What To Do If a Pin Goes Viral on Pinterest

Have you had one of those days where you lazily check your stats and nearly jump out of your skin!? You sit there thinking, “holy sh*t someone hacked my account, right?“. Then you check where the traffic is coming from and again you go, “holy sh*t, I think this is real“.

If not – I really hope you do soon. As a young small business, waking up to see more traffic by 7am then I usually did in an entire week and knowing my post was out there being seen…well, it’s a good great feeling.

But what’s not such a great feeling?

Realizing it was a quick blip.

And that I was unprepared to capture that sudden (+ exciting!) traffic and convert it into something more meaningful for my business. Traffic isn’t much without getting social media follows, email sign ups, or extra link clicks around the blog to hook your readers.

For us small businesses or shop owners, this might also mean turning traffic into paying customers.

So today, I’m sharing a few things I learned + how I am preparing differently going forward.

What to do if your pin goes VIRAL on Pinterest. 5 key steps I took during my first "mini viral" pin experience to maximize the increased traffic, get more email sign ups, and introduce my brand to a audience. Is your blog ready if you have a viral pin?This post contains affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you) if you sign up or make a purchase. Thanks for trusting in my recommendations + supporting The Shop Files!

My Mini “Viral Pin” Experience

Before we begin, it should also be noted that these tips can apply to any ‘unexpected’ burst of traffic. Whether it be a shout out on social media from a large account, a website or blog pulling your product for a post roundup, a sudden payoff from new growth strategies – these tips still apply and can give you an idea of how to approach everything you put out so you can maximize the opportunities that come your way.

My Mini “Viral Pin” Story

Ok, so first, let’s level set – this was definitely a “mini win” in terms of the kind of traffic you can generate from Pinterest. But it was a HUGE win personally to see my strategy start to take root and generate some very real results. (oh yeah + come find me there!)

Few stats

In one day, this pin received more than 50 re-pins, 30+ likes and over 260 CLICKS! Happy dance, happy dance, happy dance. The re-pins were mainly generated from a few accounts and one massive power pinner account who has more than 625k followers. On the second day, that post received over 1,500 pageviews from all the cumulative re-pins and clicks.

To show you just how crazy this post was for me, here’s a screenshot of my traffic for the month. You can see I was getting very few page views leading up to this – but in good news, you can also see it gave my traffic a small baby bump moving forward, well after the ‘viral’ event.

(Even though it was back in February 2016, I still remember this day so vividly because it was one of those days I finally felt, gaaah maybe I CAN do this?!?). 

 

What to do if a Pin goes Viral on Pinterest stats

A big callout to note for Pinterest stats:

I wasn’t seeing this traffic by noticing a ton of re-pins within Pinterest notifications, rather I saw a huge spike in my blog traffic and dug in to find Pinterest was the referral source. (At the end of this post I show you how to find the source of a viral pin.)

 

What To Do If a Pin Goes Viral on Pinterest

1. Be Flexible

Once I realized this was happening (the first morning when the spike started to go up), I quickly got my butt into gear and I’ll admit I may have taken an hour of work time to get my shit in order.

For those of you who are self-employed, this may not be an issue if you can move other responsibilities around. But since I was working full-time in a buying office, I had to do the best I could quickly in the morning and then jump back in over lunch.

Which is exactly why I said I’d never be caught with my Pinterest pants down again!

2. Add an email opt-in

YUP. I didn’t even have freaking email opt-ins set up.

Sure, I had a general “sign up for my newsletter” opt-in box in my footer. But that was it and it certainly wasn’t cutting it. I kept seeing my traffic climb and climb and felt like Scuttle in The Little Mermaid “nothing’s haaaaapppening” (anyone?). Like it was cool to see, but I knew it wasn’t going to have a lasting impact.

Since this traffic was super post specific, I quickly created a “content-upgrade” as the opt-in. You may have heard this term before, but essentially it’s just something your audience receives, in exchange for signing up with their email, that’s super-specific and adds more value to the post they’re reading.

