What's Behind The Amazing Appeal of Pinterest?

There’s a new social media kid on the block — and she’s already the most popular kid in school. What’s her name? Let’s just say she’s gotten a lot of Pinterest lately.

The site launched only two years ago but has enjoyed astronomical growth since — some 866% between September 2011 and February 2012, with more than 16 million unique visitors in February alone. Pinterest’s 10 million users spend an average of 98 minutes a month on the site. So the new kid already has some major social standing.

This might lead you to an obvious question: Since when are bulletin boards social creatures? The answer is since Pinterest. Its sleek layout and clean organization provide an easy, fast and fun user experience. Images take center stage, creating visually compelling panels. It’s perfect for collaborating, since users with similar interests can share boards and collect pins together. And while images have short descriptors, they’re not the focal point — great for people who are fatigued with Facebook updates and Tweets.



Pinterest differs from its social-media cousins in another key way: Pinners choose which content to follow, not which users to follow. If you follow someone’s themed board (wedding inspiration, for example), then you only get that person’s wedding-related content and nothing about the books they’re reading or the recipes they’re trying. Pinterest is for people who want to curate their own user experience.

What else do we know about Pinterest users? Well, a whopping 80% of them are female and almost half are Gen Y (ages 18 to 34). That may be because Pinterest speaks to Gen Y behaviors of discovery, curation and collaboration. Gen Yers seek tools and environments that help them work better and be more effective in reaching goals. Pinterest allows them to do all that, but also to visualize and then present their aspirational self — what they want to do and become. And what’s more Pinteresting than that?

One thing is: That big-name brands are paying big-time attention to Pinterest’s big user base. Pinterest lends itself especially well to design-focused brands such as magazines, fashion labels and lifestyle retailers. One such brand is Sephora. Sephora builds a trust relationship with its consumers by allowing pinners to pin images from its own boards as well as those of its employees. This injects a personal touch into the consumer/brand interaction. Another Pinterest innovator is Whole Foods, one of the first to venture onto Pinterest. Visitors to the Whole Foods boards won't just find beautiful strawberries and the latest in organic haircare — they’ll also learn about the company’s many partnerships and community initiatives. A testament to Pinterest's unique ability to create emotional connections with customers. 

Marketers are still exploring how to further this emotional connection in the context of marketing campaigns. Brooks’ “Pin Your Run Happy” campaign did this by encouraging users to create their own “Run Happy” boards filled with images of what inspires them to run in their Brooks shoes. Fashion brand Calypso St. Barth also leveraged Pinterest’s strong female Gen Y demographic by collaborating with fashion blogger and million-follower Pinterest member Christine Martinez, who flew to St Barth to “live pin” one of their island photo shoots.

So will “live pinning” someday replace live Tweeting? Nobody can say for sure, but we do know that consumers are still exploring ways to make Pinterest a daily part of their lives. As marketers, that definitely piques our Pinterest.

3 comments about "What's Behind The Amazing Appeal of Pinterest? ".
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  1. Kate Lafrance from Hartford Woman Online Magazine, May 18, 2012 at 5:30 p.m.

    LOVE Pinterest!

  2. Matthew Graczyk from iCrumz Inc., May 19, 2012 at 1:56 a.m.

    Pinterest is great for social bookmarking, but what about personal bookmarking - the bookmarks for the sites you visit over and over? My company operates, and we believe it is exactly what the world needs now - a real personal productivity booster. It's a free cloud-based Internet bookmarking service. With all your bookmarks are always available using any browser from any computer, mobile phone or tablet. The iCrumz interface allows you to have 100 or more bookmarks on a single webpage without being cluttered. iCrumz also offers an import function, so you can import and consolidate all your bookmarks from all your browsers on all your devices. Check out our short (1 minute) intro video: Contact me if you have any questions. Matthew[at]iCrumz[dot]com.

  3. Stephanie Padgett from True Media, May 21, 2012 at 9:16 a.m.

    For millennials, Pintrest is the ultimate form of self-expression. It extends off-line behavior seen on dorm room doors and walls for years. Here are some tips, directly from Gen Y, that appeal to this group's wandering spirit!

    Stephanie Padgett,
    YAYA Connection (
    Missouri School of Journalism

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