Paula Deen's Salad Picture is Pinterest Perfection

Sarah B. Weir, Yahoo! blogger
courtesy pauladeen.com
courtesy pauladeen.com

Pinterest is the Internet's fastest growing social networking site, so it's not surprising a bunch of tech geeks would try to quantify what comprises the perfect pin board picture.

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Data crunchers at the Philadelphia-based company Curalate culled through more than 500,000 images and found a winner. It doesn't come from one of Pinterest's most popular categories such as wedding dresses, or cool nail art, or elaborate, braided Katniss Everdeen-y updos, instead, it's a humble salad.

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"Aunt Peggy's Cucumber, Tomato, and Onion Salad" uploaded by cooking show host and cookbook author Paula Deen (or one of her minions, presumably), has been repined 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.

What gives the picture its mojo?

"We looked at about 30 different characteristics," Curalate CEO and cofounder Apu Gupta tells Yahoo! Shine. "About eight drove a response." Gupta says 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." Gupta says 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."

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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," says Gupta. Images without faces are pinned 23 percent more often.

Multiple Colors: Images with multiple colors are repinned 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, 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 crowd sourcing that reveals what pictures trigger the greatest response-something brands can capitalize on if they are able to decode what makes something tick.

Gupta says he's not sure if Paula Deen knows Aunt Peggy's humble salad is now the gold standard of Pinterest snaps. If she does find out, given her healthy makeover, she'll be no doubt be relieved that it's that recipe and not her Ultimate Deep Friend Cheesecake.

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