100: The Pinterest Effect
In short, it’s a social media environment that pulls inspiration from the bulletin board at your local coffee shop or the pin board in your college dorm room. It’s a live stream of images—called “pins”— pulled from other websites and categorized topically both by the website administrators and again separately by its users. Each image comes with three optional interactions: like, comment, and re-pin (to your board of pins).
Whereas other social media are based on users generating their own content, Pinterest‘s ease of use and popularity is mostly because its users don’t create the original content. In fact, approximately 80% of posts are re-pins.† To avoid copyright violation, the pictures are almost all linked back to their originating sites—be they travel, lifestyle, or entertainment websites.
Women typically account for a higher percentage of users than men do on social media*, and they account for anywhere from 68% to 90% of the activity on Pinterest—depending on where you get your stats. Most posts are often associated with fashion, decor, cooking, crafts, and inventive solutions for household organization.
Unlike Facebook, it’s not intended for conversations. Pinterest has grown so much and so quickly that Friendsheet.com, a site that makes your Facebook stream look like Pinterest, has garnered the favor of Mark Zuckerburg††—and might someday be a native Facebook option. Unlike Twitter, it’s not intended to keep users updated on current events. Unlike YouTube, it’s exclusive. You can curate your own pin boards and list of followers only if you are invited by someone who is already a Pinterest member. Unlike Google+, it’s growing like a weed both in number of users and the amount of time those users spend on the site (more than four times longer than Twitter users per month and almost 30 times as long as Google+ users average per month***)—exponentially expanding to over a million average daily visitors.*
So, why do we need yet another social media site? And what does Pinterest have that we can’t get anywhere else?
Facebook has images. Twitter is succinct and sortable, too. Pinterest, though, simplifies everything to one thing: pictures. No profiles to manage for its content creators and little, if any, reading required by its consumers. It lets our short attention spans be satiated quickly—or drawn into the bowels of online daydreaming.
If Pinterest were running for president, it’s campaign supervisor would be explaining its surge in the polls emphatically: “It’s the photos, stupid!”
Facebook, the major social media player with more average minutes of use per month than Pinterest understands our culture’s draw to images, as it sees 70% of its users’ activity centers around its photos.** But that pales to the photo-centricity of Pinterest, which by default, has pictures at just under 100% of activity.
There’s a lesson there for every marketer. What makes content quickly absorbable is compelling imagery, imagery which Pinterest users tend to pull from predominantly-commercial websites. Words—even headlines—are secondary. As a culture, we don’t’ care about explanations and slogans, if we aren’t drawn to them through the picture(s) they accompany. As a marketer who helps other marketers, I can tell you that if the design of our marketing media centers around large, singular imagery—and those images are professionally staged and captured—our advertising will be far more effective than the current average of small business advertising media. That goes for small business at large and the auction industry, which I serve, in particular.
Message is important. And honing your message is crucial. But Andre Aggassi was right: image is everything. And, last time I checked, advertising is part of everything. If the first thing your media recipients and viewers sees is text—no matter how large or bold or colorful—chances are good that you’re doing advertising wrong. If they see a solid background with a collage of pictures, we are making them work harder (than if we had used one big, full-bleed image) and, in many cases, watering down the primary draw. Look at advertising for Apple, Nike, Ford, TNT, and BOSE. They get it. So should we.
If potential buyers don’t like what they see in the primary image, what makes any retailer, wholesaler, or auctioneer think potential buyers would care what other pictures we have or what the advertisement has to say?
The Bible says we humans were created in God’s image (one of the ways homo sapiens were differentiated from the rest of creation). As believers of The Way, we are to be pictures of Jesus in our culture. While we are wrapped in individual personalities and exclusive physical containers, the essence from the new core of our souls should shine through those translucent shells.
In contrast, the entropy and temptation for us all is to talk religious words, add Jesus stickers or fabric on the outside, and gather with those who codify and police exterior criteria the way we do. That’s lazy and destructive. Jesus didn’t come so that we could shine through the filter of him—or worse: the filters of religion, church, and spirituality. He came to give us life, to change our core, to change the lightbulb—not the lamp shade—in the fixture. He wants his truth and love and other attributes to radiate from us.
If today were a snapshot of who you are, and you handed that snapshot to a stranger, what would they see? If you had to hand it to Jesus as a photo illustration of him, what would you have changed about your day before taking that picture?
†” Why Is Pinterest So Addictive?” by Stephanie Buck, Mashable.com. March 24, 2012.
†† “Friendsheet: The Zuck-Approved Pinterest-Style Facebook Photo Browser” by Josh Constine, Techcrunch.com.
* “A Very (P)interesting [infographic]” by Tim, DailyInfographic.com. March 9, 2012.
** “In Age of Pinterest, Instagram, Marketers Need An Image Strategy” by Chas Edwards, Adage.com. March 15, 2012.
*** “The Mounting Minuses at Google+” by Amir Efrati, Wall Street Journal. February 28, 2012.