It’s not all that easy to explain Pinterest. On the face of it, it’s like the scissors and glue of the Internet, with millions of people using it to put all the lovely things they’ve found in one convenient place. But that feels far too simplistic for a platform that lets you organise, share, chat, shop, connect and collaborate.
“I have a LOT of boards,” laughs Canon EMEA Social Media Strategist, Jessica Dippenaar. Her Pinterest account is filled with creative ‘boards’, where she brings together ideas and inspiration for crafty activities, decor, event planning and more. “If I didn’t have Pinterest, my ideas would just get forgotten. I wouldn’t have time to cut things out of magazines… it would just be a search on the day, maybe some screen shots of webpages or a few bookmarks.” Jessica creates personal project boards, as well as others to share with family and friends, and uses Pinterest as a visual hub to collaborate on party planning. And she is far from alone – Pinterest has around 400 million monthly active users of worldwide, a number that has more than doubled since 2017.
Users can ‘Pin’ content from other Pinterest boards or from anywhere on the internet (using a browser plug-in), creating mood boards or assembling lists of items, activities, interesting articles, inspiring quotes – anything at all, as long as it has an image associated with it. This means that there’s hardly any limit to the discoveries that you can collect and organise. Clearly, this lends it perfectly to bringing together ideas for projects, and as a result, Pinterest has been the digital, if not spiritual, home of interior design worshippers since its very earliest days. Today, accounts like Maryann Rizzo are still among the most popular, with millions of followers and monthly users. And the interior décor rabbit hole runs deep. “Every time you save a Pin to the board it updates Pinterest’s algorithm of what you’re interested in,” explains Jessica. “Then Pinterest will recommend Pins you might like to add to your board.” As long as users keep pinning, it will offer an endless source of inspiration. It’s a rabbit hole, alright, but one that users help to dig. “I’ve spent hours on train rides looking at Pinterest on my phone because over time, as you get more and more boards and more and more Pins, it shows you more accurate content.”
Collect, connect, collaborate
While it might appear that Pinterest is something of a solitary pursuit, boards can be owned by more than one Pinterest account and easily shared with others – whether they have a Pinterest account or not. “If I think something will be really good for my friend, I can share it with them. And if they’re not on Pinterest, I can copy the link and email it or WhatsApp it to them,” explains Jessica. It’s this ready access to inspiration, teamed with ease of co-working that that’s made Pinterest the tool of choice for many creative businesses, allowing them to share looks and ideas, linked back to the source, in a way that can help simultaneously visualise and budget.
Discovering brands and following influencers
If you search for ‘cosy autumn looks’ or ‘winter picnic ideas’, you’ll see dozens of recommendations from all sorts of brands and people – some you’ll have heard of, others a welcome new source of inspo – but all are successfully using Pinterest as a business tool for its ability to create the visual impact that search engines cannot. Their accounts are split in two and a mix of their own content (‘created’) with that they’ve pinned from fans (‘saved’). This creates an effective two-way community that connects them with new followers/customers, while celebrating loyalty through competitions, hashtags and campaigns. Brands like Ikea have engaged followers brilliantly by using Pinterest’s business tools and creating quizzes that generate shoppable mood boards.
Every time you save a Pin to the board it updates Pinterest’s algorithm
Education and personal growth
In the beginning, Pinterest was largely used by women, but that’s changed in a big way. Today, women still make up 60% of the user base, but its appeal now extends to everyone – and across all ages. This is reflected in the way that it’s being used, with Pins around social issues and movements gaining ground. According to Pinterest, in the last twelve months Gen Z Pinners were searching for ‘gender equality’, ‘mental health check-in’ and ‘body positive’ more than ever before. Earlier in the year, Pinterest added features to connect users to the Black Lives Matter movement, with the ‘Today’ tab featuring resources on subjects such as allyship, history, art and how to speak to children about racism.
Scrolling and evolving
Visual search engine, interactive mood board, shopping inspiration, life-hack lifesaver. However you choose describe it, however you use it, it’s undeniably addictive and packed with fast, excellent content. And its growth seems unstoppable as Pinterest constantly attracts new users, updates its offering and adds new ways to create and discover, while also staying one step ahead by continually looking at the new ways in which Pinners use the platform. “As you scroll and Pin, more options instantly appear,” says Jessica. “…but it all starts with an image.”
Looking for creative inspiration? Follow Canon Europe on Pinterest.