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The Mystery Behind 15,000 New Pinterest Followers

The Interesting graphics board

Let me be clear upfront: If you’re looking for a step-by-step guide to gaining 15,000 new followers on Pinterest in a very short time this is not the blog post for you.

My purpose, from a social media strategy perspective, is to solve a mystery.

If you have wondered why people connect on Pinterest or what attracts people to certain others or their particular boards on Pinterest then I hope my questions here will at the least get you thinking and/or provide some insight.

Some background

On April 11 I was a quiet Pinterest user. I had under a 1,000 people following my various Pinterest boards.

The boards are organized around the things I care about. The board New Zealand!, for example, is images of my home country and the board RIT is about the place I teach (and love) in Rochester, N.Y.

One board Interesting graphics was always my most popular and, as of April 11, in had 286 followers.

But on that day something happened. Starting a little after 9 a.m. EDT I started getting notifications from Pinterest that said, for example, "Sarah Jones and 49 others have started following your board Interesting graphics." 

These notifications began arriving regularly. Every 15 to 20 minutes. Within four days I was approaching 5,000 followers. Within a week it was just over 10,000. As of today (April 25) that board has 15,298 followers.

That’s an amazing 15,013 new followers in just 14 days.

Why is this happening?
For more than a week I have tried everything I know to discover why this might be happening.

  • Is it because I posted an amazing infographic that people shared a lot? A search through that board for the past month of activity reveals no unusual volume of sharing.
  • I Googled my name and the name of the board … nothing in the search results indicates anyone recommended the board. (That’s too bad because I would thank them.)
  • I talked to experts in web marketing and analytics to see if there is any way to find the course of all this attention … and apparently there is not.
  • I emailed the Pinterest Help Desk … and got this response: "Unfortunately, we’re a small team and we won't be able to respond to your email." 

So, what now?

I guess I’m hoping someone reading this can help solve the mystery. Perhaps there are others who have had similar experiences. Can you help? Please let me know in the Comments area – I would really appreciate it.

Join The Conversation

  • Apr 29 Posted 2 years ago designeyecandy

    Hiya Mike!

    Greetings from Auckland :)  This is an older post but aside from a comment about bots, it doesn't seem to have been resolved successfully.

    Your problem has just started happening to me.  Being in IT (a Test Manager), I started to investigate after 100+ followers in a day.  Originally I thought it was because I was promoted by Pinterest (they send emails with particular pinterest users to all users) but then realised every new follower had 1 (highly random) pin and 26 following - all with "eye candy" in their name.

    I can almost guarantee that either a bot or spammer is at work.  Someone with a knowledge of automated tools like Selenium could easily fire off registrations for 1,000's of users, pick up a random image from google and pin it, search on specific keywords ("design", or in my case, "eye candy"), and hit follow. 

    It is annoying and a shame Pinterest won't do anything about it.  A simple "type the letters you see in this picture" type step in user creation would resolve it quickly and simply.

    Anyway hope you're enjoying Pinterest as much as I am! (a newby).  May look you up one day.



  • Mar 1 Posted 3 years ago Gardener

    How does anyone profit over pins on pinterest.  I just had someone from Paris take over my profile and boards and change my homepage and profile.  Pinterest caught and had me change my password, which doesn't make sense because I log on through Facebook and they didn't have me change my password.  It's a puzzlement.

  • May 22 Posted 3 years ago joyabella

    Oh, thank you for writing this post. This very issue has driven me insane. I went from 500 to 36,000 in a month. Now, I'm a good pinner...but not that good. Pinterest has ignored my pleas on Twitter and on Facebook, disregarded the email with a stock response, and didn't respond on LinkedIn.

    I can't stand it, mostly because the majority of the new followers are Botty McBottersons. For some reason (yes, I know it sounds ridiculous), I hate that that many bots are seeing what I pin.

    It makes me even crazier that brands and people are just accepting it, because hey, look, clients, we have great follower numbers AND they're growing!!!

    But what's weird is that there has been absolutely no response from Pinterest, and that's bad from a business standpoint - a ridiculous lack of follow-up on their end.

    If you ever figure out the issue, please let us know - inquiring minds, and all that.

  • Mike Johansson's picture
    Apr 30 Posted 3 years ago Mike Johansson

    Thanks for this - I do agree that at some point there is probably a snowball effect. And, congratulations on your spectacular growth!

