Pinterest is Hot
Pinterest is the current darling of social media. It landed in the top 10 social media properties in November according to Experian Hitwise with 31 million total visits, notably beating out Google+. It grew an amazing 4,000 percent in six months as of December 2011 (Hitwise, Cnet).
And It Seems To Be Getting Hotter
The excitement only seems to be growing and you can’t turn around without bumping into another new Pinterest article. Typical articles feature information about how certain companies or specific industries are having business success marketing on Pinterest, how the site drives amazing amounts of referral traffic back to the originating sites, how to market on Pinterest, and most recently, how copyrights are getting violated or how Pinterest is getting affiliate commissions from user-posted content using a service called Skimlinks.
Is The Hype Harmful?
I’ve been building up a repository of articles on Pinterest by pinning articles onto a Pinterest Tips & Articles board. That’s been keeping me and the other curators of the board very busy. But while I watch the amazing volume of virtual ink being spilled on the topic of Pinterest, one nagging thought that’s been bothering me is whether this Pinterest frenzy will trigger a massive surge of marketing activity, spam and commercialism onto the site that fundamentally changes the experience, reduces the usefulness and ruins the “fun” of the site. The original users were mostly women from places like Utah, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Alabama who shared on topics like home decor, fashion, design, crafts and photography. Will the Pinterest frenzy kill the site for casual, non-business users like them?
The Survey Is In
Well, to answer that question I pulled together a short survey. Here are the results.
1) Are you a Pinterest user?
Most of the 55 respondents are either heavy or light Pinterest users. We have a fairly knowledgeable crowd here.
2) If you’re on Pinterest, do you use it for fun, for business or both?
Most of the respondents (50%) are using Pinterest for a mix of fun and work. The next biggest category (30%) includes people just focused on using the site for fun.
3) Is Pinterest the next big Social Network, joining Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ as one of the top sites?
The majority of people feel that Pinterest will be one of the top social media sites in the future. A large portion feel that it will be on the level of a Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn. An almost equally sizable group thinks it will be big but one notch below the biggies.
4) Is there a risk that Marketers will kill the fun of Pinterest?
On the major question – whether the marketers would ruin the experience and the “fun” – the results were cautionary. A majority of respondents (54%) feel there is either some risk (“maybe”) or definite risk of the marketing frenzy upsetting the apple cart and negatively impacting the Pinterest experience.
On the flip side, 29% of people think more marketing will help Pinterest thrive and grow. What’s your opinion?
So what do the results tell us? Here’s my take.
People love Pinterest. They love pictures, they love collecting things, and they love the semi-random process of discovery that Pinterest enables. As marketers increasingly use the site to sell, to distribute content, and to “build platform”, there is a valid risk that all of the commercial and marketing activity will degrade the user experience for the casual users and impact the popularity of the system.
Conclusion: As marketers, we need to learn to tread lightly so as not to ruin what makes Pinterest so unique and popular.