This morning I was researching Pinterest, the wildly popular social media app that lets users set up pinboards of products & other things they find interesting. In doing so, I noticed something that a web designer would be wise to take into account: Pinterest users rarely re-post images with captions in them.
Sure, there are some. But by and large, Pinterest users are there for the pretty pictures. The app itself captions images and links back to the sites from which they were pinned, but you’ll see very little copy in the pictures themselves.
If Pinterest is an important social media channel for your company, having great quality photography isn’t enough. It should be re-pinnable.
Luckily, my employer’s site passes the Pinterest test. Check it out (click on the photo to zoom):
Pinning from my employer's web site
Because our captions are rendered using HTML & CSS, the big, pretty pictures that a Pinterest user would want do share (the first five from top left) have no ugly text on them. They’d look fine on someone’s pin board.
It would be nice if we had some tall, vertical images. Tall verticals and squares look great on a pin board. But the lack of copy is a great start.
Now compare to one of my employer’s competitors (again, you’ll want to zoom):
Pinning from one of my employer's competitors
It’s a mixed bag. There are some nice smaller photos that a Pinterest user could grab, but the big, beautiful ones (like the castle shot at top left) contain captions. Pinterest users don’t want these on their pinboards. Designers like layering captions onto photos in Photoshop, because it’s easy to do text effects and get a clean font render. But they might be hurting their chances of being re-shared on social media in the process.
Note I said “social media,” not just, “Pinterest.” I think what Pinterest brings into relief that we haven’t noticed before is a more general fact about users’ habits in re-sharing the content we create. Users would rather share a photo without a big caption on it (unless it’s something like a cartoon or a meme). If we can rely on the user to caption the photo for us, and to link back to our site (as we can with Pinterest), it’s better to use CSS and HTML to caption photos. They’re more likely to get re-shared as a result.
What could make either of these sites even friendlier to Pinterest would be some tall, thin images. I think I’ll have to experiment with hiding tall images on a page specifically for Pinterest to find. I’ll be sure to post the results.