  • Mike Johansson's picture
    Apr 30 Posted 3 years ago Mike Johansson

    Thanks for pointing this out. But this may be a bit of "cause and effect." As of the time I wrote the original post last week the search "interesting graphics" didn't have me in the top page of results. I have to beieve its sudden rise has to do with the blog post and the number of people goinf to the board as a result of the post. Thoughts?


  • Timothy Boocock's picture
    Apr 30 Posted 3 years ago Timothy Boocock

    Your pinterest board was indexed by google in the top 3 positions for search term Interesting graphics  and now that its been solved

  • Apr 29 Posted 3 years ago theaLight

    I have yet to gain a lot of followers in Pinterest and I must say, reading all about this made me feel excited as if I could achieve this too.

  • Apr 29 Posted 3 years ago Kristine Ford

    Thanks so much for this post! It's been great to read about your experience and to get some insights from the post and comments. 

    We've had a very similar situation happening, but on a crazy scale! Over about 3 months we went from a couple hundred thousand followers on one of our boards ( to 800k, then over 1M!! I must have sent 4-5 emails to Pinterest asking them what could possibly be going on (virus?!) but never received a response. 

    People ask us all of the time how we did it but unfortunately I can only just guess that it was a very influential follower(s) pinning a few really strong pins, then a snowball effect. After reading this though, perhaps there was more at work -- Pinterest email blasts, and new member suggestions? I've looked at various analytics (Pinreach, Pinerly, now Pinterest's analytics) but nothing really pops. 

    Certainly not complaining, :) but it's great to get some other ideas to add to the pot.

    Thanks again!


  • Mike Johansson's picture
    Apr 28 Posted 3 years ago Mike Johansson

    Thanks for the comment - and yes I tried to find someone with a "mass following" who might have repinned from my board, but coudn't. :-)

  • Mike Johansson's picture
    Apr 28 Posted 3 years ago Mike Johansson


  • Apr 27 Posted 3 years ago ICUC-Marketing

    Hi Mike,

    Intestering mystery for sure!  I'm taking a peek at your mass of followers for this one board and my initial thought is - did someone who has a massive following re-pin a couple graphics and that's what introduced your board to others? 

    Some of the followers I see have 0-3 followers, meaning they're very new to Pinterest and likely could have found you via the new member suggested boards that was already mentioned. 

    The next set of people following you have a moderate number of followers, but nothing in the tens of thousands zone like Mashable and other industry mega-brands command on SoMe. 

    I'm trying to scroll through the followers of that board, and it's getting hung up - I'm thinking perhaps this article has a lot of online detectives doing the very same right now - but my hypothesis is that early on in the influx, a couple users with epic followings shared your content and it went out to tons of users, and they in turn began to follow, and then your content showed up for their followings, and so on...

    Will be interesting to stay tuned and see what other ideas people come up with! 

    -Rose, Manager Marketing and Social Media, ICUC 

  • Jennifer Baker Consulting's picture
    Apr 26 Posted 3 years ago Jennifer Baker ...

    Your article piqued my interest. I've had the same thing happen to me over the past 2 weeks as well. My one board ( has increased in followers by 20 (or so) per day for the last 14 days... But it's just that one particular board.

    Thanks to you and the other user's suggestions and insight as to the "why"!


  • bzzzsocial's picture
    Apr 26 Posted 3 years ago bzzzsocial

    Unfortunately I have no idea, here's what I'm talking about though: will double check my GMail archive and see if I've saved the older ones :)

  • Mike Johansson's picture
    Apr 26 Posted 3 years ago Mike Johansson

    Good thought - any idea how to find copies of that email newsletter? :-)

  • Mike Johansson's picture
    Apr 26 Posted 3 years ago Mike Johansson

    Good idea - I did look through 50 or so and there is no pattern I can discern. Some are new and some have multiple boards and have been on Pinterest for a considerable time ...

  • Apr 26 Posted 3 years ago HenryS (not verified)

    Mike - is it possible that Pinterest for a brief period of time included you in "Recommended to follow" for new members? Have you checked out how new to Pinterest some of these followers are?

  • bzzzsocial's picture
    Apr 25 Posted 3 years ago bzzzsocial

    I had a similar experience, though not quite as dramatic an increase when just ONE of my boards: 

    about 1000 followers in a few days. Baffling, I thought that maybe I had got a mention in the in house Pinterest email newsletter where they plug boards to follow that you don't see on their inhouse blog. Maybe thats your source?



  • Apr 25 Posted 3 years ago Anna Cadiz Bennett

    Fantastic Job Mike! I follow you on Pinterest. I have several infographics and video tutorials on Pinterest here


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