Thursday, April 25, 2013

The mystery behind 15,000 new Pinterest followers

The Interesting graphics board
Let me be clear upfront: If you’re looking for a step-by-step guide to gaining 15,000 new followers on Pinterest in a very short time this is not the blog post for you.

My purpose, from a social media strategy perspective, is to solve a mystery.

If you have wondered why people connect on Pinterest or what attracts people to certain others or their particular boards on Pinterest then I hope my questions here will at the least get you thinking and/or provide some insight.

Some background

On April 11 I was a quiet Pinterest user. I had under a 1,000 people following my various Pinterest boards.

The boards are organized around the things I care about. The board New Zealand!, for example, is images of my home country and the board RIT is about the place I teach (and love) in Rochester, N.Y.

One board Interesting graphics was always my most popular and, as of April 11, in had 286 followers.

But on that day something happened. Starting a little after 9 a.m. EDT I started getting notifications from Pinterest that said, for example, "Sarah Jones and 49 others have started following your board Interesting graphics." 

These notifications began arriving regularly. Every 15 to 20 minutes. Within four days I was approaching 5,000 followers. Within a week it was just over 10,000. As of today (April 25) that board has 15,298 followers.

That’s an amazing 15,013 new followers in just 14 days.

Why is this happening?
For more than a week I have tried everything I know to discover why this might be happening.
  • Is it because I posted an amazing infographic that people shared a lot? A search through that board for the past month of activity reveals no unusual volume of sharing.
  • I Googled my name and the name of the board … nothing in the search results indicates anyone recommended the board. (That’s too bad because I would thank them.)
  • I talked to experts in web marketing and analytics to see if there is any way to find the course of all this attention … and apparently there is not.
  • I emailed the Pinterest Help Desk … and got this response: "Unfortunately, we’re a small team and we won't be able to respond to your email." 

So, what now?

I guess I’m hoping someone reading this can help solve the mystery.

Perhaps there are others who have had similar experiences.

Can you help? Please let me know in the Comments area – I would really appreciate it.

35 comments:

  1. Mike, I am amazed that you have written about the same thing that I have experienced – though not on the same scale. About 2 weeks ago, around April 10 or 11, I also began receiving notifications of new people following my Pinterest "Social Media" board. I did the same thing, searching to find why and found no answers. While I do admit that I have pinned some amazing resources to my "Social Media" board, it would be interesting to know who turned on the firehose of followers to that board.

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    1. Hmmm - I wonder if Pinterest did something different in mid-April? :-)

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    2. The same thing just started happening to me over the past few weeks! It was so random! I went from about 200 followers to over 1,000 and am gaining every day! Weird!

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  2. Hi Mike, wow, that's quite a mistery..and amazing. Pinterest is extremely viral, 80% of the pins are repins and...infographics are very popular (at the moment)..and your board is quite impressive :) .maybe it was a combination of those things. uhm other than that I wouldn't know. Here's an interesting article about Pinterest data analysis.....http://blog.rjmetrics.com/pinterest-data-analysis-an-inside-look/ Best, Veronica

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  3. How about messaging some of your new followers and ask them why they are following you/ how they found you?

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    Replies
    1. Not sure I know how you can "message" followers within Pinterst. Could you share a tip? Thanks

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  4. Very amazing! Some sore of "tipping point" type of event. Were there any key individuals that became followers, e.g. someone who already had a lot of followers interested in your board? It is a great board and btw you now have one more follower.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words. As I say in the post - there is no obvious influential follower or key repin that seems to have triggered this

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  5. Hi Mike! It seems we are in the same boat! One of my client's Pinboard has seen over 5,000 new followers in a matter of 6-7 days, considering that there was NO significant change in the content strategy that was undertaken! I too knocked every knowledge source I could to find answer to this sudden influx of new followers to that specific board. But, didn't find/get any reasonable answer. One thing though, i did, was to check Google Analytics social media source link and found out that some of the pins in that board went viral drawing as much as 1,500 to 2,000 new visits to the target page with which the pins were linked. I guess, since most pins on Pinterest are repins, so some of the key people (with good social authority/ I found out through Klout) who became interested in those pins and repinned and started following the board made the board go viral! That's my conclusion, but not necessarily I am right :) All the Best.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for the insights here ... :-)I think you may have found a reason. You're right it would only take several highly influential types who in turn have influential followers to repin and then the board is in front of thousands.

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  6. Just found your article. I noticed a number of your new followers have a twitter account. Could you send them a tweet?

