Josh Constine of TechCrunch.com reported yesterday that, according to data comScore provided exclusively to TechCrunch, "Pinterest just hit 11.7 million unique monthly U.S. visitors, crossing the 10 million mark faster than any standalone site in history."
The data also showed that Pinterest's rapid growth has been largely driven by Midwestern, upper income women aged 18-34, prompting Constine to sardonically call the spike "blow-dryer growth," as opposed to the more conventional hockey stick growth.
What is Pinterest and how does it work? Pinterest takes familiar elements of successful social networking sites -- the act of "liking" images as on Facebook or Instagram; the randomness of Tumblr or Reddit; the ability to categorize and follow different users as on Twitter -- to create a photographic experience entirely its own. If you see an image you like, you "pin" it, and you can assign it to one of your feeds, which you create based on your "interests." Hence Pinterest.
About three weeks ago, a friend first showed me Pinterest on her iPhone. We just ended up scrolling and scrolling, completely captivated by the images going by. There was a black-and-white picture of Michael Caine and Natalie Wood in a garden in the '60s. There were images of beautiful villages in Italy. There were pictures taken of food that looked so good, you just wanted to jump to the kitchen and start cooking it and devouring it right there.
There is something quite simple about looking at emotive images. They tell a story without someone having to parse through text. It's just easy to process, and there is a tangible emotional connection.
For me, a Pinterest user, the site's success is not really surprising. There is something very compelling and simple about the content people post on the site. There are generally no political diatribes, no narcissistic one-liners from people you follow. The content consists of beautiful, emotive images that capture a moment, a place, something gorgeous, something cute, or something that looks delicious.
It allows people to project their personalities, desires, and emotions through meaningful imagery. The feeds become a mood board for things that make people happy, and users can scroll through feeds and visually get a sense of someone's personality, and the things that make them tick.
Is there a play here for retailers? If you sell beautiful, visual products, or some kind of experience that can be captured visually, this would be a great way to reach people. It works on an emotional, psychological level.
Do recall that mobile technology is making the retail discovery process more visual than ever. (See "Point-Know-Buy.")