Pinterest Behavior

The largest difference seen between male and female viewing is evident in Pinterest. It was found that “women are about five times as likely to be on the website as men”, which is “the largest difference in gender of any social networking website” (Ottoni, 2013, p. 457). This is, in part, a reason for the traditional gender roles portrayed. The website is generally targeting the largest portion of its audience, the females. Therefore, the website uses gender related ploys to attract and sustain female viewership. Male and female behaviors on social networking sites follow different trends. Females work to maintain social interaction, whereas men don’t often view this as a top priority. In terms of social interaction on Pinterest, females took part in “lightweight communication such as likes and repins” (Ottoni, 2013, p. 464). Female members also were seen to “invest more efforts in reciprocating social links, in form of reciprocity in follower/followee relation” (Ottoni, 2013, p. 464). The male members were “more prone to the role of curators of items that reflect their personal taste” (Ottoni, 2013, p. 457). Even though Pinterest is not considered to be one of the more social websites, there are still distinctions between female and male behaviors. It was also found that there was a difference between genders when looking at the purchasing and shopping feature. The pins that are linked to sites that sell products were more viewed and shared by females (Ottoni, 2013). The top ten categories viewed by males were all considered to not be commercial. For women, the two most popular categories were both commercial. Therefore, “female interests are more related to commercial content than males” (Ottoni, 2013. p. 462).

Something that was found in both males and females was the search for answers. Since there is so much information available and so many people using the site, there is a very good chance there will be multiples answers to a question or inquiry. The factors of Pinterest that relate to the questioning behavior are a “visible community” and “easy answers” (Hall, 2012). This makes Pinterest a viable tool for finding popular answers that have been “repinned” or shared. However, it was found that users often will “bend the system to fit their needs” (Hall, 2012). In addition to the quick responses, Pinterest has been found to give a positive social experience (Hall, 2013). There is room for people to express their creativity and opinions with little backlash from other members. This is reflected in a study that reveals that nearly half, 45%, of the content on Pinterest comes from blogs (Hall, 2013). Pinterest is a great way for expressing personal opinions and original concepts. The vast majority of the comments by members were short exclamations of praise. There were very few comments with negative feedback and most of time even though the user was disagreeing with the pin, they used a somewhat apologetic tone. Overall, “Pinterest seems to foster a generally positive community, who seek to avoid confrontation and antagonism” (Hall, 2013).

Pinterest has also been found to “increase the discovery and digital collections” (Baggett, 2014). The layout and easy access of Pinterest are some of the features that help distribute content in ways traditional library websites cannot. Pinterest and sites like Historypin both have the user-based function and are seen to be more viable and have simple designs for digital collection services. However, despite the enhanced functionality, both sites “are not adequate substitutions to traditional library platforms or formal digitization workflows” (Baggett, 2014). They are more appropriately a complement to traditional platforms. Some of the reasons are due to the lack of technical metadata available and long-term digital preservation concerns (Baggett, 2014).

Another important topic to consider when looking at Pinterest and other social media sites is time spent online. Behind Facebook, Pinterest is the second website with the highest time spent on their website within a month time period (Ottoni, 2013). The studies that dealt with the amount of time of these sites found a correlation with the amount of friends they had and amount of content they produced (Burke, 2010). However, time spent on these websites “was not a significant predictor of any of the well-being scores” or overall social capital (Burke, 2010, p. 1911). Therefore, even though the amount of time was connected to friend count and social capital was connected to friend count, there was no evidence to directly link amount of time to social capital. When looking at Pinterest, friend count can relate to the follower/followee ratio or more specifically the amount of repins they receive on a pin, including people not directly following them. There was a correlation between friend count and both bridging social capital and bonding social capital (Burke, 2010). Bridging bonding refers to “access to new information through a diverse set of acquaintances” (Burke, 2010, p. 1909). Bonding social capital refers to “emotional support from close friends” (Burke, 2010, p. 1909). Then looking at all aspects, the greater social media websites were used; there was overall an increased social capital and reduced loneliness (Burke, 2010).

