Pinterest Is Great for Blog Traffic–But Also for Negative Comments

Introduction

In January 2019, I declared that learning how to use Pinterest to actually get blog traffic would be one of my goals. In 2018, Pages Unbound had only received about 500 page views from Pinterest clicks, and I thought I could do better. I posted about my journey and various tricks and tips I learned throughout 2019, and by the end of the year, I concluded my experiment was a success: I had increased our page views from Pinterest by 1600% to over 8000. 2020 looks on track to be an even better year for us in terms of Pinterest (perhaps partially because lockdown measures mean people are spending more time at home online). In the middle of May, we already have roughly 7,000 page views from Pinterest.

Suffice to say, I am (finally) a believer that book blogs can get a significant amount of traffic from Pinterest, and I’ve been extolling the platform’s virtues for over a year because of it. In mid-May, our page views from Pinterest are, in fact, almost equal to our page views from the WordPress reader, which has always been our second-largest source of traffic after search engines. Pinterest can be powerful.

As I increase my reach on Pinterest, however, I’ve begun to notice the site can also be negative. While the bookish community–on blogs, Twitter, Bookstagram, etc.–tends to be overwhelmingly supportive and positive, Pinterest users outside of the community seem to feel more anonymous and empowered to post rude comments.

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Receiving Negative Comments

In about the 10 days before I started drafting this post, I’ve received two explicitly rude comments on Pinterest. That’s not a lot–but it’s basically equal to the number of rude comments Krysta and I have received on our blog posts in NINE YEARS of blogging.

First, boomer jay decided that Krysta’s post talking about the women in Shakespeare’s work was a waste of time:

Then, Callie decided my pin about how all (ok, half) of the mothers in YA books are dead was “a piece of crap:”

I say she decided the pin was garbage, not the blog post, because it’s clear that neither boomer jay nor Callie clicked on the pin to read the actual post/content; they were being snarky purely based on the title of the pin. When I replied explaining the content of the posts, boomer jay of course did not answer because he simply does not care about women in literature. Callie sort of apologized.

I’ve also received snarky comments on other pins in the past. For example, one person was upset that one of my Lord of the Rings name generators asked readers to use the “first letter of their middle name” because “not everyone has a middle name.” Fair enough. Not everyone has a middle name, but it’s a silly fan-made name generator. One could just use their first name and move on, rather than leaving an aggrieved comment about it.

So why do people leave rude comments on Pinterest and not (usually) on my blog?

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Why People Leave Negative Comments–Or Not

Callie’s original comment and her subsequent apology highlight one of the reasons commenters might be more negative on Pinterest: they don’t feel any particular connection to the person posting the content. “Who made this piece of crap?” is a bizarre question to ask when Callie could have easily seen that I (the Pages Unbound account) posted the pin AND the pin is linked to content on…the Pages Unbound web site. Perhaps she meant to address her comment to the world at large, but the actual recipient was me, the creator of the “piece of crap.” Either she didn’t realize this, or she simply didn’t care.

This may because Pinterest feels large and anonymous in the way the book blogosphere (or book Twitter or Bookstagram) does not. Pinterest seems to think of itself as a social media site, but most people don’t use it that way. Most people don’t “know” or routinely interact with other Pinterest users, so they may not seem fully human. This is in contract to the book blogging community, which can be tight-knit and which provides more opportunity for people to repeatedly interact and develop some sort of relationship. I know who the most active commenters on my blog are, and I assume they believe they know something about me and think of me as an actual person, not some faceless entity. (Though, to be fair, Krysta and I seem to be in the minority of book bloggers in that we literally do not post pictures of our faces!)

People might also feel more anonymous themselves on Pinterest than in the blogging community, and research suggests that anonymity is a key factor in cyberbullying. People who are fully anonymous are more likely to be mean online than people who have even just a username (something like PinkCupcakes12). People who use their actual names online and the least anonymous are the least likely to be mean online.

Pinterest users might use their actual name or a username, but either way there is still more anonymity there than on a blog since, as I mentioned, the site doesn’t really function as social media even when it wants to. I, frankly, have no idea who most Pinterest users are, and the web site doesn’t really make me want to know. This is in contrast to the blogosphere, where people know me and I know them. If I started going around commenting on other book blogs with things like, “Wow, this is a really stupid post” or “Your review is terrible,” word would get around. People would not like me and probably would stop following my blog. There’s some accountability to be civil in the blogosphere that doesn’t really exist on Pinterest.

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Does the Negativity Matter?

Frankly, I laughed a bit when I saw the most recent negative comments I have received on Pinterest. I don’t know these people, and I don’t really care what they think–especially when they never actually read the posts they were being snarky about. I did reply them in hopes they might think harder in the future before leaving dismissive comments for other people. Who made this piece of crap? I made a point of replying that “I did,” so it would be clear that real people were seeing the comments, and they are NOT just directed to the world in general.

