Choosing Pinterest Pictures

by kimbesa

How to improve your photo choices for Pinterest, based on science. Reported in Wired magazine. I’ve approximated their perfect photo, using my own dishes and food.

Marketers study results. Some would say obsessively. The photos and pinning activity on Pinterest are no exception.

Pinterest is the golden goose of social media traffic.

As authors, the more we know about images people like to share, the better we can select illustrations that will be popular on Pinterest.

The editors of Wired magazine asked a consulting firm in Philadelphia called Curalate to analyze photos, and choose one that best exemplifies an image most likely to be circulated on Pinterest. They recently published the results.

If there’s a secret sauce to choosing an image that will be shared, everybody who works online -- and wants improved traffic -- wants to know.

Photos by kimbesa.

My Try at Perfect

Cabbage Slaw
Cabbage Slaw

Most Likely To Be Pinned

And repinned more than 300,000 times. My approximation has big shoes to fill

Curalate went through a sample of 500,000 popular pins, and whittled down the list to one that exemplifies the “perfect” Pinterest image.

See the perfect photo...iIt’s an illustration for a recipe from Paula Deen’s website, that goes with the recipe for Aunt Peggy’s Cucumber, Tomato and Onion Salad.

That top-notch image was pinned 307,000 times, liked 8000 times and has more than 300 comments.

And that's gotta be yummy for traffic.

Paula Deen's perfect image features food and dishes. Two subjects that are dear to my heart.

So I used food and dishes as the subject for my approximation, posted above in this article: cabbage slaw in a cup.

The china cup has red apples with green leaves. The Corelle plate features pink and red flowers, and more green details, in multiple shades. Also, the slaw is light green, similar to the cucumbers in the perfect photo.

Based on analysis of the perfect photo, I selected several strong colors, especially red, and approximated the gray background from the perfect photo as well. I made my photo square, but I could have used portrait format. I left out human faces.

There are more Pinterest photo findings by Curalate, reported in Wired.

Sample Pinterest Boards

The perfect picture appears, top row, second from right
Sample set of Pinterest boards
Sample set of Pinterest boards
Photo by kimbesa

The Perfect Picture

It’s a foodie favorite: tasty salad, pretty vintage dish, and links to a fresh summer recipe. Analysis has deemed it perfect for pinning. What more could anyone ask for?

In the days when viral was only a type of infection, I probably would not have seen this perfect photo. But if I did, I would have paid attention to it immediately.

The first thing I noticed was the vintage pink Pyrex casserole dish, in the Pink Gooseberry pattern. That’s my favorite set that I’ve used a lot. They range in size from small to large, and alternate the surface. Pink on white, and white on pink.

Then there’s the good looking summer salad with cucumbers and tomatoes. That will taste good for a picnic or summer party, or any other time when good vegetables are in season.

And the details are charming, like the dainty crocheted potholder underneath, and the rustic picnic table top.

Pink Gooseberry pattern Corning Ware casserole with peach cobbler
Pink Gooseberry pattern Corning Ware ...

Vintage Corning Casserole

One of a set of four, pink and white, featured in the perfect photo

The food stylist chose the smallest of four Corning casseroles in the Pink Gooseberry pattern.

The motif is the same on all, but they alternate white on pink, or pink on white.

Besides vintage charm, the small casserole has a lot of pink on it.

Curalate found that having several strong colors, especially red, led to more repins.

Improve Your Visual Literacy

Writers tend to like words, and images aren’t always their strong suit. I think a keen eye is something that can be learned and improved on.

Years ago I went to a summer camp for high school students who would be creating their school yearbooks in their upcoming senior year.

This was a long time ago, when communications technology was nothing like it is now. The instructors had banquet tables piled high with yearbooks. Some were used to show low-quality layout and design, but most of them were good examples. They held them up over and over, to show samples of their layouts.

Their goal was to give us a practiced eye.

After years spent in classrooms, reading books and writing papers, this was a memorable introduction to visual learning.

Anyone who wants to brush up today can visit Pinterest and do the same thing. It’s a hotbed of visual delight. If the phrase “eye candy” hadn’t already entered our language, Pinterest would bring it.

Even if you’re more interested in the intellectual end of your subject, there are images and artists – work that will speak to you and your colleagues.

Use Pinterest To Build Visual Literacy

Just scroll through Pinterest and you’ll get ideas of what’s possible. You may even get ideas for articles you want to write.

You can think of Pinterest just like a set of physical bulletin boards, organized by topic, on which you can post images and things you like.

