Pinterest is becoming a vital platform for many types of content. We looked at the data for October 2018 to see what lessons to learn from successful creators.

We’ve seen before the importance of Pinterest in building an audience, and an engaged audience at that, especially for smaller blogs and websites.

We spent some time looking at the top 1,000 most-Pinned stories to see what lessons we could draw from it.

Pinterest is a great supplement to Facebook

The first thing we noticed when we were looking at Pinterest was quite how powerful a platform it is for the content that performs well on it.

Normally we see Facebook utterly dominate the returns in terms of engagements, but for the top 1,000 Pinterest stories, the total sum of pins was around 3x greater than the total number of Facebook engagements for those same stories.

For these stories, Pinterest pins totaled a huge 3,180,885 for the month of October, while the total Facebook engagements for those same stories added up to 1,115,260 for the period. That’s not insignificant by any means, at an average of around 1,115 Facebook engagements per story, but the relative performance of these stories on Pinterest are the truly noteworthy thing.

Admittedly this is a self-selecting group as these were the top stories on Pinterest, but it is still of interest.
So if Facebook’s not working for your web content for whatever reason, and you think Pinterest might be an avenue to explore, what sort of things should you be writing about?  

Recipes dominate the platform

The scope can be a little limited, but it doesn’t need to be restrictive, as we will see shortly.

Unsurprisingly for anyone that has followed any of our previous Pinterest coverage, food dominated the top articles for the platform, with the performance of recipes particularly impressive.

Of the top 1,000 articles on Pinterest for October, 587 were recipe blogs, from everyone from the tiny blogs to huge publishers in the space such as Delish and BuzzFeed. And while one of those things is not like the other, it was not a given that a recipe pushed by Delish would garner more pins than one by a small blogger. Pinterest users aren’t here to pre-judge, apparently.

And these articles could drive huge amounts of engagements, with the top ten articles all driving a minimum of ten thousand pins.  

How to write a recipe that grabs attention

Spinning out from this observation on the success of recipe content, we wanted to take a look at what makes these types of story successful.

There were a few things that we noticed from examining this a bit more closely. The first is the importance of a really strong visual for whatever recipe you are writing about. This was the constant in nearly every single one of these stories, a strong image or video before the recipe begins in earnest.

The second thing to notice is the importance of the headline. If we look at the top recipes, there are two distinct tactics there.

The first is that of the smaller blogs, which all tend to merely write the name of the recipe in the headline, and leave it at that, sometimes with the name of the website thrown in as well, either for name recognition or possibly SEO purposes.

The second approach is that of Delish, which adds a little more color to its headlines, a little more editorializing, with headlines such as ‘We’re in love with Reese Witherspoon’s Chilli Pie’, or ‘Pull-Apart Pigs In A Blanket Are Ready To Party’.

Interestingly, when you actually click through to the recipe, this editorialization is taken away, and only the recipe title remains, much as the smaller blogs themselves do, so this is a clear tactic to grab attention on social and the web.

The final thing of note is the extra information that gets written before the recipe itself, and again there is a difference between the likes of Delish and the rest.

Smaller bloggers will often give a little extra information about how this recipe fits into their life, which of their family members like it, what memories it conjures up for them, something to add a little flavor to the guide. Delish doesn’t bother with any of that and has a fairly simple list of ingredients followed by an easy-to-follow recipe.

Efficiency at a maximum, in other words, but different tactics clearly work for differing sizes of publisher when it comes to food writing.

Don’t despair if you’re not a recipe aficionado, though. There are other options we saw for success on Pinterest too.  

Knitting is very popular on Pinterest, as are lists

Knitting is one of the key players in terms of the rest of the content, with any number of instructions for crocheting unique patterns. One publisher, in particular,, stood out for its knitting content, with 20 of its pieces on crocheting alone making the top 1,000.

This plays into the theme of Pinterest being a platform for instructional content, much as we recently noted YouTube is as well.

But it’s not only instructional things that do well, as lists and memes also do well on the platform, appearing around 30 times on the list, with a bit of a throwback to the early 2010s with one of the most popular websites in the list.  

Daily Mail is a dominant force on Pinterest, through its royals coverage

We’ve noted it before, but it’s worth pointing out again how much of a force the Daily Mail is on Pinterest, as it is the only true mainstream generalist publisher to do so consistently well on the platform.

A total of 39 of the Daily Mail’s stories featured in the top 1,000 that we looked at. Even six months after the Royal Wedding, which was the last time we noted the trend, the majority of their success came from their coverage of the royals.

This shows the power of building a dedicated audience on a platform, as they’ll keep coming back for more. These 39 stories drove a total of 167,661 pins, or an average of 4,299 per article, which is a number of which any publisher would be envious even on Facebook.

This shows there is space for the mainstream publishers to do well on Pinterest if they have a strategy for the platform.  

Key takeaways 

    • Pinterest is a platform dominated by recipes, but there’s no set recipe for success
    • There is life beyond recipes, with knitting and memes also performing well
    • Mainstream publishers can perform extremely well on the platform, as proven by the Daily Mail’s example

Want to see what’s going viral in real-time? Take a tour of 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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