You may have recently heard of the latest social media craze to hit the internet landscape: a little pinboard site called Pinterest. And the reason you may have heard of it only recently is that it has become an overnight success, almost literally. According to blogosphere pundits, the site’s membership has blossomed faster than other notable startups (upstarts?) like Facebook and Twitter, reaching the benchmark 10 million monthly visitors faster than either of these social networking giants. Back in November Pinterest reported about 4.9 million visitors, a number which had been growing since early summer 2011. And then the site went super-sonic, pulling in more than double that number in January and reaching an incredible 17.8 million visitors in February. So what’s all the hype about? And why does it have businesses sitting up and taking notice?
Pinterest.com became a registered website back in 2009 and beta-launched in March of 2010 to little fanfare, just another photo-sharing site amongst more popular brethren. By the turn of the year they reported only 10,000 registered users. Although their stated mission is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting”, essentially melding the online photo-sharing culture and the social networking craze, most people had never heard of Pinterest and didn’t really get what they were trying to do. And the site hadn’t been gaining much ground until last summer, when for no apparent reason it started to catch on. Such is the whim of the ever-changing virtual landscape.
Of course, it probably didn’t hurt that it scored a coveted slot on Time magazine’s “50 Best Websites of 2011” list in August. But whatever got people keen on the site, it didn’t take long to catch on. And over the last few months, all anyone has been able to talk about is the rapid growth the site is enjoying and how it can be harnessed for marketing purposes. Well, that’s not all people are talking about; it turns out there are quite a lot of people who simply love Pinterest. And the majority of devoted fans are women.
If you’ve visited the website then you are probably aware that the front page is populated with all the things women love (in keeping with Pinterest’s stated goal). You’ll see pics related to wedding planning, food, jewelry, adorable animals, furniture, and fashion, as well as inspirational phrases that clearly appeal to the female audience. Notably absent are the photos of scantily clad chicks in seductive poses that tend to dominate similar photo-sharing sites (although you might see some truly eye-popping pics of man-candy like Ryan Gosling, or as I like to call him, the perfect human being – no, I didn’t post those pics). It’s not all girly, all the time, but it’s close. And businesses see a bone they’d love to gnaw.
The truth is that most social networking sites are dominated by the male, under-35 demographic, whereas Pinterest is clocking estimates of 68% female users (who are reportedly pushing 85% of the sites content). This is irresistible to businesses that are looking for new forms of communication with female consumers, who tend to make most buying decisions for the household. And many users are drawn to the unobtrusive nature of advertising. Businesses that create pinboards not so much aimed at selling as catching the interest of potential customers through pics of their products, happy patrons, or even their community (via multiple, related pinnings) are being rewarded with click-through from the site, which is totally free!
So if you haven’t yet heard of Pinterest, you think it’s just for the ladies, or you’ve written it off as just another photo-sharing site, think again. Membership with this hybrid website is the latest must-have for any business, and for the rest of us it’s a surprisingly fun way to waste an afternoon when we should be working.
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