A Pinterest board's virality score seems to be THE recommended stat to look at when evaluating how likely the board is to work for YOUR pins.
While it can be a helpful starting point, how accurately will a virality score actually predict the “success” of a Pinterest board — more specifically, how likely it is that YOUR pins will get engagement? Keep reading to see the results of my own little case study — you might be surprised!
What's a Pinterest Board Virality Score?
A Pinterest board virality score is the number of total repins on the board, divided by the total pins on the board. This score is typically viewed inside of Tailwind's Board Insights, and the idea is that the higher this score, the more likely your pins are to get repinned.
Many Pinterest marketers rely on virality scores to evaluate a board's success, and after joining a group board, they may either delete or ignore the board if it has a low virality score. Note that “low” is relative to your own account, especially if you pin exclusively in a niche that isn't super popular on Pinterest already ?♀️.
While I do look at virality scores as a rough initial way to prioritize a board, I've found that a high virality score doesn't always correlate with my own success with a board – whether my own personal boards or group boards.
Also, I've found that these scores may be more helpful to some niches than others — I'll get to that later.
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Mini Case Study: “Bad” Boards That Do Well and “Good” Boards That Do Ehh…
Personal Board Example:
So I have 2 personal boards that are related, in that most pins I can pin to one of them can also be pinned to the other, and so most pins that are pinned to one board ARE pinned to the other.
For a while, I really prioritized the first board, which did seem to be doing pretty well for a while. It's current virality score is 6.25.
The second board remained an afterthought until recently, when pretty much EVERYTHING I pinned to it started getting some traction for some reason (my own pins and other people's pins), and my own pins do particularly well on it.
Even though I was still pinning most new pins to the FIRST board first, and then this second board, I started noticing that the pin would do drastically better, almost predictably, after I pinned it to the second board! So very recently, I've started just pinning some of my newer pins to that board first, and they pretty consistently do better than similar pins I had pinned first to the first board… confusing, eh? 🙂
So, you wanna know the virality score of the second board?
You read that right — POINT 53!
And that's after having more repins recently!
I'm still not sure why this board seems to be taking off all of the sudden (any thoughts?), but I'm glad I didn't avoid pinning to it at all just because it had a low virality score!
Now I'm not saying I recommend you start pinning a lot to boards with low virality scores. I'm just saying that for whatever reason my low-score board is performing well for me NOW, so I'm pinning more to it now!
Group Board Example:
I was once a part of a group board that actually had one of the highest virality scores of all of my group boards at the time. I started pinning to it regularly, and also regularly repinning FROM it to my own boards to help keep the virality score high. But then…
I randomly decided to check on how my own pins were performing in this group board so far, and according to my Tailwind pin inspector stats, my own pins had gotten ZERO repins from this board! Thankfully I had only pinned to it about 10 times before I realized this, but then I was kind of bummed that I had essentially wasted that many pins (plus some repinning effort FROM the board), when the board didn't actually seem to be helping me at all.
Granted, I didn't bother to check whether any of those pins got clicks, which don't show up in Tailwind stats, but overall I figured it my pinning efforts would be better spent on other boards.
On the other hand, the very first group board I joined was an invite, to a board that had no board description. I wasn't even sure if I wanted to bother with group boards yet, but I figured “why not, if it doesn't work out I can just leave the board.”
In general, my personal boards definitely do better for me than groups boards, so far anyway. BUT I'm glad I accepted that initial invite, because out of all of my group boards, that board has a very low virality score (.23 currently) … but for MY pins, it's one of my top 2 group boards.
Keeping My Niche and Account Size in Mind
How competitive and engaged is your niche on Pinterest?
I think it's important to note that different niches will naturally do much “better” or “worse” on Pinterest, and my niche (blogging/online business… and more specifically TECH…) is definitely not one of the more popular topics that is bound to get more engagement and go viral. Of course, I can still find topics within this niche that are more viral than others, it's just that generally speaking, my content will not get as much engagement on Pinterest as more broad topics such as home decor, health and wellness, DIY, etc. I expected that when I started this blog, and for the most part, I'm OK with it 😉
My main point here is that a “good” virality score for one niche may not be considered a good score for another niche. I consider a “good” score for a group board in my niche to be anything above 1 (ONE)! But again, this isn't the most important thing I look at, and almost ALL of my current group boards have a virality score of LESS than 1.
I have noticed that almost all pinners in my niche that DO have very high monthly viewers and engagement actually pin a lot to boards OUTSIDE their niche, or loosely related (i.e. the more popular topics). Bloggers who actually write about various topics (blogging, recipes, home decor, etc. all on one blog) also do well, or at least appear to.
This is something I don't currently do, but am considering incorporating more! My profile is pretty dang niched down at the moment, for fear of attracting the “wrong” viewers. And I'm not about to start writing about recipes on this blog, but I'm thinking there may be some benefit to having more viewers on my Pinterest content in general, even if they aren't all my exact target audience. More on that later…
How established is your Pinterest account, and how much of your own content do you have?
