Why Is Pinterest Successful?

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When Pinterest was first launched in 2010, it was an unknown little cranny of the internet. Amassing a small following, mainly of micro-bloggers who wanted a more visual experience, it remained in relative obscurity.

That is, until 2011 when a surge in popularity put it in the top ten list of social networks. Then, between January and February 2012, the site had grown by a staggering 85%. Making it an undeniable hit that has continued to grow more and more ever since.

But what is it about the site that makes it so special? How come people are so addicted to pinning? What is its draw for the more than 60% female user base?

It is hard to say, for sure. But we can make a few leaps and guess some of the elements that have turned Pinterest into such a massive success in a time where social media sites are everywhere.

The Visual Element

Visual Element

Social media was made for sharing. For most sites that is a rule of communication, with more text than anything else. Even links often lead to text-based websites. But Pinterest is entirely based around the visual, with little to no text necessary. Especially with the internal linking system, which has so many images repinned from within the site itself rather than from a third party where you would have to provide credit.

There is something relaxing about being able to work with photos and nothing else. Plus, it is a great way to inform, catch users attention and provide viral content. Making it perfect for both professional and personal use.

The Product Potential

Product Potential

Businesses have been seeing the way that Pinterest can be used for marketing products and services in a way completely different than on other social media sites. Because it provides both a picture and the ability to link it off site, the uses for ecommerce are exciting. Especially for small businesses that need an affordable way to go social.

While companies have jumped into other sites, like Facebook and Twitter, people are visual creatures. So their target audience can be better drawn with the use of images. Plus, you can promote sales, deals and new items you have just released. All with a simple ‘pin’ and next to no effort.

The Collecting Nature

Collecting Nature

Humans are eager collectors, and are attracted to the idea of sentimentality and practicality in that collecting. So is it any surprise that we are so addicted to a site that is dependent on that concept? Graphic designers can collect typography and logos. Fashion enthusiasts can collect runway and magazine photos. Foodies can collect dish pictures. DIY fanatics can collect project ideas. Brands are collecting testimonials (you can see MyBlogGuest testimonials on Pinterest as an example)… and the list goes on.

Pinterest is a literal digital pinboard. It exists for the sole purpose of giving people a place to collect photos, ideas and inspiration. Everyone can enjoy that.

The Dumb Luck

Pinterest Success

Finally, you have what I believe is at least a fair part of it: luck. Sure, the idea for Pinterest is really cool. It has an innovative design, covered a part of social media that had gone largely ignored by other sites, reached a female demographic that isn’t always so easy to get and ultimately made something both fun and functional.

But many sites have come and gone in the past that have been able to make something really interesting and new. They just don’t find the success that Pinterest has, especially so quickly. Which is why I believe that somethings it is just the luck of the draw that gives certain ideas a boost over others, and leads to success.

Why do you think Pinterest is such a success? Let us know in the comments.

Image Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4.

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty

Brand amd Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing,... Read Full Bio
Ann Smarty
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  • It would be great, if I could get on it!

    I have signed up, but can’t confirm because they never emailed me the link. Then, many times, I have tried to sign on and I can’t get into it.

    This has been over a year now, so I think Pinterest is overrated.

  • Pinterest is my happy place online- where I go to unwind… the nice thing is I don’t have to see an endless amount of updates about other people’s sad news – or gripes.

    The other thing is that it makes planning events so much easier- recently I planned my four-year-old’s birthday largely from ideas from pinterest. Now I’m planning a bake sale to raise money for Alzheimer’s research with pinterest- all the dishes are right there- no matter if I have my computer or not- cause the smart phone works too

  • I’m not really sure what is meant by success here. Sure Pinterest is widely popular (and has lots of users) and businesses can use it for marketing, but are those attributes what make a site successful? Lots of people used networks like Friendster or iYomu and businesses could market through them, but they eventually collapsed. Were those successes?

    The problem with labeling Pinterest as a success is that they’re funded through venture capital and have yet to generate a profit, let alone turn any revenue. In essence, they’re bleeding money. Furthermore, if there are a select number of marketers who’ve been able to generate a positive ROI that can exclusively be attributed to Pinterest and the site itself doesn’t profit from it, it’s not a success. Based on the principles of profit and returns, it would seem as though Pinterest is far from a success, yet.

    • Steve made a pretty profound point here. Although success isn’t always measured in dollars, I’m pretty sure that Pinterest was founded with the idea in mind to make money. But, it seems that you need to plan these things out ahead of time instead of getting a robust following and then trying to monetize. It’s hard to know what would turn Pinterest users off in terms of advertising and monetization. If at least some form of monetization had been put in place originally it wouldn’t be so difficult for people to get used to (or so distracting).

      Here’s what I think Pinterest ought to do to finally start turning a profit – I think they ought to have a small half-inch strip that goes along the right side of any Pinterest board (there’s about a half of an inch there that is white space). This thin strip would be a succession of advertisers — it would be like a roll of film, in color, and section off in frames, that is moveable (vertically) and continually scrolling so it attracts attention. Just like Pinterest pins, the ads would be mainly pictures and be formatted like a roll of film. A pinner could click on any particular picture in the roll, and the scrolling would stop. They could then pin that item to a “wishlist” board. The types of ads that would be scrolling would be algorithmically determined by content of the board they are on (like Adwords are). It’d be a great way to not be too invasive because you are offering visual ads, and stuff that could add to the Pinterest experience by pinning it. And, of course, the picture ads would have links to a sales page. There could be a Pay-Per-Pin Plan, Pay-Per-Click, etc.

  • Why i am in the pinterest, just because of the cool pictures though

  • Hi Anny!
    i am using it since 2 months but what i have found that pinterest is mostly successful for Fashion industry. because there are only pictures in there , people see them, and hardly 5% people comment or like them. but it also have a great traffic if you are doing pinterest smartly.

  • Here is one more reason why Pinterest is so successful: because EVERY site related to Internet Marketing has AT LEAST one article about Pinterest, about how to use it and how it can help your business.