in order to reach your potential on Pinterest. Visit your account right now, and look to see if you have keywords included in these places:
- Account cover
- Account description
- Board titles
- Board descriptions
These keywords help Pinterest distribute your content on Pinterest, but they also help viewers know that they’re in the right place. Which Pinterest account cover says more to the viewer?
Aim for a mix of seed keywords and long-tail keywords.
Action item: Check your account for missing optimization opportunities and add any missing keywords.
You may also like: The Lazy Pinterest Strategy
Pinners don’t read the pin title or pin description before savings or clicking on a pin. 100% of the engagement you receive depends on how your pin looks, and most viral pins look scroll-stopping!
But the pin description and pin title still matter for Pinterest SEO – they help determine whether or not your pin shows up when users enter a term in the Pinterest search bar.
When a client comes to me for a Pinterest audit, pin design is the first thing I look at.
Pin design do’s:
- Make it aesthetic (think dreamy travel, bold business, colorful fitness)
- Use the right keywords on your pin image as well as the pin title and pin description
- Use vertical images
- Make MORE than one pin image for every website URL
- Test your pin design on mobile for readability
Pin design don’ts:
- Over-use stock images
- Use images without any text
- Ignore context
- Rely on script fonts, which don’t always translate well on mobile
Action item: Audit your last 30 pins for improvement opportunities.
I can also do this for you in a Pinterest audit.
7. Mirror What’s Already Ranking
Pinterest is a visual search engine. That phrase has been muttered by Pinterest managers so many times it’s basically lost all meaning, so here’s what that means to you:
How your pins LOOK affects how they rank in search results.
I bet you’ve already noticed this: have you ever thought about how dreamy Pinterest is? That’s not because ugly pins don’t exist on the platform; it’s because Pinterest’s algorithm weeds them out in favor of a specific aesthetic.
See it in action when compared with Google:
Compared to that exact same search on Pinterest:
Take advantage of this by mimicking what’s already being favored by the algorithm.
Action item: Go to the Pinterest search bar and search your top 5 keywords. Identify what qualities are preferred for these topics and make pins that mimic them.
Learn exactly how to use this to your advantage in my Pinterest visual algorithm guide.
8. Make Different TYPES Of Pins
How many different types of contact do you create? The answer should be more than one if you want to have viral pins on Pinterest.
Pinterest is always pushing creators to experiment with new features, and rewards those who do so. This isn’t unique to Pinterest – all platforms reward early adopters and creators.
On Pinterest, you do this by publishing as many different types of pants as you can create for your brand:
- Static pins
- Video pins
- Idea pins
- Product pins (if you have products)
- Carousel pins
If all your pins are the same pin type, your content is likely not reaching its potential.
Action item: For your most important content, you should be creating static pins, video pins, carousel pins and idea pins.
You may also like: Free Pinterest Audit Guide
9. Create Idea Pins
Yes, idea pins get their whooole own special bullet point. Idea pins see a LOT of distribution on Pinterest,
Idea pins don’t necessarily drive traffic back to your website, but they do bring it:
- More Pinterest followers
- Increased opportunity to be on Pinterest users’ home feeds
- Premium placement in search results (SOMETIMES)
In some Pinterest search results, you see mostly static pins. In others, you see loads of idea pins. I’m not sure why Pinterest sometimes prioritizes idea pins in search results,
To test this out for yourself, go up to the Pinterest search bar and enter 5 of your keywords. What types of pins are you seeing?
Given the lifespan and distribution of idea pins, creating idea pins should be a part of your strategy if you’re trying to viral on Pinterest
Action item: Make idea pins (from scratch or with idea pin templates) for your most important content.
You may also like: 100 Idea Pin Examples
Here’s one of my most viral idea pins, which was saved by Pinterest themselves (fangirl moment):
10. Lean Into Viral Themes
At the Pinterest 2020 Creator Festival, Pinterest identified these 5 viral qualities that the most popular content on the platform shared:
- Novelty. Imaginative, fresh, use original photography, create a new trend, add value, give something a new try
- Relevance. Leverage seasonal trends, everyday interests, cultural moments and milestones. Also look for planning moments, such as remodeling, weddings, etc.
- Highly visual. Lead with compelling imagery, experiment with composition, editing, color blocking. Make it human
- Positive. Inspire people to make, try or do new ideas. Quotes are saved by more than 30 million people each month.
- Actionable. Identify a clear theme or subject. Inspire and compel people to act now.
Does that sound like your content?
Action item: Look at your most popular content and see if you position it to align with any of these viral themes.
You may also like: How To Contact Pinterest Support
11. Create Many Pins Per Piece Of Content
You know the 80/20 rule? This applies to Pinterest as much as it applies to anything else.