I also keep in mind that I've only been promoting this blog on Pinterest since February of 2019, and started publishing posts not much earlier than that. I still don't have a ton of unique content to share on Pinterest yet — but creating more quality content to share to Pinterest and ALSO hopefully get Google traffic is my top priority until I become more established and have lots of posts ranking on both platforms (this is before starting an email list, creating products, and even actually adding in affiliate links where they're supposed to go in my posts — I've added very few at this point).
This is because the more [quality] CONTENT I have, the more opportunities I'll have to get eyes on it, get it ranking in Pinterest and Google, and get more engagement and steady traffic to my blog. With limited time to devote to this blog, it just makes sense to not bite off more than I can handle at once. Products, affiliate links, and even an email list don't make sense without content to promote them.
What I Look At Instead of Virality Scores
Of course, I might initially look at a virality score to get a rough idea of how well a Pinterest board MIGHT be doing. And as my account grows I might weed out more low-score boards even if they do get me some engagement, to see how it affects my overall profile engagement and monthly views.
However, for now I'm more concerned with 2 things when evaluating Pinterest boards:
- Repins vs. Pins Added in the Past 30 Days (i.e. the RECENT virality score)
- Virality Score and Clicks on MY OWN Pins (this one is the most important and accurate!)
I'll talk more about how I figure out these stats later in the post, but I've been surprised more than once by how often the success of my own pins on a board has very little correlation with the board's virality score or even number of followers, and how well I assume my pins will do. This is especially true of group boards, but that said, I'm not currently in any group boards that have #aMAHzing stats to begin with, and this has a lot to do with my niche, and how competitive it is to get into the really “successful” boards in this niche — i.e. a virality score of 1 or above lol.
Tailwind Virality Scores Don't Take Into Account Recent Changes
The thing with Tailwind's virality scores, is that they appear to reflect ALL pins and repins on a board since the board was started. Basically, it's a running total, for better or worse. The more pins there are on the board, the longer it will take for that virality score needle to budge, if ever.
But for the other boards stats, Tailwind only lets you look at the past 30 days or less. Therefore, I don't think it's a good idea to just look at the virality score to judge how a board is doing NOW.
Perhaps when a board was first created it did really well — maybe it had one or a few really viral pins that just happened to be on that board — but recently the board is pretty dead. The overall virality score may still look high, even if there are NO recent repins.
Or maybe a board took a good while to get going but now it's taking off like my 2nd personal board. The virality score may still look really low, and depending on how many overall pins are on the board, it could take a LONG time for the virality score to creep upwards.
Overall Virality Scores Can Be “Fudged”
By removing underperforming pins from a board (i.e. pins without repins), the virality score will go up. Many group board owners do this to keep the board clean and relevant.
Now I'm not saying this is always a deceptive move or even a negative thing, and in fact many group board descriptions clearly state that they do this, and it's wise for everyone's sake to remove any off-topic pins from the board, so as not to confuse Pinterest about the overall board topic. This is important for personal boards as well.
However, I wonder how many group board owners feel pressured to keep their virality scores high, simply because they know that so many pinners look to them to judge the “quality “of a board?
Boards that are regularly “cleaned” may APPEAR to have a much higher virality score than boards that are not regularly purged of under-performing or irrelevant pins.
So, while keeping a board clean — or at least ON TOPIC — is definitely a good idea and may help boost the overall performance of the board, the “boosted” virality score might not be a good reflection of how likely your pins are to actually get repins on that board. That said, it's a good idea to only pin to boards that stay on topic, whether or not the board owner has to manually keep it that way.
Note that removing pins will also affect the more current metrics as well, but I still think looking at those, as well as the performance of your own pins on a board will give a more accurate picture of how well a board is doing recently rather than a potential span of years, and how well your pins fit there.
Virality Scores Don't Take Into Account How YOUR Pins Are Doing on a Board
As I mentioned with my group board examples above, it's important to double check to see how your own pins are actually performing on a board — the results may surprise you, as they surprised me!
Tips for Assessing Your Own Pins' Success on a Board
There are a few ways to assess how well your pins are doing on a particular board:
1. Check Repins in Tailwind's Pin Inspector
You can use the pin inspector to search by board, and then sort by number of repins. To manually calculate your own “virality score”, take the number of total repins you've gotten from the board divided by the total number of pins you've pinned to the board total. If you've pinned tons of pins to that board already, maybe just count the 10 most recent pins (sort pins by most recent in that case). If you have VERY few repins compared the number of total pins, that board might not be a great fit for you. Or, maybe you're just not pinning popular pins to the board, or pins that are on topic and relevant to the board and its audience.
2. Check Clicks in Google Analytics, Pinterest Analytics
To get an idea of whether pins from a particular board are getting clicks, you can scan through either of these to find your most successful pins. However, it can be really difficult to pinpoint pins from particular boards this way, so if you want to get more specific, I suggest trying this Chrome hack:
3. Check Saves, Clicks & More with Chrome or Tailwind
Using my Chrome hacks, I'm able to go to any pin that I've pinned to my personal or group boards, and get a specific overview of stats for that specific pin URL. Note this is NOT the same as the aggregate stats of multiple pins using the same image!
