If there’s a single online startup that has everyone talking, that would be Pinterest. In the last five or six months, the newly-chic social network of the moment has exploded in popularity, and is even beginning to revolutionize web design. The visually-driven platform looks nothing like social networks we’ve seen to-date, and may be even more aesthetically-pleasing than Facebook’s Timeline design.
In essence, Pinterest breaks all the rules of previously successful social networks. It truly de-emphasizes chronology—it’s not about what you’re doing, what you’ve done, and when you did it. The emphasis is on the things you find interesting, and the images that capture their essence. Pinterest also shifts the focus away from “friends,” the platform upon which MySpace and Facebook achieved their successes. In this regard, it’s a little more like Twitter—allowing you to “follow” the things and people that interest you.
If you’ve never visited Pinterest, the premise is relatively simple. Users create virtual “pinboards,” and then adorn them with “pins”—an image, accompanied by a brief description, or statement. You can make your own pins, or repin those that you find interesting. You can create boards for every interest. (For instance, some of my boards are “People I Admire,” “Places I’d Like To Go,” “Just For Laughs,” “This I Believe,” and “Politics.”)
Pinterest isn’t just anomalous in its design. There’s another factor that distinguishes it from every other social network ever created. Almost invariably, a social network’s early adopters are teenagers—we saw it with MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. When a network really takes off, it’s the teens that were there first. Then the parents come along. And sometimes the grandparents even get accounts. That hasn’t been the case with Pinterest.
The most recent usage statistics are staggering. 49.5 percent of Pinterest users are between the ages of 25 and 44. Nearly 70 percent are female, and 28.1 percent live in households with an annual income exceeding $100,000. In other words, for no apparent reason, the early adopters have been middle-aged women. (In fact, Pinterest has a Facebook page and 97 percent of their “likes” are from females.)
And it’s perceptible. If you don’t carefully tailor your feed to suit your specific interests, it will be overrun with pins about shoes, brides, cats, kids and recipes. It’s unclear if (or how) this imbalance will correct itself as new users flock to the site. Even though the growth has been disproportionate, new pinners are flocking to the site in record numbers. In January of this year, the Pinterest saw 11,716,000 unique visitors; it averages 1.36 million visitors per day.
While the skewed demographic composition might make it feel like a bridal show or baby shower, it has been tremendously fertile ground for retailers. Consider, for a moment, the spending-power represented in the site’s base. According to the latest research, Pinterest is currently referring more internet traffic to other sites—most, presumably, are retail sites—than LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube combined. When a Pinterest user sees a product she likes, she can click through and buy it.
I’m honestly not trying to make Pinterest sound like a sewing circle—there’s much more to it than that. With a little effort, you can avoid pins about wedding cakes, Disney princesses, and crock pot recipes. On the other hand, if you’re into art, design, typography, photography or architecture, there’s plenty of that to go around.
It’ll be interesting to see where Pinterest stands six months from now. And it’ll be fascinating to see who’s using it.
You can visit my Pinterest profile here. Follow me!