So rather than a general freebie, I created a one-page worksheet so readers could work through each of the steps on their own.

Check out this post on 8 email opt-in ideas specifically for shop owners to brainstorm your own idea. Content upgrades are often thought of as something that wouldn’t work for product-based businesses, but I don’t agree. Sure, maybe a workbook isn’t the right fit, but it can be anything that your audience would find valuable (hint: printables do extremely well).

Even if you don’t have a specific content upgrade, you can still take advantage of this by clearly stating what they’ll get in return (ie. your “promise” to them on what type of info/emails they’ll receive) and putting sign up boxes throughout the individual post.

I ended up adding 3 areas where they could sign up:

  • near the beginning of the post as a “grab your worksheet to use as you read through
  • midway as a reminder after the main action points of the post
  • at the end, again inviting them to sign up for the freebie

I unfortunately didn’t think to save the sign up stats, as I switched from MailChimp to ConvertKit last year. But it was definitely worth the effort and quickly became one of the main ways I grew my list in those early months.

One thing I’d definitely definiiiitely do differently? Actually send them emails after they signed up.

I basically just collected emails for MONTHS before I got the nerve to send them anything else. By that point I think a lot had forgotten about who the heck I was.

Since time is of the essence to capture your new traffic, focus on your email opt-in and these other tips first.

But make it a priority to put together a welcome series or series of emails on the topic within the week, so you can start to earn that relationship and their trust. In ConvertKit, it’s super easy to set up a sequence (aka an automated email series) that connects to each form or opt-in you create.

3. Re-read your content

The interesting thing about this post getting great traction was the fact that I had originally published it in November, three months earlier. It was literally the 7th post I published on this site.

So not only was absolutely NO ONE reading when I originally posted it (I mean, I’m just being honest), but I had also learned a lot of new information — about Instagram which the post was about + online business concepts in total.

Areas to review in your post:

  • Have you learned something new since the original post?
  • Can you simplify how you’re teaching/showing/giving the information to make it clearer?
  • Should you add bullet points or update headings for easier reading?
  • Do you need to re-focus the post to be crystal clear on the topic?

In short – Make it memorable. Pull out all the stops!

4. Maximize that traffic

Okay, so it’s fairly safe to assume (especially if you’re a small or new site) that most of the visitors you get are brand new to your blog.

So take the time to show ’em around a bit… really give them the full tour.

  • Check that “related posts” are highlighted and incorporated into your post. Do this in a variety of ways: weave into the text of your paragraphs, make specific callouts to a post within a paragraph, or breakup paragraphs with short “See Related Post: _________________” , and add related posts at the bottom – whether through an actual plugin or manually select some posts to link to.
  • Consider adding a short intro to your post, even if it’s just temporary. No need to go over board, but a short “hey hey if you’re new around here, welcome! ….. (here’s what I offer type of message)…
  • At the end of the post, craft a more personalized invite to check out a related post or hint at something you have coming up that would interest them.

5. Add requests for social follows

Seriously, guys. I had a post about Instagram without actually asking anyone to come find me there, whaa? Make it easy on them. If they read your post, like it, and find it valuable – show them where else they can find you.

I also added a few “Pin this for later!” reminders. Knowing visitors were coming from Pinterest and that traffic can sometimes be really fleeting (people just quickly checking out a pin), I wanted to add a personal ‘hey, pin me for later!” reminder in hopes they didn’t just bounce without at least re-pinning.

Milotree is another great way to convert traffic into social media followers on Instagram or Facebook; or make sure they follow you on Pinterest.

Read how I’m using my website traffic + Milotree to grow my Instagram following here.