80% of your impressions engagement will come from 20% of your pins.
This means that in order to get the biggest 20% that you can achieve, you must produce a lot of content, and most of it’s not going to produce enormous results.
This may sound discouraging, but Pinterest honestly makes this easy for creators. Compare it to Google: if you want to add more opportunities to get traffic from Google, you have to produce new products or blog posts. Quality blog posts and products take time, research and planning!
You may also like: Google Versus Pinterest
But on Pinterest, you can create many pins, all trying to drive enormous amounts of traffic back to the same blog post.
Action item: go find your content that under-performed and create 5 new pins for it. Follow these steps to upload correctly.
12. Create As Many Pins As You Sustainably Can
Now that we talked about the 80/20 rule, it’s time to introduce the elephant in the room: his name is Ned, and he’s here to say that whoever can produce the most amount of content has the highest odds of going viral on Pinterest.
There are ways to speed up your planning process, and you should be tapping into those. For example, you can:
- Use Pinterest description templates to speed up your pin SEO
- Use Canva templates to speed up your pin design
- Schedule your pins inside Pinterest or using Tailwind so that you don’t have to pin in real time every day
- Hire a Pinterest manager to do this for you
- Stay organized and develop systems that make it easier on you
How I batch my Pinterest content for the quickest pinning possible: I create an entire month’s worth of pins at once, and I write my pin descriptions a quarter at a time.
I planned out content for the entire year this way before the New Year even hit. How? After years of making Pinterest difficult for myself, I finally looked at how I could make it as easy as possible. As a result, I’m able to publish way more and with more ease. Win-win!
Action item: What makes your Pinterest marketing time-consuming? Identify this and look for ways to resolve it.
You may also like: Pinterest Troubleshooting Guide
13. Use Tailwind Communities
Tailwind is an amazing tool for scheduling pins in advance so that you don’t have to worry about manually sharing your content every day. It also helps make sure that you’re sharing content at optimal times.
A lesser-known (but even more powerful) feature is Tailwind Communities.
In a nutshell:
- You join Communities related to your niche
- Then, you share your pins inside of the community
- They get re-pinned by people with similar audiences
- Likewise, you repin content from similar creators
- Everyone wins!
This can even be a great way to network. Tailwind themselves have repinned quite a few of my pins about Pinterest marketing, and if I ever want to reach out for a collaboration, it’s great to know that they’ve already been exposed to my content.
Communities are a fantastic way to build genuine relationships and also see your content be shared much more effectively.
Action items: Signup for Tailwind and find 5 Communities related to your niche. Start adding your content and repinning content from other creators.
You may also like: How To Use Pinterest For Beginners
14. Invite Your Network
Do your friends and family follow you on Pinterest and engage with your content?
This alone won’t make you go viral, but you’re leaving money on the table if you don’t leverage this!
- Facebook friends
- Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok followers
- Email list subscribers
- YouTube channel subscribers
- Fellow blogger friends
To follow AND engage with your content. Don’t just hope that people engage with your content and send positive signals to the algorithm. Ask them for it. Specifically, ask them to:
- Follow you
- Click on your pins when they see them
- Save them to boards or comment
Action item: Explicitly ask your network to support your content on Pinterest. You can use copy-paste scripts from my Pinterest exposure guide to help.
You may also like: How To Become A Pinterest Manager
15. Try Pinterest TV (Live Video)
You can also go live on Pinterest, using their relatively new feature called Pinterest TV.
Full disclosure: Pinterest TV is more work than going live on pretty much ALL other platforms. You have to craft a concept for your live video and then APPLY for Pinterest to allow you to go live. There are a few steps to this process, but overall, it’s pretty painless.
But the payoff? Pinterest pushes viewers to your video. A pin is created to advertise your episode of Pinterest TV and that’s prominently displayed. The pin “commercial” for my first episode of Pinterest TV was viewed by more than 100,000 people.
You can one of my Pinterest TV episodes here if you’re curious.
Action item: Go find your most important piece of content and create an episode of Pinterest TV specific to it!
16. Put Your Pin Into Your Blog Post
You know those beautiful pins you make to drive website traffic from Pinterest? You should be putting one in every. single. blog. post. In fact, you can include SEVERAL pins throughout every post!
Like this one…
I recommend inserting this near the top of every post.
I’ll explain why this is important in the next step.
Action item: Insert a pin image into every single blog post that you have.
16. Ask Website Readers To Pin For You
Are you capturing pins from your website readers? You should be!
Translation: tell your website readers to pin your blog posts to Pinterest FOR YOU.
This is incredibly powerful. Not only does it use your website views to propel your content forward on Pinterest, it’s also a GREAT signal to Pinterest that your website content is quality. The pins users save can (and often do) rank in search results!
