Sonja Foust loves Pinterest.
She is not alone – more than 70m people worldwide use the social media photo-sharing site. But while most users are happy to browse through a never-ending sea of images, Foust takes things to extremes.
She is also known as the Pintester, trying out the various ideas that others ‘pin’ to the site and charting her attempts to emulate them through her blog. Foust, 33, from North Carolina in the US, has become an expert in failing to recreate Pinterest posts, but her trials and tribulations have won her a large online fanbase.
Since she started the Pintester blog in December 2011, a year after Pinterest launched, she has made various attempts to make cakes in mugs, applied a temporary tattoo and straightened her hair with brown sugar. Warning: don’t try to straighten your hair with brown sugar.
While it’s probably best to pass on her dark chocolate pudding and her champagne jelly shots, Foust’s recreations have helped illustrate the gap between the pristine pics on Pinterest and the harsh reality of concocting a foodstuff that looks like something that might come out of your body rather than something you put in it. But then that’s all part of the fun, she says, pointing out that all forms of social media are aspirational.
‘Go look at someone’s Instagram or Facebook or, yes, Pinterest boards, and you’re going to see the parts of their life that they’re proud of, or that they’ve found some humour in, or an idea of the way they’d like things to be,’ she said.
Pintester has become a success – it even has its own merchandise – because its appeal is universal. ‘People relate to it,’ said Foust, whose blog is in no way associated with Pinterest. ‘There aren’t too many people who haven’t utterly failed at a craft or a recipe or something, and finding someone else who will admit to it is kind of refreshing in the midst of a bunch of blogs full of the perfect stuff you find on Pinterest.’
Having destroyed her kitchen – and her hair – on numerous occasions, you would think that Foust might have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest, but she has only one emotion for the site.
‘It’s a lovefest,’ she said. ‘I love Pinterest. The part I hate is that I am not talented enough – or patient enough or crafty enough or good enough at following directions – to make most of the stuff work for me.’
The feeling appears to be mutual: Pintester’s Twitter account is one of the few that @Pinterest follows.
Foust isn’t the only one trying to make Pinterest work for her. While Facebook and Twitter hog all the limelight, Pinterest is slowly developing a business model that many believe could see it outlast its bigger rivals.
Because of its billions of images and billions of pins – with links to websites where users can buy products – Pinterest is a retailer’s and advertiser’s dream. In the US, it has just launched a ‘promoted pins’ scheme that will bring in substantial advertising revenue from brands such as Gap, Banana Republic and Expedia.
Because of their immediacy, Facebook and Twitter can drive a large amount of traffic to other sites, including retailers, within a short space of time. But Pinterest pins regularly receive a large proportion of their clicks months after they were posted. This means advertisers could see it as a more sustainable platform. Images from brands blend into the site in a way that intrusive adverts on Facebook and Twitter cannot.
Pinterest has another tech giant in its sights: Google. Last month, Pinterest introduced its own Guided Search service to help users navigate the site – the idea is to find things you didn’t even know where there, according to Pinterest co-founder and chief executive Ben Silbermann. He maintains there are no plans to follow Facebook and Twitter by floating on the stock market.
Last week, Pinterest collected another £120m in funding from investors, putting the overall value of the site at £3bn.
‘The web bubble has always put huge valuations on companies but, of course, it’s whether it can actually deliver that’s of importance,’ said Dan Worth, news editor at tech website V3.co.uk.
‘The web is increasingly visual – BuzzFeed has built its success on picture-based lists that are easy and fun to scroll through, while people love using Facebook and Instagram to share photos. Pinterest occupies a similar area where it’s all about visual, appealing items that can be shared between friends and communities and let people interact around those images.
‘If it allows advertisers to benefit from the visual impact that Pinterest provides, it could generate strong revenues and provide a clear benefit to advertisers.’
Women users on Pinterest outnumber men by four to one, but Worth said this was an asset.
‘If Pinterest can dominate this area of the web and have such a clear user base, it can generate huge advertising rates, especially as these are areas where people are more than willing to spend money so advertisers will want to target them.’
Sarah Bush, Pinterest UK country manager, said: ‘Unlike any other social platform, rather than being a reflective space, it’s a planning tool for someone’s passions and interests.
‘People pin things they want to act on later: the places they want to go; things they want to cook or items they want to buy. That makes Pinterest a great place for brands to engage with consumers.
‘Our approach has been very deliberate as we want to get the balance right between making promoted pins authentic to pinners while giving brands the opportunity to connect with relevant audiences.’
Foust, who has enjoyed her share of failures and successes from practising Pinterest, said the site isn’t about finding friends or followers like other social networks.
‘It’s so very visual, like scrapbooking. It’s not really about conversations – it’s more about inspiration.’
23 May 2014 | 6:01 am – Source: metro.co.uk