Tech writers are beginning to pick up on what mommy bloggers and hipster stylists may have known all along: Pinterest is valuable. A steady rise in popularity along with several new innovations by Pinterest may mean that the oft-overlooked social networking site isn’t as far behind larger competitors like Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), and Instagram as was previously thought.
New York Magazine reports that Pinterest users, unlike those on other social networking sites, are overwhelmingly female (women are about four times more likely to use Pinterest than men) and by and large call the middle of the country, a swath devoid of tech industry hubs, home.
Pinterest knows what it’s good at, and with some recent updates, the company is hoping to encourage users to branch out and use Pinterest more as a source of inspiration than as a place to curate collections of “bundt cake recipes and artfully torn jeans,” according to an April report from the San Francisco Chronicle.
And while it’s easy to dismiss Pinterest as a social networking site for stay-at-home moms and bridezillas, it’s harder to dismiss the numbers: Pinterest now has 30 billion pins, and New York Magazine reports that half of those have been added to the site in the last six months alone. If that weren’t impressive enough, the site now drives more traffic than Twitter and Reddit combined — that’s well worth taking note of.
But that’s not the only reason to keep an eye on Pinterest. The social networking site may fly under the radar, but New York Magazine notes that Pinterest is a marketer’s dream. “It’s aspirational. People pin products they’d love to own, recipes they want to cook, and projects they want to tackle,” said Robert J. Moore in an interview with the publication.
Pinterest knows it has a lot to offer marketers and has started running its own ads; according to a Pinterest spokeswoman who spoke to New York Magazine, “early feedback has been positive.”
Perhaps one of the unique things about Pinterest is that users don’t see ads as … well, ads. Users don’t respond to a sponsored image any differently than an image pinned by a close friend, advertisers say, largely because the website is used less for social interaction and more as a search engine for users who are already in a consumption mindset. Further, Pinterest is most popular with a demographic that already has a huge amount of buying power.
The company could also pose a threat to search giant Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)(NSADAQ:GOOGL) if its new guided search feature proves to be an innovative and useful enough tool for consumers. What Pinterest offers that Google doesn’t is inspiration, according to the company. The new search engine, for example, was developed to “help with questions that have more than one answer,” The Boston Globe’s BetaBoston reports.
The new “guided search” is a feature somewhat similar to other personal assistant offerings from sites like TripAdvisor and programs like the iPhone’s Siri. New York Magazine calls it a “fusion of Facebook’s Graph Search and Google Images.” Users can punch in a more general search term such as “cocktails” and the engine will continue to pull up subcategories — such as “summer,” “fall,” “winter,” etc. — until users have a better idea of what they’re after.
Pinterest has a ways to go before it has the potential to overtake competitors like Facebook and Twitter, though. The site is still relatively small, boasting an estimated 40 million users compared with Facebook’s 1.3 billion. The social network also has yet to win over male users, a necessary step if the site is to prove a real threat. Regardless, it seems the folks at Pinterest might be onto something.