There was also a large gap between content created and content consumed. Content creation for Pinterest can include pinning, adding pinboards, and sending pins to other people, among other things. The consumption of content refers more towards viewing the news feed of suggested pins, selecting and viewing different pins, and selecting and viewing different people’s profiles and boards. The amount of content consumed was significantly higher than the amount of content that is generally created (Burke, 2010). Therefore, even with the focus of social media studies being on user-generated material, the majority of users are still consumers and not creators. This could be because people are just looking to waste time on theses sites and it could also be a result of a search for social validation. Users on Pinterest are usually searching for information or resources and tend to think that if “hundreds of people have repinned [this], it must be good” (Hall, 2012). Others people’s opinions factor heavily into one’s own opinions, which can be a positive or negative. Pinterest definitely fosters creativity, but can sometimes be limited by only showing the popular opinion. Though overall, Pinterest users have been found to have a positive experience. Also, don’t forget to keep pinning!


Baggett, M. & Gibbs, R. (2014). Historypin and Pinterest for Digital Collections: Measuring the Impact of Image-Based Social Tools on Discovery and Access. Journal of Library Administration, 54(1). doi: 10.1080/01930826.2014.893111

Burke, M. (2010). Social Network Activity and Social Well-Being. Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.

Hall, C. & Zarro, M. (2012). Social curation on the website Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 49(1). doi: 10.1002/meet. 14504901189

Ottoni, R. (2013). Ladies First: Analyzing Gender Roles and Behaviors in Pinterest. Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. Retrieved from http://pdfs.


The Growth of the Pinning World

Pinterest has become a widespread site used for the creation of ideas and quick shopping. The audience was majority female from the launch of the website and app and still remains the majority. There has been evidence of a wider male audience, but the vast majority of the site still targets the female opinion. The success comes from the accessibility and originality of the site’s design. It is easy to navigate and provides multiple desired concepts. Its easy to use whether you are at home surfing the web on your computer or have some down time while on the go with the mobile phone app. At the start of the site the majority of the focus was on DIY (Do It Yourself) concepts, crafts and design. However, there has been an expansion of the items available and with this came a slight increase in male users. The more popular topics remain more related to the female-targeted audience with the use of creativity in the home and life related topics. Pinterest tried to incorporate more things to draw in male views, but little success has come. Therefore, the people working with Pinterest tend to put the most research and effort into perfecting the tools like shopping, that often bring in the more feminine users. As of now, the company has reached a 30.7% penetration rate among female Internet users in the United States (Statista, 2016). It is expected to reach 33.4% by 2019 based on the growth history (Statista, 2016). The male Internet users’ ratio in the United States is at a significantly lower percentage of 7%, and is expected to reach 9% in 2019 (Statista, 2016). Then looking at all of the users, 67% are in the Millennial Generation (Smith, 2016). This is expected because the majority of social media apps are used by the younger ages.

The total number of users registered with Pinterest is 176 million (Smith, 2016). However of these users, there are 100 million that are considered to be active (Smith, 2016). This could mean that people originally got the app due to the popularity, but maybe some people do not use it regularly anymore. This is common with new apps and innovations. However, these numbers still show the wide reach Pinterest has in the online market. At their initial spike of users, other major media companies like Facebook became very interested. They were soon bought out by Facebook and have reached a worth of $11 billion (Smith, 2016). Facebook’s goal of buying Pinterest was to basically just maintain and keep its steady growth, while putting a little more focus on the shopping aspect available. They found that a large amount of users were using the app for shopping and helped expand the model to accommodate those users. The most general and widespread feature is the ability to organize ideas and thoughts (Lee, 2014). More recently this collaboration tool has become popular within the Health and Wellness section. Users are able to make a board of different exercise ideas, motivational quotes, and healthy food tips. People often get bored doing the same workouts and eating the same foods and Pinterest allows users to store any ideas in one place to reference new ideas. They can also share their experiences with different workouts or recipes they have tried to their friends and fellow Pinterest users. Speaking of recipes, the food section is one of the major sources of interest, especially in the older groups of users (Lee, 2014). This has become my mom and grandma’s favorite place to find new recipes. Another more recent concept that became popular is using Pinterest to showcase one’s artwork (Lee, 2014). The artistic outlet is an easy way for people to present their artwork to a large audience. You can collect your favorite art by saving it to your boards or even sell your own artwork. Similar to an art gallery, you can “save up a large collection of art items and release them all at once” or you can choose to individually post them online (Lee, 2014). The concept of posting yourself is one aspect that grew after the app took off. Originally, the majority of people only scrolled through the pins that were suggested and now many more people are getting into posting original material.

