Pinterest – Another social media miracle?

Over the last couple of months Pintrest seem to have become talk of the town in social media land and has been hailed as the latest great social media success. Pinterest is a virtual pinboard that lets you organise and share are all the things that you are interested in.

A simple example of how Pinterest works is the picture of a model wearing some summery looking dress that a user saw on a fashion site and pinned to the “i’d wear that” board on Pinterest. Comments by other users on this ‘pin’ vary from “such a cute dress” to “It looks like the brand is Dahlia. If I find it, I will post a link.”

I came across this infographic which is meant to give marketeers and business a whole load of compelling reasons as to why Pinterest should be part of their social media strategy. I know I’m not a marketeer but I wasn’t convinced by the majority of stats included in this infographic. However, two metrics in there did intrigue me. Firstly, the enormous increase in unique visitors – nearly 3,000% – since Pinterest launch in May 2011 and, secondly, Pinterest’s steady increase in referral traffic percentages, especially compared to its much more established peers like LinkedIn and YouTube.

This is what I make of Pinterest:

  1. It’s all about sharing – When I first spotted a pinned image of very expensive looking velocity wood grain bike wheels, I wondered who on earth would be interested in this. I quickly learned that a decent number of people on Pinterest are interested; this image of bike wheels got 54 repins and 32 likes.
  2. Don’t forget about the discovery element though – The bike wheels were pinned on a board by a Pinterest user who is clearly passionate about bicycles, evidenced by the 81 pinned images all to do with bikes (varying from bike saddles to helmets). The board appeals to a significant target audience,  given the nearly 200,000 followers of this particular board.
  3. It’s not about people, it’s about things – Compared to Facebook, THE benchmark of social media success, Pinterest is a lot less about sharing experiences with your friends but much more about sharing and discovering ‘things’ with or through people who have similar interest in common. Pinterest is clearly doing really well in allowing users to build interest or communities around objects of their liking.
  4. A welcome tool for consumer brands? It feels like a bit of a deja-vu when you see sites like Mashable and ReadWriteWeb talking about “how businesses are using Pinterest’ or ‘5 ways to use Pinterest to boost your consumer engagement.” Suggestions like creating brand contests or using Pinterest to sound out customers on products; we have seen and heard it all before. I feel that this will eventually dilute the appeal of Pinterest to users who come to it because they are genuinely interested in something specific and wish to discover more or to share this passion and not be bombarded by all kinds of nifty marketing campaigns instead.
  5. Will Pinterest continue to grow at such an incredible pace? The question arises how scalable Pinterest is; so far its growth has been very rapid, but will continue to grow at the same pace? A recent ComScore study showed that 80% of Pinterest activity is by women. I guess the question with these kinds of early social media successes is whether it will reach ‘critical mass’, i.e. a significant number of users and degree of regular user activity to make it a viable business success like Facebook or LinkedIn. In other words: will the novelty soon wear off?
Main learning point: apart from the seemingly phenomenal early success, it is interesting to see that Pinterest is already showing showing some of the symptoms that have been associated with other social media wonders. Warning signs like consumer brands jumping the bandwagon need to be taken seriously, just as much as Pinterest making sure that it continues to grow at a sustainable pace without alienating its early adopters and ‘pin enthusiasts.’ Despite these things to be aware of, I feel that Pinterest has got the right ingredients to become a lasting social media success.

Related links for further learning:

3 responses to “Pinterest – Another social media miracle?”

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