How is Pinterest Different from Other Social Networks

Jan 03, 12 How is Pinterest Different from Other Social Networks

There must be something different about Pinterest.  After all, with so many choices for social networks including Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Path, and Twitter, why are so many people willing to sign up for yet another social network?  We’ll also see that Pinterest has attracted more women than men.  What is it that makes Pinterest so special?

  • More Emotional. The first thing everyone says about Pinterest is that it’s “visual.”  That’s the most obvious difference.  But what they’re really saying is that Pinterest connects on a more sensory, emotional level than the other websites and social networks that are covered in text.  When you go to Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, you see pages of words.  Since you are mostly reading, visiting those sites is a cerebral experience where you have to absorb and think about information.  Pinterest is visceral.  We instinctively react to the colors, shapes, and stunning beauty of photos.  You will see that this difference is one of the keys to how we market effectively on Pinterest.
  • Less social anxiety. At first, it may seem like a negative rather than a positive that Pinterest is less social than other social networks.  After spending some time on Pinterest, you’ll realize that there is not a lot of conversation on the site despite the ability to write comments.  The interactions between users are largely done by sharing images and video rather than talking about them.  But with the conversation gone, so is the social anxiety.  There’s no pressure to remember birthdays, respond to messages in your inbox, or comment on a friend’s subtle cry for attention.  There’s no relationship drama being played out in public.  Pinterest connects people in a new way through interests rather than dialogue.
  • Feels safer. Because you are sharing your interests on Pinterest and not your personal life, there are far fewer privacy concerns. Other Pinterest users can see from your profile that you are passionately interested in cooking and shoes – not review embarrassing photos from that party two years ago when your friend had way too much to drink.  This creates the potential for you to connect with more people because you don’t mind sharing your Pinterest boards with complete strangers.
  • Goes at my pace. Many social networks give you a real-time stream of what’s going on right now. There are tweets on live news as it happens, Foursquare check-ins broadcasting where your friends are right now, and Facebook status updates from the party still in progress.  This means that you also have to check Facebook and Twitter all day long to keep up even if it’s while you’re on vacation, at the dinner table, or in a meeting.  Pinterest doesn’t have the same expiration date on its content.  People are sharing their interests rather than live news.  This makes Pinterest a much more relaxed experience where you don’t feel rushed or guilty if you don’t come back for a few days.  As you’ll see from the engagement statistics, Pinterest users are still extremely active on the site but they don’t feel stressed by the urgency of using it.
  • Outlet for creative expression without the work.  Everyone needs a creative outlet but not everyone has the time or creative genius to author masterful works of art from scratch.  However, everyone has an opinion.  If you ask someone truly passionate about cooking, you’ll hear strong views on the absolute best kitchen gadget, the indisputably right way to cut an onion, or the only authentic way to make lasagna. All of us are happy to share our expertise and passions with others and even if we don’t have time to create, we can curate.
  • Aspirational. Most social networks serve as a way to express yourself.  But while Facebook is where you express who you are now (and who you were in the past), Pinterest is very much about who you want to be in the future.  Although every user can create and categorize their boards any way they want, some of the frequently seen boards contain images for a user’s dream home, perfect wedding, or fantasy travel destinations.  Your Pinterest boards are not necessarily so much a reflection of who you are now as the person you will be someday.

The previous article was excerpted with permission from Pinterest Marketing Bible: The Definitive Guide to Marketing Your Brand and Products on Pinterest by Leon Cho.  Now that you understand more about how Pinterest is different for the user, you can see why Pinterest is different for marketers.

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