Why should journalists and media organizations take note of Pinterest? Simple. Women love it.
In case you’ve been under a rock, Pinterest is an online pinboard for expressing yourself by pinning photos of things you like on virtual bulletin boards. It was developed back in 2009. But in the last few months it has become the latest social media darling. It seems like every time I’m on Twitter I come across another story about Pinterest. For example, bloggers are writing about how to use it for business or even for news.
Women love Pinterest
According to Tech Crunch, Pinterest has more than 10.4 million registered users, including 2 million daily Facebook users. A graph from Inside Network’s AppData shows a 30-day increase in Pinterest members that displays a strong spike. Most of the users are women.
Why should this matter to journalists or news organizations? Women readers have proved illusive to traditional news organizations for decades, despite the fact that females make roughly 80 percent of the buying decisions in America. In today’s challenging transition for journalism, news organization cannot afford to lose a single reader — male or female — especially ones coveted by advertisers.
As I wrote on this blog back in 2009, news organizations’ migration to the web has largely failed to attract female readers despite the fact that women are online as much or more than men. My post then explained that news efforts to woo women largely focuses on treating issues important to women as features (not news), expecting women to appreciate the same topics and format that men do, or trivializing subjects women care about if men don’t see them as relevant.
Will embracing Pinterest reverse this trend? Probably not. But what it will do is put a news brand where lots of potential readers are and give them an experience they enjoy.
People use Pinterest essentially in the same way as they’d use a physical bulletin board. For example, people might pin pictures of furniture they like to jog their own memories when they redecorate. Others use it to list quotes they love or pictures they enjoy. Anything that’s visual is fair game.
People can follow others on Pinterest if they like what they post. They also can repin posts, which is similar to retweeting on Twitter. Repining is to take the content another has shared and share it with your followers as a means of affirming the original sharer. Pinterest is so new that users notice — and feel kind of pleased — when someone repins their stuff. They also can like things others have shared, a la Facebook.
How could a news organization use Pinterest
To me, this offers potential for local news organizations as a tool to engage — particularly with women.
I’d suggest local news organizations start by doing a local story about Pinterest. Who is using in their community? The news organization could create its own Pinterest account and search for local pinners to use as sources in this story — and beyond. Need a local woman to interview for a story about kitchen makeover? Find her on Pinterest. She probably has pinned all the things she wants in her own makeover. Need women with children to interview for a story? Search on Pinterest. Wonder how men are using Pinterest? Find them there.
Start their own “What (insert name of your community) People Love” pinboard on the news organization’s account and repin pictures and quotes from people in their community onto that board. The news organization can open up the site to allow others to pin to it, creating a way to engage directly with community members.
Once news organizations got started, I suspect interest would grow, and news staffers would likely come up with even better ways to use Pinterest. Mind you, I’m suggesting Pinterest is part of a comprehensive engagement effort, not the only tool in the box.
News with a dose of relationship
What I suspect appeals to women about Pinterest is the sharing. Pinning something is a way to say: Here is what I like, and I want to tell you because that bonds us. And if you like it, too, even better. I have found a kindred spirit. This may not be an impulse all people have, but 10 million and growing is a sizable swath of people.
In essence, Pinterest could give news organizations a way to “give women news with a dose of relationship,” as I advised in 2009 on this blog.
Certainly, it is true that fashion, decorating, and crafts predominate on Pinterest. None of these topics necessarily fit the standard definition of news. But, as I wrote in October on this blog, perhaps news organizations need to redefine what they consider news to include “what people share.” In addition, what I find so attractive about Pinterest for news organizations is that we do not quite yet know its potential. All we know is this: Women like it. Lots of them.
Already, some women are using Pinterest as a political activism tool. For example, consider this pinboard lambasting Rush Limbaugh for calling a law student a “slut” for supporting President Barack Obama’s new policy on contraceptive coverage. This board created a spot for women to like the pinboard much as they’d like a Facebook status or show even more support by repining it or following the board. If Pinterest continues to be used this way, it offers a virtual way for women — or anyone — to protest, share opinions, talk about issue. Gee, that sounds a lot like news to me.