Paula Deen is responsible for one of the most-ogled photos on the Internet.
"Aunt Peggy's Cucumber, Tomato, and Onion Salad," uploaded by the cooking-show host and cookbook author, has been shared on Pinterest over 300,000 times and "liked" at least 8000 times. Pretty good for a side dish in a pink pyrex bowl on a crocheted lace doily.
Data crunchers at the Philadelphia-based company Curalate culled through more than 500,000 images on Pinterest, the Internet's fastest-growing social networking site, in search of the "perfect" pin-board picture. It doesn't come from one of Pinterest's most popular categories, such as wedding dresses, cool nail art, or elaborate, braided Katniss Everdeen-y updos; instead, it's a humble salad by the Food Network star.
What gives the picture its mojo?
"We looked at about 30 different characteristics," Curalate CEO and cofounder Apu Gupta told Yahoo! Shine. "About eight drove a response." Gupta said some were expected such as the color red, which is attention grabbing. "But we also found some more interesting things such as the presence of a background." He said that retailers commonly shoot their product on a white background, but "It turns out that people want to see a product contextualized—it helps the consumer see how they will they will have it in their own life. As for Deen's salad, "You can [imagine] it on a picnic table on a hot summer day—that triggers a response and causes people to re-pin things."
In addition to the red color details and background, Deen's picture had four other important characteristics:
No human faces: "Facebook is a network of people, Pinterest is a network of things," said Gupta. Images without faces are pinned 23 percent more often.
Multiple colors: Images with multiple colors are re-pinned far more often than black and white.
Moderate light: Very bright and very dark images perform poorly compared with 50 percent saturation.
Vertical orientation: Pinterest automatically rescales images that fall outside of its 2:3 or 4:5 ratio which renders them less attractive.
Besides having a popular Pinterest page, why does all this matter? Gupta sees sharing images as the language of the future. "Consumers today communicate using pictures rather than words, and we see that not only on Pinterest, but Instagram and Tumblr." Re-pinning and sharing is a type of crowdsourcing that reveals what pictures trigger the greatest response—something brands can capitalize on if they are able to decode what makes something tick.
Yahoo! Shine was able to reach Paula Deen to break the news of her Pinterest perfection. "My Aunt Peggy is such an inspiration to our family," she said in an email. "It's such an honor to know that a simple, everyday dish of fresh veggies from the garden can be so special to so many people."
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