Using Data to Create Viral Content. [INFOGRAPHIC]

Pinterest_Infographic_teaser Netflix recently used their own data to drive the creation of the hit series 'House of Cards'. A similar approach can be applied to other forms of media to create content that is highly likely to become popular or even go viral through social media channels.

I examined the data set collected by Feastie Analytics to determine the features of recipes that make them the most likely to go viral on Pinterest. Some of the results are in the infographic below (originally published here). The data set includes 109,000 recipes published after Jan 1, 2011 on over 1200 different food blogs. Each recipe is tagged by its ingredients, meal course, dish title, and publication date. For each recipe, I have a recent total pin count. I also have the dimensions of a representative photo from the original blog post.

The first thing that I examined is the distribution of pins by recipe. What I found is that the distribution  of pins by recipe is much like the distribution of wealth in the United States -- the top 1% have orders of magnitude more than the bottom 90%. The top 0.1% has another order of magnitude more than the top 1%! Many of the most pinned recipes are from popular blogs that regularly have highly pinned recipes, but a surprising number are from smaller or newer blogs. A single viral photo can drive hundreds of thousands of new visitors to a site that has never seen that level of traffic before.

For the purposes of this analysis, I defined "going viral" as reaching the top 5% of recipes --  having a pin count over 2964 pins. Then, I calculated how much more (or less) likely a recipe is to go viral depending on its meal course, keywords in the dish title, ingredients, day of the week, and the aspect ratio of the photo.

Some of the results are surprising and some are expected. Many people would expect that desserts are most likely to go viral on Pinterest. But in reality, desserts are published the most but not most likely to go viral. Appetizers have the best probability of going viral, perhaps because they are published less frequently, yet are in relatively high demand. The popularity of cheese, chocolate, and other sweets in the dishes and ingredients is not surprising. What is somewhat surprising are some of the healthier ingredients such as quinoa, spinach, and black beans. The fact that Sunday is the second best day to publish is surprising, as most publishers avoid weekends. However traffic to recipe sites spikes on Sundays, so it makes sense that recipes published then have an advantage. Finally, it's no surprise that images with tall orientations are more likely to go viral on Pinterest considering how they are given more space by the Pinterest design. But now, we can put a number on just how much of an advantage portrait oriented photos have -- they are approximately twice as likely to go viral as the average photo.

Hungry yet? What other forms of content would you like to see this approach applied to?

Check back tomorrow for a tutorial on how to create an infographic with Keynote.

How to Make Your Recipe Go Viral on Pinterest