The big but unheralded news in social networks this past week was the fact that Pinterest went public − not an IPO, but the hitherto ‘by invitation only’ site is now available to anyone who wants to establish an account. Facebook started that way lo those six or seven years ago. How has Pinterest fared? Pretty darn well: the site reached 10 million unique viewers in a month faster than any standalone website or service ever has. And that was before the doors were opened to the general public!
Which is not not to say all is good for the platform, which offers fabulously easy sharing of images on pin boards meant to be organized by topics.
One issue that has intrigued and/or dogged watchers of all things Pinterest is that its audience is so strikingly female. Mary Elizabeth Williams of Salon.com offers a useful comparative analysis:
Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Instagram, YouTube and MySpace all managed to evolve by hinging their successes on their anybody-can-join-the-party appeals. Sure, they’ve always attracted a variety of gender-specific subcultures…. But those communities grew up as their own neighborhoods within the larger entity, rather than the destinations themselves. The results have been a pretty equitable gender split among users — evidenced by the fact, for example, that women account for roughly 57 percent of Facebook and 59 percent of Twitter users. In contrast, Pinterest’s U.S. demographics shake out very differently — hovering between an impressive 68.2 percent and an overwhelming .
She suggests some reasons Pinterest might be especially appealing to women, such as the fact that it is so visual (you can’t add to your pin board unless the site you want to pin has images), that its early adopters tended to be in the design and fashion industries (see previous point), that even its logo is more ‘feminine’ than the.
Mary is hardly arguing that Pinterest ought to be for women. And others have wanted to stress the oecumenical opportunities any social-media site offers. Mel Coulson of the Ottowa Citizen wants us to focus on eyeballs, not genders (But then again, on their Pinterest page…):
So perhaps Men are from Google+ and Women are from Pinterest … and we can talk about male/female ratios on Facebook, Twitter, etc., etc. But who cares? I don’t.
I’m going to be honest, I just want the eyeballs on our site. I don’t care if it’s men or women on various social platforms, I just want to know what kinds of posts are attractive on each.
Sure, most any one (from dress designer to shoe maven to construction firm to nonprofit) wants any and all to see their good work and share their production. But your organization would be wise not to ignore the demographic fact and to monitor how that fact might change over the coming months now that Pinterest is available to the public. One possible change is the probability that some will join who are unfamiliar with the etiquette of social media, especially one as wonderfully visual as Pinterest is. Next Monday we’ll look at some of the dos and don’ts of using Pinterest. If you have come across a particular example of what (not?) to do on a pin board, please share it with us in the comment below and we’ll include it in Monday’s story!