What makes a good pin?

There’s a science to social media.

Not an exact science, as it happens – with varying research on hand to support the different opinions as to what does and doesn’t make a good post, tweet, update or pin.

Business analysts from Asking Smarter Questions, for example, have found that Facebook users are twice as likely to comment on a post that poses a question, as opposed to one that doesn’t.

And research undertaken by HubSpot’s Social Media Scientist Dan Zarrella would suggest that the best time to tweet is between 1pm and 3pm, Monday to Thursday.

So it stands to reason that someone out there is dedicating their efforts to figuring out what kind of images get the most traction on Pinterest.

Curalate is just one of those ‘someones’. The Philadelphia-based company studies why certain pictures do well on image-based social networks like Pinterest and Instagram – developing algorithms to analyse 30 million pics a day and using that knowledge to help brands (including Gap and Saks Fifth Avenue) communicate with their customers via imagery.

Earlier this year, Curalate researchers sampled 500,000 images, examining 30 different features – from colour and brightness to subject matter and aspect – to identify the qualities common to popular pins. Here are some of their findings:

  • Images that are reddish-orange in colour get roughly twice as many repins as images that are blue
  • Images with multiple dominant colours get 3.25 times more repins than images with a single dominant colour
  • Images with medium lightness are repinned 20 times more than very dark images
  • Vertical images with an aspect ration between 2:3 and 4:5 get 60 per cent more repins than very tall images
  • Images with a smooth texture are repinned 17 times more than images with a rough texture
  • Brand images that don’t feature peoples’ faces receive 23 per cent more repins than images with faces

Smooth, red (but multi-coloured) vertical, medium-light, faceless pictures. You have the formula, now get pinning. And if you happen to do so between 1pm and 3pm Monday to Thursday, make sure you tweet your pins, too.