So I’m not particularly offended by the comments, but I do want to draw attention to this one possible downside of using Pinterest. Receiving these comments, particularly just a few days apart, reminded me of how positive the book blogging community really is, and I’m grateful for that now more than ever. This was just a stark reminder that not every corner of the Internet is positive, uplifting, or even just neutral. (I’m sure there are people who dislike my blog posts, but they very nicely close the page and don’t tell me about it!)

I’m still a big advocate for using Pinterest if you want to find ways to draw more traffic to your blog posts and expand your readership–but it comes with the caveat that not everyone in that potential new readership will be polite. I mostly try not to read comments on Pinterest, and I recommend that approach if you like to keep your days positive.

Briana

22 thoughts on “Pinterest Is Great for Blog Traffic–But Also for Negative Comments

  1. Davida Chazan says:

    Goodness! I’ve never gotten negative comments on any of my pins… I’ve gotten disgusting comments from spam/porn users, but that’s different. What bothers me more about Pinterest is that they allow these illegal sites that are giving away free PDF copies of copyrighted books to open bunches of accounts. I’ve tried to report them but it isn’t my intellectual property that they’re stealing, so it doesn’t help.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Yikes! I haven’t gotten any *inappropriate* comments yet, and I hope I don’t!

      Ugh, yeah, I’ve heard it’s hard just to deal with stolen pins and the like, which are actually not allowed. It would drive me nuts to see pirated books being promoted with free reign, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. CJR The Brit says:

    I dont really use Pinterest (apart from to get gluten free recipes!) but I think negative comments are rife either from the keyboard warriors, people who actually dont read what has been written in full or just bitter trolls! Facebook is just the worst for that.

    Like

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      The people who haven’t read the content they’re commenting on drive me nuts! I do think people feel more empowered to leave the rude comments on platforms where it’s less of a community. I’ve definitely heard things about Facebook; I just don’t do much in the way of blog/bookish things on there.

      Like

      • CJR The Brit says:

        Facebook is rife. I am on there for my blog but I dont post anything controversial and dont add my opinion to anything as it seems you get attacked whatever you think!

        Like

  3. BookerTalk says:

    that increase in traffic is phenomenal particularly when the current thinking is that Pinterest isn’t much use at generating clicks. As for negative comments, it’s horrid when it happens anywhere in social media – unfortunately people seem to think its ok to post nasty remarks about a complete stranger via FaceBook, Twitter etc – they would never dream about doing that to the face

    Like

  4. Grab the Lapels says:

    In what way does Pinterest work for a book blogger? I thought Pinterest was like a virtual cork board and was largely used by people wanting to do crafts, plan weddings or parties, redecorate — things like that. In that way, I’m curious how a book review blog would fit in.

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      People do use it to save book-related content! It’s just more of a search engine, so they’re looking for things like “books set in New York City” or “books about mermaids” or “books about sharing for preschoolers.” I’d guess there’s also something of a librarian/educator audience, as lists of things you might use in a classroom or for homeschooling seem popular. Trying to pin reviews or discussion posts can get views, but lists and things you can imagine people Googling work better.

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  5. Cal's Constant Raving Reviews says:

    Writing such blunt and odd comments like that make me baffled. Like… you’re not anoynmous, ever, no matter who/what you have as your profile pic. You have a digital footprint?? You think you can do any better?? Why bother posting it!??!?

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Yes! Even if you have a username it’s still sort of your identity online! Do you want to be that “person who leaves rude comments”??? I guess not being able to actually see the people they’re insulting makes it feel less personal.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Michael J. Miller says:

    While I’ve no experience with Pinterest, I’ve found my experience with negative comments still fits with what you’ve outlined here. Everyone I’ve met in the blogging community are wonderful and supportive and I look forward to the conversations we share in comments and tweets and messages and the like. But I have gotten some very angry, very rude, very derogatory comments on my site. They are always from someone I’ve never heard of or interacted with before. I grant I write often of social justice issues or pieces with topical and/or political dimensions to them so I know that can generate debate. And I welcome that! But I will draw the line at approving comments that are mean as opposed to critical.

    I once wrote a post about how the Star Wars community can feel unwelcoming to newbies and I used opinions of some of the students in my Star Wars class as an example. That post got two or three just hateful comments disparaging my kids. Of course I didn’t post any of my students’ names so there was a degree of disconnect there but still, who thinks that’s okay??

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  7. DoingDewey says:

    I was so surprised when you tweeted about getting these comments! I’ve always thought of pinterest as less likely to have these problems, in part because I associate it with crafting and cozy things, partly because there is so little user-to-user interaction. Sorry you had to deal with these rude commentors!

    Like

  8. camixdahms says:

    I have over 100,000 followers on pinterest and people have been so negative at times. Saying they did not like me, my pins, quotes, my blog, etc. you just have to ignore them!!

    Like

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