Pinterest may not be quite so ubiquitous as Facebook and Twitter, but the platform has a dedicated following, and content can go extremely viral. We looked at the social media data to see which publishers were having success, and what content was working for them.

If you ask someone to name an influential social network, chances are pretty good that the first one that comes to their mind won’t necessarily be Pinterest.

But perhaps it’s time to focus on Pinterest. For the right content, the platform can be a powerful vehicle for engagement on content, especially for topics that might not necessarily catch the eye on other platforms.
Since its launch in 2010, the site has attracted a committed audience of pinners, with food, drink, wedding, and fashion and beauty content tending to perform particularly well.

We used our social media database, NewsWhip Analytics, to understand what Pinterest has to offer.

In Q1 2017 content on the platform drove some 53 million engagements. This increased some 13 percent in Q1 2018 to around 60 million.

These numbers are far from insignificant, particularly as many of these engagements do not come from the traditional big publishers, but rather smaller websites and blogs with a much tighter content focus. 

Who are the big publishers on Pinterest? 

There has actually been a reasonable shift in terms of the top publishers on Pinterest between the first three months of 2017 and the same period this year.

Last year the most engaged publisher for Q1 on Pinterest was BuzzFeed, with over 3 million engagements on its content. There are then two other clear winners with over a million engagements with and both appearing in the top three.

The vast majority of the websites that were most engaged were food based, which is a common theme on Pinterest.

In 2018, however, the focus had shifted considerably, with Delish leapfrogging BuzzFeed at the top of the Pinterest charts. BuzzFeed’s engagements were roughly halved, falling to around 1.9 million, while Delish’s doubled, driving almost 4.4 million engagements for the period, according to our data.

There was also more diversity in terms of what the theme of the top publishers was, with content about relationships (Your Tango), home decor (Apartment Therapy), and even online shopping (Lulu’s and Zazzle) doing well.

Even the Daily Mail appears in the list this year, thanks to its coverage of the U.K.’s royal family, which was extremely successful on the platform.

The fact that websites such as Lulu’s and Zazzle appear on this list shows there is a fantastic opportunity on Pinterest for brands, especially ones that resonate with the audience that’s already there, consuming content.

Delish’s Pinterest page

The numbers themselves are also interesting because there is a much wider spread within the top ten, the top publisher has more engagements than in 2017 but everyone below the number one spot has fewer engagements than those in those respective ranks last year, which suggests Delish may be monopolizing the top content somewhat.

Whilst this may be true for the most successful content and publishers, the top tens of this world, the opposite appears to be true in terms of a general trend.

Despite engagements going up on content on Pinterest some 13 percent, the average engagement on the top 1,000 stories actually fell by around 10 percent, which suggests there is a longer tail to the content than there had been in the previous year, with the lower-performing posts having more of an impact than their predecessors in 2017. 

How do traditional publishers do on Pinterest? 

Of course, it’s not all about those niche publishers. The big, traditional publishers also exist on Pinterest, and have reasonable amounts of success, though of course it pales in comparison to their levels on other social networks.

So we took a look at which of the more mainstream publishers had been successful on Pinterest in Q1 of 2018.

BuzzFeed was the most successful of the more mainstream publishers, with the Daily Mail also featuring as we noted before. It’s unsurprising to see the big players of the New York Times, BBC, CNN and NBC feature, there’s nothing new there.

What is a little more unusual to see is the likes of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar competing with the big players in these lists. This is principally down to the fact that their high-end fashion content performs particularly well, as that sort of theme tends to resonate very well on Pinterest as a platform. 

What content is successful? 

In terms of successful content, unsurprisingly, it’s all about those recipes, especially in 2017.

In fact, all ten of the top stories in Q1 2017 were recipes, whether that be baking or cooking. A link to seven chicken marinade recipes from Sweet Peas and Saffron was the most pinned article for the time period. All ten of the top stories came from different publishers.

In 2018, things had changed a little.

There was more diversity in terms of the content of the top stories, but less diversity in terms of where they originated.

Food still dominated proceedings, but less than it had in 2017. Two of the top ten stories were not recipe related, including the top story, which was about how to repurpose candle jars.

Delish did dominate the rankings as a publisher, however, with four of the top ten most pinned stories coming from its domain.

Pinterest and Facebook 

In Q1 of 2017 the top ten stories combined drove 3.5 million engagements on Pinterest, while these same stories drove just 18,188 engagements between them on Facebook.

The pattern repeats for Q1 2018, with the top ten stories driving 1.9 million engagements on Pinterest but only 27,220 engagements on Facebook. The fact that the number of Facebook engagements was this high in 2018 was largely due to Delish’s success on both Pinterest and Facebook.

The short story is this, Pinterest can be a great place for a story to be successful away from the noise of other social networks. Facebook is a great place for sharing but it can be difficult for a small publisher to be heard amongst all the big players. On Pinterest, there is more room for those stories, especially in the food, retail, and fashion and beauty verticals. 

Pinning it down: How to be successful on Pinterest 

To be successful on Pinterest, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • A strong visual is important: The audience’s eye is caught first by the visual aspect of the post, so it’s important that this is strong
  • Content is key: There are definitive trends of what works on Pinterest, and it tends to be food, weddings, fashion and beauty, and arts and crafts. If your content falls into one of these categories, it’s worth exploring Pinterest as a means of sharing
  • You don’t have to be a big publisher to be successful: Pinterest is a place where the normal hierarchies are somewhat upended. Much of the top content comes from publishers of which  you may never have heard 

For a look at the content that audiences are engaging with across any niche right now, check out NewsWhip Spike.

Benedict Nicholson

Benedict Nicholson is the Managing Editor at NewsWhip. An Englishman in New York, he is interested in the intersection of PR, brands, and journalism, and the trends and innovation around that.

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