7 Trigger Points of a Successful Pinterest Article (With Examples)



A valuable piece of content is the basis for success, but with a few small tweaks that have been proven to work in the cases below, you’re well on your way to your next high-performing hit on Pinterest.

There are a lot of platforms to consider when it comes to promoting your products or service online. Google and Facebook are the clear standouts, given market share, whilst Twitter has been a staple of the marketing mix for years and Instagram has probably moved beyond “up and comer” status to “must-consider” status in the marketing mix.

It seems like Pinterest gets lost in the shuffle a bit, but with its recent $11 billion valuation and growing user base of 100 million (often hyper-active) users, Pinterest really does deserve focus as part of any content marketing plan geared towards a female demographic.

The line between viral hit and complete flop is a fine one, so let’s take a look at some case studies with proven success to find similarities and trigger points for what separates the viral hits from the rest. Here are seven ways to optimize For Pinterest shares.

1. The Image

Outside of a useful and informative article, the feature image pinned (and embedded within your article for others to pin) is the most important aspect of a viral Pinterest article. The reason being that the home feed of Pinterest users, along with recent pins in Group Boards, is where a lot of the re-pinning takes place.

You want your pin to stand out from the crowd and you might be surprised to learn that a pretty design doesn’t always mean better. In fact, if you scroll through your Pinterest feed you’ll soon notice that simple, clear images often out-perform beautifully designed graphics.

What makes a perfect Pinterest image?

Here are three rules to follow to ensure that your feature pin stands out in Pinterest feeds:

  • Portrait size: images are best for Pinterest as they suit the pin feed perfectly. Program like provide an image template in the correct dimensions (735 x 1102) to make life easy for you. Here’s another useful resource.
  • Be prepared to push the boundaries: You’ll find that borderline NSFW images actually perform very well. Use images that stand out from the crowd.
  • Include a clearly written headline: on the image to let users know exactly what your article is about. Important – your feature image does not need to win a design contest! Relevant image and clear article headline is the formula for success. Take a look at this example:

The 7 Trigger Points of a Viral Pinterest Article

2. The Headline

The article headline is important no matter what platform you’re trying to optimize for and in general, the same rules of writing a catchy blog post headline apply to writing Pinterest-focussed content.

The only thing to keep in mind is that Pinterest has a largely female user base, so err on the side of a female-oriented headline (and article overall actually). If you’re stuck for headline ideas, try this list of 100+ on for size!

In Pinterest, your headline will display beneath your feature image when pinned, so long as you have activated rich pins using the Rich Pins validator. It’s a once-off job that takes less than a minute to set up. Once you’ve validated, your pins show up considerably more prominently in the Pinterest feed for users.

Take a look at the side-by-side example below (left = Rich Pins validated, right = Not validated)

The 7 Trigger Points of a Viral Pinterest Article

Note the presence of the website (from Fitness Republic) and bolded article title in the left side pin due to Rich Pins being set up. It certainly looks more appealing.

3. The Description

The description that accompanies your pin can be the final tipping point that makes a user click through to your article from their Pinterest feed. It’s also part of what Pinterest uses to understand what your pin is all about and therefore display it to users that search for content like yours.

Write the description with users in mind, like you would a meta description when optimizing a blog post for Google. Keep it to around 100 characters so that it doesn’t get cut off and make the most catchy part of it inside the first 50 characters for increase prominence.

Pro tip: Writing in the description of a pin (obviously using your own website and article URL) will turn into a clickable link once pinned to Pinterest, increasing the chances of users clicking through to your website. It looks like this:

The 7 Trigger Points of a Viral Pinterest Article

4. A Reference Image

This is a huge tip. Pinterest users really like to share useful information and being a visual platform, one of the best ways you can optimize for sharing is to provide an informative summary graphic. The best news? Your graphic doesn’t need to win any design contests. It can be as simple as a list!

The 7 Trigger Points of a Viral Pinterest Article

In terms of tools for the job, you can use a platform like to create a simple, free graphic in a matter of minutes.

5. Concise Content

List style articles work incredibly well on Pinterest. Remember, the majority of Pinterest users will be accessing your content via a mobile device. Walls of text detract from user experience, therefore reducing sharability.

In terms of a layout formula, the format that works very well on Pinterest is simply Sub Headings + Short Paragraphs. An optional extra, that does add time and cost to an article, is to add images for each subheading.

Here are two examples to demonstrate the successful subhead + short paragraph layout.

10 Exercises That Burn More Fat Than Running (373k shares)

The 7 Trigger Points of a Viral Pinterest Article

20 Zero Calorie Foods to Help You Slim Down (346k+ shares)

The 7 Trigger Points of a Viral Pinterest Article

6. Social Share Buttons

It’s the first rule of optimizing for social shares; make it easy for your user to share by adding social share buttons.

To really amp up the rate of sharing, don’t just settle for a floating sidebar or top/bottom social button placement. Placing share buttons in the content area of your article can get a 10% increase in the rate of shares (figure based on a portfolio of sites in the health niche that I manage). Adding pinnable images is a starting point and SumoMe have a handy plugin for WordPress users.

If you’re one of the many WordPress bloggers flocking to Thrive Themes, you can take advantage of my personal weapon of choice, the Thrive Themes Social Sharing Buttons. This feature allows you to create custom share buttons that sit within the content area, making it impossible for readers to miss the share buttons and much more likely to use them. Here is an example:

The 7 Trigger Points of a Viral Pinterest Article

7. Enable Share Counts

Many people turn social share counts off, for fear of a low number of initial shares impacting on potential sharability. That’s kinda crazy because users nowadays are quite used to seeing share buttons with share counts enabled. So by disabling share counts, you actually run the risk of a user just thinking it has zero shares! Still worried about a low initial share count? Don’t be!

A series of 0’s and 1’s are likely to suggest the blog post or page is not share-worthy. However, I’ve found even single digit numbers tend to get the ball rolling and encourages sharing activity. – Kissmetrics

Frankly, it’s not that hard to get your first 10 shares just by sharing a couple pins from your personal account into group boards. If your content is shareable, it will pickup initial re-pins and you’ve essentially got that all-important social proof on your article done in a matter of minutes.

Summing Up

As with all social media platforms, there are some intricacies of creating content for Pinterest that take some learning, however the seven points above are more than enough to get started if you’ve been sitting on the fence, or are looking to take your Pinterest marketing to the next level.

Of course, a valuable piece of content is the basis for success, but with a few small tweaks that have been proven to work in the cases above, you’re well on your way to your next high-performing hit.

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Image Credit: Social Annex

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