Pinterest: Will it ever become a male hangout?

Pinterest logoHere’s a statistic about social media platform Pinterest that will probably surprise few people:  As of June 2014 statistics reported by digital analytics firm comScore, its user base is more than 70% female.

… Which means that Pinterest remains the most “gender imbalanced” of all the major social media platforms.

For the record, other social platforms have far more gender balance among their user bases – with at least 45% being male:

  • SnapChat:  52% male
  • Tumblr:  52%
  • Twitter:  48%
  • Facebook:  47%
  • Instagram:  45%
  • Pinterest:  28%

But here’s the thing:  Pinterest has been trying mightily hard to attract more male participants, but the proportional figures have yet to budge.

This points to a fundamental challenge.  It’s very difficult to change the image and atmospherics of a social platform once they’ve become so firmly entrenched.

And it’s not just a question of image.  The platform’s content says it all.

Jill Sherman, vice president of social and content strategy at marketing communications firm DigitasLBi, puts it this way:

“If you pull up Pinterest and go into any content section, you will see purses, dresses and women’s shoes — because women are the user base.  When 70% of the users are female, then 70% of the content is going to be female-oriented.” 

Pinterest for menHope springs eternal, however.  Pinterest is continuing its effort to attract more men.

Or at least … to make the site more “guy friendly” when a new member goes there signs up.  This means making sure to show items more stereotypically catering to men’s interests rather than things like women’s fashion items.

But how to get men to the stage of even signing up?  That challenge falls to Pinterest’s new “head of brand” – who just happens to be a man.

David Rubin
David Rubin

He’s David Rubin, erstwhile senior vice president of marketing at Unilever, where he worked on marketing the Axe brand of men’s body care products.

Mr. Rubin might wish to start his tenure by asking himself what would bring him to engage with Pinterest more … because according to news reports, Rubin had posted only 22 items on Pinterest prior to joining the company.

DigitasLBi’s Jill Sherman sees a challenge for Pinterest that is fundamentally basic.  “They haven’t cracked the motivation code:  How to attract men and keep them using the platform beyond saving things that pique their interest.”

I agree – and I’d go a step further.  Convincing people to visit Pinterest to find or view something of interest “feels” like a function a search engine such as Google Images is doing quite well already.  Who needs “yet another place” to tap into that functionality?  Especially if one is a male of the species?

In order for Pinterest to evolve beyond where it is today, perhaps it needs to look at what Facebook and others have been doing to create communities and interaction beyond just pretty pictures and videos.

It could be a tall order.

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