Gauging interest in Pinterest!

As a teen my mom gave me one wall to stick up those torn out pages from teen mags like Tiger Beat, pin up my “I love George” button, and build my wall of aspiration. Fast forward a few decades and meet Pinterest—a collective wall where people share photos of whatever gets them through the day.

The basic idea is that you have a photo or video you like and you share it by pinning it on your pinboard. You organize our board based on some topic, places to go, food love, personal style, etc. You can share your pinboard with others and repin other photos from people that you follow. All of this ends up looking a bit like a glossy magazine layout on your screen.

Since the interest in Pinterest is skyrocketing, I sent out some mail to about 2,000 friends asking them to tell me about their Pinterest interest.

Here are the major findings:

Pinterest is for girls: As Don Willmott, a tech writer, commented, “it seems to be exponentially more attractive to women than men.” Adding some cred to Don’s hunch is this recent study from BlogHer. When asked whether they trusted different social media sources, 81 percent of women representing the general U.S. population said they trusted blogs and Pinterest, while 67 percent said they trusted Facebook and 73 percent said they trusted Twitter. Maybe because it’s because Pinterest hasn’t yet been infested by the marketing world? The irony of the girl thing is that the site was started by 3 guys. (OK, one had a stamp and coin collection so he comes by his Pinterest legitimately).

Pinterest is for the visually inclined: With 11 million unique visitors a month (according to recent numbers from comScore), Pinterest got its big push, not from the tech community, but the design community. That explains a lot. Fashion, décor, landscaping—it’s a scrapbook of lusciousness. Judy Bott, a long time tech consultant attributes her “visual inclination” to her love of Pinterest.

Virtual Collections are Tidy: Haircuts to show my haircutter, outfits to remember to try on, weekend craft instructions, no more tear sheets and messy paper. Camilla Webster, author of The Seven Pearls of Financial Freedom, calls it “the bomb for designers”. Liora Bram, a PR agent thanks Pinterest for keeping her organized about storing recipes and design ideas. She’ll use her iPhone while shopping to check Pinterest see if the chair she’s looking at is like the one she pinned. Beth Segal, a designer, says is her visual inspiration. It helps limit the chaos of pages torn from visual magazines floating around the apartment.

Casual Browsing: Most everyone admitted their Pinterest was, at this point, a casual browse for eye-catching stuff. Does it have the potential to become more? At Forbes, contributor Erica Swallow warned companies against “haphazardly joining Pinterest” without a smart, well-considered strategy. Namely, “posting visually stimulating, marketing-free content” intended for the site’s key demographic of “mature female consumers.” And Pat Meir Johnson pointed me towards http://www.hubspot.com/how-to-use-pinterest-for-business/download/ an ebook to help use Pinterest in your business. (Though she worries about affiliate marketing.)

  • Social Research: Search on the hashtag #pinterest and 90% of what you get are people asking each other what they’re using it for and how they like it. The other 10% are starting to lean heavily to the “look at my pinterest” – sometimes with a purchase in mind. Its’ pretty clear that Pinterest is at the “throw it against the wall” phase and its users are searching for the ROI on their time and investment.
  • Is it legal? Today I read about a lawyer who took down her pinboards after reading the fine print. While people are supposed to attribute where the photos they post come from, it’s happening pretty fast and furious out there. The fine print on the user agreement basically says that the user is responsible for their pins; Pinterest is just the board. Trouble? Could be. Here’s the fine print: “YOU ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT, TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, THE ENTIRE RISK ARISING OUT OF YOUR ACCESS TO AND USE OF THE SITE, APPLICATION, SERVICES AND SITE CONTENT REMAINS WITH YOU.”
  • What will it be when it grows up? According to Creative Beans, Pinterest today has over 3.5 million users and it’s growing faster than either Facebook and Twitter did. People are sharing on Pinterest more than anything else, with over 80% of pins being ‘repins’ rather than new content. And Pinterest has grown 148% since the first of the year.

It could look like many things.

Mary Couzins, a toy expert has both personal and business pin boards and is fascinated that her Toy and Game Inventor board has so many followers. It could look like eBay—with all sorts of things for sale. It could look like Itzy for crafters and artisans. It could be a vacation market, a wedding planner, a tour guide service—no shortage of ways to monetize what’s there. It’s doubtful it’ll turn into a music sharing network or book buying site. There are already plenty of those. And while politicians and sites like ProPublica are trying to get Pinterest into the Election 2012 world, it’s doubtful that will happen, too.

For me, Pinterest is one my slice of my social media pie that will need attention. So far, I’ve got a walking tour of dead people in Paris, a few books I like, and a bunch of photos from my company’s events. Much of that work was redundant – already on Google+ , Facebook and our company websites. How’s a girl supposed to manage? We’ll just have to, I guess.

The best line I saw about Pinterest scrolled by so quickly on Twitter that I can’t attribute it: Pinterest is to women as masturbation is to guys. And we can’t understand why the opposite sex spends so much time doing it, either.

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