Digging into the Secrets of Pinterest: How (and Why) It Works

By . Filed in Web 2.0

It’s not hard for me to say, or prove, that women dominate Pinterest; the hard part is figuring out why. The statistics to show that the realm built from the simple act of Pinning is dominated by the fairer sex are all over the place. But no matter what the numbers show, it’s not really clear why women are attracted to Pinterest like a moth to a flame.

Sure it’s simple, clean and fuss free and it may be just a digital arts and crafts bulletin board piggybacking off a social phenomenon but while others have good reason to believe that it doesn’t matter which sex dominates the pinning arena, sometimes when you gotta know, you just gotta know.

Getting into Pinterest

The assignment was to dip my toes into the Pinterest pool and test the waters of one of the latest social networks to hit the social media spotlight. The good news is you don’t need an account to view the stuff in Pinterest. But to get your own boards and to start pinning the stuff you like, you need to request for an invite from Pinterest itself or by someone who is already with Pinterest. From the get-go, you get an account to place all your boards, a few suggestions of who to follow, and a "Pin It" button you put on your favourite browser.

Then the pinning begins. Oh, and you don’t even have to be in Pinterest to pin things, which I believe is the beauty and the secret behind the image-hoarding obsession that fuels the pinning passion of millions of Pinners out there. Just use the pinmarklet to pin anything you like seeing on any other site, and it will be showcased on your board. It’s a social media site where you don’t have to stay on your profile page all day long. I find that a very refreshing change.

Pinboards or Virtual Scrapbooks?

As I continued pinning, I realized that there was something familiar with the whole idea behind Pinterest. Something innate, something I have been doing and somehow am redoing. And then it hit me: Pinterest is very much like those magazines you subscribed to when you were a teenager, or maybe even now. You would find Pinterest to exhibit the same type of allure (and more, but we’ll get to that) that you find with topics regularly covered by magazines: wedding gowns, cars, interior décor, parenting, fitness, arts and crafts, gardening, fashion… and the list goes on. And what are the winning qualities of top-selling magazines? The content; more precisely, the images that have to be eye-catching, beautiful, and top-quality to help keep these magazines selling.


(Image source: Pinterest)

To add on to the theory, together with the shift of print magazines to online subscription models went one of our favourite pastimes – the collection of favourite photos and images from these monthly publications. The snipped pictures would then proceed to fill a fashion tips scrapbook, an album that features our favourite things or when nothing else can do it justice, a spot on the bedroom wall. Admit it, you would plaster your bedroom walls with anything your mom would let you get away with. Some things never go away. They just take another form, like how snipping becomes pinning and scrapbooks became pinboards.

The potential in Pinterest

Pinterest does have its perks, which was what the rest of the Web was interested in from the start. While it has the hallmarks of a social networking site (Likes, Repins and Followers galore), it does boast of a faster pick up in subscribers than its counterparts. More importantly, it drives traffic to sites that bank on visuals to sell its products and its services. Rather than spend time coaxing or coercing people to drop by their site, all the site owners need to do is focus their time and effort into producing highly appealing images that will encourage people to pin the pictures to their boards.

After that, all they to do was wait while the images make their way from one board to the next, penetrating the circles of networks, riding on the most effective marketing channel there is: common interest.

Birds of a feather flock together speaks true of the people who make up the bulk of Pinterest users. If your business caters to moms and teachers, then Pinterest is a dream come true for you. They are already there, all you need to do is to make sure your product images get pinned and shared into their networks. The site also works great for doting parents and/or pet owners, ladies with a passion for style and fashion trends, wannabe and seasoned chefs, mix-and-match hipsters and designers, and luxury item collectors.

not testosterone territory

To answer the question as to why most Pinners are women, it’s not that men aren’t inclined to spend time on Pinterest. It’s just that when they do, like in Manteresting, or Board of Man, the things that turn up pinned are photos of men with smouldering looks or beggar-ish beards, cars, tools, women showing too much skin etc i.e. they bear the marks of the rest of the Internet outside of Pinterest. Why limit yourself to just one social networking site? Besides, take that part out and you get the remainder yet defining pieces of the women-dominated site, Pinterest. Lucky for Pinterest, this takes up about 80% of the site and gives the brand value.

Will Pinterest Stay?

Fine, numbers can rise and fall but there is already a core group communing within the white picket fences of Pinterest, lock and loaded with an extremely large buying power. Modea has a much referred infographic with telling stats: half of all Pinterest users are parents; 68.2% of the total users are women; half of the users fall within the age group of 25 to 44; and a third of the users earn an annual household income of more than 100k.


(Image source: 60secondmarketer)

If I were a retailer and I need to establish an online presence to stay relevant to my potential buyers, or depend on viral marketing to put my product in the market, Pinterest would be my best bet.

Conclusion

It’s a treasure trove for fashion, baking recipes, gardening tips, cosmetics, holiday gifts, endearing snapshots of children, curtain designs and homemade crafts etc – if there is a reason for mothers to join a social networking site, this would be it. I believe we are entering a period when people are tired of being in that weird part of Youtube and finding reality shows that depict the terrible side of life. Having a place that is inspirational, beautiful, fun, and full of potential is a viable alternative many look forward to. Legality issues aside (something every rising social media giant has to deal with sooner or later), if Pinterest can provide that, then by all means, let it flourish and grow.

Author:

Singyin is Hongkiat.com's staff editor: writer first, tech fan second. She's in a love-hate relationship with Tech. Until she has time to get on Twitter, you can find her on Facebook.

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