6. Make an offer, if relevant

At the time of this viral pin, I didn’t have any paid products to offer so growing my email list was the main goal. But for many of you as shop owners, you’ll have relevant products and it may be worth making a pitch.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s likely a ton of new people so it may not be the right move since it takes the average consumer up to seven touch points before purchasing. Unless you have a fairly low cost or “impulse” item, I may suggest you also stick to growing your email list + nurturing them there instead.

But if it’s the holidays where people are ready to buy and actively looking for gifts or the item is inexpensive or a great impulse purchase; then by all means – make sure an offer is presented.

Better yet — present them with a limited time offer where they need to sign up for your email list to receive a code or discount. Grow your email AND your sales.

7. Monetize your post, if possible

So you’re getting a bunch of new traffic to this post… are there any related affiliate links for products or tools you could add?

The biggest mistake here would be trying too hard and linking to something that doesn’t at all relate – that certainly won’t earn trust with new visitors. But if there’s a product or program that’s a natural fit, go ahead and add a short paragraph or weave it into the post.

If you’re not familiar with affiliate marketing or how to make the most of it, I wrote a post about how shop owners can earn money with affiliate marketing. I also took a course this past year which helped me grow my affiliate income by 198% in the 3 months after applying her strategies. The course creator earns over $50,000 per month on affiliate income alone.

(Sorry if I’m drooling. $50k……what the what!)

If you work with ad networks, you should consider reviewing the ads on your post as well as placement within the post to maximize potential earnings.


How to always be prepared for a pin going viral on Pinterest?

Follow steps #2-7 above for every post, every time you post.

The first day, I lost out on over 500 unique page views to that post. Sure, not huge numbers by any means, but for my little ol’ blog, finally seeing traffic was a huge win (not to mention kind of a relief!). I knew I’d want to be better prepared moving forward as I won’t always have the time to jump on these tasks so quickly.

If that sounds like too much… focus on your top or upcoming seasonal posts first.

I get that you may not have time to do that for every post. Instead make sure to optimize your most popular posts on a monthly basis. Check into your Google Analytics. > See which posts are on top. > Optimize those posts.

Depending on how often you post you’ll either be keeping up with new ones or slowing working your way through all your posts each month!

How to Increase Your Chances of a Viral Pin

1 | Focus on crafting a headline that balances clarity with intrigue.

We need to make pinners curious about what could lie behind that pin to get them to click over, but we also need to be clear enough so they know if they’re even interested. While creating your headline, you also need to ensure your post delivers on your promise.

Producing a bunch of “click bait” titles with no substance is a quick way to lose trust with your audience; not to mention pinners may assume all your content is low quality and stop clicking through your others pins as well. (I know when this happens to me on Pinterest; I quickly stop giving their content a chance. Fool me once…)

2 | Create at least 2 pin images per post.

Keep them on brand with similar colors and feel, but different images or titles may appeal to different pinners which gives your pin more opportunities to be seen.

And did I mention these images should be bright, clean, and tall like a man? 

The minimum size I recommend pinning is 735×1100, which is also known as the traditional Pinterest size; but I often go a little taller like 800×1200 or even 800×1600.

Key elements to include:

  • your clear, but intriguing headline
  • a bright clean image that’s relevant to your topic
  • branding elements like
    • your shop name or website
    • your logo
    • your text set for your brand (max of two font choices, mayyybe three)

3 | Consistently re-pin your posts to group boards.

When you publish a new post, you can’t just pin it once to Pinterest and call it a day. I recommend pinning to your “Best Of” or main brand board, then re-pinning (that exact pin) to other relevant boards + group boards over the next few days.

Once your pin is out there, keep it circulating through your best group boards every month to increase the chances of it being seen and re-pinned by others in the groups.

Try this simple schedule:

  • immediately pin your post to your “best of / brand” board
  • over the next few days, re-pin that pin to each of your other related boards and group boards
  • schedule that same pin to go out to your group boards again in 2 weeks with 2-3 days in between each re-pin

I also took some time to learn more advanced strategies from the pros. I used ideas from this ebook (when I already thought I knew a lot about Pinterest)… and I’m happy to say I was wrong! The author, Carly, teaches how to manually pin (meaning without the use of a scheduler like Tailwind), and also gives a ton of insights that I hadn’t heard anywhere before.

