According to eMarketer, Pinterest passed Snapchat in number of US users in 2019, and will grow its lead through at least 2023.
I’m far from a Pinterest ‘expert’. In fact, I’ve probably only spent a few hours combined on the site since joining several years ago. But I’ve always thought it was interesting how that Pinterest continued to have its fans and devoted users, even though it maybe hasn’t gotten the level of hype of a Snapchat or even Tik Tok. The growth has been more ‘organic’ in that sense, fueled not by hype or a marketers land-rush, but by users loving the site and telling others.
I think you can learn so much about a social media platform’s users by asking and answering two simple questions:
1 – Who is using the site?
2 – Why are they using it?
Lets Compare the Ages of the People Using Snapchat and Pinterest
Referencing the eMarketer article again, let’s look at age penetration among US users for Snapchat:
12-17 years old – 66.5%
18-24 – 81.3%
25-34 – 49.2%
As you can see, Snapchat is very popular among the 12-34 age group. But the study listed 5 other age groups, and Snapchat didn’t see over 21% penetration in any of these groups. In fact, it only saw double digit penetration in the two groups of the five not listed.
So that tells you that Snapchat is popular among millennials (and whatever group is coming after them) and doesn’t see as much usage among Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.
Keep that in mind, now let’s look at the age penetration among different age groups for Pinterest users:
12-17 years old – 28.1%
18-24 – 35.6%
25-34 – 40%
35-44 – 39.6%
45-54 – 33.9%
55-64 – 26.1%
See the difference? While Snapchat enjoys roughly 50% and higher penetration in three age groups from 12-34 years old, Pinterest enjoys 25-40% penetration in every age group from 12-64 years old. So while Snapchat appeals to a mostly younger audience, Pinterest appeals to a wide age range. This means Snapchat’s userbase is more fragile and susceptible to loss if a competing app or platform emerges that appeals to a younger audience as well. Such as TikTok. Since Pinterest appeals to a much wide age range, it is in a better position to fend off any current or future competition.
So Why Do People Use Pinterest?
I started blogging in 2005, started using MySpace that same year, Facebook and Twitter in 2007. I’ve typically been one of the early adopters of emerging social media platforms. For the last 15 years that I’ve used social media, it’s always been amusing (and a bit depressing) to see what happens when the MARKETERS discover a particular social media site. First the social media/marketing bloggers discover the site, then the marketers that follow them try it out, and we are off to the races. In each case, the marketers come in and try to alter the basic site functionality to fit within the marketing processes that they are used to. With often mixed results because these social media platforms were primarily built as personal communication tools, not marketing communication channels.
But Pinterest was one social media site that the marketers never really spent much time on, and that’s always intrigued me. I think the main reason why marketers never spent much time on Pinterest is because it takes a lot of time and energy to create, curate and maintain boards. If you aren’t passionate about the process, you probably won’t stick with it. If you talk to Pinners or google why people love Pinterest, you will frequently hear users talk about how they love how the boards give them inspiration. The inspiration can fuel ideas, or future plans, or just give them something to dream about. But the Pinners who invest the time and energy in creating and maintaining their boards do so out of love. And they interact with other Pinners, they share their findings and likewise find other interesting boards to follow as well.
If you look at Pinterest usage from the angle of planning and inspiration, you can begin to understand how the site appeals to a wide age range. All of us have something we are planning. If you are young, it could be going to college, or getting married. If you are married, it could be travel, or relocating to a new city because of a job promotion. If you are older, you may be planning for retirement and that could involve a possible move as well. No matter what stage of your life you are in, there are major future events that you are planning for.
And besides that, there are things you need help and advice with every day. Maybe you need help landscaping for the Spring, or working on your car, or becoming a better painter, or growing your collection of old comic books. Whatever your interests and whatever your age, Pinterest users have no doubt already created boards that you can find inspiration from.
If you are a regular Pinterest user, how do you use the site? What do you love about it? Pinterest is the one social media site that I rarely visit, but every time I do, I think to myself “I need to spend more time here!’