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Visual Storytelling: The Power of Pinterest

pinteresgraphicBy Helen M. Ryan

I posted a motivational photo on my Facebook business page and received not a single “like” or “share.” I pinned the same image to my brand new Pinterest board and garnered 39 repins in four minutes. Pictures sing and soar on this new visual social media platform like nothing we’ve ever seen.

“Power scrapbooking” is the perfect term to describe Pinterest. The bright new star of social media has in its short lifespan already won the number 3 spot (in terms of traffic) in the social media network wars.

Pinterest currently has more than 10 million regular users, 80% of which are female. The platform is so smoking hot, in fact, that in March alone Pinterest boasted 4 million unique visitors a day. That’s power, indeed.

Why has Pinterest grown so quickly and to these proportions? Probably because of its ability to capture visitors with pictures instead of words, and its focus on building relationships in a clean, easy-to-use, friendly layout.

Pinterest captures users like Facebook used to. The average Pinterest user spends a lot of time each visit pinning and repinning, and many have described it as “addictive.” While the primary purpose is to share and connect individuals to individuals, business have now jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon and are looking to share their products and services with eager pinners.

So what is this Pinterest? Oddly, Pinterest is a virtual “pinboard” where users can create “pinboards” and post and share recipes, fashion tips, art, self-improvement, craft projects, travel ideas, dreams and almost anything lifestyle-related that can be captured with an image. Users often have many pinboards, with each board covering a different subject matter. You can have a “recipe” pinboard with recipes you create and find (or “repin” from others), a “sewing” pinboard where you can share photos of interesting or complicating sewing projects, your “favorite things” board where new interests are showcased, or “motivation” to display your affirmations, etc. Pinterest is a true online community, chock full of useful information ready for consumption.

What makes Pinterest, well, interesting and useful to women in particular is that its style is similar to scrapbooking. Generalizations aside, women often excel at organizing things visually, creating relationships, and telling stories—visually or verbally. Women enjoy connecting with other women, showing them what they’ve discovered, motivating each other, and trust each other’s recommendations. Pinterest is also relaxing, and after a long and busy day many women enjoy just taking a moment to look at beautiful photos and share their thoughts. It’s the one place to let your hair down and tell people who you really are.

How can businesses benefit from Pinterest? Since Pinterest is primarily about relationship building, businesses have to look past traditional marketing thoughts and not try to “hard sell” the communities they are involved in. Talking about only yourself and your products will get you nowhere on Pinterest, but sharing others’ information will get you noticed. An Italian restaurant, for example, might pin photos of their food and patrons, but they can also provide a visual feast of photos of Italy, fine pastas, wineries, or European landmarks and hotspots. Hotels can pin photos of local special events, dining locations, or provide a visual map to area merchants photographically. The ideas are endless for businesses that can put themselves in their customers’ shoes and pin “outside of the box.”

While we may not need another social network, Pinterest has created its own unique niche. For people intimidated by the impersonality of Google+, or the constantly changing Facebook, Pinterest is great social media network for those interested in simply sharing and connecting.

Pinteresting, isn’t it?

Helen M. Ryan is a freelance writer. Follow her on Pinterest at
helenmryan or on Twitter at