While I don’t have time to manually pin, I used the same ideas and principles she laid out for my own Tailwind strategy. (I get all my pins for a week scheduled in about an hour with Tailwind, so for me that’s totally worth it. You can start your free trial with Tailwind here if you’re interested.)


How to Find the Source of a Viral Pin

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics and update the date range to the time period you want to look at
  2. Navigate down to Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals
  3. Click on Pinterest > Find the name of the URL that’s gone viral
  4. Click on that URL (it’s probably #1 on your list)
  5. From there you’ll see the exact pin URLs that are driving traffic to your site
  6. Copy and paste the pin url* into a browser and hit enter, that will be the exact pin that is generating all the traffic to your site from Pinterest.

*Sometimes you’ll just see pinterest.com/ which is a bummer, but unfortunately mobile traffic isn’t tracked the same way so you won’t have visibility to the exact pin URL for those

What to do if a Pin goes Viral on Pinterest | Google Analytics tracing pin URL

 

That pin URL is now the pin you want to promote the shiz out of. 

If you’re signed up with a scheduler, like Tailwind, schedule that pin out to all relevant boards for the next several months to keep it active and circulating.

On Tailwind, you can create ‘board lists’ by category so you can easily schedule out multiple pins with just one click. If you want to give it a try, start with their free trial here.

In just the last 2 months with Tailwind, I’ve grown my website impressions on Pinterest by 47%!

And more importantly, clicks TO my website are up 46% as well! YAY.

What to do if you go viral on Pinterest | How to grow your Pinterest account with Tailwind

 

How to get click throughs on Pinterest | What to do if you go viral on Pinterest | How to grow your Pinterest account with Tailwind

 

Let’s grow your Pinterest traffic (and maybe get you going viral on Pinterest too!). Sign up for your free Tailwind trial today: you get 100 free pins to schedule, plus you’ll get access to Tailwind Tribes (whether you end up paying for full service or not). At just $9.99/mn if billed annually it’s hands down the BEST investment I’ve made in my business.

 


Okay! I’d love to know what you learned on your first crazy traffic day, let me know below!!

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    • Thanks Michael! It was so early in my blogging days I really honestly jumped outta bed when I saw those views and panicked ha. So I hope no one else has to feel quite that same way and is even just a bit more prepared!

    • yeah! i’ve been adding that to a few blog post, i know i’m often on pinterest during little windows of downtime so often can’t read the whole thing- so it’s a good reminder!

    • Thanks Corey! I’m actually using both now — I started out just on BB, then switched to try out Tailwind and now I use both for slightly different reasons ha. (I’m on the lowest BB plan so not too bad though)

    • I finally got to a better place where each post has a path in my emails… maybe not 100% individualized, but there’s a decent correlation to most. I’ve found really narrowing the categories I post has obviously helped too as I can better direct traffic from multiple posts into one email sequence. I also upgrade to ConvertKit which has made a huge difference!

    • hahah thanks Kori, gotta try at least one bad joke per post. Yes, try it out! Even just for your top 5 posts it’ll make a difference!

    • Thanks Jenny, same for me! I’m at the point now where I’m starting to explore other platforms because ya know, all my eggs in one basket kinda thing (eek!)

  • This same thing happened to me, and like you, I was caught with my Pinterest pants down! I still don’t have my blog to where it should be, but I’ve been working on it since then. I REALLY like your #5 tip, and excuse me while I go fix my last few posts now… 😉

    • hahah right? I was so new back then I thought surely no one will ever read this for a long time lol. Thanks! So many little duh moments once you’re panicking about all the traffic not converting ha, so good lessons at least!

    • Yesss, glad you’re already in on the magic of Tailwind!! I’ve recently been playing around with new pin layouts too which has been fun to test!