This app/website isn’t just a place for individuals, but can also play a significant role in companies. Companies have come up with innovative ways to incorporate their products into what looks like individual’s pins. Other companies make it fairly obvious they are marketing to you. However, it is not always about revenue with big companies. Pinterest has become a platform for charity drives (Lee, 2014). Sony recently set up a event where $1 was donated to the Michael Phelps Foundation every time an image from Sony’s board was re-pinned (Lee, 2014). This event was able to bring awareness to a charity while at the same time marketing Sony products. The use of Pinterest is also popular with small companies. It is a free outlet for entrepreneurs and other companies to advertise their goods and services.

The diffusion of the website and app took on the model that is commonly seen in popular apps. There was slight interest at the very beginning with a large audience rapidly appearing within a few years after launch. The app was originally launched in 2008, but it was focused almost completely on shopping and it was called “Tote” (Carlson, 2012). The market was not ready during this time to support mobile shopping apps and failed quite quickly. The app went under major remodeling and became more of a collection of ideas instead of strictly shopping. This allowed users to browse many different topics, whether it be things to buy or not. The new structure was given a new name, “Pinterest” and gained attention way more rapidly than the original “Tote” app. The launch happened at the end of 2009 and major traction grew within the next few years (Carlson, 2012). There was steady growth after re-launch in 2009 and the most rapid growth was seen in 2011 and 2012. It was in 2011 and 2012 that Pinterest finally reached the stage of critical mass. The graph below from Carlson’s article, shows the quick growth many referred to as their “overnight success”, even though their launch predated this success by 4 years (Carlson, 2012).pinterest-chart

After the quick rise of users and popularity, the growth pretty much plateaued and there is now a steady increase seen in both male and female viewers each year. Pinterest is always searching to expand their audience and draw in more diverse user demographics. This means there is always constant restructuring of what the app/website’s more popular aspects and topics are. I hope you learned somewhat new about the start and growth of Pinterest and remember to keep pinning!


Carlson, N. (2012). INSIDE PINTEREST: An Overnight Success Four Years in the Making. Business Insider. Retrieved from

Craig, S. (2016). Pinterest Statistics and Facts (October 2016). DMR. Retrieved from

Statista (2016). Pinterest penetration rate in the United States from 2013 to 2019, by gender. Retrieved from

Lee, J. (2014). 5 Surprising Uses for Pinterest You Haven’t Thought Of Before. MUD. Retrieved from

Getting Starting with Pinterest

Pinterest is an outlet created for many different types of people. It was jump started by a company called “Cold Brew Labs” that focuses on online shopping (Andersen, 2016). They were on a mission to innovate the online shopping world, while also incorporating other aspects. Pinterest is known mostly for being a source for creativity and shopping, but it actually functions in many ways. There are a wide variety of topics showcased. It is a website and also available as an app in the App Store. The website is designed to showcase “pins” that it believes the user would be most interested in. A “pin” is essentially a “post” or “repost” of something you want to share. The website uses a formula to pick pins based on previous searches, accounts you follow, previous pins you post and pins that you click on when scrolling through the website. The pins you post go into different “pin boards” or groups. A “pin board” is a grouping of similar “pins” that are categorized and arranged by the individual user. Pinterest’s pin boards allow you to keep all your ideas and interests organized. This way all your ideas are easy to assess and organized in a way that is compatible for whatever your needs are. A lot of people have boards based on projects or design ideas. You follow people like you do on other popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. This brings the website to a different level from previous shopping sites, or how-to sites. The ability to share ideas and items of what you like immediately to your friends and the rest of the Pinterest world adds more of a communication aspect. In the early stages of launching the website, it focused mainly on DIY (Do-It-Yourself) projects and recipes. Another big aspect of Pinterest is their health section. Losing weight is always a topic in the media, especially for women. Pinterest has countless information available about nutrition and exercise.The exercising examples are usually condensed to make it more inviting and make it seem more doable for the everyday person. Pinterest continues to increase their variety of how-to videos and instructions. However, the website later changed to fit a more diverse audience. It is still a female dominated website, with 85% of its users being female, though there has shown to be an increase in male users (Smith, 2016, p. 1). Pinterest shows its dominance of the female market with the statistic that 42% of online adult women in the United States use it (Smith, 2016, p. 1). The site attempts to broaden its audience with the wide array of content. There are 36 suggested categories and searches that range from Design, Education and Animals to Men’s Fashion, Tattoos and Humor. If the categories suggested aren’t exactly what you are looking for, there is a search bar where you can find just about anything. The usage of this site for shopping has become a major aspect in further development. Shopping on Pinterest rather than other sites allows the user to look at many different items and brands all at once. Instead of looking through a bunch of sites, Pinterest shows the most popular brands and items all in one place. However, if the pins are too broad, you can always narrow your search by typing in specifically what you are looking for. Pinterest can be a source for high-end shoppers all the way to bargain hunters, or a mixture of both. I personally like to stay updated on what is popular and new with my favorite brands, which is easy to do with the layout of Pinterest.

