Pinterest's Success, By The Numbers

Analysis of 5 million conversations about Pinterest underscores the social site's popularity and potential value to your business.

Debra Donston-Miller

August 14, 2012

4 Min Read
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5 Facebook Rivals Hot On Its Heels

5 Facebook Rivals Hot On Its Heels

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Still wondering why your organization should take an interest in Pinterest? An analysis of conversations about Pinterest across social media sites shows that much of the talk is focused on the platform's success. Even some of the negative discussions about the platform can be seen as a positive for businesses: One of the worst things people are saying about the site is that it takes up too much of their time.

As part of their Social Intelligence Report series, SAP and social media analysis firm NetBase found that Pinterest hit 10 million monthly visits faster than any other stand-alone site. Information in an infographic published Aug. 13, "10 Things We Love (And Hate) About Pinterest," is based on more than 5 million conversations about Pinterest that have taken place on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs during the past year.

Pinterest is a social networking site on which users "pin" images to boards they create. Users can follow other users and repin others' images. Users often post images of things they "love" or "want," essentially creating shopping and wish lists. Pinterest is also often used to promote products, showcase various kinds of work, and plan projects. Before last week, users needed an invitation to sign up for Pinterest. Now, anyone can register to use the site.

As measured by Experian Marketing Services' Hitwise, Pinterest ranked as the third most popular social network in July, receiving 119 million visits. In contrast, Twitter received 250 million visits and Facebook had 7.5 billion visits.

[ Learn Why McKinsey Values Social Economy At Up To $1.3 Trillion. ]

SAP and NetBase analyzed the conversations going on about Pinterest, looking for patterns and trends in the positive and negative statements about the platform. Sixty percent of the conversations about Pinterest took place in the United States, and 60% were among women. Experian Marketing Services' demographics align with the latter figure, showing that 59% of Pinterest's users are female. Experian also finds that users between the age of 25 and 34 comprise the largest age group for visitors to the site: 28.3%.

What are people saying when they talk about Pinterest? The SAP and NetBase analysis shows that food drives much of the conversation about Pinterest: 30% of conversations were focused on the love of recipes on the site. "The visuals, matched with social comments, make recipes stand out," states the infographic.

Visuals in general were the highlight of conversations about Pinterest, which is essentially an online bulletin board. Thirty percent of conversations praised the site's design, elegance, and ease of use. Twenty percent of conversations focused on the speed with which Pinterest has gained popularity, while 10% extolled the way in which the site has helped them get organized (for example, with wedding planning) and 10% expressed amazement with how quickly Pinterest becomes a part of users' lives.

Not all the talk about Pinterest is positive, of course, but the No. 1 complaint noted in conversation is something that organizations thinking of establishing presence on the site should find appealing: Almost three-quarters of negative conversations expressed dismay with the amount of time spent on the site--a huge "time suck," the infographic calls it. (Time well spent if users are looking at your products or services in action, right?)

Ten percent of conversations focused on technical issues with the site, while another 10% bemoan spam problems. Conversations also expressed concern regarding copyright issues around all of those images being pinned. While many sites welcome sharing of their content, adding the "Pin It" button to their pages, others do not. Pinterest has started to address this concern by providing code that prevents images from being pinned. Pinterest also provides a way for people to report copyright violations.

Finally, 5% of conversations expressed the opinion that there is no money to be made for most businesses on Pinterest. Whether that is true remains to be seen, but at least one heavyweight seems to perceive some potential in the model: Apple is said to be in negotiations to buy Fancy, a site that is similar to Pinterest but also allows users to purchase items.

Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Pinterest at and on Twitter at @debdonston.

Social media make the customer more powerful than ever. Here's how to listen and react. Also in the new, all-digital The Customer Really Comes First issue of The BrainYard: The right tools can help smooth over the rough edges in your social business architecture. (Free registration required.)

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