The news jumped this weekend. According to The New York Times, Pinterest, the company created and led by Ben Silbermann, is close to taking over VSCO, a photo editing ‘app’ that even created a viral movement during 2019. At first glance it seems like a movement minor, a union of secondary actors, somewhat forgotten, who seek the key to try to gain space in the competitive economy of attention, but the buyer’s idea is different, and his reality too. For more than a year, Pinterest, a company born at the end of the last decade, in the midst of the emergence of giants like Facebook, has become a phenomenon and, what is most striking, its success is skyrocketing among the most youths.
Pinterest, which was born in 2009 and which has since maintained the idea of being a social network “to be inspired”, came to the network when the names of Facebook (2004) or Twitter (2006) began to be heard, and even came before Instagram (2010). But his role, although known, was rather secondary, without the meteoric rise of his rivals (in 2016 it barely reached 120 million while Facebook had just surpassed 1,000). He might just have to wait. After its IPO in 2019, their numbers have not stopped growing, and the pandemic has suited him like a glove. Although not much has been said about this platform, overshadowed by others such as Twitch, TikTok or Discord, the numbers of Pinterest after the covid are very striking.
After months of confinement, he closed 2020 with 100 million more active users than the previous year, reaching 450 worldwide (50% of them outside the US) and it is not the only figure that attracts attention. Among these new users, his extremely young profile stands out. The platform has shot up the number of Gen Z users it has by 50%, and millennials by 35% and the statistics shown by the ‘app’ itself show that the number of Pinterest users under the age of 25 grew twice as fast in the second quarter of 2020 than those 25 years of age or older. Some numbers that bring it closer to other phenomena such as TikTok and that affects the economic results, which have also attracted the attention of the media and experts.
Its shares have gone from being worth around 12 euros in March 2020 to around 80 currently, and in the fourth quarter of last year Pinterest registered a growth 76% y-o-y, reaching 706 million. From year to year, the growth is 48%. All these data show the trend that the company is experiencing, which is at its best since its birth, but why? What has led an application created a decade ago to become, now, one of the favorite spaces of a new generation and not stop growing? There are different variants that have influenced, and even its ability to attract brands that invest in advertising on the platform has been highlighted, but everything points to three key pillars: the need for inspiration in full confinement and pandemic fatigue, the escape from traditional networks and noise, and the game that he plays as a complement to other sites.
It is enough to go around spaces like Twitter to see how Pinterest, which was originally a space in which to save (‘pin’ as the ‘app’ calls it and is one of its symbols) the things that interested you and were finding through the net, like a cork board that you could also share with your friends to find inspiration in what was saved by the other, it has become a general glue to go to and spend hours and hours watching a curated version of other networks. In the midst of the noise of the internet, with such a huge amount of content that it is difficult to digest, this network appears as a guide that highlights only the part that interests you from those other networks, and inspires you to dress, pose, cook, decorate or exercise.
My life is going by watching tik tok and Pinterest
– Fersita🧞♀️ (@fernandamiyar) March 29, 2021
If they say that Tik tok is addictive, it is because they never entered Pinterest
– @ A.rojj💚 (@AbiiRojj) April 5, 2021
Okay WOW these BFF boards are making us so happy 🥰 pic.twitter.com/st9aT1InCs
— Pinterest (@Pinterest) March 11, 2021
The ‘guide’ of the ‘instagrammable’
Patricia Barcena, an expert in social media, influencer marketing and tech trends, talks about three sections that are fundamental to the success of Pinterest. And the ‘inta-bae’ or ‘instagrammable’ aspect of this network is one of them. “Now we are looking for aesthetics at its best and Pinterest is a great source of inspiration“In that game of aesthetics, exploited by Instagram, but also by TikTok, YouTube or even Twitch, Silbermann’s platform has a mine. Not only can you save ideas for your post, but you can find them in spurts and keep the ones. that you like the most Cure all the trends that are on the net and choose the ones that best suit you.
To this, Barcena, adds two more business aspects. “We must mention the growth of ‘paid social’ by companies, not only are social networks used in an organic way (with unpromoted publications) but the ads have become very relevant due to their investment / results ratio and due to the great possibilities it offers us when it comes to segmenting. And finally, and as a quite relevant factor, we find ‘social selling’, buy / sell through networks. I remember when more than 10 years ago it was clearly said that social networks were not a place to sell, now it is quite the opposite … Therefore, we no longer enter Pinterest just to inspire ourselves, but we can also buy through their stores and its pins “.
“In the end, Pinterest offers many possibilities. On our digital board we can act as ‘content curator’, for example, to get ideas for a themed birthday party, make shared boards for teamwork, or create our showcase in which as advantages it offers us to be able to sell, generate traffic to our website, position ourselves better, and allow other users to discover us and ‘rewrite’ our content “.
I better stop looking at Pinterest because it makes me want to go to the beach, travel, buy clothes and have a house 🥴
— Bubble💙 (@e_marceee) March 31, 2021
bffs drop your clothes pinterest boards i’m online shopping and it’s stressful bc idk what to buy but i need new clothes
– hannah is watching schitts creek (@deckersparekh) March 30, 2021
That position is reinforced by the data provided by the company. According to these data, 50% of US users who use Pinterest also buy through the application and that number also grew with the pandemic, reaching a 50% increase during the hardest months of confinement. In addition, the business aspect has also taken a fundamental role in the platform. In the style of others such as Instagram, you can convert your account into one for companies with the aim that you can advertise on the network in a simple way, and it offers multiple options so that you can place your promotions and highlight them. “Pinterest has known how to adapt and is playing with having the experience of a social network” of always “and with a rapid adaptation to the trends of the sector”.
As for whether he will be able to compete with other giants, and the possible move by VSCO, Barcena sees a clear rival: Instagram. The Facebook network has taken some ideas from how Pinterest works, and both the evolution of the platform and the search for this possible purchase could be aimed at competing with it. “From VSCO they have spoken saying that they are focused on growing their business model of the application. So it may be all in a mere meeting or that they suddenly do something together to tackle Instagram.”
The paradox of inspiration
Although, as in almost all these cases, not everything is as beautiful as it seems. The pin social network has been selling for years an idea of a positive, inclusive place, away from noise and discussion and with the aim of inspiring, but the company has not been free of controversy either. In December 2020, agreed to pay $ 22.5 million to your former COO to resolve a gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. Françoise Brougher agreed to the settlement after she alleged in the lawsuit that she was fired for “speaking out about rampant discrimination, hostile work environment and misogyny” at the San Francisco firm.
The former director of operations of the company had accused the company, while in office, of marginalize and silence women and exclude them from decision-making. In the face of what happened, Pinterest apologized and admitted that it should do more to “improve its culture.” Even today, the majority of network users are women, approximately 60%, and that is why scandals like this can generate significant turbulence for the company.
The agreement that the two parties reached to settle the case after the lawsuit is one of the largest publicly advertised for gender discrimination. And the problems of Pinterest do not stop there. Two former black employees also spoke publicly about their experiences with racist and sexist comments, pay inequality, and internal retaliation. It will be necessary to see if the positive point that it offers from doors to the outside also serves to change the idea that is inside or its good name ends up stained by scandals.