  • When you set up your account, there is a standard set of board titles. You can start with these, add to or delete this list. When you go to pin an article on Wizzley, for example, you will get a drop down menu so you can select which board to pin onto.
  • You can create your own boards by topic of interest. If you’re into Vampires, or Soil Science, or Rare Sheep Breeds, for example, you can create boards around those topics.
  • You can follow people with similar interests. Either by the board, or all their boards. Others will start to find and follow you, too.

Take Your Own Digital Photos

This one has optical zoom, too
Canon PowerShot A2300 IS 16.0 MP Digital Camera with 5x Optical Zoo...

Classic on Visual Imagery

Visual Culture

Pinned and Repinned

Articles from Wizzley that are getting shared on Pinterest
A new trend in gardening is creating a gothic garden with mystical garden statues, and black and deep purple flowers.
What are the best ideas for pirate birthday party favors for girls.

I've Been Pinning, Too

Getting some experience choosing photos to add to my boards on Pinterest

So far, my Pinterest stats for pinning from Wizzley are measured in weeks, not months. I have more to learn about how to read the information.

To the right, two articles that I see often on the repinned list in my emails from the site. The black flowers article is on my Gardening board, a good fit.

The Pirate Birthday Party Favors for Girls article is on my Fun Stuff board, which is more general. When others repin, this article, it's going onto more specific boards about birthday parties.




The Takeaways For Writers

No matter where you write, social media is growing in importance. And images are big in social media.

First, make sure at least one image is pinnable. They don't all have to be designed for Pinterest, but if at least one is, your article can benefit by another traffic source.

On Wizzley:

  • Check your Options setting on your Wizzley article and make sure that the option for Pinterest is checked. (This appears to be the default on new articles.)
  • Repeat your intro thumbnail elsewhere in your article. Two easy ways: add by itself in an Image module, or within copy in a Text module. You spent time choosing a representative image. Let it be pinned!
  • Recrop your image if you wish, to repeat the same photo in a different version. One version could be a close up, and the other a wide shot. For Pinterest, portrait format or square images fit best.

On WordPress:

  • In the WordPress world, select one image and Set Featured Image as part of each post. Otherwise, no image in your post will be pinnable. I don’t know which WordPress update included this change, but in my case, I have backfill to do on older posts.

The way I see it:

  • Make your Pinterest pictures vertical, in portrait format, or square
  • Select a photo with a strong graphic quality, or high “cuteness” factor
  • Choose something colorful. The most pinned images are medium overall, with multiple main colors. Further, red was a top eye catcher.

The Best Photos

Always more to learn, when taking photos or choosing them

Will my photo get traffic even approaching the perfect photo?

I think it's a good start. I'm sure the elements of the perfect Pinterest photo will move around a little, but overall, the best qualities and colors will stay constant. That's my opinion.

What I do know,: The results of this study will help me choose and create better images for my articles and posts.

A Classy Cup of Slaw

Red sets off green, white and gray, and should catch the eye when I pin it
A Shot at Perfect
A Shot at Perfect
Updated: 06/15/2013, kimbesa
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?

Have You Found Any Useful Photo Tips?

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kimbesa on 08/25/2017

For me, it's just been for posting. However, more recent changes have made it easier for selling, for those set up for that.

DerdriuMarriner on 08/25/2017

kimbesa, Is Pinterest a place for posting or does it also generate revenue?

kimbesa on 06/21/2013

You are welcome! I hope it will be useful and help with traffic!

PeggyHazelwood on 06/21/2013

I hadn't seen the Wired article so appreciate your break down here. Love your Pinable re-creation of the food photo. Thanks for this!

kimbesa on 06/20/2013

Some things on Pinterest are different than the conventional standards. Not sure why, but they are.

CherylsArt on 06/20/2013

Nice tips about the color.s. Thanks.

kimbesa on 06/10/2013

Thanks! I hope you will enjoy pinning!

fitzcharming on 06/10/2013

I like your ideas here. I need to become more proficient in Pinning. You've given me some ideas - and I'm going to pin your cabbage slaw picture right now.

kimbesa on 06/10/2013

Thanks! It is a lot of fun. When I get going on Pinterest, it can be hard to stop. Just with recipes, let alone other stuff.

KathleenDuffy on 06/10/2013

I found your article really useful - thanks. I started pinning stuff from my articles a couple of weeks ago and have had a few repins. It's a lot more fun to do than some social networking sites.

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