July 9, 2012

Why Pinterest Is So Popular

You should pin this image. Because it's beautiful.

It’s almost surprising that Pinterest was created so late in the game, and its popularity and massive growth isn’t surprising in the slightest. The social media site Pinterest is literally a collection of inspiring pictures that other people can like, share and collect. So ridiculously simple.

It also shouldn’t come as a big surprise that 80% of Pinterest’s users are female. Apparently we’re pinning (technical term) ideas for our weddings, tips on raising our kids, neat ways to clean and organize the house, room designs we love, food we want to eat, and funny e-card sayings that are so true (knowing this, is it surprising that the vast majority of Pinterest users aren’t college educated?). When you describe it that way it sounds pretty dumb, especially since I guarantee the vast majority of Pinterest users are not actually using the tips and ideas they’re pinning in real life, but as a Pinterest user I think the site is pretty great. And here’s why it’s become so damn popular in such a short amount of time:

It's exclusive.
This is how they get you. I don’t know what it is about being told no, but we simply cannot have it. If we’re told no, or even not yet, we must have that thing. Just watched the episode of Friends where Ross tells Joey not to go after his hot nanny which only made Joey want her even more. Similarly, when Google+ was by invitation only I had to join. Same with Pinterest. Don’t you dare tell me no! I swear, all sites should do this. Every time a site is like “join now!” I’m all, no. But tell me I have to request an invite and I’m all over it. It’s dumb, I know.

It's inherently girly.
From the layout to the font to the friendly "about" page and how-to tutorial, Pinterest is for the girls. Not to mention the name: Pinterest is very cute. You pin things you like to a pinboard like you used to do with photos of friends in college. I didn't live in the dorms in college but I'd imagine there weren't a whole lot of dudes with cork board photo collages. Plus, it's all about organizing things into lists! Girls love lists!

It has lists and you organize things into lists.
There's not a whole lot more that needs to be said about this attractive feature. It's really not just girls who love lists... we as human beings like to organize things. There are whole stores devoted to organization. Grocery stores are laid out in a very specific manner to appeal to our sense of organization. We just gotta put stuff where they belong. Maybe it's a control thing.

It's pictures.
The age of the internet has made us far more predisposed to pay attention to something if it has an image; blog posts and articles are less likely to be read if they do not have an image, Facebook posts with an image are more likely to be shared if they come with a photo, and our diminishing attention spans (is that really a thing or is it just the older generation being frustrated with the younger generation?) mean we can glance at a photo, gather its meaning, and move on within a second or two. Plus, pictures are pretty, and Pinterest is loaded with high quality photos for our eye candy pleasure.

It's got our friends, but it's also got cool strangers.
Pinterest encourages users to connect using Facebook or Twitter so that you can immediately follow your friends. Then, it recommends strangers for you to follow based on your interests. Anyone you automatically follow you can manually unfollow and you can pick and choose an individual's boards to follow. Basically, Pinterest combines the usefulness of all the other social networking sites and eliminates everything except the pictures and the comments: you have only the friends you like, plus strangers you have common interests with, and you share photos of things you already like. Freaking genius.

No wonder Pinterest became as popular as it did in as little time as it did. I started using Pinterest for work because they initially gave do-follow links back to the website hosting the image (we’d pin the image of our blog posts, getting a quality link back to help us rank better in Google search results). The point was to get as many other pins as possible because each was its own link back to our website, which was awesome. But then I started seeing stuff on there that made me realize I could start SEOing my own blog (not this one, since I do a lot of stealing from the internet for my photos [sorry, Internet]). I did this not to get the do-follow links, which are now no-follow, but to share the amazing recipes the boyfriend and I make with people who are predisposed to like it and use those techniques to expose as many people as possible to it. First, our recipes are almost exclusively easy to make and quite inexpensive, but they look fancy enough to photograph, which the boyfriend does very nicely. In short, our food blog is the perfect pin source. Now go pin things from it!

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