Pinterest: How to Increase Your Followers and Repinners for a Travel Website

GoNOMAD Pinterest Analysis 2014

By Sarah Robertson

Using new practices mentioned in this analysis we have increased our Pinterest followers by 29.5%, from 965 followers in June to 1257 followers in August. These are the practices GoNOMAD Travel has been using along with some suggestions for new practices in the future.


The balance between GoNOMAD pictures and other pictures on our Pinterest board is important to keep up. Original content1 is the driving force of a popular account (See Pinners Caz&Craig and Alberto Mateo) but the best way to reach out to users and gain followers is repining other people’s content.

1.  Increase the ratio of original content to Repins

There are 3 ways to do this:

  1. Repinning– This is the most obvious way to connect with other users and the most flattering. By repinning another user’s content you are taking their pictures and adding them to whatever board of yours that image applies to. This drives traffic for your Pinterest page, plus it notifies whoever you pinned from so they know that you want to share their content.


  1. Favoriting- favoriting content is a subtle way to say that you like someone else’s content but that you do not wish to share it. Favoriting still notifies the other user that you like their content just as repinning does. Another useful way to use Pinterest favorites is to favorite content you wish to look at later, be that articles or helpful infographics. Images you have favorite are stored in the top left hand corner of your Pinterest homepage under “Favorites”


  1. Commenting– Commenting on a picture can simply be a way to notify a user that you like their images or you want to share more information on the subject. Sometimes users who want to add other pinners to their own board will post pictures telling others to comment in order to be added to that board. This can be a useful tool for reaching out and getting your content out to more users.


Organizing Boards

The organization of your boards has to appeal to a variety of Pinterest users while also conveying a strong identity of your site. When users click on the GoNOMAD name the first thing they are greeted with are the names and cover photos of the boards so it is vital that these boards inspire and intrigue. The boards have to be cohesive, yet diverse enough to make each board stand out from the rest.

Use simple yet creative names2 for your boards so that users know exactly what they are about. Two names that we use that do this well are “Savvy Traveler” and “Fairs and Festivals”. Keep board names under 20 characters to avoid the names being cut off. Alliteration, rhyme schemes, and cute sayings all make board names but straightforward names work just as well too.

2Think of new, creative names for our boards

In addition to an intriguing name choose an eye-catching cover photo that draws more attention to your board. Changing the cover photos and moving boards around regularly will also keep your page looking fresh and interesting. Using pictures that get the most repins for the cover photo is often a good choice.

You can choose to use Secret boards3 or not, but they can be useful in some situations. When starting new boards you have the option to keep them secret until you have enough pins to launch them to the public.

3Use secret boards to start building boards based on location if you choose to, or use them to organize any new category before you launch it

On GoNOMAD we arranged the boards with our most popular boards on top, tapering off to the least popular towards the bottom. First thing featured are the Travel Features4, the most important board to GoNOMAD as they are all pictures for feature stories that link directly to This board drives most of the traffic from Pinterest to GoNOMAD.

4Use PicMonkey or Photoshop to create pictures with text for each new feature story.

Many successful travel Pinterest accounts organize their pins by location5, while others do not. (39,500 followers) and Travel Channel (87,000 followers) do not organize their pin boards by location while Caz & Craig (4.2 mil followers) and Condé Nast Traveler (100,000 followers) do.  Having both location and topic boards makes the most sense, according to our research.

5A possible option for the future, to be discussed with more content posted

GoNOMAD does not utilize this strategy yet, but if we have enough original content to pin to these new boards it could be an option for the future. Perhaps organizing boards by city or popular countries would be a good start. The decision to organize pin boards by location mostly depends on the amount of original content being pinned to these boards. If there is enough original content to create a board for one location then a new board devoted to that location is justified.

Style of Pictures

Long vertical pictures6 are the most visually appealing style of photos on Pinterest. Given the shape and layout of the Pinterest newsfeed, vertical pictures are larger and hold viewers’ attention longer. When pictures hold attention longer it translates to more favorites and repins. A good standard size for a Pinterest picture is 300×500 pixels6, but the website is quite good at sizing pictures if they do not fit this criteria. In general use vertical photos rather than trying to crop horizontal images.

6Remember these qualities when editing photos and be consistent

High-quality images6 that are composed and well-focused look best on the newsfeed. There are three schools of thought when it comes to good quality Pinterest images. One is the long, high quality single image that aesthetically appeals to users and that drives repins. The second is the Pinterest collage, either a collection of images or a how-to that drives repins through its utility and intrigue. Third is the infographic, an increasingly popular choice for pinners that requires more skill to make but drives repins through its visual appeal and usefulness.


Pinning: Who

Compared to other social networking sites Pinterest users are the least diverse and most predictable—it’s nearly all women. In order to drive the most traffic you must appeal to a woman’s  interests. Here are some facts about the average Pinterest user7 that could help choosing what to pin.

7Keep the average user in mind, put yourself in their shoes and pin what would be of interest to them while also staying true to our own content

  • The average Pinterest user is female, between 20 and 40 years old
  • 80 % of Pinterest users are female
  • 70 million total users; 40 million active users
  • 92% of pins are done by women
  • 97% of likes on Pinterest are by female users
  • Pinterest originally started as a website based on party and wedding planning, it has since branched out but that mentality remains at the core of the website.

