Why you can’t stop pinning; a look into the roots of a Pinterest addiction

February 22, 2012

It took me a long time to write this blog post. No, it’s not what you think – no writer’s block here. Rather, I lost myself in the delicious depths of Pinterest. But this time, it wasn’t for inspiration on how to wear my new maxi skirt or for a new recipe for dinner tomorrow night. I looked at it through the eyes of a brand strategist, and quickly saw a handful of brands already effectively using this red-hot social media outlet. With its recent surge in popularity, a lot of PR professionals have been asking the same question: Why is Pinterest so addictive?

To me, one of the most compelling things about social media is its evolving nature. All social media platforms have changed since we started using them, whether it was a dramatic site re-vamp or a few tweaks here and there. Probably without realizing it, social media users began to subtly shift habits as they learned what content garnered more “likes” on Facebook and RTs and replies on Twitter.

With those changes, the needs and desires of the masses of users shifted too. I still remember a time when I thought “liking” a status on Facebook was stupid and unnecessary. Now, I find myself “liking” about four or five comments on my news feed per day. Social media platforms evolve over time, as do their users and sharing habits. (Here is a pretty cool infographic by Visual.ly showing the history of social media.)

Pinterest: A Refuge

Pinterest has been around since 2008, so why is it just now surging in popularity? In 2008, we were knee-deep in the current Facebook trends (Facebook Bumper Stickers, anyone?), and most of us didn’t even have a Twitter handle yet. Now, in 2012, we are inundated with statuses, comments, pictures, videos, articles and more. We can’t eat dinner without fighting the urge to tweet a picture of a dish, nor can we deprive our friends of knowing what we thought about the GRAMMY Awards last night.

Dr. Christopher Long, a professor at Ouachita Baptist University who teaches a consumer psychology course, explains how Pinterest acts as a welcome escape and refuge from Twitter and Facebook in this gem of an article by Fast Company (passed along to me by a good friend and fellow social-media nerd). Long explains that trivial day-to-day content sharing might be the very reason why we can’t seem to stop pinning.

“It’s not a place where I have to worry about being bombarded by other people’s over-sharing of uninteresting or annoying daily experiences or about accidentally revealing intimate details of my day-to-day life,” Long said.

A Reflection of Your Ideal Self

Pinterest acts as a collection for self-discovery, something that people clearly crave in response to the other social media platforms. Through pinning and re-pinning, we are able to share who we are and, most importantly, who we want to be. It’s a unique, yet incredibly simple concept that stemmed as a result of our evolving social media habits.

“Pinterest is a place where we can demonstrate: ‘If it weren’t for all those mundane things that I do that I post on Facebook, this is what I would be doing and consuming,” Long said. “Here is my real self.”

Long also believes that many users feel more inclined to share their real selves on Pinterest, since it is less focused on personal content, which in turn lowers privacy and security concerns. It offers brands an opportunity to engage consumers within their comfort zones, without barraging them for engagement.

The PR Pull of Pinterest

The bottom line: PR professionals are missing the boat (a very big one, at that) if they are not exploring ways of using this addictive site to help some of their clients with brand building. Like all social media platforms, however, Pinterest makes a lot of sense for some businesses and absolutely no sense for others. With the right fit, Pinterest can give audiences a glimpse into brand values, company culture and key messages. Here are just a few brands that are rockin’ everyone’s worlds with their Pinterest boards:



West Elm

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One Response to “Why you can’t stop pinning; a look into the roots of a Pinterest addiction”

  1. I am also addicted to Pinterest, and I love this blog. Nice job, Katherine.

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