Pinterest: Living up to the hype?

So what’s all this hype about Pinterest? Is it just another new time-sucking social media platform that may become the next tool marketers use? Pinterest is an online bulletin board that allows users to organize their favorite images from around the Web and “pin” it to your own board. It’s an easy way for people to organize pictures and inspirations of crafts, recipes, dream kitchens, wedding ideas, and keep track of images in categories. Founded in 2008, Pinterest has been around for about two years but it wasn’t until this past year when Pinterest began allowing “invited-only” account holders to use the platform that the usage practically exploded. With 80% of the users on Pinterest consisting of women, it’s a surprise to know that the founder is actually a man.
Pinterest was created by Ben Silbermann, a Yale University graduate from Iowa who wanted to create a forum where people could create their own set of virtual display boards, “pin” photos of things that inspire them and share it with friends or followers. He launched the site in 2010, opened its beta and led a steady crawl of popularity to its current record of having 7 million visitors. Pinterest was termed the “hottest website” of 2012 and generating more traffic to third-party websites than Youtube, Reddit, Google+, and LinkedIn combined.
It’s actually no secret why the vast majority of users are female. Women like to window-shop. One of the oldest rules of sales and marketing is always sell to the woman. Women are much more likely to shop for anything that interests them. Then they can discuss it to friends or re-pin, creating the ultimate social experience in shopping. Conveniently, Pinterest is already wired to connect to the user’s Facebook and Twitter account, saving users the hassle of re-building their social network.
What does this mean for marketers? Marketers will be able to use Pinterest to drive traffic. One of the main reasons for Pinterest’s success its ability to display a company’s products on an easy, clean interface for users to use without any distracting words. High quality visuals are key for businesses that want to use Pinterest as a marketing tool. For example, brands such as Whole Food Markets have quickly caught on the buzz by putting visually appealing pinboards of desserts, vegetables to holiday dinners to attract customers to drive traffic back to the brand’s website.
Nevertheless, there are still some drawbacks to Pinterest in terms of its target audience and brands that aren’t visual. A majority of the categories of pinboards are quite girly and don’t provide a wide variety of topics men and women can both ‘pin’ about. Will Pinterest just be an endless clutter of materialism and virtual hoarding?
-Claudia Teng
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