Study Finds Key Drivers Of Pinterest Popularity

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

Female Pinterest users have more “re-pins,” while male users have more followers on the popular photo-sharing site, according to a new study from Georgia Tech and the University of Minnesota.

The researchers used statistical data to understand why people use Pinterest, and to determine which factors distinguish the site from other popular social networks.

The reason women have fewer followers than men may be because the genders “are at different places along the technology adoption curve, with proportionally more early adopters among men (who disproportionately attract attention)?” the researchers wrote in a paper about their findings.

“Or, in a parallel argument, perhaps the men on the site disproportionately attract followers simply because they are scarce,” they wrote, adding that further research is needed to provide a more conclusive answer.

The study also found that four words — use, look, want and need — set Pinterest apart from Twitter.

“Those four verbs uniquely describe Pinterest and are particularly interesting,” said study leader Eric Gilbert, Assistant Professor of Georgia Tech´s School of Interactive Computing.

“Words encapsulate the intent of people, revealing the motivations behind their actions,” said Gilbert, who runs the Comp.Social Lab at Georgia Tech.

“You can use the word ℠this´ after all of these verbs, reflecting the ℠things´ at the core of Pinterest. Many press articles have focused on Pinterest´s commercial potential, and here we see verbs illustrating that consumption truly lies at the heart of the site.”

Pinterest, which reached its 10-million user milestone faster than any other social network, centers on the metaphor of a pin board, on which users “pin” photos they find on the Internet and organize them into topical collections. Users can then follow one another and “re-pin,” “like” and comment on other pins.

The researchers examined more than 200,000 pins, and were able to compile the first statistical overview of the popular site.

“We wanted to take a closer look at Pinterest because of its differences compared to other social media, including its focus on pictures and products and the large proportion of women users,” said study co-author Professor Loren Terveen from the University of Minnesota´s College of Science and Engineering.

“These findings are an important early snapshot of Pinterest that help us begin to understand people´s activity on this site.”

Recognizing the motivations behind activity on Pinterest is important not only to researchers, but to businesses looking to use the site for marketing purposes. Indeed, a recent survey showed that a higher proportion of Pinterest users click through to e-commerce sites — and spend significantly more money while there — than those who come from other social networks such as Facebook or Twitter.

“There are several social networking sites that marketers and advertisers can take advantage of these days,” said Gilbert.

“After conducting this research, if I had to choose where to put my money and marketing, Pinterest would probably be my first choice.”

Gilbert, Terveen and colleagues will present their findings next week at the ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Paris, France.

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