While this information may seem narrow, the Pinterest user has grown much more diverse in recent years. Accounts that pin about technology and fitness are breaking out into the Pinterest world and have drawn a much more diverse group of users, ie, males, to the site. While pinning make sure to keep the original Pinterest user in mind while simultaneously thinking about the up-and-coming users.

Popular Pinterest boards and users cover things such as travel, fashion, fitness, technology, inspirational quotes, funny pictures, lists, and animal photography. While GoNOMAD’s  is primarily about travel photography and travel journalism, incorporating some of these elements could help appeal to a much broader audience8. Some stories that we have posted that also touch on these other topics are the Austin Adventures Fitness Vacations story, 10 Strangest Things Found in Airport Security, and 27 Ways to Travel in Style. Even if we don’t have the original content that touches on these other subject repinning other user’s content can also help diversity out page.

8Find and pin stories that encompass a variety of topics, especially stories that crossover such as travel/fitness, travel/fashion, travel/tech

Pinning: When and How

How you pin is just as important as what you pin. Great photos on a small board procure no traffic while poor photos on popular boards also get skimmed over. The trick is finding the perfect balance of quality content, placement, and timing that gets the most pins9.

9Find a consistent style, time, and method of pinning that works and stick with it

Consistency is the key to building a strong base of followers. Just a handful of quality pins daily is enough to get enough traffic and attention to make your account get more noticed. Again, there should always be a balance between original content and repinned material; half original and half repinned content10 is a good guideline to follow.

10This is only a guideline to work off of, whatever looks best on our page and what drives most traffic should be the ratio we stick with

To make the small number of pins even more effective try telling a story through your pictures11 and stories. For example, a story about the Amalfi coast could be accompanied by pictures of Italy’s coastline, another story about affordable solo travel, and Italian fashion pictures.

11Do this will all new feature stories using pictures from the story and post on various boards, linking each picture back to the story

Time of day also matters when pinning. As predictable as Pinterest users are, so are their time schedules. The peak pinning hours are Monday through Friday from 6pm-10pm, and Saturday through Sunday all day12 long. Make sure to pin any important content during these peak hours.

12Pin all or most of our content during these times or slightly before these times

Lastly, a proper description13 can further tempt pinners to favorite, repin, or click on a picture. Descriptions vary greatly depending on the picture and what kind of content the picture leads to. For a feature story, the description should give a one-sentence preview to the rest of the article. For other pins the description can give a short explanation of the destination, photographer, and or any other pertinent information.

13Always write a proper description that tempts users to want to read and learn more

Making Connections

Instead of just repinning other user’s content try forming professional relationships with them so you can have a mutually beneficial relationship online too. GoNOMAD has done this with sites like Barefoot Travel and Rolo Adventures. We have done feature stories on them, pinned the stories and pinned pictures from their Pinterest pages, and in turn then have pinned some of our pictures to their own pages. These connections are especially important with users who have significantly more followers14 than us. (See users Johnny Jet and Caz & Craig).

14Form connections with other successful Pinterest users by working with them, contacting via Pinterest, or joining group boards with them

Group Boards15 are a great way to contact and collaborate with other pinners. Any board of yours can become a group board by adding other pinners. By doing this they can add pins to a board of yours, both original and repinned content. Be selective with whom you add to pin on your boards, adding too many people can cause a board to be too disjointed and uninteresting. Aim up, go towards the ‘most popular kids.’

15Utilize group boards and invite other successful Pinterest users to pin on your boards. Other users must be following you to do this

15Request to be added to group boards you admire

You can also be added to pin on other pinner’s boards as well. GoNOMAD is already part of a few group boards, but again be selective with how many group boards you join as to not crowd your home screen too much. Right now GoNOMAD pins to Albert Mateo’s Board “Your Favorite Travel Destinations16” and those pins are consistently the most popular pins we have on a daily basis. Albert Mateo has over 60,000 followers, meaning everything we pin on his boards 60,000 people can see.

16Find and join more boards like this

Pinterest has recently offered a new feature too that allows us to message other users. Use this feature sparingly and with good reason. Messages can be a great way to connect with other users but over-using the messaging feature can be a nuisance and discredit GoNOMAD’s reputation in the eyes of other Pinterest users. Use messages when we have a good reason to, such as story feature opportunities or asking for more information on their business or a specific pin. Always compliment other users on their boards too!

Traffic and Sharing

Linking our original pins back to GoNOMAD is vital for driving traffic back to the site. By using the “Pin It” button straight from GoNOMAD’s website it automatically embeds the link in the image so when users click on the image it leads them straight to the story page on GoNOMAD. When pinning from other sources all you have to do is copy the link, press edit in the top right corner of the pinned picture, and paste the link where it says Source:  You can do this with any pin, even ones that are not original content.

Another way to drive traffic is to make your Pinterest accessible to GoNOMAD users. GoNOMAD has already done this with the Pin It application, (on the right side of every story page) but downloading the Pin It application on the website allows users to pin pictures from our site onto their own boards.