Pinterest… Not Just for Girls Anymore

I joke, but this is my reaction to what I hear most often. If you haven’t heard, Pinterest is the newest kid on the social block. With its unique interface that employs the best of image and link sharing, the site has found a quickly multiplying following. Haven’t heard of it? Take notice. Just last month, this site drove more referral traffic to sites than did LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.

Founded in March 2010, Pinterest made its name amongst a mostly female audience sharing ideas on weddings, recipes, fashion, and family. And though these things are still the meat of the site, Pinterest has branched to a much larger audience. Though the site has only roughly ten-and-a-half million registered users, unique visitor traffic more than quadrupled in the final months of 2011. And in January 2012, Pinterest became the fastest site ever to top 10 million unique visitors per month.

At this time, Pinterest is still an “invitation-only” site. You will need to request access or be invited by someone who is already on. After you set up an account, you choose the boards that you want to “pin” things to. Some default boards already exist, like “Places I want to go” and “Products I like,” and, based on your profile choices, Pinterest will suggest people for you to follow. After that, you are off.

To share pins, navigate the Pinterest site by search or by choosing categories you find interesting. You find pictures or links you like and pin them to the board of your choice. Those who follow you will see your re-pins, and anyone can comment on them. You can follow those people who tend to pin the kinds of things you are interested in. If you want to create pins for sites/pages you find (what else?) pinteresting , just add the “Pin It” button to your browser and begin adding content to the site at will.

Pinterest has been called the next social commerce game-changer. And though I am not apt to give things names before their time, I will say that this is a great concept, taking the best of blogs and image-sharing sites and morphing them with a usable and addictive interface. Not only more men (including myself) but even companies are getting in on the game, discovering that board-posting can generate traffic to their Websites and widen their audience sets. Nordstrom and Mashable have pages on Pinterest… so why not component distributors like my own firm? Why not, indeed:

Time will only tell of course, what future the site has or if it will simply be purchased by another company and killed (I just saw that Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg is already doing some personal research). But if “right now” is of interest to you, then Pinterest is the “right now” of all things social.

Have questions? Want to get started and need an invitation? Leave a comment, and let’s get the conversation started.

20 comments on “Pinterest… Not Just for Girls Anymore

  1. Ariella
    February 16, 2012

     There have been numerous articles on the gender divide associated with Pinterests. Among them is this one with the title “Man are from Google+, Women are from Pinterest.  What's interesting is that the much vaunted women's preference is not universal, but an American phenomenon “ estimates that 83% of Pinterest's users are female. (Side note: The story is very different in the U.K., where the majority of the site's 200,000 users are men.)”

  2. alawson
    February 16, 2012

    @Ariella — on second thought, yes, 'women' might have been the better term. I love the note about the majority overseas being men. I find that the use of the site depends on what you find interesting. The technology section is very robust.  Thanks for the comment.

  3. Barbara Jorgensen
    February 16, 2012

    Ariella: Thanks for the added info–it makes things a lot more interesting. Of course age, gender, geography and factors we can't even measure yet contribute to the social media trend. It also makes sense that clusters will form around interest groups, and maybe US Pinterest started out with recipes and UK Pinterest with engine repair (or whatever. I defer to the beer-guzzling, muscle-car buying denizens of blogs past to decide.) As long as social media remains free for users, I'm content for sites to proliferate. As soon as subcription fees are required, we'll see how fast the market shakes out.

  4. Susan Fourtané
    February 19, 2012


    I recently read that 98% of Pinterest's users are female. There are issues with copyright in Pinterest, and it's not good for marketing as far as I know. Do you believe it will have some use for business at some point? To me it seems to be like a place to kill hours and hours collecting pictures. 


  5. alawson
    February 19, 2012

    @Susan — Thanks for the comment. I would say that, like most new sites, it would depend on your business model. It sounds like you have evaluated the site already which is good. However, groups like Neiman Marcus and Mashable disagree in the Marketing potential of the site. Neiman even uses it as a second eCommerce channel.  Women have been the driving force behind other sites' growth before, namely Facebook, just not to such an extent. I agree there are some questions around copyright that Pinterest needs to address. There are other sharing sites that share these issues as well.

    I like the idea of the visual sharing model, and even if Pinterest doesn't do it just right, I hope someone does. We gravitate to imagery in Marketing, and I feel this is an underutilized method for educating and selling.

  6. Susan Fourtané
    February 20, 2012

    Hi, Andy.

    There is still an ongoing discussion with the pros and cons of using Pinterest for marketing. The main issue is copyright. The site doesn't say too much about it. It only says how to report copyright infrigement: 

    Yes, of course I have been evaluating the site to see what potential uses it can have in different areas, something more useful than just collecting pictures as a hobby. I haven't done a deep evaluation or arrived to useful conclusions yet, though. 

    How do you connect Pinterest to the electronics industry and manufacturing? 


  7. alawson
    February 20, 2012

    Hi Susan.

    I have read the copyright statement, as well as articles on the subject of how Pinterest violates online copyright law. It sounds like the site's proprietors have stated that the responsibility of making sure content is ok to share is on the part of the user. This is not uncommon. I can name several other sites with similar statements, Tumblr and Weheartit come to mind first. But this issue is not unique to Pinterest. Pictures shared on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, etc. all fall within this restriction. Pinterest is getting the attention because it is the fastest moving right now. Many of those objecting are photographers and artists who earn license fees for their work. This is actually only a small part of the images shared on the site. Most content shared on Pinterest is from sites, companies, and users who are exstatic for the traffic this site is generating. This is something to remember as the media gets caught up in the swell of talk around this copyright issue.

