If you are one of the many souls that still don’t truly understand the popularity of Pinterest, you aren’t alone. This especially holds true if you are a male like myself; while numbers continue to vary, some estimates suggest that 80% of Pinterest users are female. While I could always see the uniqueness in this new social media site, I couldn’t fully grasp why it was taking off the way that it was. This all changed when my eyes were opened to a very basic concept that can completely explain it’s success, a concept shared by Eli Goodman from comScore, during SearchFest 2012. Pinterest is popular because for the most part, it’s all about the future.
If you have spent any amount of time on the site, you have surely come across the large number of pins based around weddings, cuisine, outfits and household projects. What do these themes have in common? They are all aspirational. These are ideas that those 80% of women and 20% of men are trying to generate by viewing other peoples pins, and thus they are looking through a window of what an aspect of their lives could be like in the future.
This is significant and can partly explain its popularity, because before Pinterest, there hasn’t been a social network that has focused on the future before. Youtube is about the past; watching events that have already happened. Facebook is about the past and the present; looking at pictures, connecting with old friends, and updating your status. Twitter is mostly about the present, sharing what you are doing right now. Obviously, there is some overlap and exceptions in each of those major social networks, but for the most part that description is pretty accurate.
Pinterest created a new niche market for social media; not just for posting photos, but for peering into the future. This probably wasn’t even the intention of the creators of Pinterest, it was that the platform they created had the ability to develop into a largely aspirational community.
As new social media sites continue to emerge and evolve, try to look at them in terms of time. Is it giving you the ability to look backwards, live in the moment, or move forward?