Pinterest is the fourth most popular social media site in the world, behind Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (in that order). As the name implies, it’s a virtual “pin” board that people use to share items of interest with their followers. Those items can include images, memes, recipes, animated GIFs, or links to a web page. On the social side, people can “repin” (i.e., share) a pin that they like or simply “like” it. That means that certain pins can, in effect, go viral.
So what makes some pins more popular than others? Are they popular because they’re posted by somebody with a high number of followers? Are they popular because of their content? Or is it just dumb luck?
The answer is yes.
Let’s examine the most popular pins on Pinterest as of right now and consider why they’re so popular. That’s easy to do because Pinterest provides a link that shows us the most popular pins at any point in time.
For our purposes, we’ll avoid looking at promoted pins (i.e., pins that are paid advertisements) even though they might get a high number of repins. Instead, we’ll look at pins that become popular on their own.
First, Know You Audience
Before we examine the most popular pins, it’s worth considering the audience on Pinterest: female.
According to RJMetrics, 80 percent of Pinterest users are female. More than 90 percent of all pins are created or shared by women. According to the report, there are approximately 15 times more pins by women than men.
So keep that mind for your own Pinterest marketing.
The first pin that we’ll look at is a link to an article titled “The Top 10 Ways a Newbie Can Use Essential Oils.” As of this writing, that pin has been repinned 1,742 times even though the user who pinned it has less than 300 followers.
It’s not likely that the user is a digital marketer. However, that doesn’t change the fact that this pin does everything right from a marketing perspective.
For starters, the title and subject matter is something that, we can safely say, will appeal to women more than to men. So, right off the bat, it’s an example of a pin that’s targeting the right demographic.
Next, consider the appeal within the female demographic. Note specifically the “newbie” part of the title. It’s an effort to reach out to people who might not know anything about essential oils but are interested in gaining some practical advice. This is akin to those “Dummies” books you see at Barnes & Noble. It also uses vernacular that we’re accustomed to seeing online (“newbie”), which makes the title all the more appealing.
Also, the content is in listicle format so it can be scanned. Thanks to the Buzzfeedification of the Internet, people are happy to browse through lists so they can get quick takeaways. They want to gain information without taking too much time away from their busy lives.
Then, there’s the actual content of the article. This example is a great intersection of social media marketing and content marketing because it has the potential for virality.
Why? For two reasons. First, the content is practical. If you read the article, you’ll find advice that is useful, such as: “I simply apply a drop or two of peppermint oil to my temples (or crown, or base of the neck—wherever I’d feel occasional muscle tension). I’ve able to stave off what potential discomfort by maintaining my hydration and applying peppermint oil.”
Next, even though the content is practical, it’s still original. Although there are certainly other articles online about how to use essential oils, it doesn’t appear to be a theme that’s overworked. That’s why it gained so much attention.
Pinterest is best used as a visual social media channel. That’s in contrast to Twitter, where updates generally consist of text that’s, at most, 140 characters in length.
That’s why it’s important to use a compelling visual when posting to Pinterest. If you can find an image that’s an attention-getter, you’ll have a better chance of reaching a large audience.
Anika Roth is a Pinterest user with only 62 followers. Almost a year ago, she posted a pin about decorated Christmas wine glasses.
That pin has been repinned more than 20,000 times since then.
The pin links to an article simply titled “Christmas Wine Glasses.” With a title that boring, this is clearly an example of not doing everything right and still succeeding.
The content of the article is clever, though. It’s about decorating wine glasses so that they look like characters related to the Christmas season. One wine glass, for example, has been decorated to look like the Grinch.
Clearly, what made this pin so appealing wasn’t the title of the article. It was the fact that Ms. Roth posted the image from the article that showed the cleverly decorated wine glasses. If she had just posted the title instead of the image, it’s very unlikely the pin would have been repinned at all, and certainly not 20,000 times.
‘Tis the Season
Sticking with the “Christmas Wine Glasses” pin, it’s also important to know that it was posted at a relevant time: close to Christmas. It may be the case that the pin is picking up steam now as we get closer to the Christmas season once again.
There’s a lesson to be learned here, and it’s not a new one. If you’re trying to promote your brand online, think about how you can do so in a way that’s related to the major holidays. How can you connect your brand to the Christmas season? How can you use it to promote patriotism during the Fourth of July? How can you use it to honor our veterans on Memorial Day?
Holiday marketing is a great way to build your brand because you can connect a message with people who are already thinking about the subject of the holiday itself.
The Roth pin also highlights another example of a successful subject on Pinterest: do-it-yourself crafts.
The image shows the finished product of crafts that, at first blush, don’t seem to be too difficult to complete. In the case of the Grinch, the process involves throwing some lime green glitter over glue on a wine glass, and then attaching eyes and feathers.