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  7. Very nice post about Pinterest you explain very nicely.Thanks for sharing such informative blog.I read your blog and create account on Pinterest. I think it's helpfull for my website.
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  8. When someone signs up for Pinterest, they have to choose five images that they "like." After they choose images that match their taste, Pinterest automatically has you follow (on average) about 50 boards. If you are suddenly being followed by a lot of people in a short amount of time, you have probably made it to Pinterest's list of automatically followed boards. This is especially true for people who seem to have one or two boards that are exceptionally popular.
    -C

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    Replies
    1. This makes so much sense

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  11. Hi Mike,

    I landed on your page through Google probing answers to the very same mystery. I joined Pinterest a month back. Suddenly I seem to be having a crisis of plenty with follows coming every day. It has become a deluge turning into a torrent increasing exponentially, though not on the mind blowing scale you experienced. The fascinating thing I have noticed is that nearly all my recent followers have the same pattern of boards starting with Architecture, Interior designing and Photography and end mysteriously with the board "Time to chill". Wonder if somebody is manipulating the system, if so to what purpose?!!

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  14. Hello Mike, incredible, that may be an amazing mistery.. in addition to awesome. Pinterest is quite virus-like, 80% with the hooks tend to be repins in addition to... infographics are favorite (at your moment).. and your table is very extraordinary so buy pinterest followersfor establish your business by pinterest followers.

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  15. This is happening to me right now with my Aquarelles of Marilyn Lebhar board. I do have over 7000 followers on my other art boards, but this one has suddenly become very popular. Not that I'm complaining!

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  17. Hi Mike. I found your post in the process of trying to find something regarding the opposite problem. Until around June of 2013, I was gaining 50-100 new followers every day. Then it just stopped. My Christmas boards, which gained hundreds of followers a day, were gaining in the single digits this past holiday season. Meanwhile, I watched in frustration as other users' follower numbers grew by leaps and bounds, often gaining 1,000 in 2 weeks time - these are people who had a fraction of the number followers I did only a few months ago. Now they have thousands more than I do. I am mystified. And I'm embarrassed to say, a little frustrated. I joined Pinterest with no interest in the number of followers I had, but when my boards started racking up followers by the thousands, I started to pay attention and now that the activity is down to a trickle, well, I wish I knew what I was doing wrong to lose so much traffic. Is anyone else out there having this experience?

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    1. Don't know if you'll see this or not, but I am having the same issue. 50-100 followers per day for weeks, the # of followers skyrocketing, and then boom! Nothing. I can go over 24 hours without even one follower and have no idea what happened or why. A friend had a similar issue a few months back and when traffic slowed she opened up a whole bunch of new boards (every type of animal imaginable, including caterpillars and snails) and is racking up the followers again. I'm not interested in doing that though - I'm satisfied with the boards I already have.

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  20. This is exactly the same problem I'm having right now! Except it's more people following *me* rather than a particular board. I noticed that people followed mostly my book board, or a couple of my inspiration boards but that was it. Then one day last month I went onto PopSugar's fitness board and pinned a whole load of stuff in prep for an intense shape up I'm going through, and my Fitness board following increased rapidly, but then petered off a little. Now, since about Wednesday or Thursday, I've had an increase of 200 + followers and I haven't even been pinning much recently!

    Pinterest isn't much help either; I can't find a way to get a straight answer to what's going on. I thought it might be like what people have suggested above, but considering it's people following me rather than individual boards, I still find it odd. I mean, new followers are great and all, but woah, holy cow, did not expect what has happened!

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  21. Hello! A very similar thing has happened to me too! I had sort of stopped going on Pinterest for about a month, and then when I checked it the other day there were 11,000 followers, and I am pretty sure there was just 2000 like a month ago! Right now there is 13,982 followers! All my followers look brand new as they hardly have any pins or boards, and I thought maybe I had been added to some kind of list or something? But I have been checking my emails and there is no sign of anything, although it may have been accidentally deleted.. I have even made another account to try and see if new pinners find it easy to find me, and I couldn't find me so I am pretty stumped for ideas! This is my Pinterest anyway if anyone can shed some light on the situation please let me know! xx http://www.pinterest.com/jessata/

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    Replies
    1. This happened to me as well. A lot of people- and all of them are from India started following me today itself. They have similar interests and don't have any pins in their boards. In fact, I think it's the same person. Maybe it's a way of spamming/hacking my account or something? I've noticed that my computer has become a little slow...Anyway, I'm kind-of worried about this because normally a lot of people pin things from my boards but they're individual pins, you know, like those that appear in the search results or something.

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