So …. Pinterest pin hijacking.
Let’s talk about that for a moment, shall we?
I first mentioned stolen or hijacked pins in The Pinterest Copyright Complaint Email I Didn’t See Coming, and I kinda thought it might be a fairly early-on, small-time thing. Ha! I was totally incorrect.
Pin hijacking is a very big deal right now.
A VERY big deal.
PINTEREST PIN HIJACKING – CASE STUDY 1:
Just this morning, I went through Pinterest to find new pins to save to Tailwind and schedule for later. I came across one that looked interesting to me — camera/photography tips (because I’m crap at photography), but when I clicked through, the website I reached wasn’t the website mentioned on the pin itself.
The website was different, the title was different … in fact, the two — pin and actual blog post — were entirely unrelated. I’d landed on some website about developing a “boss girl mindset”, not the camera and photography tips I’d been hoping for.
I went through a few more pins on the same person’s feed — repins/other people’s content. Every single one that I clicked on went through to various pages of the same “boss girl mindset” website. And I’m talking about 20 or 30 of them.
None of them directed me to the website stated on the pin itself.
All of the pins were stolen/hijacked.
The owner of that Pinterest account [a blogger with an MUV of 2million+, who should know better] was quite literally stealing every pin she was repinning. This is a blogger with popular Pinterest group boards, that other bloggers and content creators share their pins to … AND she mentions “female empowerment” on every social platform.
What are you doing, girl?
No, no, no.
You’re not empowering females when you’re stealing or hijacking their work 🙄
PINTEREST PIN HIJACKING – CASE STUDY 2:
Since I had my inspector hat on, I figured I might have a little look around the Pinter-scope, just to see how common this pin hijacking business was. As far as I’m aware, I’ve had just one pin stolen. (The cheek of it.) But when I looked around, I realised that it was much more common than I thought.
I picked 10 random pins. Just 10. All of them on the home/popular feed on my Pinterest app. All of them I would have repinned to my own feed.
6 of them had been hijacked.
6?! Out of 10? That’s pretty damn shocking. If you’re the proud owner of a viral or very popular pin, I’d start checking the links on that shiz RIGHT NOW.
HOW DOES SOMEONE HIJACK A PIN?
The process is very simple. Popular pins — ones with lots of repins, comments, click-throughs, etc., are repinned, but rather than leaving the original link in place, it is changed to direct traffic to the hijacker’s website instead. Those pins are already generating a lot of ‘buzz’, so by commandeering it, hijackers can make use of the buzz and see a huge increase of traffic to their own, probably poorly-performing website.
I mean, why else would anyone want to hijack someone’s pin??
Hilariously, I was going to show you how easy it is for someone to steal your pin right here, but someone had already got there before me. I picked the last pin I’d repinned, by Amy Shamblen, clicked on ‘edit pin’, and then went to remove her website and insert my own. At that point, I was going to take a screenshot for this blog post, before putting everything back to how it should be — not hijacked by me.
However, when I clicked on the link to add my own, I noticed that someone had already hijacked it! It wasn’t Amy’s website that the pin clicked-through to; it was someone else’s blog. A hijacker’s blog!
The absolute irony!
Oh, and just in case you want to read Amy’s post on reaching 1 million Pinterest views a month, you’ll find it here.
HOW WILL YOU KNOW IF YOUR PIN HAS BEEN HIJACKED?
1 – Loss of traffic
I noticed when *my* pin was hijacked because I lost a steady stream of traffic from it, literally overnight. It was one of my fairly popular pins and had consistently directed between 50-100 people to my blog daily. All of a sudden, that traffic dropped. Completely disappeared. It was as though the pin didn’t exist anymore.
Unfortunately, if you get a lot more traffic than that, you might not notice if the traffic from one particular pin suddenly drops. I noticed because my blog is still a relatively new and unknown one, so any big differences are instantly recognisable.
2 – Someone might tell you
I reached out to Amy on Instagram to let her know that her pin had been hijacked, just in case she didn’t already know and/or hadn’t done anything about it. I’m not sure if people do this on the regular, but I do. I work HARD to create content for my blog(s), and I would be [and was] VERY pissed off when I learned that someone was trying to pass my work off as their own.
Would I want someone to tell me?
