There’s no question that Pinterest has received an enormous influx of users over the past year — it’s currently in the top 40 websites in the world and top 20 in the United States, according to its Alexa rating. But what is it about Pinterest that makes you stay on the site for hours on end? The New York Times took a harder look into the mindset behind “pinners” and what makes the “art of curation” so darn addictive — but realized that this fantasy formation has been something that has plagued humans for years. Pinterest simply just makes it easier and more accessible (which is probably why you can get stuck in a Pinterest K-hole faster than you can say “blogosphere”). So if the action of “pinning” something evokes a deeper instinct that causes us to keep coming back, wouldn’t it make sense for companies to start incorporating this type of action on to their sites? Well, that’s exactly what’s happening.
What once was considered a “frivolous and feminine” site (as the Times puts it), is now becoming a bigger contender in pumping up a site’s numbers. Lucky magazine, for instance, announced that their digital platform will now include a Pinterest-like aspect, dubbed “Community,” where bloggers can submit their contributions. Lucky editors sift through the submissions and chose the ones with the best high-resolution images and traffic to be featured on the “pin board.” Lucky editor-in-cheif, Brandon Holley, described the type of bloggers they are targeting to Mashable as, “more recreational bloggers — those who post four to five times per month and perhaps write only occasionally about fashion, rather than once or twice per day — as well as those who develop more niche types of content than Lucky covers…” The article goes on to say, “contributors to Community will receive no monetary compensation for their content. They will, however, enjoyed the SEO benefits of being linked (rather obscurely) from luckymag.com.”
The initiative is meant to bump up Lucky’s traffic — they are hoping to double the numbers over the next six to nine months (which currently hovers around 1 million to 1.5 million). Lucky isn’t the only digital platform using “pinning” as a part of their traffic building; StyleCaster has a very “pinnable” set up, and sites like We Heart It and Designspiration are growing.
And there’s a method behind the pins, as the New York Times points out, “…to [only] focus on the ‘aspirational’ aspect is to miss the point. People don’t post stuff because they wish they owned it, but because they think they are it, and they long to be understood, which is different.”
The article also cites that these images target aspects of our lives that “are incomplete or imperfect”; involve “overly positive, idealized, utopian imaginations of these missing aspects”; focus on “incompleteness on the one hand and fantasies about ideal, alternative realities on the other hand”; and eventually “make individuals reflect on and evaluate their life, comparing the status quo with ideals or successful others.”
In other words, the action of pinning isn’t mindless entertainment: “Pinterest didn’t create this urge to use visual evocations for little pleasure jolts; in fact, its success lies precisely in being behind the curve. The site’s co-founder, Ben Silbermann, has said that in creating the site, he was just picking up on something people were already doing — i.e., collecting beautiful things and using them as a way to express who they are to the world — and making it easier for them to do it. What the company provides is a clean, well-lighted place to collect found images and share them with others. In fact, the company discourages people from posting images they have created themselves, preferring that they venture out into the wilds of the Internet looking for beautiful things to bring back to the cave.” In other words, people in creative industries have been cutting images out of magazines, books, etc. and creating boards, but now everyone can do it easily.
Bloggers have been major players in the Pinterest realm, so it’s an obvious choice to commission them to boost traffic on Lucky’s website using a similar format. Do you think companies will continue to use Pinterest and bloggers as a tool to build their own brands? If so, how? Do you think bloggers will start adapting this pinning format into their own blogs to gain traffic?
[Image credit: Free People Lookbook via Fashion Gone Rogue]