In January of this year, a study by Shareaholic revealed that the trendiest kid on the social media block, Pinterest, actually had some real revenue-driving influence. With a 3.6 percent share of the web’s referral traffic, the site best known for overeager brides and stay-at-home moms with a penchant for home decor suddenly turned into a serious player in the world of social commerce. More so than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined. And virtually tied with second-place Twitter, which it surpassed a few weeks later and has continued to best almost every month since.
Proof that Pinterest’s popularity isn’t limited to young women playing virtual house with wedding dresses and $9,000 Anthropologie beach tents lies in the numbers. Take magazines, for example. In the past year, more publications have joined the pinning platform than any other social network. In L2’s new Digital IQ Index: Magazines study, released last week, we found that an overwhelming 89 percent of the 80 titles included in the survey are currently active on Pinterest. Compared to last year, when Pinterest was a significant referral source (i.e., top eight) for just three magazine titles, this year, that number has increased to more than 30. When isolated by topic (see chart below), in particular the ‘Cooking, Food & Beverage’ and ‘Home & Gardening’ categories, Pinterest proves even more influential than the almighty Facebook.
This chart, however, also reveals Pinterest’s limited sphere of influence in the broader publishing world. While certain niche magazines see significant value in investing in the platform, there are also those in the News, Science, Business, Sports, and Lifestyle genres that haven’t seen much, if any referral traffic from their Pinterest presence. Now, this could be a function of certain subjects like fashion, decor, and fitness being more easily translatable to the kind of visual experience that Pinterest provides. It could also be that magazines like these are more adept at knowing Pinterest users and catering to them (there is, after all, a very big demographic overlap between the two). Or, it could likely be that Pinterest simply works best when there’s an e-commerce component. Popular Mechanics and Sports Illustrated may have incredible photos and articles for users to share, but for those purposes there are a handful of other, more established, even more suitable platforms than Pinterest. To pin, then buy–or at least have the option to buy–is where Pinterest’s value lies.