    As for the connection to our industry, time will definitely tell. I see benefits in education around products with video, diagrams, and application images that lead to how-tos or blog posts around the best products for the job. This content exists, and Pintrest can be one more wa to reach audiences that we may not have had access to before.

    I am a believer in early evaluation through light adoption. I like to know the ins and outs of a possibility so that, if and when the time comes, I can act with speed and decision. That approach began with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and continues today with Google+ and Pinterest. If we took all of these initially at face value regarding their importance to what we do, we would have missed out on some great avenues of online marketing. My job is to evaluate and experiment early. A  byproduct of that is the education I can bring both to my teams, family, friends, and the readers of my articles.

  8. arenasolutions
    February 21, 2012

    If I had a product with really really cool images, or something I could create images around, I would definitely use Pinterest. I still think it's finding its niche, but, I am sure there will be a time and a place for marketers to jump onboard.

  9. alawson
    February 21, 2012

    @arenasolutions – Thanks for the comment. As with most sites like this that grow in usage and audience, both the marketers and the advertisers are bound to come. And you hit on something solid there–image-sharing is most beneficial if your product is attractive, recognizable, and exciting. It is a challenge when these three things are not attributes of your product set. But, we only ever find a new way by trying new things, so we can't discount the possibilities. Thanks again!

  10. Barbara Jorgensen
    February 21, 2012

    I've been reading the dialog about social media sites and I can't help but see a parallel with the dotcom boom/bust cycle. Like social media, dotcoms began by giving something away for nothing. (Users didn't pay, advertisers did.) As soon as the market became saturated and companies were unable to monetize their sites, they started charging for content. The vast majority of dotcoms don't exist anymore.

    Social media sites are giving away something for nothing–users don't pay, advertisers do. And, like the dotcom boom, people are being told that if they don't get on the social media bandwagon soon, they are going to be left behind. (actually it's in all caps: YOU WILL BE LEFT BEHIND!!!! with lots of punctuation)

    When the dotcom boom started,  there was one leader–Amazon–that everybody else imitated. Now there's Facebook, which everybody is trying to imitate.

    Once Facebook goes public, it's only going to get worse.

    The only difference is, maybe investors learned their lesson 10 years ago and start-up funds aren't as easy to come by, so there won't be a social site springing up in every basement.

    Are there compelling differences? I'd like to hear your feedback.


  11. Mr. Roques
    February 22, 2012

    So how is it different from Tumblr? I see it as a way to share images (basically)… Tumblr adds the option to share much more than that.

    I know it doesn't need to be better, just have luck but maybe I'm missing something.

  12. itguyphil
    February 23, 2012

    I remember reading an article a few years ago that said women are better and quicker at picking trends that will 'stick'. So, technically, doesn't that mean that if a large group of women like a new technology or offering, it is a good idea to jump on the bandwagon early. I'm sure this isn't always the case. But if I remember correctly, in college, most people I heard about Facebook from were female, now look at it.

  13. alawson
    February 23, 2012

    @Barb – That's a nice assessment, Barb. In an earlier life, I was an investment professional and I lived through the tech boom and subsequent crash. It was a crazy experience. I see the similarities you see especially in the valuations of the networks. In the Dot Com era, the question was 'how do I value something so ethereal as a good concept?' In the Social era, we are answering for 'how do I value data?' In the end, the survival of the social networks depends on the answer to this question.  They must have a revenue model that works and data is what they have–data that enables them to serve up advertisement at a micro-segmented level. But where retirement was at stake before for investors, the thing I see at risk here is personal data. In either case, the similarity is that there is still the choice not to participate.

    Love to hear other's thoughts on this great correlation.
    Thanks for weighing in!

  14. alawson
    February 23, 2012

    @Mr. Roques — I loved Tumblr for this reason; for quick and easy photo and post sharing that becomes part of one's stream. I would say that what Pinterest does better is two-fold. The interface and tag searching is much more intuitive. The difference can be seen for non-logged-in users immediately when you go to and then compare that to Also, the images on pinterest are representative links to Website content whereas in Tumblr they are just shared images. It seems that sharing the image just for the image is only a secondary aim of Pinterest. Thanks for commenting.

  15. alawson
    February 23, 2012

    @Rich Krajewski – Ha Ha, Rich 🙂 I'm glad you commented though as it gives me the chane to say what I didn't earlier–I titled it that way because the site has a fun, young feel to it–one that helps you collect dreams and wishes that is reminiscent of a little girl's 'dream box'. But the truth is you could keep one of those at any age, which is what makes Pinterest so endearing.

  16. alawson
    February 23, 2012

    @pacharle – I have read similar statistics.  And yes, Facebook had a female majority user group for its first few major years. I believe the stat is closer now, but I wouldn't be surprised if women still lead the way on Facebook. I gravitate to a good concept, whether it be dominated by men or women. And I think this is a concept that, if refined, could go far. Looking forward to finding out. Thanks for your comment.

  17. itguyphil
    February 27, 2012

    No problem. I think that that user base flow is probably more effective. Much like clubs and social events, men follow where women go. The online dynamic is identical. If alot of women flock to a certain website where interaction is the crutch, you will slowly start to notice that men will soon follow suit.

  18. Mr. Roques
    February 29, 2012

    I agree, I like how Pinterest catches your attention with a pitcure and then you can follow it to the article. Tumblr lacks there.

    I went into the “food and drinks” category and saw a few things, then I saw a dessert and after a few clicks i was reading the recipe, etc.

  19. alawson
    March 7, 2012

    @Mr. Roques & @Pocharle — I laughed when I read your two posts. I was just telling someone the other day what I thought the great equalizers would be to bridge the gender gap on Pinterest. One of them was “Desserts” and the other was “Women are there”. Cheers!

  20. Mr. Roques
    June 22, 2012

    haha! Well, it'll soon become a dating site. 

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