What does it take to make a viral pin Pinterest? This is a question that many bloggers and online business owners who use Pinterest ponder. I myself was fixated on this question for months as I experimented with different pin designs and pinning strategies to find an answer. In the end, I narrowed down seven characteristics that make the odds of a pin going viral high.
What is a viral pin?
Generally speaking, a viral pin is a pinnable image on Pinterest that gets saved many times and/or drives a ton of clicks to a blog/website. For the purpose of this post, we will define a viral pin as a pin that drives at least 1,000 pageviews to a blog within a 30-day period. We’re not concerned with the number of impressions or saves, just the clicks. At the end of the day, the goal of Pinterest is to drive page views so that’s the metric we’ll evaluate.
Viral Pin Formula
Over the past two and a half years, I have created over 1,000 pins for my own blogs as well as for clients. After experimenting with hundreds of pin designs, I have identified seven key features that make a pin go viral.
1. A popular topic
The first factor that determines the likelihood that your pin will go viral is the topic. Not all topics do well on Pinterest. That’s because Pinterest emphasizes pins that teach and inspire. Its primary goal is to help users not only find what they’re searching for but also discover new ideas. Accordingly, topics like travel, home decor, food, fashion, and DIY are popular on Pinterest. These topics lend themselves to new ideas and inspiration.
How do you discover what topics are popular on Pinterest? One way is to use the Pinterest Trends tool. It shows you the search history of different keywords on Pinterest over time. If you search for a term, you can see whether the searches for that term are on the rise, on the decline, or flat. That can help you decide what content to promote. For instance, in October, Pinterest users start searching for Christmas gifts and decor ideas. This would be a good time to start introducing your holiday pins to give time to gain traction and increase their chances of going viral.
2. Long and vertical shape
The dimensions of your pin also play an important role in determining whether it goes viral. You’ve probably already noticed that pins on Pinterest tend to be long and vertical. There’s a reason for that. Pinterest recommends 600 x 900 or a 2:3 ratio for pins. Vertical pins take up enough space to stand out on a user’s home feed. On the other hand, horizontal pins would get lost among the sea of pins.
I create pins of different sizes to see which one does best. No matter the dimension, the pins are always long and vertical. Pin dimensions that I’ve found to have major viral potential include:
- 600 x 900
- 1000 x 1500
- 735 x 1102
- 750 x 1125
- 600 x 1250
My pins don’t get bigger than 735 x 1,400 unless it’s an infographic. Those can get as long as 735 x 2000. Note that if a pin is too long, Pinterest may cut off the bottom portion of it when displaying it on home feeds and search results. Although pins that don’t follow the recommended 2:3 ratio can do well, be careful not to make your pins long. What is too long? I would say a pin with a length greater than 2000 pixels is too long.
3. High-resolution images
Pinterest is a visual search engine so images are absolutely critical to your success on the platform. Unless you’re a professional photographer, I recommend you invest in paid stock photos. They are better than the free stock photos you find on sites like Pixabay and Pexels. This is because paid stock photos tend to be more unique, professional, and aesthetically pleasing. I have a subscription with Deposit Photos for $29/month, and it’s worth every penny. Since I started using professional stock photos, my pins went from 20-50 repins to 1,000+ repins. Unique, high-quality photos make a big difference. That’s why I highly recommend you invest in professional stock photos instead of using free stock photos.
Another issue with free stock photos is that they are ubiquitous on Pinterest. Your pins will blend in with thousands of other pins that use the same images. With paid stock photos, however, you get access to high-quality images that not many other people are using. That way your pins stand out. Using professional stock photos has been one of the biggest game-changers in my Pinterest strategy. If you’re serious about driving traffic to your blog with Pinterest, I would seriously consider using paid stock photos.
4. Proper use of keywords
Keywords will make or break your success on Pinterest. They are extremely important! Remember that Pinterest is a visual search engine. Just like Google, it relies on SEO to determine how to categorize and display not only pins, but also boards and profiles. The Pinterest algorithm primarily considers your keywords, pin image(s), and boards to determine what your pin is about and decide when to show it.
Keywords are search phrases that people use to find what they’re looking for on Pinterest. If you want the right people to find your pin, you need to describe your pin using the keywords they’re searching for. Keyword research is so important that I devoted an entire chapter to show you how to do it (lesson 7).
The great thing is that identifying those keywords is quite simple. When you search for the topic you’re writing about in the Pinterest search bar, Pinterest will show you the most searched keywords related to that topic.
Once you have the keywords people are searching for, you need to place them in strategic places so that your content can come up in search results and smart feeds.
To make your pin go viral, you absolutely have to teach Pinterest what it’s about. This
5. A click-worthy title
The content creator who can grab the most people’s attention and convert that to action wins on Pinterest. In addition to using high-quality images, your pin needs to communicate what Pinterest users can gain by clicking it. This is where pin titles come in. You want to include a title that communicates the benefit of reading your post in a way that piques the user’s curiosity. These titles should be specific, descriptive, and answer the question: ‘What’s in it for me?’ Here are five title formats that drive clicks and examples of them in action.
- The List – tells the reader exactly what they’re getting and how long it’ll be.
- 50 Simple Ways To Save More Money
- 10 Budgeting Mistakes You’re Probably Making
2. How To – gives the reader a concrete solution to a problem or question.
- How To Prepare a Keto Meal in 30 Minutes
- Or, How To Spend 3 Days in Barcelona
3. The Question – a thought-provoking question that entices someone to find out more.
- Are You Making These 5 Pinterest Mistakes?
- Is Your Mindset Making
4. The Case Study – offers a real-life example of how someone accomplished a goal of interest to the reader
- How Michelle Went From $0 to $50,000 a Month With Affiliate Marketing
- 3 Simple Changes That Doubled My Traffic in 30 Days
5. REASONS WHY – offers an explanation for why something is the way it is. This could be why something happens, works, or doesn’t work.
- Here’s Why Pinterest Isn’t Sending You Traffic
- 5 Reasons Why Bluehost is a Terrible Hosting Service for Your Blog
Note that the title that appears on a pin doesn’t have to match the exact title of the blog post or landing page it leads to. For instance, you can create three separate pins for one blog post using three different title formats. This is a great way to appeal to different users on Pinterest and increase your chances of getting a viral pin.
6. Easy-to-read fonts
For Pinterest users to read your click-worthy title, you to use legible fonts. Be careful with fancy script fonts. They can work, but make sure they are legible. I don’t usually use script fonts for travel pins because I’ve found that regular, block fonts, like Playfair Display, Montserrat, and Oswald perform better. and text that tells viewers exactly what they’ll get. Be careful with fancy script fonts. They can work, but make sure they are legible.
A bonus incentive
When you include something extra, like a checklist, worksheet, printable, or some other kind of download, you increase the incentive for people to click on your pin. When you write a post, think about a bonus you can add to it.
For instance, if you write an itinerary post, you can use Google Maps to pinpoint all the places in the itinerary and embed it in the post. Take a screenshot of the map and include it in at least one pin. If you write about things to pack for a long flight, you can quickly make a checklist on Canva and include it in your post. Then include a blurb about the checklist in at least one pin.