Pinterest carves out visual niche in social networking world
Ever wonder what Michelle Obama likes to cook? Thanks to social-networking website Pinterest, you can prepare salmon just like the first lady. Obama, one of millions of Pinterest users, shares recipes and candid photos on the site.
Using the bulletin-board metaphor, Pinterest allows users to share images they find inspiring by “pinning” them to their profile page. Users can manage their pins by creating themes. They can then “re-pin” content pinned by others.
Compared with social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest stands out because an image or a video is needed to create a pin, rather than just text. Pinterest bills itself as a place to “organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web”. The About page goes on to say it’s a way for people to “plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes”.
However, Lindsey Pinto of OpenMedia.ca says Pinterest is more than that.
“We want to reach people in as many different ways as possible,” Pinto says. “Pinterest gives us a platform to share images that are really powerful.”
Pinto’s Vancouver-based organization advocates for open and affordable Internet access. Through its Pinterest page, OpenMedia.ca has found another outlet for sharing infographics and videos, and linking to other groups.
“In the same way that Twitter forces you to condense an idea into 140 characters, Pinterest forces you to condense an idea into an image or into a series of images,” Pinto explains in a phone interview with the Georgia Straight.
OpenMedia.ca has been on Pinterest for several months, and Pinto is confident her group will benefit from the site’s growing share of the social-media market. “There is a culture around Pinterest, just like there is a culture around Reddit, that we would love to tap into and that we would love to gain a supporter base from,” she says.
Tris Hussey of Vancouver-based social-media agency Socialized says Pinterest has managed to carve out a niche in the already-crowded social-media landscape because of its visual nature.
“We don’t need another thing like Twitter.…It’s hard to get people’s attention in a saturated world,” says Hussey, whose job title is chief geek. “Facebook and Twitter are two giant forces, and the new networks that survive, like Pinterest, have to dovetail into those so it seems seamless.
“When I pin something, it goes right on my Facebook, so people who I know that don’t go to Pinterest still see my pins,” he told the Straight by phone.
However, Pinterest has pricked a few photographers and artists, who say the site violates their copyright. With it being so easy to pin and re-pin, in some cases attribution gets lost in the excitement.
Pinterest was contacted by the Straight but did not respond to our request for an interview.
“Pinterest takes copyright very seriously and encourages people to give credit where credit is due,” insists Hussey, who believes the online community is helping to address the issue.
“People are expected to give attribution of where they found things. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be around and we wouldn’t be talking about Pinterest,” he said.
A study by marketing group Experian Hitwise indicates that Pinterest is the third most visited social-networking site, behind Facebook and Twitter. The study shows the site’s membership skewing female, with women comprising nearly two-thirds of the community.
Hussey says with that demographic readily sharing through this network, businesses should pay more attention to Pinterest as a way to connect to customers.
“It’s the Sears Wish Book of the Internet,” Hussey explains. “I remember as a kid back in the 1970s and 1980s, my brothers and sisters would sit down, flip through it, and mark down all the pages of things we wanted for Christmas. Pinterest is just like that.”
“Companies that have visual things—pictures of jewellery, housewares, clothing—there are so many different ways if you [companies] know who is on Pinterest, and what they are interested in, to leverage that.”
Vancouver web developers Kamil Szybalski and Colin Brown are trying to capture their own piece of the Pinterest market. In May, the duo launched Dudepins as a “manly” alternative to visual social networking.
“The content that you see there is anything from travel to photography to quotes. Anything men want to share,” Szybalski told the Straight by phone.
“We are fans of Pinterest. We do use Pinterest. I have a Pinterest account, but Dudepins is a place for a different type of content.”
Szybalski won’t give specific numbers but says that one month after launching, “thousands” of users had signed up. He says that each week, the Dudepins waiting list grows by almost 40 percent.
“By no means is it [visual social networking] a fad. It’s going to be an adoptive trend that businesses are going to be taking on,” Szybalski says.
Explains Hussey, “We like to share the things we think are cool. We like to show things that are pretty, interesting, and funny. What Pinterest did is let us do that easily.”
You can follow the Georgia Straight on Pinterest.