I will freely admit that this blog post doesn’t have many actionable suggestions. I am skeptical of most new social networks, because I can’t see how they will fit into most people’s already busy lives. In the case of Pinterest, I am sold on it being a major player in the future. This blog post provides some of the reasons I view Pinterest as uniquely special among newer social networks.
We all need diversions. TV has been popular for so long because it allows for a break from everyday life and literally engages our brain in a different way than how most of us live the majority of our lives whether it be work or play.
Pinterest fits well into the social network sphere because it is different. It is visual, contained, fun, aspirational and can work in a variety of ways. Any website this popular is going to have multiple factors that contribute to the success. Pinterest captures so many of the factors that motivate use, that I believe it will be one of the most popular social networks going forward both in number of users, but even more so, in terms of time spent on the site.
Below is a quote by Sasha Westin from an interview series on frequent Pinterest users that I believe captures must of the appeal of the site.
It’s a quiet place – no ads, no tickers, no auto refreshes. It’s easy to get lost looking at other people’s pins or browsing through the categories. And did I mention the visual hook? From nail colors to amazing shoes to yummy food photography, it is a beautiful place to be.
Why Pinterest is so popular
As an example, once you get past the ads in a magazine, you have “front of the book” content.
I learned this term from the magazine industry. It references the short, often picuture heavy content that goes in the front of most magazines. It is easily digestible and generally is the most consumed magazine content with the majority of audiences. Pinterest offers easily consumable, picture focused content that is similar to the most popular parts of magazines, irregardless of gender.
With Pinterest, you don’t have to cut out the parts of magazines you like and put them someplace very few people will see. With just a couple clicks you have both archived, curated and shared what you like.
There are very few places where women are comfortable planning their future weddings (some that may not become reality for more than a decade). While you might find someone asking for advice on Facebook and Twitter for wedding ideas, it is pretty rare to see someone in their late teens planning a future wedding without even being in a relationship. This is done so commonly on Pinterest that accounts that don’t have wedding ideas are actually the exception. It isn’t limited to weddings. If you have great taste, but a more reasonable budget, you can still pin pictures that represent your style in all manner of areas like clothing, art, furnishings and more, even if it is unlikey you will soon or ever be able to afford to live that lifestyle.
I am certainly not judging. I would love to fill my house with amazing art that I really like, but that isn’t a priority at the moment and certainly not in my budget. On Pinterest I can still get the satisfaction of expressing my taste for art, while still having no intention of purchasing even one piece in the near future.
Pinterest is a great place to organize what you would do, what you want to be, what you would buy if you could, and not feel bad about it.
Most of the value is self contained (i.e. you don’t have to leave the site). Very little reading is required, and you don’t have to constantly click on links to go other places to see content. Hence why it works so well as an app. The earlier quote from Sasha Westin illustrates this so well. You can literally get lost in the experience, and not is a confusing way.
You don’t have to look for things to pin. You can just re-pin what others have posted. While it is certainly possible that breaking news and related images may eventually enter the site to a greater degree, there is rarely a sense of urgency when using Pinterest.
Comments are relatively rare, making it easy for users to leave the site for days and not feel like they missing something or are letting someone down by not responding. In part because of this lack of pressure. Pinterest is where people choose to come back to every day and even to decompress.
Like the best social networks, Pinterest adapts to what you want to do. If you want to dream about your future life, you can do it. If you want to actually use Pinterest to improve your current life, you can do that is well. One of @free most popular boards posts DIY projects. We try to focus on projects that take minimal effort and money, but can actually create some value if implemented.
My wife Amanda in the last two months on Pinterest has used various pins to come up with some great ideas for organization and then has acted on them to improve how we organize our household.
Pinterest’s flexibility allows for all types of uses and works well with most goals and stages of life.
Where does the time to use Pinterest come from?
I started by talking about how TV makes for a great diversion, and I believe that Pinterest, like other social networks, will cut into TV watching time. Several people have told me, and I can say this is true for my wife and I, that they may still watch TV, but they find that they often on the computer or another digital device while the TV is on. In our house, I frequently find I am not watching the actually TV show that is on, because I am more interested in what I am doing on a computer. Pinterest can overlap with existing TV viewing.
While Pinterest is a very unique social network, I do feel that it will compete with existing social networks and “steal” time from them. There are memes on Pinterest about how people have left Facebook for Pinterest to avoid the drama. While I am concerned about a less social site taking time away from actual interactions, it seems inevatable that Pinterest will take time away from Facebook and Twitter, but also the visiting of stand alone website that previously provided content that can now more easily be consumed on Pinterest.
Each person is unique. Some will find Pinterest compelling, some will become obsessed and some will never appreciate it. On the whole, I believe Pinterest is a social network that will increasing take up more and more of our collective time online.