Is Pinterest Just for Girls?

Posted Feb. 16 2012, 12:21:03 pm

Ashlyn Brewer

Vice President


I’m one of those people that scoffs when anything gets too gendered. I mean, it’s 2012. There shouldn’t be “boy jobs” and “girl jobs.” And don’t even get me started on gendered soft drinks (I’m looking at you, Dr. Pepper Ten .)

So, I was a little surprised to learn that we had suddenly assigned gender to social networks. Specifically, that conversation currently centers on the question — “Is Pinterest just for girls?”

Pinterest is a new image-dominated social network where users “pin” images to create their own virtual bulletin board.

So, if you’re in the business of selling anything visually compelling, you should be watching Pinterest closely. And, of course, one of the most important tools to evaluate a network’s usefulness as part of a social media strategy is its users.

However, we should know better than to draw clear-cut gendered distinctions here. It’s clearly not so simple as to say “targeting women – get on Pinterest!” or the inverse. Pinterest is worth watching because of its functionality, how it differs from other networks and its addictive nature.

Yes, currently there are more female users on Pinterest than male, but is Pinterest just for girls?

No. The social network’s functionality itself is gender neutral. And, the shift toward image-driven communication is universal. Look at the rise of infographics for example. I’m seeing more and more of my male friends join, and since the network relies on user-curated content, the content make-up can easily shift if its user base does.

I fully agree that Pinterest needs content diversity to be relevant to a broad audience. (If it wants to, that is.) For example, I don’t enjoy party planning and recipe perusing as much as some of my colleagues, so what can Pinterest offer me? But I can see the potential there. Just give me some good infographics, skylines and anything from The Oatmeal.

The people asking if Pinterest is just for girls are, in my opinion, probably just looking for an excuse to ignore it, and to judge a social network based on what its initial user base does with it — a rookie mistake we laugh off when it comes to Google Plus. (And isn’t it interesting that there isn’t a big push to diminish Google Plus based on its gender imbalance?)

As digital communications professionals, we seem to take pride in “discovering” the next big social network. It would be a shame if we missed a real opportunity for our companies or our clients by writing off something that already has an impassioned user base, even if that base is currently female-dominated. 


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