A Viral Pin’s Family Tree

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Ever wonder where a viral pin originates? How many people pinned it before it took off? How long did it take for the pin to go viral?  We wondered, too! So, we mapped out Dan Ashbach’s most popular pin and found quite the family tree.

Thousands of Pinterest repins, hundreds of sales,  dozens of influential brand advocates – Virality can certainly do a lot for a brand’s marketing plan.  But where does a viral pin get its start?  To answer that question we used Tailwind’s Analytics Suite to trace back, Pinterest Influencer and Tailwind interviewee, Dan Ashbach‘s most repinned pin and mapped its roots:

Family Tree of a Viral Pin
Click to Enlarge
  • Verena first shared the image 48 weeks ago to just over 30 followers, where it received four repins.  32 weeks later, Dan found the image and shared it to his 1.5 millions followers.
  • The “family tree” diverges into two main branches after the four initial repins
    • One branch, beginning with Shirin’s seven repins, gained 33 repins before coming to a dead end.
    • The other branch, beginning with Irene’s one repin, gained 41 repins before reaching Dan.
  • Dan isn’t following the user he repinned from.  In fact, none of Suzanne’s 7 repins are from users who are following her.
  • It took 66 total repins by 68 users to eventually reach Dan.
    • Since Dan shared the pin, it has garnered 2306 repins, 916 likes, and 19 comments.

Lessons from the “Family Tree”

  1. Content is king.  Verena, with only 32 followers, started this entire process by pinning an eye-catching, simple DIY image. Make sure your images pop and maybe Dan, or another Pinterest influencer, will pick it up. I mean, who’s ever seen a boring pin go viral?
  2. Virality takes time.   It took 32 weeks between the time this image was pinned and when Dan repinned it to his followers.  Unlike Facebook and Twitter, pins on Pinterest continue to gain traction for months after they are originally pinned.  Even though Facebook and Twitter have instant gratification from posts, content on Pinterest has staying power.
  3. CHECK YOUR LINKS! Sadly, who ever came up with this image cannot receive credit because the link is broken.  If you want traffic from Pinterest to your site, make sure your links work! Test your links by pinning images to your board and clicking through from Pinterest.  If you no longer sell a popular product, it’s also a good idea to have the page redirect to something similar.  It’s a great way to make sure your site is still able to receive the traffic!
Although there is no magic formula for making a pin go viral, there is a reason some pins are shared more than others.  Just remember to make sure your images are eye catching, your links are active and you don’t expect instant gratification.  Someday you, too, could have a viral pin.
This post was originally featured on the Tailwind Blog as a Viral Pin’s Family Tree.

Melissa Megginson is resident Community Manager and Cat Lady at Tailwind, the leading Pinterest & Instagram tool for brands. Melissa specializes in affiliate marketing, public speaking, and making our members look good. Find her on Twitter and Instagram at @MelMegg.

34 thoughts on “A Viral Pin’s Family Tree

  1. Hi Melissa,

    Intriguing example. I was wondering, though, did Verena ever know that her pin became viral? Because, doesn’t the pin that she originally pinned, only show 4 repins? And the one that Dan repinned shows 2306 repins? I hope that makes sense.


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