MyRecipes and Cooking Light Harness Pinterest’s ‘Mouth-Watering’ Power

By Steve Smith

Foodie magazines and sites have known for years that people love images of luscious dishes. Call it cooking porn, but recipe hunters and food aficionados will rifle through casserole slideshows looking for just the right one. And so it was inevitable that a social network grounded mainly in image sharing would gravitate towards recipe posts. When the crew at Time Inc. Lifestyle Group first got a look at the hot visual social network Pinterest, Tina Imm, General Manager says they were struck by a common thought, “why didn’t we think of this ourselves?”

Pinterest has proven to be a natural match for the groups’ and, where in both cases, “it is the number one social media referral source,” says Imm. In fact overall and from all sources, Pinterest is the third most important referral source for and the fourth for MyRecipes, where it now it exceeds Yahoo. “The growth has been pretty phenomenal,” she says.

And unlike Facebook and Twitter where media titles often score success by how many “Likes” or “Followers” they accrue, the Pinterest effect is not coming from the site’s home pages on the social network’s site. has only 557 followers at its Pinterest homepage and CookingLight has 4583. “The majority of our traffic [from Pinterest] is coming when people check the recipes on our site and ‘Pin’ it. Ultimately, when you pin those recipes onto your own boards on Pinterest, that is where the viral activity happens,” she says.

Imm says that the slide-in bar of social media tools on the Lifestyle Group sites is being redesigned to accommodate the Pin activity. MyRecipes added the functionality to 60,000 recipes recently, and you will already find the tool at,, and The emergence of new social media like Pinterest and Google+ have introduced real development challenges for large site. Keeping up with the opportunities can be costly, and so the Lifestyle Group has been developing a left-hand social media overlay that can be modified and expanded without having to re-engineer every page.

Imm says that the popularity of magazines and especially high-profile brands on Pinterest is not surprising because the platform favors well-produced imagery. “It is our brand and the type of content. We live in a visual society, and our brands have beautiful photography. The food is mouth-watering already, and that power is what we are harnessing.”

While Pinterest has been online since 2010, its meteoric popularity only began about six months ago.The network’s own overall traffic grew from 1.7 million uniques in September to 7.2 million in December according to Compete.

The benefactors of this growth among the magazines are only starting to think harder about how to program for Pinterest. Imm says that the teams in the Lifestyle Group have discussions daily about how to craft editorial that appeals to the Pinterest viral effect and also how sponsors ultimately can be integrated into the mix. The challenge for everyone in this explosion of new social media sources like Google+. Pinterest, and Tumblr is allocation of resources. Imm says that her group is exploring what a typical day of social media engagement looks like for staff and how best to optimize effort against a larger strategy.

On Feb. 9 from 1-3, minonline will take up the opportunities and challenges for magazines in this new wave of social outlets. At our min Webinar “Leveraging the ‘Other’ Social Networks,” Pinterest will be among the alternatives to Facebook and Twitter we will feature. Alison Dempsey, social media editor, Parenting, Leslie Ellwood, executive director of audience development, SHAPE, Naomi Piercey, online editor, Women’s Health and Rachel Fershleiser, media outreach, Tumblr will be presenting.


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