Craft projects, which are very popular on Pinterest (and Etsy of course), appeal to parents who like to teach their kids how to do crafts and people who like to create their own décor. Again, since Pinterest is overrun with female users, it’s not uncommon that these kinds of themes will be welcome on that social media site.
It’s not only crafts that are appealing to the mostly female user community on Pinterest. Recipes are very popular as well.
One Pinterest user, Vanessa Moore, has only 112 followers. She must have been surprised when she posted a pin for spinach lasagna roll-ups and saw it repinned more than 3,000 times.
It’s this simple: If you want to gain followers on Pinterest, post a mouth-watering recipe that nobody has posted yet. Add a great visual (remember: sell the sizzle, not the steak) and you’re likely to make some friends.
The down side here, of course, is that not every brand can relate to a recipe. If your brand doesn’t have anything to do with food, you’ll have to get creative and find a way to make the connection.
Recalling the seasonal factor that we mentioned above, consider posting great Christmas cookie recipes during the Christmas season as a way to build brand name recognition. Alternatively, you could post ideas for treats during Halloween or unconventional side order recipes during Thanksgiving.
Clickbait Always Works
Stephanie Baird has five followers on Pinterest. She pinned an image that reads: “This 5 Minute Hack Will Make Your Porch Look Amazing!” It’s been repinned more than 500 times.
For starters, it is an appealing title. With a limited amount of time, you can have a big impact.
Also, it uses a couple of power words. Both “hack” and “amazing” are great words to use in a title if you want people to read an article. The word “hack” says “this is a shortcut, it’s an easy way to do something.” The word “amazing” tells people that the finished product will be great. This is a little bit of a different topic, but every time I publish something on growth hacking it gets shared like crazy.
Of course, there’s also the curiosity gap in the headline. Nothing in the headline tells the reader what to actually do to make a porch look great. People who want that information are going to have to click on the link.
The bottom line is that clickbait works, even on Pinterest. It’s best to accompany it with a compelling visual as well, though. The image in the pin shows everyday items and a couple of craft products that seem to validate the headline that the way to make the porch look amazing is indeed a hack.
One Pinterest user with just 58 followers pinned a graphic titled “Exercises To Rock Your Skinny Jeans.” It’s been repinned almost 1,700 times.
Note again that there’s a distinct appeal to women in the title itself. Yes, there are skinny jeans for men, but it’s safe to say that the appeal isn’t quite as significant as it is for women.
Secondly, the theme is one that will also appeal to the female audience on Pinterest: looking great. Indeed, you’ll find very popular pins that relate to the proper application of makeup, fashion ideas, and awesome accessories on Pinterest. It’s a recurring theme on the social media site.
In this case, the image is basically an infographic that shows people the exact exercises that they should perform to “rock” their skinny jeans.
The pin is also an example of excellent marketing. The link from the image is to an e-commerce site that sells leggings. The company is doing some fine work in promoting its brand to an audience that might have an interest in its product line.
Finally, noticed the purple overlay with the title? That helps reinforce the purpose of the post. It is also well designed.
One user’s Pinterest board, appropriately titled “Thanksgiving!” only has 43 followers. When that user pinned “Paula Deen’s Southern Cornbread Stuffing” recipe to that board, she probably didn’t think it would receive more than 6,000 repins, but that’s exactly what happened.
We’ve already seen that recipes are popular on Pinterest. However, an additional lesson to be learned here is that familiar names tend to get a lot of traffic. In spite of her controversial statement from decades ago, Paul Deen is widely viewed as the “go to” authority on comfort food cooking, especially to people in the South. Certainly, a recipe of hers that involves cornbread and is meant specifically for Thanksgiving is going get a lot of traction on Pinterest.
Never be afraid to stand on the shoulders of giants. If you can legally use somebody else’s creativity and ideas to help build your own brand, then don’t be afraid to do so.
People are drawn to what’s familiar. Use familiar names and themes as much as possible in your Pinterest marketing.
More Followers, More Fun
This pin that’s a recipe for slow cooker ranch chicken tacos has been repinned more than 1,500 times. Sure, it might be a really great recipe that can feed a family. However, there’s probably another reason why it’s been repinned so many times.
That board has more than 500,000 followers.
The lesson here is that if you really want to make an impact on Pinterest, you should not only focus your efforts on posting relevant, original content. You should also try to build a large following.
You can do that by following people who post pins relevant to your niche. They won’t all follow you back, but some of them will. Then, they’ll repin some of your pins and some of their followers will follow you. Rinse and repeat.
Wrapping It Up
Pinterest is a great social media venue to use to build your brand. In fact, it’s second to none if you’re trying to reach a female audience. With the aid of great visuals, compelling titles, and a message that appeals to the interest of its users, you can give your digital marketing efforts a boost on Pinterest. Still have questions? Get all of your questions answered on Pinterest in our definitive guide now.