Although the social media platform Pinterest appears to have been an overnight success in mid-2011, it’s really been four years in the making, according to an article on Yahoo Finance. Ben Silbermann, one of Pinterest’s founders and a former Google employee, was the visionary behind the virtual pinboard that flopped before it flourished. Silbermann’s original vision was an iPhone app called Tote that pulled data from multiple online product catalogs into one, meta catalogue for shoppers. Users could find products from multiple retailers in one place, and search by location. When the app didn’t achieve the success he had hoped, Silbermann observed that the people who were using the app were sending themselves images of the products they liked and collecting them. He eventually realized that people weren’t searching for a specific product by name. They were searching by category. And hence, it evolved into an idea that made $37 million in 2011 alone.
So what does this mean for platforms like Facebook and Twitter that have already carved out a hefty piece of the social media pie? Well, according to research from a Compete Online Shopper Intelligence Survey, one in four consumers report that they are spending less time on other social media sites in favor of Pinterest. It’s becoming more than just a place where people go to show off their MacGyver-like craft skills (although they can do that there, too). It’s a place that’s driving purchasing decisions. Twenty-five percent of those surveyed reported purchasing a product or service after searching for it on Pinterest.
In the last year, Pinterest has grown from 700,000 unique visitors to nearly 20 million, which is about half the number of Twitter’s unique visitors. They’ve even tapped into an audience that wasn’t previously engaged in social media. Fifteen percent of users on Pinterest reported that they do not use any social media sites. It’s become a place where people go to find excursions in Costa Rica, the perfect recipe for a seven-layer cheese dip, inspiration for wedding invitations, the right outfit for a big interview, or step-by-step instructions of how to expand your closet, without bringing your house down with it.
If you can dream it, you can find it. And if you can’t find it, you can pin it.