It begins with a click and concludes with a trend. Unlike Twitter or Facebook, Pinterest doesn’t care about or reveal the actions we take in everyday life. Instead, it’s a server for our collections of the elements that make up our ideal lives, hosting picture after picture of homes in which we want to live, weddings of which we’d like to be included.
In my cubicle at a lifestyle magazine, I can count on spending a solid two days a week at work browsing various Pinterest boards of complete strangers who have great taste in everything from shoes to green juice to ideas for fun weekend dates. It’s a hub of life-hackers. Entering a single term into the search bar can generate results that connect users to website after website of ideas from people who share a similar picture of how life could be simplified, beautified, and amplified.
Pinterest, conceptually, is constantly newsworthy in that it is helping determine lifestyle. People pin whatever they currently find interesting, thus creating a digital bulletin board. Trends emerge from the most popular pins, which are tagged with terms that lead into a spiral of utopian landscapes and engagement photo sessions, further enticing the searcher to build a picture-perfect life that simultaneously promotes current trends and creates new ones. What people pin can predict and/or determine what others become interested in. Pinterest is, in essence, Search Engine Optimization at its finest. It is every marketer’s dream.
“People are planning out really core and important parts of their lives on Pinterest,” CEO and co-founder Ben Silbermann said in an interview with the New York Times. And it’s just getting started. Pins promoting companies that pay to have their products advertised are seamlessly integrated into others, more commonly than not relating to the pins users were actually searching for rather than glaring at them from a sidebar, as they might on Facebook or blog posts.
In 2015, Pinterest valued itself at $11 billion and reported surpassing a landmark 100 million monthly users last September. Those who most frequently engage with the platform include stay-at-home moms, brides-to-be, sorority sisters and millennials beginning to “adult.”
While some experts believe that its skew towards females currently works against it and will continue to do so, others believe that attracting the second, male half of the population could result in a bright future full of brand new users. Twitter is a social media platform that has been stagnating because it has essentially tapped out those interested in it. Pinterest requires less direct interaction with others and more creativity, with re-pinning serving as a bonus.
It matters because it’s different. Pinterest’s way of impacting society is subtler than that of Facebook’s or Instagram’s or Twitter’s. News nowadays is grisly, and even soft news seems to deal more with complaints than successes. But Pinterest revolves around the ideals of people who want to make the world a better place, even in ways so small as creating a perfect wedding, or striving for wholesome parenthood. Pinners focus on what could be made better and how, not on why things are failing and what makes them bad. Improvement trumps criticism on the red logo-ed site, generating traffic to sites that do not necessarily focus on what terrible things are happening in the world. Instead we see examples of human progress. We re-pin so we can keep that potential in our lives and remind others of it, subtly enough to inspire ourselves but loudly enough to dictate what we could care about next.