The widening audience of Pinterest has made it easier to pin from anywhere online or on the go. It is a fun way to pass time with minimal thinking when I have free time or traveling. Also many websites now include the option to pin something straight from another website onto your Pinterest page. Different companies use Pinterest to advertise their products and ideas. I recently noticed on a Nilla Wafers box, by Nabisco, the Pinterest icon on the top and bottom of the box. They were encouraging people to follow them and find out more about their product and different ways to use them. Pinterest is a great choice for companies like Nabisco because recipes are a major draw for users. Pinterest was originally used mostly for household topics such as recipes, decorating and home projects. I added a couple of pictures that I took below to show you the clever use of Pinterest to advertise their product.

The layout of the website versus the app vary slightly, but still have the same functions. There are tabs that help the user navigate the website. The tabs include a search bar, a tab for your account page with your boards, a tab for notifications about your pins and your followers, and a tab for your home page with suggested pins. I took a picture of each layout from my personal account to show the comparison between the website and the app. The picture on the right is of the website and the one on the left is a screenshot of the app version. You can see that both have the same look with just slight modifications to fit the domain better.

As the site gained more users, changes were bound to take place. Pinterest has adapted to what users liked most about the site and new features that allow users to be more involved. There has recently been a new feature that allows users to link to their other social media accounts. If you want to share a pin to your friends through other sites such as Facebook or Twitter, it is now available. There is even a choice to send a text message directly from the site. There is also a new option to “like” a pin. There used to only be the option to pin something, but with the new “liking” option, the user can save the pin without putting it in one of their boards. Pinterest was able to keep up to date with new features, while keeping the simplicity that welcomes all ages. Many social media sites don’t reach all ages with appeal, but Pinterest is something even my Nana does. She is always sending me pins of new recipes and different tips for various things she thinks I should know. I love that I can connect with my friends and family through this site. The app and website are easy to navigate and very user friendly.

Pinterest also added another level of communication when creating new features. In addition to individually sending pins to your friends, you can now just send messages. This is a great way to plan projects and swap ideas with your friends, family, roommates or whoever. This feature now allows you to write longer messages to go with the pins you pick out for your followers and friends. Along with sharing ideas, Pinterest is a great way to see what your friends are interested in. It is a great source for gift shopping when it comes to birthdays and holidays. You can pick something straight from someone’s board and buy it through the linked pin or just use it to get ideas of a person’s style and go from there. I use it all the time to get ideas for my sister’s birthdays. It’s a guaranteed good gift since they basically picked it out themselves! I hope you learned a little bit more than you already knew about Pinterest and keep pinning!


Andersen, D. (2016). The Evolution of Pinterest’s Incubator: Cold Brew Labs. Startup Grind powered by Google Entrepreneurs. Retrieved from

Smith, C. (2016). Pinterest Statistics and Facts. DMR. Retrieved from