This is simple to achieve and only takes a few minutes. There are several tools you can use:
Bonus points: put a custom message pushing readers to pin RIGHT before your Pinterest image, like this one here:
📌 Save for later! 📌
The code for that “save for later” snippet is: <p>📌 Save for later! 📌</p>
Action item: Add the pin-it button to your blog posts with a custom message pushing viewers to save your blog post to their Pinterest boards.
17. Consult Your Pinterest Analytics
Pay attention to your stats to see how well your content is performing. You can use this data to inform future content and see what 20% of your content is resonating most with viewers.
Look to see which content is getting the most AND the least…
- Pin clicks
- Outbound clicks
There are a number of tools out there that can help you track your performance on Pinterest, such as Tailwind’s Pinterest Analytics. These tools will give you insights into how people are interacting with your pins, which can help you optimize your strategy for maximum impact.
Action item: Review your Pinterest analytics and see what’s performing best AND worst.
18. Tap Into Pinterest Trends
If you want to know what Pinterest users are eating up right now in real-time, go to Pinterest Trends.
This tool was rolled out in 2020 and gives you access to see what’s trending now as well as fluctuations in search history.
Tapping into trending searches substantially improves your odds of going viral on Pinterest because you have PROOF of the demand.
Action item: Look for trending searches related to your content and target the keywords with several types of new pins.
You may also like: 30 Quick Pinterest Marketing Ideas
19. Create Seasonal Content
Your odds of creating viral pins go up substantially when your content is related to an exploding search such as seasonal trends.
This is because pinners LOVE to plan. A cornerstone type of viral content is seasonal content.
While you don’t see consistent Pinterest traffic to your seasonal viral pins, you will a reliable boost of blog traffic.
Here’s an example from my own website of my eco-friendly gift guide:
I published this pin years ago, but it’s ranked high in search, and as a result, I see a huge spike in traffic once Christmas shopping searches start to ramp up (which starts happening in July!).
Action item: Find a holiday or seasonal trend that’s related to your content and create intentionally seasonal content.
20. Create The Highest Quality Content Possible
If someone is wondering how to go viral on Pinterest but they’re not interested in creating quality content, then truthfully? I hope they DON’T go viral. Because pinners will leave the platform as soon as they feel like the content isn’t quality anymore.
We need more smart, actionable, VALUE-driven content to go viral! That’s what I want to see in my Pinterest search bar results and on my home feed.
And that’s the norm.
Give viewers what they want by crafting quality content, and you’ve already doubled odds of going viral on Pinterest.
Action item: Look at your content and ask yourself if the value is being communicated to viewers. Find opportunities to provide more value through your content.
Did you know that you can drive traffic to a pin from another platform?
Consider sharing your pin…
- In a Reddit help thread
- With your email list
- On your Instagram stories
Instead of sharing the direct link to the post, you’re redirecting all of that traffic through Pinterest and your pin analytics should show above-average engagement.
You may also like: How To Publish Instagram Reels On Pinterest
Action item: Use social media to drive traffic to one of your pins.
22. Try A Giveaway Or Content
Are all of your users across social media following your Pinterest account? Incentivize them to follow you on Pinterest with a giveaway.
These can be arranged on the app KingSumo and can give your Pinterest account a real boost.
Having more followers alone won’t automatically result in a viral pin, but it does help your account scale and followers are a positive sign for the algorithm.
Action item: Incentive your audience members to follow your Pinterest account with a giveaway.
If you’ve been trying to create viral pins but you haven’t succeeded yet, it’s possible that you’re just not creating the right type of content. There’s no silver-bullet strategy to result in a viral pin, and you may just find content that resonates best with your audience by throwing different ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks.
My most viral content has always been experimental, both on Pinterest and on other social media platforms. Push yourself to think outside of the norm with your content and see what the analytics say about it.
This is my most viral idea pin, and it was an impulsive idea that I just popped onto Pinterest:
Action item: Think of 5 off-the-wall pieces of content that you can experiment with.
Was this advice on how to go viral on Pinterest drier than you expected?? The secret being every Pinterest pin that drives blog traffic and follower growth is usually pretty simple: quality content, use Pinterest keywords and be consistent with your strategy.
Most creators don’t go viral with their first Pinterest pin, or even their first 100 Pinterest pins. Huge follower growth, website traffic and influence come to those who see Pinterest as an investment and approach the platform with a value-first attitude.
Creators can and do go viral every day on Pinterest. But going viral alone is not a strategy that can produce sustained growth or conversions on Pinterest. Virality is a temporary and fleeting burst of impressions, unless your pins that have gone viral rank in search results. In order to make your pins ranking search results you need to SEO your pins correctly and create the kind of content that aligns with Pinterest best practices.