According to a recent study conducted by Sharaholic, Pinterest drove more referral traffic to sites in January than Google+, Reddit, YouTube, LinkedIn and MySpace all combined. In addition, it’s threatening to unseat Twitter, Google news, Google images, Gmail and Stumble Upon in the coming months to slide into the number two spot behind Facebook. Since July 2011, referral traffic from Pinterest has grown from 0.17 percent to 3.6 percent in January 2012. While Facebook holds the top spot at over 25 percent of all referral traffic, the rate of growth from Pinterest is astounding for a social network that’s so young.
While Ancestry.com founder Paul Allen believes that Google+ has recently reached over 100 million users, Google’s social network isn’t driving people to other sites on the Web according to Sharaholic’s data. While the percentage of referral traffic may grow over time as more Google products are integrated with Google+ profiles, the lack of referral traffic suggests that content isn’t being shared on the service or users aren’t paying attention to content that is shared on Google+. However, sites may also see more Google search traffic as Google+ author profiles are linked to articles on the Web and search rankings may potentially increase over time.
Similar to Tumblr, Pinterest is an extremely visual social network. Sites that offer large resolution, beautiful images with smart, intelligent content are far more likely to be shared than sites with lower quality images and poor content. Content from sites around the Web are “pinned” to a virtual cork board broken up into a wide variety of varied categories such as photography, DIY, home, women’s apparel, pets, fitness and architecture. Users can create their own boards on the service and “pin” anything that they see on the Web. Pinterest has also rolled out a variety of tools to pin content including a browser bookmark and on-site buttons.
Similar to a service like Twitter, users can follow other users to watch what they pin. In addition, users can follow specific boards rather than following all of the boards of a particular user. While users can also “repin” content found on Pinterest on a personal board, they can also like content on the site as well as leave comments for other users. On each pin and repin, a link back to the original content is included. This allows users on Pinterest to visit the site where the content originated and look around for similar content.
According to a recent demographic study conducted by Ignite Social Media, Pinterest’s audience is predominantly made up of females between the ages of 25 to 54 and content that appeals to females ultimately sends more referral traffic back to sites around the Web. In addition, Pinterest users are likely to have completed some college courses and make between $25,000 to $75,000 a year. The study also found that Pinterest users are likely to originate in the mid-west United States.
While Pinterest still remains an invite-only social network, Pinterest users are currently allowed to invite an unlimited number of friends to the service through the admin interface. Brands, particularly fashion labels and clothing stores, are also flocking to Pinterest to advertise new products and attract the attention of consumers. Online shopping website Etsy is probably the most successful example of attracting consumers with over 44,000 followers on its Pinterest brand page. Every time Etsy pins a new product to the page, it can directly influence potential customers and attract new sales on the main site. Other brands are also using the social network to run contests or use boards as a virtual focus group through the commenting system.