3 – Check your pins
You can always go back and check your pins to make sure that they still direct traffic to your blog, but that’s a time-consuming process. VERY time-consuming. Like, I’ve already got plenty to do … I don’t need more stuff to add to my to-do list. I’m trying to find a way to monitor my pins without manually checking them one by one, but I haven’t found a way yet. If you have, I beg you, please share!
My advice is to check your popular pins — the ones that Pinterest say are heating up, and/or show as popular in Pinterest analytics. It is unlikely that someone will want to hijack a poorly-performing pin; they’ll want to make use of high levels of engagement.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU FIND A HIJACKED PIN
If you find a pin of someone else’s that has been hijacked (or you think it has), you have a few options.
- Ignore it. Don’t pin it. Not your problem.
- Get in touch with the pin creator and let them know. [I contacted Amy via Instagram as I already followed her on there.]
- Report the pin as being ‘Spam’ — misleading posts. [Tutorial below.]
- Get in touch with the hijacker and let them know you “think there’s been a problem somewhere”. [Not advised.]
If you find a pin of your own that has been hijacked, you can report it as a copyright infringement.
IS PIN HIJACKING REALLY THAT MUCH OF A BIG DEAL?
There’s a chance you won’t notice the hijacking of one or two pins if you get lots of traffic to your blog. I did, though. I noticed because I was missing a slice of fairly regular traffic that usually came from my hijacked pin. I’ve got a few pins that do REALLY well, a few more pins that do kinda okay, and some that just tanked completely — no repins, etc. My numbers are increasing gradually, still small, but when something changes, especially one of my popular pins, it’s kinda obvious.
I have one particular pin that has done far better than I expected, right off the bat. I worked hard on the blog post — 4,000+ words long, and I also worked hard on creating promotional pins for the post. In total, I probably spent a couple of days working on it all, on and off. If that pin were to get hijacked, I’d notice. I’d lose out on a chunk of traffic that has, by now, started to come in consistently every day. That traffic would get sent to another blog, probably a shitty or shady one (in my experience).
It’s not just traffic that would get sent to that other, shitty/shady blog, though. They’d get my SEO ‘juice’. They’d be using *my* time and skills to rank their website higher up in search engine results. I’d be working for someone else … for free, and without even knowing about it.
If a lot of my pins get hijacked, mine or my blog’s NAME will get tarnished. People will no longer click on my pins because they’re so used to being sent to a different website — a shady one.
I’ll lose trust.
And there’s that other thing …
When I repinned a hijacked pin, the owner of that pin reported it. I didn’t hijack the pin myself, but I still shared a pin that was “stolen”. The hijacker had used an image as their own website or blog’s promotional material, without the image-owners consent. In turn, I’d shared stolen content, albeit accidentally.
That’s why I received the Pinterest copyright complaint email. If you get enough of them, you’ll be suspended or permanently banned from using Pinterest. And that goes for your blog or site, not just your email address. Any links back to your website will be marked as spam or unsafe, and you’ll no longer be able to use Pinterest as a promotional tool.
If you know that one of your pins has been hijacked and DON’T do something about it, everyone that has pinned that pin could get sent the copyright email when/if you DO report it. The longer you leave it, the more people are likely to have repinned it. That’s not your responsibility to worry about, as the pin creator; the repinners should check all pins before they share them. But, once again, it could lead to a loss of trust. If someone receives a copyright strike for sharing a hijacked pin of yours, not knowing it had been hijacked, they could feel uncomfortable sharing your pins again in the future.
Just when you think you’ve got the hang of something …
… someone always goes and throws a spanner in the works. It’s always the way, right? Hijacked Pinterest pins are bloody awful, especially if the creator of that pin is relying on it for high volumes of traffic. If you’re considering hijacking as your Pinterest strategy, don’t. It’s not worth losing Pinterest over completely, because, when used the right way, it has the power to drive MASSES of traffic to your blog.
But the emphasis there is on the “right way”.
Sis, this ain’t it.
YOU MIGHT FIND THESE HELPFUL:
[Little disclaimer, just in case anyone gets confused: I wasn’t actually going to permanently steal Amy’s pin. I was just demonstrating the ease at which a pin could be hijacked. And yes, I did tell her that her pin had been hijacked.]