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What is Pinterest, and How Does it Work?

Jan 20, 2014, 02:32 AM | Published under Search Engine Optimization by Andy Meng

I use Facebook a lot to stay in touch with friends and relatives. I'm perfectly content to share photos, status updates, check-ins, etc on FaceBook, but my lady friends and relatives kept jumping onto Pinterest to share their likes and interests. Not only do they pop in and out to share things, but they spend LOTS of time "pinning" and viewing "boards". I kept feeling left out. So I created a Pinterest account to see what all the hoopla was about.  Here are some of my thoughts and observations about Pinterest and how it might be used as a social media marketing tool.

So - what is Pinterest and how does it work? Pinterest is a social network that allows users to visually share, and discover new interests by posting (known as 'pinning' on 6 Simple Steps to Setting up your Pintrest AccountPinterest) images or videos to their own or others' boards (i.e. a collection of 'pins,' usually with a common theme) and browsing what other users have pinned. Using a visual orientation, the social network is very much focused on the concept of a person's lifestyle, allowing you to share your tastes and interests with others and discovering those of likeminded people. The social network's goal is to "connect everyone in the world through the 'things' they find interesting." Users can either upload images from their computer or pin things they find on the web using the Pinterest bookmarklet.

As with most other social networks, users can perform standard social networking functions such as following the boards of their friends, liking and commenting on other users' pins, re-pinning content to their own boards, sharing others' pins on Facebook and Twitter or via email, and even embedding individual pins on their website or blog.

Pinterest saw incredible growth in 2013 - for the first time ever, Pinterest surpassed email as a sharing medium, and even outpaced Facebook. According to the study, that’s all thanks to the ladies, especially in the Midwest,  because 80% of Pinterest users are women.  I'm not quite sure why - as far as I can tell, men like looking at photos as much as ladies, but I suspect it has to do with the fact that in the beginning Pinterest seemed to have been started with interests in the home arts like cooking, decorating, fashion, gardening, and other topics of interest to women. But, to my pleasant surprise, I just checked out Pinterest and there are boards for some of my decidedly, male-oriented interests like flyfishing, hunting and cigars, so I wouldn't be surprised to see the statistics on male usage for Pinterest climbing.

Interestingly, Pinterest is now the fastest-growing platform for online content sharing, according to a new report from online content distribution service ShareThis. The report analyzed the millions of monthly shares made through ShareThis in the third quarter of 2013 across more than 120 social media channels and two million websites and discovered that content sharing on Pinterest jumped 19.2% in the latest quarter of 2013, and LinkedIn sharing grew 15.1%. Facebook saw content sharing rise 14.7%, while sharing on Twitter fell 7.6%. (see infographic below).

The new data offers a reminder that businesses should look beyond Facebook and Twitter when managing their social media outreach.  Says ShareThis CEO Kurt Abrahamson in a release: "The more advertisers understand how consumers are using all social channels — beyond Facebook and Twitter — the more effectively they can use social media to augment and improve campaigns,".

Small businesses can capitalize on the Pinterest surge to market their products and grow their consumer base. Pinterest, a highly visual medium, gives businesses a chance to engage consumers with compelling images and colorful infographics that promote deals and new products. Pinning pictures of employees could also help customers identify with the people who work at the company, putting a face to a name. Small business owners can also help facilitate conversations about their brands online by adding "share" buttons to their websites. These digital icons allow site visitors to easily click and share a piece of content through a specific Pinterest board.

All said, Pinterest like other social media channels, can help create brand awareness and possibly facilitate website leads, but we still believe that, for most businesses, search engines can provide better ROI and direct conversion of visitors into customers. Let's have the conversation though - contact us to discuss how we might be able to help your business with a solid marketing plan based on the marketing channels best suited to your business.Stay connected through our blog for information on Digital Marketing, SEO, Web Design, and more! 

Pinterest Market Share

Drop by the Infront Webworks Pintrest and other social media pages.

About the Author

Andy co-founded Data Made Accessible, the predecessor to Infront Webworks, in 1994. DMA became Infront Webworks in 1999 and Andy presided over the business as his company grew for nearly two decades to become the premier online agency in Colorado Springs. Andy and Joan Meng sold Infront to Matt Palis in April 2011, and Andy remains as the “Director of Business Development” for Infront.

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