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Social Media Assign. Zoe Keightley 4059829

What is Pinterest?

Today the internet is thriving with new and exciting ways to participate in participatory culture, engage in social networks, and create an image for oneself online. With the sheer amount of different social networking sites it is often hard to imagine what type of website the ‘next big thing’ will be. Pinterest is one of the more recent social media platforms; in fact its popularity is growing at an exponential and unprecedented rate. According to Hayden (2012: 7) Pinterest is ‘essentially an image-sharing service that enables people to form a collection of favourite ‘items’ on the web’.  Pinterest has been dubbed a ‘virtual pin board’ allowing users to share things like images, videos and other objects on organised and categorised pin boards, with over 10 million users worldwide (Hare, 2012). Hayden (2012, 37) notes that pin boards, or more colloquially known to Pinterest community; ‘boards’ are used as a means to group together items of interest. The ability for users of the social media platform to organise the vast amount of user generated content on the internet contributes to its ongoing success. The site was originally launched as a closed beta in March 2010, and has since become an open beta and one of the top-rising social media channels (Laird, 2012).

Mission Statement:

Pinterest’s most evident theme is connection through collection;

“Our goal is to connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting. We think that a favo[u]rite book, toy, or recipe can reveal a common link between two people. With millions of new pins added every week, Pinterest is connecting people all over the world based on shared tastes and interests.” (Pinterest, 2012).

A brief history of Pinterest:

In 2008, Paul Sciarra who was working at Radius Capital in New York, and Ben Silbermann who was working at Google both quit their jobs and started a joint venture.  Their ‘baby’ was a company called Cold Brew Labs. After a few attempts at a similar site called Tote, the pair decided to ditch that idea and launched the site Pinterest in the later months of 2009. At the beginning of 2011, Silbermann made a crucial hire ‘poaching’ a designer named Evan Sharp  from Facebook, Carlson (2012) equates this move with the sudden success of the site which is one built on design. Early in 2012 it was reported that Andreessen Horowitz  ‘invested $27 Million [USD] in Pinterest at a stunning $200 Million [USD] valuation’ (Carlson , 2012). The company today still only has 30 employees, all of whom can be seen here in the website’s information page.

Pinterest’s appeal:

Hayden (2012: 6) notes that at Silbermann thought that the ‘simple act’ of one collecting something of interest was universal, and that he wanted to construct a site that enabled a form of online collection as well as the sharing of that collection. Pinterest’s ability to delight the inner ‘hunter-gatherer’ in its users (notably the female demographic) is perhaps one of the main reasons why it is so addictive and successful. Doctor Christopher Long (as cited by Hayden, 2012: 6) parallels the pin board with that of a ‘personal happiness collage’, advocating that Pinterest users are able to fully express themselves on the site, in turn further diversifying and constructing their online personalities. Similarly, Laird (2012) highlights that the physical act of ‘pinning’ takes only a fraction of time, allowing the Pinterest user to create an identity online with minimal effort. Anthropologically it is ‘creativity without actually having to be creative’ (Laird, 2012).

This is an example of my personal Pinterest account, It shows my Pinboards. I can create, or repin information with minimal effort and categorise things. (Click the Image for an interactive link to my site). Pinterest is more a visual based site, it only allows a 500 character count per post. This makes it handy for infographics and links to other sites or blogs; but unfortunatley not 1500 word assignments. On my ‘Social Media’ board I have repinned a few infographics about Pinterest if you’d like to learn more.

This is an example of a pin board I created about Social media. (clicking the image will link you to the board)

Pinterest is very useful for business or blog promotion as it enables the user to connect and link to various other social media platforms. According to Hayden (2012: 49) on retaining and attracting Pinterest followers, effective use of Pinterest’s built in connection tools are very important.

Interaction with other users is very similar to that of other popular sites, in that the four main ways of interaction are commenting, tagging, liking and ‘hashtagging’(Hayden, 2012: 49-50).

This YouTube Clip is a ‘how to’ of Pinterest:

The site allows the user to input their own username, an about field, individual profile picture and a web address incorporation field. Pinterest users are also able to link their pin boards to other social media sites through the Pinterest badge integration; whereby a badge can be used on blogs, websites and existing Facebook pages. These features all contribute towards the individuality of a user profile as well as further ‘identity’ promotion on other popular social media sites.


Pinterest’s growth:

When the fact that the site is barely two years old is taken into account the rate of growth is astounding. According to Constine (2012) in early 2012 TechCrunch attained data from ComScoreshowing that Pinterest had hit 11.7 million unique monthly visitors from the United States alone. This means that the site surpassed the 10 Million mark ‘faster than any other standalone site in history’ (Constine, 2012). Crook (2012) notes that ‘Pinterest user growth is better than [the growth of] of Facebook and Twitter at the same point in their history’. These statistics are further illustrated in the image below.


Image Source: (Crook, 2012)

The following Graph shows Pinterest’s exponential growth in the United States from May 2011 – January 2012 via the line in green.


Image Source: (Crook, 2012)

On a global scale, data retrieved from Google Doubleclick shows that Pinterest now has 31 Million worldwide unique visitors per month (Change, 2012). ‘The number of Pinterest users to visit the site daily has risen by 145 per cent since the beginning of 2012’ (Crook, 2012). With statistics like this, along with the recent investments into the company and a daily growing user base; the possibilities are endless for the site.

Who uses Pinterest?


Hayden (2012: 7) notes that currently the most popular user base is women. According to Modea 68.2 per cent of Pinterest users are females (Laird, 2012). Seemingly, the rise in the site’s popularity is being propelled by increase in users from the 18- 34 year old ‘upper income’ women from the United States of America (Constine, 2012).

