What We Can Learn From Pinterest

PinterestPinterest is exploding. It’s managed to not only become the third most popular social media platform in use, but also the fastest website to break 10 million monthly unique visitors in the entire history of the Internet. That’s no small feat for a website barely over two years old.

But what is it about Pinterest that attracts such a dedicated user base? What sets it apart from other social media platforms? How can we use it to engage customers and build brand visibility? And maybe most importantly, what insight can Pinterest give us into how people use social media, and as to where social media trends are headed? While much is still to be seen, here are a few things that we can pull from the new social media hotshot:

1) Look at the big picture – Literally, look at it! It takes less than a second of being on Pinterest’s landing page to see what it’s all about. The platform is driven by almost entirely by images; creating a sprawling feed with big pictures of delicious food, inspiring quotes, cats, and just about everything else. Our attraction to Pinterest’s model makes sense when you consider human nature. We’re inherently visual beings. A very large amount of our brain’s cortex is devoted to visual processing, making us hardwired to respond to imagery on an emotional level. Even beyond Pinterest, it’s been shown that posts containing photos and videos on Facebook and Twitter have significantly higher engagement levels than those without. Pinterest has taken this concept and provided a simple interface for engagement, resulting in off-the-chart success.

2) Follow the leader – With all of the waves Pinterest has been making in such a short span of time, it’s a guarantee that countless others will be following in its wake. There are already an endless number of knock-offs surfacing; some catering to smaller niches, and some just straight clones. More interesting though are the ways in which the big dogs, Facebook and Twitter, have responded. Both have made image and video much more prominent in a user’s news feed, and Facebook’s revamped Timeline is also very image loaded. Futhermore, Facebook seems to working on a very Pinterest-like layout for app use in news feeds. This is only the beginning, and I believe we can expect more Pinterestness throughout the social web in the near future.

3) Content is still king – What’s been true for every other media platform is just as true for Pinterest: interesting content is going to attract more attention. Creating unique content is crucial to cut through the noise, and will continue to be more important as networks get increasingly saturated. Within Pinterest, it’s incredibly easy for a piece of content to go viral through user repining. For a business or brand using Pinterest, it’s important to be creating original content to engage users and to get that virality, and at the end of the day it’s what’s going to build brand recognition and brand loyalty.

Pinterest isn’t the be-all, end-all of social media; it’s just another tool in the toolbox. In a short amount of time there will be another platform that engages users in a different way. But even as new platforms come and go, the ideas behind engagement still stay true, and we will always have new things to learn.