Pinterest: Business or Pleasure?

Scanning through my weekly fix of Stylist en route to the office a few of weeks ago, my eye was automatically drawn to an article in the Online section. The article in question was entitled ‘is Pinterest the new social media power player?’ and laid out a reasoned argument as to why the newest social media fad on the block is here to stay.

The stats are impressive; the site has accrued more than 10m users since its launch in January 2011, making it the second fastest growing website. The concept is simple: users can create a number of individual boards, theme them however they prefer, and when they see something that they like online, they pin it.

An old fashioned kind of girl, I’m not ashamed to admit that I still snip out the bits I like from my monthly glossies and pin them onto an already over-crowded cork pin-board hung in the corner of my room. The reason: if I find an image or a headline captures my attention, it makes me think, or even if I just think that it looks nice, I want to keep reminding myself of it, kind of for inspiration. Cheesy? Probably. But I like doing it all the same. It’s nothing to be taken too seriously, just an accumulation of things I like.

The modern equivalent of my pin-board, Pinterest allows its users to build up a collaboration of images that, essentially, they like. Whilst Twitter allows a person to build up an identity through the medium of words, Pinterest allows it’s users to express themselves through imagery. But whilst Twitter is fast-becoming an essential tool for tech-savvy marketeers, Pinterest remains a hobby tool, with 85% of it’s activity belonging to females.

So how does Pinterest fare in the modern world of online interaction, and can it compete as a space for organisations to connect with their market?

Well, initial thoughts suggest that it doesn’t offer as fertile a ground for business as its more established counterparts, Twitter and Facebook. Firstly, anybody that wishes to join Pinterest must request an invite. Once invited, though users are free to pin whatever they like, self-promotion is discouraged and users are always reminded to credit the source of their pins, the idea being to give the brain behind the image – whether that be a multi-national corporation, the humble blogger or undiscovered creative – deserved recognition for their work. Coupled with the fact that Pinterest doesn’t share Twitter or Facebook’s immediacy, the site’s appeal for business use is somewhat limited. To build up a relationship with other Pinners requires a much higher investment in time and energy. Concerns have also arisen about Pinterest’s distinctly feminine vibe, potentially deterring male users; one male critic described the site as, ‘a crowd-sourced scrapbook for hairstyles and decorating ideas.’

Feminine vibe? What gives you that idea?

But just because Pinterest isn’t as immediately attractive in a marketing capacity, does that mean that it can’t be described as a ‘power player’? Well, one thing that Pinterest does do is credit the hard work and talents of individuals who might otherwise go undiscovered. It also allows individuals to express themselves within the online community via a more tactile and creative medium than a mere 180 characters, gently re-shaping the way that we interact with one other online. And could it be that because Pinterest is less immune to crude business strategy, it’s users are more willing to invest their time on there, or more likely to develop a higher level of trust in it as an online retreat? Time will tell, and although I’m not ready to give up my old cork pin-board yet, maybe it couldn’t hurt to give the contemporary equivalent a chance.

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