Using hashtags in pin descriptions always seems to be a fuzzy topic for Pinterest users who are still learning the ropes. It’s understandable, since hashtags are so widely used among other social platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter, and (to a lesser extent) Facebook.
However, hashtags do not have the same weight on Pinterest as they do on other sites, and in fact are generally frowned upon by the general Pinterest user populace. Here’s why I do NOT recommend using hashtags on Pinterest (with one possible exception).
UPDATE 9/13/17: Pinterest is currently developing a system for implementing hashtag functionality. Hashtags have always been clickable on Pinterest but they haven’t been advised for various reasons (read below). It seems however that Pinterest is working to make them more beneficial and trying to integrate hashtags with their search functions, in a way that is NOT detrimental to you as a provider of original content. My recommendation, however, is to not go hashtag crazy just yet. It’s new. It’s unrefined. And we just don’t know much about how it’s going to affect us as bloggers/business owners. So, for now, wait and watch, and continue reading for why hashtags have (thus far) not been recommended for use on Pinterest.
UPDATE 2/14/18: I’ve written a WHOLE NEW POST about how and why you should now use hashtags on Pinterest. Check it out HERE.
- On Instagram and Twitter, hashtags are a mechanism of search. People routinely use hashtags to find specific content. They may also use hashtags to participate in a specific trend, engage in conversations on popular topics or current events, demonstrate support for a specific cause, etc.
- None of these reasons for using hashtags apply to the Pinterest platform. For one Pinterest is not considered a social media platform. It’s a social sharing site, sure, but it intrinsically is different from the above mentioned platforms that would utilize hashtags.
- Pinterest has it’s own built in search bar. There is no need to search for hashtags, as on Instagram, to find relevant content. Pinterest users instead utilize Google-like search habits, with appropriate keyword terms.
- Pinterest is not a place where people go to discuss things, or post content related to a specific trend, event, or cause (I.e. content that would accompany hashtags such as #TBT, #makeawish, #holidays, etc.). Thus using hashtags like this would just be irrelevant and useless.
If one were to use hashtags on Pinterest, it would make more sense to use general keyword-like hashtags. However, this is not only unnecessary (because that’s what the search bar is for) but can hurt your reach too.
Say for instance you sell jewelry. So you use #sterlingsilver or #beadearrings or something like that, to help people find your pins when they click on the hashtag somewhere else on Pinterest (supposedly). Here’s why that won’t work out for you.
- For one, since hashtags aren’t widely used on Pinterest, it’s unlikely that others are going to be using hashtags often enough that anyone will click on someone else’s hashtag (and thus be redirected to a pool of content, which would include your jewelry pins that you hope would interest the viewer enough to click or save). Because the frequency of hashtags being used, and the probability that they’d match the hashtags you are using, is very very low. Thus, hashtags essentially do not exist on Pinterest (in any meaningful measure). So, where are these users supposed to find said hashtag to click it to then find your content with the same hashtag? See the issue?
- Secondly, say you have a hashtag in one of your pin’s descriptions and someone viewing your pin clicks this hashtag… If anyone happens to also be using the hashtag you used, then the viewer will be presented with the pool of pins that include the hashtag. Which means, when you use a hashtag on a pin, you are building in an opportunity for viewers to click away from your content. Marketing 101 says you don’t want to do that!
- The exception here would be if you used a hashtag on your own pins that NO ONE else is using. Then, and only then, would the hashtag be of any use at all on Pinterest since the only other content that would show up would be your own.
- Thirdly, if the above isn’t enough to persuade you…good luck with the research to find “good” hashtags on Pinterest. Since no one (who knows what they are doing) uses them, and there is no “trending” database to reference or anywhere to go to find suggestions, you’ll be pretty much shooting in the dark.
Hashtags do not belong on Pinterest. Yes you can physically type them in, and yes they will be clicky, and yes they will probably even bring up a pool of content. But they are considered to be in poor taste. They take up character space in your descriptions – space that would be better utilized with some simple keyword phrases, sans hashtag symbol, worked into a conversational sentence.
Trust me, you’ll get nowhere fast with hashtags on Pinterest.
However, if you want to make up one, unique, “designer” hashtag that you put on ALL of your original content pins, by all means go ahead. It’s not likely to help much, but it’s also not likely to hurt you much (other than taking up character space).
If you do, I recommend that you:
- Use your business/blog name or some variant of it
- Make sure no one else is using it
- Check frequently to be sure no one hijacks it