  • Great tips! I have a pin that went viral last year, and it is still bringing me the most traffic a year later. I’ve added an email opt in to that post (all posts actually), and an eBook opt in to it (and other top performing posts).

    • hahah thank you, sometimes when I write I swear ALL my personality pours out at once. Have you taken any courses or what is the current strategy you’re trying out? For me it’s taken a lot of testing + focusing on my pin designs (which is still a work in progress!)

  • I remember my first mini win with Pinterest. I only received 400 pagviews from my pin, but it was my first month of blogging and it rocked for me. But I knew it was going to drop back down. I didn’t even have one email subscription form on my blog at the time. I missed an opportunity that day but never again! Been there done that.

    • hey.. a win’s a win on Pinterest! And it’s awesome because it can only grow as those pins accumulate..I’ve had this same pin pop back up randomly a couple times. Nowhere near the traffic I saw this time, but it’s always out there driving pageviews for me! YES – never again is right! (which reminds me – why don’t I have an upgrade/checklist on this post???! DUH)

  • Kate,
    Oh my goodness, this post was SO WELL WRITTEN! I literally snorted my coffee when I read “I’ll never be caught with my Pinterest pants down again!” Good for you for seeing what wasn’t working and trying something new! Not sending an email out after collecting them is SO COMMON. It’s like we get awkward or something and don’t want to say hello! Love love love ConvertKit and Tailwind too! Super happy that we connected in Michelle’s course! p.s. feel free to join my Tailwind Tribe for creative business owners here: http://bit.ly/creativebizhaventribe

    • hahahh well then my job here is DONE.(and I may be weird and make that line into a Pinterest image ha!) Yessss why do we do that?? Like, if they hate what we send then they’ll just unsubscribe which is no different than if we don’t send them anything at all. we’re all so funny like that. YES! so great – and awesome to see you’ve seen such success with it! I’m still working on it myself, but have had a few bigger wins lately which is always nice to see.

      (And thanks – I’ll be joining!)

  • Fantastic article! Thank you so much for sharing your GA data, it is really helpful. I’ve been lucky with a few pins lately but I want to figure out how to repeat that luck. Thanks again and keep up the great work!

    • Thanks Ben – I’m glad it helped!!

      Ha I’m with ya, always trying to chase how to repeat our crazy pins!!

      Really love your site by the way, how fun that you guys travel together! I might recommend testing a few longer pins, more like 800×1400 or 800×1600 even; and include a pinnable image higher up in your blog posts. When I clicked your pinterest social share bar on the left, the most “pinnable” image was fairly far down, and I know I won’t pin any small pictures. (you can “hide” the image using a bit of code if you don’t like how it looks on your post, the super long ones can be a little much… This post shows the code: https://pinchofyum.com/how-to-hide-an-image-in-a-wordpress-post ) And try to get on a few more group board, I’d recommend another 5 or so, just a thought!

    • oh I’m so glad!! Yes being prepared is key as you just never know! My best advice for helping to make it happen is take care to review your analytics – if you see a certain pin popping , see if you can figure out why it’s doing better than the rest and try to replicate that (image, content, headline, etc) and I always create and test multiple graphics per post!

  • Hi,

    These are great tips and it is exciting when you experience a mini-viral episode. I had my first last month, while I didn’t get as many views as you did. I did reach over 500 in one day. Which for me, that’s a lot.

    Great tips for keeping the pin going viral. I actually make sure that I follow all those steps every time I publish a new blog post.

    After all, you have to be ready for the unexpected.

    Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with Pinterest. It’s always nice to see what other people are doing to grow their traffic. I pinned it so other people can learn from your experience.

    Thanks for taking the time to share.

    Have a great day 🙂

    Susan

  • Thank you so much for this! I just had my pin go viral (yay me!) and I need to take full advantage of the traffic my blog is getting because of it. Thanks again for sharing!