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.


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