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


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