Case study: How Hearst uses Pinterest to boost readership

Originally published on Pinterest for Business on October 23, 2014.



Hearst Magazines Digital Media (HMDM) leads digital strategy for 18 digital properties, including Cosmopolitan and Harper’s Bazaar, with a combined 100M monthly unique visitors across all websites. They use Pinterest to learn what inspires their readers and boost traffic to their sites—as much as 715% year over year!


“Pins have become votes on our content. They help us understand when we are providing content that captivates and inspires our audience and help us refine and enhance our editorial strategy.”
Brian Madden
Vice President of Audience
Learning about Hearst readers
HMDM joined Pinterest to see what stories captured their readers’ imagination. They quickly found that stories about food, style, beauty, health and home decor resonated most. They adjusted their Pins accordingly, creating boards for their magazine’s most popular features, like Street Style from Harper’s Bazaar or makeup hacks from Cosmopolitan.
They also learned when certain types of content resonated most. Halloween-oriented content is popular in August, for example, and holiday-oriented content is popular after the holidays.
“Pins have become votes on our content,” said Brian Madden, vice president of audience for Hearst Magazines Digital Media. “They help us understand when we are providing content that captivates and inspires our audience and help us refine and enhance our editorial strategy.”
HMDM monitors Pins and repins on all content as well as what content is driving traffic from Pinterest. This information helps them decide what to Pin on our boards when, but also gives them deeper insights into what audiences care about and when they care about it.
Breathing new life into old content
In addition to learning more about their readers, Pinterest helps HMDM showcase—and get distribution for—their vast collection of evergreen content. For example, Cosmopolitan’s “20 Life-Changing Ways to Use Bobby Pins” has been pinned over 227,500 times, spiking months after it was originally Pinned. It’s a top traffic driver month after month.
“Pinterest has provided a pathway for for our audience to discover a vast collection of inspiring visual content. It has also been a useful tool for resurfacing evergreen content in a smart and thoughtful way,” Madden said.
Cosmopolitan’s Pinterest referrals have increased 715% year over year, and Harper Bazaar’s referrals have increased by 675%.
They also have Pinterest API integration on ELLE and Good Housekeeping’s websites, which bubbles up content based on what people are Pinning.
“Whether it’s because of an upcoming holiday or because certain tips are being rediscovered, it’s a great way to recirculate content that is resonating with Pinners at a given time ,” Madden said.
Turning readers into content distributors
HMDM encourages their readers to add Pins to their own boards by making sure all of their sites are easily Pinnable with the Pin It button.
“Pinterest’s platform allows our audience to become editors and distributors of our content,” Madden said. “At this point, the Pin It button is a must-have on any site.”
Useful + inspiring: A Pinning combo
HMDM has found that since Pinterest is about “making your life better,” most of their referrals are from content that’s helpful in some way. They use a simple formula: Pin useful info combined with compelling images that tell a story visually. It could be a great tip, a new way to do something, a watch to buy, or inspiring street style. One of their top posts, for example, was about using scotch tape to perfect liquid eyeliner.
This winning combo of useful and inspiring information has helped HMDM grow Pinterest traffic to their sites by 30% year over year. They’ve also found that Pinterest visitors consume more page views than the average visitor.

Products Hearst uses

Pin It ButtonTop Pins API