As the Pinterest user group are predominately American, the following image based on ComScore data shows a breakdown of the user demographics of the largest user group (Americans).

Image Source: (Crook, 2012)

More than half of the U.S. Pinterest user base (80 per cent) is female with some form of higher education between 25 and 34 years old and are in the middle income range.

The gender mix in other countries is quite interesting; for example, 56 per cent of unique visitors each month in the United Kingdom are male (Hayden, 2012). Likewise data gathered using Google Ad Planner shows that 79 per cent of Japanese users, and 74 per cent of French users are male (Chang, 2012).

The following image shows data about the audience demographics of Pinterest as at September 25, 2012. It too, supports that the demographic of Pinterest users is predominately females between the ages of 25- 34 with some form of higher education.


Image Source: (Alexa, 2012)

According to Chang (2012), the most notable user demographical information is that most Pinterest users are not the ‘typical’ early adopters of new technologies. In comparison, Technology industry persons and engineers dominate the Google+ user base.


Pinterest is a relatively ‘young’ site however its popularity has spread rapidly to most countries in the world.  The following image and table are based on Alexa traffic data, updated on 22 Sep 2012 at 16:32 GMT(AppAppeal, 2012).

Image Source: (AppAppeal, 2012)


Site ranking in Country

% of Pinterest Users from Country

% of Pinterest Page views

USA 15 44 % 46.5%
Philippines 16 0.9 % 0.9 %
South Africa 17 1.3 % 1.4 %
Canada 19 3.9 % 3.5 %
Australia 25 2.0 % 2.2 %
UK 26 4.4 % 4.2 %
Spain 26 2.8 % 2.8 %
Portugal 26 0.5 % 0.8 %
Mexico 27 1.9 % 2.2 %
Pakistan 30 1.2 % 1.0 %
India 31 8.3 % 7.5 %
Belgium 34 0.6 % 0.5 %
Netherlands 39 1.1 % 0.9 %
France 46 3.0  % 2.8 %
Thailand 56 0.7 % 0.5 %
Germany 57 2.8 % 2.7 %
Brazil 63 2.2 % 2.5 %
Indonesia 91 0.7 % 0.6 %
Italy 94 1.2 % 1.2 %
Poland 102 0.7 % 0.7 %
South Korea 103 0.8 % 0.8 %
Japan 190 1.8 % 1.3 %
***Most popular site: Based on a combination of average daily visitors and page views.

 The user base from the United States is currently the largest (over 44 % of users). As with most sites on the internet, as a variety user generated content is created it will grow in popularity. It should be noted that this raw data does not take into account (among other things) the number of people per country, or the number of people per country with access to the internet.


Although Pinterest doesn’t have the vast number of site users that similar networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and the like have (yet), some interesting figures indicate that users are actually spending a greater amount of time on the site in comparison. According to ComScoredata, the average Pinterest user spends more than 98 minutes per month on the site (Constine, 2012). Laired (20120 notes that on average, users are spending a lot more time per visit to the site (15.8 minutes) in comparison to Facebook(12.1 minutes) and twitter(3.3 minutes). It is assumed that this is due to the mass collaboration of similar (p)interesting content which is all grouped in the one place.

Why Pinterest is useful:

Pinterest has a plethora of uses, some of which are often underused or neglected. Hare (2012) points out that Pinterest is an extremely powerful sociological research and teaching tool. This is in part due to its emphasis on the visual and it is ‘perfect for curating and displaying images that are related to the matter for which one is researching or teaching’ (Hare, 2012).
Pinterest and its use for business or self-promotion tactics is growing. If used effectively it can be an important part of a content marketing strategy, creating exposure for business, products or blogs. It can also help with the ‘humanisation’ of a brand or act as a source of inspiration to the user (Hayden, 2012: 8). This humanisation is in part, due to the user’s ability to create an online personality through a collection of things that define who they are as an individual.

The future for Pinterest:

According to Carlson (2012), sources close to Ben Silbermann; the founder of Pinterest, claim that he has some ideas about ways in which to create profit from the site. This could include something to do with a platform for online shopping or closer integration from user profiles to blog sites or business.
Whatever the outcome, it is clear that Pinterest is a very useful, means of furthering and diversifying an individual’s online personality.


Alexa, 2012, “Statistics summary for’, Alexa- the web information company, 25 September 2012, viewed 25 September 2012, < >

AppAppeal 2012, “Pinterest Usage Per Country”, App Appeal, 22 September 2012, viewed 25 September 2012, < >

Carlson, N, 2012, ‘INSIDE PINTEREST: An Overnight Success Four Years In The Making’, Business Insider, 1 May 2012, viewed 25 September 2012, < >

Chang, A, 2012, ‘Should You Care about Pinterest?’, Macworld, 29, 6, p. 60, Vocational Studies Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 25 September 2012, <>

Constine, J, 2012, ‘Pinterest Hits 10 Million U.S. Monthly Uniques Faster Than Any Standalone Site Ever –comScore’, Mashable, 7 Febuary 2012, viewed 25 September 2012, <>

Crook, J, 2012, ‘This Is Everything You Need To Know About Pinterest (Infographic)’, Mashable, 14 March 2012, viewed 25 September 2012, <>

Hare, J, 2012, ‘Pinterest reveals its sociology horizons’, The Australian, pp. 35, viewed 25 September 2012, <>

Hayden, B 2012, Pinfluence: the complete guide to marketing your business with Pinterest, e-book, accessed 25 September 2012, <>

Laird, K, 2012, ‘PINTEREST RATE’, Marketing Magazine, 117, 5, p. 8, Vocational Studies Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 25 September 2012, <>

Pinterest, 2012, ‘What is Pinterest?’, Pinterest, viewed 25 September 2012, <>

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