Let’s Look at Pinterest

Pinterest logoThe newest flavor du jour in the social media buffet is Pinterest. It’s basically an online bulletin board where users “pin” images that interest them, both their own and those found on the Internet. Of course, it also has a social element in that it allows you to follow other users and their pin-boards. It’s social, it’s trendy, it’s by invite only, and it’s amassing users at a phenomenal speed.

Today, I’d like to share a quick roundup of info about Pinterest in order to present a comprehensive look at what it has to offer and where it seems to be going.

Let’s start off with an overview of the platform and how to use it. Megan at Sorta Crunchy has a nice overview of Pinterest and a terrific step-by-step set of instructions to get you started. Rather than duplicate her work, I advise checking out her post,Pinterest: A Beginner’s Guide.”

Dan Primack of CNN Money notes the startling growth of the West Coast upstarts:

The digital scrapbooking startup has all the right ingredients: Rapid user adoption (11 million unique visitors last month), big-name VC backers (Andreessen Horowitz, Bessemer, etc.) and no idea how it’s going to make money (if you scale it, revenue will come).

But the fervor is beginning to get a bit out of hand. Today Pinterest got a Wall Street Journal profile, complete with its own Pinterest page. Yesterday during a SecondMarket conference panel, social media analyst Lou Kerner suggested Pinterest is the sort of company that could help fill the volume void that will be left on the secondary markets once Facebook goes public.

There is always hype surrounding any new platform that seems to be taking off, it’s only natural, as investors look for the “next big thing.” Primack suggests the startup make noises about an IPO since there is nothing that garners more negative press and investigative reporting like the specter of becoming “legit.” In his opinion, taking themselves down a notch like that could be a good long-term growth strategy and a good way of saving themselves from buying into their own hype.

By the way, those 11 million unique visitors it got last month puts Pinterest in the ranks of the top 10 websites in the social media and forums category (data via Hitwise). Even more fascinating are the demographics of those 11 million. VentureBeat‘s Jennifer Van Grove reports:

The site is most popular with females and arts and crafts enthusiasts between the ages of 25 and 44, and its user base is anything but typical — at least for a social network. ‘Pinterest over-indexes on visits from the states in the Northwest and Southeast,’ said Heather Dougherty, research director at Hitwise. ‘This data indicates that Pinterest visitors have a different profile versus their counterparts visiting other social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube.’

A predominantly female network with a heavy craft bias and a distinct geographic element — now, that is interesting! I’ve been waiting to see more platforms develop that serve more distinct segments of our population for some time now. Pinterest may inadvertently be providing one of the first to hit on a truly large scale. Whether these demographic trends continue or change, it does present an interesting picture of this stage in the network’s evolution.

Brand- and business-oriented users are already wondering how Pinterest can be used strategically. Sarah E. Needleman and Pui-Wing Tam of The Wall Street Journal took a look at this in their recent coverage of the network and discovered that it already has. Take these two examples, one small business and one larger Internet-based concern:

Etsy.com, an online crafts marketplace with 50,600 Pinterest followers, is using Pinterest’s price display feature. That means that when Pinterest users ‘pin’ say, an Etsy chair on a board for their followers to see, the image of the chair will automatically include the chair’s title, and a banner showing the price.

It has also been a boon for some small businesses. ‘Our traffic converts to sales,’ said Amy Squires, co-founder of The Wedding Chicks LLC, which posted about $540,000 in revenue last year, up from $340,000 in 2010. The four-year-old online retailer of wedding-party gifts, which joined Pinterest last summer, said Pinterest now brings in more than double as many monthly visitors to its website than Facebook and Twitter.

They also note that — as it seems almost dismayingly standard for online startups these days — while Pinterst is great at funneling traffic to other sites, it has no discernible plans for generating its own revenue. (Van Grove does write about it substituting affiliate code into pinned links, but, while deceptive, I doubt it adds much revenue to the equation.)

Even so, it does seem to be becoming a prime driver of traffic. The energetic Chris Pirillo of LockerGnome fame has some noteworthy commentary on Pinterst and some interesting ideas on how to use it. Take a look:

Have you started using Pinterest yet? If so, what are your thoughts and opinions on it so far? We would love to know!

Image: Pinterest logo, used under Fair Use: Reporting.

About George Williams

George “Loki” Williams is the community and brand manager for award wining game company Savage Mojo, Ltd. and the owner of SocialGumbo, LLC, an online consultancy specializing in Web content and online communications. Loki has produced content for clients including the Open Society Institute, National Association of Broadcasters, Kobold Press, and Kaiser Permanente. His work has been seen or written about in The New York Times, The BBC, Air America, The Gambit Weekly, and NOLA.com, among others.

  

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