UNDERSTANDING THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND PINTEREST AND ITS MAIN USERS – WOMEN –
By Joel Greenberg
It’s late. Angele Taylor finally has some time to herself. The baby’s asleep, chores are done and her husband’s dozing. A new wife and mother, Ms. Taylor’s bedtime routine includes firing up the laptop and going on to Pinterest. “I use Pinterest to look for ideas to make things better in my life,” says Taylor. This night, she’s looking for ideas on decorating her baby’s room. Last night, it was recipes.
She explains, “Pinterest is a website where you can get different ideas about home, food, clothes, family kids, decorations.”
Haven’t heard about Pinterest yet? You will, most likely from a woman.
Pinterest has grown explosively, rivaling the growth of Facebook and Twitter. At the beginning of the year, 80 percent of the users in the U.S. were women . . . and it’s not the usual echo chamber of social media pundits, gurus and experts. Rather, it’s real women looking for ideas, inspiration, solutions to their lives and even a little fulfillment. So what can be learned by observing women’s behavior on Pinterest?
2) Women are collectors of ideas.
3) Women love beauty.
4) Women are busy.
Flash in the pan or something significant? Worth paying attention to? Whole Foods Market thinks so. Says Natanya Anderson, Senior Social Media Program Manager at Whole Foods, “We’re on Pinterest because our customers are there. It’s an absolute alignment with our brand.” Whole Foods sees quantifiable benefits to being on Pinterest. Says Anderson, “Pinterest is rapidly overtaking Twitter as a main source of referrals for us.”
The big take away is Pinterest is about ideas not people. Heather Drew, a mom with two young children says Pinterest, “Is not like scrolling through voyeuristic Facebook. It feels less about other people and more about ideas, which is really more interesting . . . natural strawberry Play-Doh.”
Ellen Kolsto is a Senior Strategist at ad agency GSD&M and explains Pinterest like this, “It’s sort of a glorified scrap book. Women have historically been big scrap bookers. We collect things, whether it’s memories or, ideas, things we love . . . like fabric swatches for those dreams we’re going to fulfill later.
“It captures the imagination, ‘I’m going to create that room down the road that’s going to have all these amazing things in it.’ Or, ‘I’m going to bake everyone of these fabulous pies that I’ve pinned up here on Pinterest.’” When women pin, they’re adding what they pinned to their dreams. They’re developing a relationship with the ideas. It’s that relationship that can ultimately translate into purchases.
Jan Bozarth sits in her office staring off into space, surrounded by her artwork on her most recent creation, the Fairy Godmother Academy series of books for girls. Writer, musician, producer and business woman, staring off into space is productive time for her and she has a sketchbook of ideas to prove it. Working in a creative business, her office could have been the inspiration for Pinterest. One wall is a chalk board, currently filled with drawings and ideas. Next to it is a board for pinning up ideas and visuals. Artwork from her books fills her office. Now, she’s deciding how much of her artwork she wants to allow people to pin on Pinterest. A former researcher into how girls play games online, she explains how women relate to technology, “Women are not necessarily enamored with technology. It’s only good if it makes their life better. There’s got to be a purpose, because they don’t have a lot of time. So if they can blend personal interests, dreams, aspirations and inspirations very quickly, easily and free, then that’s a good tool for them.”
Inspiration. Problem solving. From a business perspective, it’s about allowing people to mix and match the business’ imagery into their customer’s dreams. Ms. Bozarth ultimately decides to allow people to pin her imagery. “What’s the point not to?” she asks. “I’m not really selling the images, per se. I could sell them as pieces of the book; I could sell them as a t-shirt, I could sell them on a poster. But I’m really selling ideas. I’m selling the lifestyle that is the Fairy Godmother Academy. I’m not really selling the art – the art is just a way to reach my audience.”
In one sense, women want it all. They’re turning to Pinterest as a way to collect ideas for all aspects of their lives. Becoming part of women’s dreams, here’s how businesses can meaningfully participate and generate sales:
Recognize Pinterest Is About Lifestyle, Not Product. Putting a product catalog on a Pinterest board will certainly fail, but curating and creating ideas around the lifestyle a brand evokes works well. Take a tip from Whole Foods’ Anderson, “We put the customer’s needs first. We pin about five or six things from other places first before we pin from our own boards. We want to be a curator, not a promoter.”
Be visual. Pinterest is about communicating with pictures, not words. If you sell a service, or are not otherwise inherently visual, use infographics to explain visually.
Make Visuals tall and skinny. Pinterest scrolls imagery from top to bottom. Tall, skinny images fit the experience better and therefore have a better chance of being pinned.
Include prices. When you do, Pinterest will automatically include your image under Gifts, categorized by price.
“Woman on Pinterest are exhibiting a shopping behavior,” says GSD&M’s Kolsto, “It’s like window shopping, but with collecting.” A woman may curate outfits, recipes, room décor, vacation destinations – anything about which she dreams. The relationship she has with her dreams can lead to sales.
Joel Greenberg is the owner of Greenberg Energy Services, LLC. He is a former ad agency Account Planner who specialized in consumer use of technology. Joel uses interactive marketing in his own business to inform, delight, and make sales.