This hack is a little tedious because it involves looking at a pin's source code, and there can be a bit of a delay, as with Tailwind stats. But if you really want to dig in to get a more accurate picture of exactly which pins on a particular board got any saves or clicks, or to compare to either of the methods above, it's worth a try!
“Last Chance” Test
As a last chance test for a group board, I might pin a few pins that have already done really well on other boards to that board to see if maybe I was just pinning crappy pins to the board before.
If THOSE pins still don't do well, it's time to ditch the board, or at least stop pinning to it for a while and try again later.
A Note About “Vanity Boards” (and Some Things I Might Try)
Some boards may do VERY well for your account, but they don't have anything to do with your own content. In other words, they may work really well for OTHER people's pins, and so when you pin to them, other people's pins may go viral. But those boards would never really work for you to pin your own content to, so they won't get you any traffic to your site.
I call these “vanity boards.”
Now these boards may still be helpful to your account, if they at least have some relevance to your niche and audience. As I mentioned earlier, I've noticed that Pinterest accounts that pin about anything and everything tend to get MUCH higher overall reach (i.e. monthly viewers) on Pinterest because they are pinning things like recipes, home decor, beauty, DIY crafts, etc. that are already super popular on Pinterest and likely to go viral — EVEN if these things don't really have anything to do with their own content. So while these pinners may or may not be getting tons of traffic to their own content, their Pinterest accounts sure LOOK super successful!
I personally don't think it's the best idea to pin about anything and everything, because this makes it more difficult to attract the RIGHT audience for your own content. However, I do think it can be helpful to find some balance… many Pinterest experts say think that having tons of viewers and engagement on your OVERALL profile (whether or not it is your own content) helps boost the less popular content as well. So, maybe it's worth a shot?
Monthly Viewers and Followers vs. Traffic and Engagement on Your Own Content
Months ago I deleted or archived pretty much ANY boards that weren't super niched down to my target audience and content, even if the boards were wildly popular. I lost some followers and of course monthly viewers because of this, but I can't say I regret it… completely.
I'm glad that it got my account much more focused, and I believe I'm much more likely to be attracting the right people now who are likely to actually be there for MY content — online business and blogging technology, and other boring “not popular” stuff lol 😉 — rather than a super cute pallet DIY project for my cottage bathroom.
In all honesty, my monthly viewers are at an all-time low at the moment, which is pretty frustrating, and yet not surprising I suppose. There are several factors that are likely causing this: that my content — so far — is not typically viral on Pinterest already; that I'm testing various things such as group boards; the fact that apparently this time of year is a lower time of year for Pinterest users; the fact that Pinterest just had some MAJOR changes and seems to be messing with the algorithm, and I'm seeing MANY pinners in my niche with super low monthly viewers at the moment. And the list goes on. However, there's one bright spot:
Even as my monthly viewers have gone down, my daily followers and clicks have continued to go UP.
I guess it goes to show that overall monthly views really aren't a great indication of how well YOUR OWN content is doing on Pinterest … but THAT SAID …
I am planning to start incorporating more “popular” themed boards that are still relevant to my audience — say a “Home Office” board, for example. This is for 2 reasons:
- It irks me seeing my monthly viewers number so low, even if it doesn't necessarily reflect how well my own content is actually doing.
- I do believe that the monthly viewers number is looked at by others as a sign of success on Pinterest, even though it's easy to skew it with promoted pins, irrelevant but popular boards, etc.
- I am curious to see how having more broadly-popular boards will affect my overall profile, and whether it gives my own content more traction.
- If something takes off that I wasn't planning to create content about but it's related enough that I could, it might inspire some new content ideas that are perhaps more likely to gain traction than what I already write about. Again, I'm not gonna be writing any recipes anytime soon, but… 😉
Not sure if a board is worth pinning to? My best advice (and what I'm aiming to do) is just give each board a chance and see what happens.
- START with the boards that LOOK like they might do well (i.e. high virality score).
- PRIORITIZE the boards that are working well for YOUR PINS NOW.
- KEEP AN EYE OUT for any boards that START to do consistently well for your own pins, and start pinning to them more — even if the overall virality score is low.
- STOP PINNING to boards that are NOT working for your pins, even if the overall virality score is high.
- If an “IRRELEVANT” BOARD IS ALREADY POPULAR, assess how unrelated it is for your account. I would personally archive or delete boards that really have nothing to do with my niche, because they will likely only attract “vanity” viewers. However, if the board is relevant enough to your own content, maybe try writing something on that topic and pinning it to that board.
- IDEALLY, prioritize boards that perform well for you AND that have high overall virality scores, but as I've learned, this can be difficult to nail down, especially when your account is still pretty new and you're not in tons of group boards yet.
- KEEP TESTING as you go, at least until you've got the vast majority of your pinning nailed down to the boards that you already know will work well for you (easier said than done, huh?!) and then run with those!
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What's Your Experience with Virality Scores?
Have you had a similar experience with virality scores as I have? Or, have you found virality scores to be an accurate indicator of boards that will actually do well for you?
Also, if you have any thoughts on why a board would suddenly take off (regardless of virality score), I'd love to know! Let me know in the comments!