Pinterest & Newspapers: No Pins, No Wins [Study]


Pinterest exploded onto the social networking scene last year, after a closed beta launch late in 2010. It’s been all good news for the fledgling social site since then; in just a year, it became one of the Top 20 social networks in North America and the UK and now has over 10 million users.

Pinterest is more than a social networking site, though. It actually acts as a social bookmarking destination, as well, comparable to StumbleUpon or Delicious. A new study by SearchMetrics shows that despite the interest of traditional media in older social bookmarking sites, few publications are taking advantage of the Pinterest opportunity.

Fully one-quarter of newspapers studied have no Pinterest presence whatsoever. Seven of the 26 U.S. & UK publications studied had no Pinterest profile, while only one used the Pinterest button. Six others buried it in a generic share button within a long dropdown list.

In the United States, the New York Times saw the most Pinterest action, with an average of 45,739 pins per week. This, despite the fact they aren’t using a Pin button on their website. Users are choosing to share either by using a browser extension, or pasting the content into their Pinterest boards. Of the 13 U.S. newspapers studied, only three use Pinterest buttons on their sites: The LA Times, Chicago Tribune, and Philly Inquirer.


The UK study discovered links to web pages from the were found to have been shared or “pinned” by Pinterest users most (1,963,999 times), with the attracting 429,13 shares (called pins) to come second. The takes third place with a total of 329,720 pins of its pages.

“Pinterest has the power to put publishers’ content in front of new people and drive traffic back to their sites. While it’s relatively new, Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social sites – increasing its share of all visits to social sites in the UK by 1,489 percent since last year,” said Marcus Tober, Searchmetrics founder and CTO. “The site has over 10 million registered users and in the USA high profile news sites such as the WSJ and New York and LA Times are among those that are successfully using it.”

Searchmetrics also looked at pins/week as a metric finding that in the UK generates the most average Pins per week (163,574) followed by (42,476) and (32,174) in the UK. In the U.S. the New York Times led, the LA Times was second with 28,567 pins, and Wall Street Journal finished third with 25,140 pins.

The pins (or shares) of web page URLs analyzed in Searchmetrics’ study are those pins that users of Pinterest share on their own Pinterest boards. They are not the same as – and do not rely on – the pins being shared by the newspaper sites themselves on their own Pinterest boards (if they have them).

This confirms two facts about Pinterest, says Searchmetrics:

  • Pinterest is known as a sharing site but the bookmarklet feature has made bookmarking content by users as big as or a bigger factor than the sharing of content by Pinterest followers.
  • Pinterest can be an all or nothing marketing activity in the U.S. with a large percentage of the pins coming from a single article.

“Most marketers seem to forget that not every form of marketing directly leads to an immediate conversion,” Steve Gerencser of said of the study. “Even if a visit does not lead to a sale today, you’re building brand awareness and the next time that person thinks they need whatever it is you sell, they will head back to Pinterest because they have a picture with a link that they thought was cool and will come back to you.”

This has been working in Pinterest for clients since it launched, Gerencser notes. His clients were early adopters and have tracked hundreds of thousands of visits from Pinterest to their websites, even in the relatively short time Pinterest has been around.

If users are already pinning and repinning content and you aren’t there to engage, that’s a huge missed opportunity.

“Almost no one comments on Pinterest. The engagement in that respect is very low, but repins and new pins rock. We try to get out and ‘like’ as many of those as we can,” he advises.

Other key insights from Searchmetrics’ Pinterest study:

  • It seems the UK enjoys a more stable flow of pins, compared to the U.S.; the top pins were a considerable portion of the total pins, reaching the 90 percentile plateau. In the UK, the top pin never accounted for more than roughly 10 percent of all pins for a site, including those with no Pinterest page.
  • The fact there are no buttons on the site or Pinterest Page for the Sun Times and it still managed to attract more pins than papers with much higher circulation, followers and a Pinterest presence, is another clear indicator of the bookmarking activity.
  • Pinning seems more viral in the United States. The UK seems to have an advantage, though, either in a better engaged audience or higher quality content.’s average is three times higher and it has nearly as many followers as newspapers in the U.S., despite servicing a much smaller population.

Clearly, publishers have a massive opportunity to get in front of a receptive audience on Pinterest. Some are almost succeeding without even trying! For more tips on Pinterest marketing, see 5 Pinterest Insights Marketers Can Use to Drive Sales and Pinterest Marketing Tips and Tricks to Drive Targeted Traffic.

Are you using Pinterest? Share your experience in the comments!

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