As a social media junkie, I have at least tried most social media platforms, but the initial appeal and usefulness of Pinterest eluded me. Sure, my wife and her friends raved on and on about all the recipes and decorating ideas and pretty clothes and cute pictures they’d seen and “pinned,” but I didn’t have a clue as to how or why I would want to use it. I also didn’t know a single other dude who was using it. I grew up with three sisters and no brothers, however, so being one of the relatively few guys using Pinterest didn’t scare me. Undaunted, I set up an account.
My first impression of Pinterest was similar to my buddy Joe’s:
“I have to wade through bazillions of photos of lacy dresses and cakes to see anything I’m remotely interested in on Pinterest.”
While more dude-friendly content has (slowly) started appearing on the site, Joe’s right: it’s tough to find anything we’re, well, Pinterested in. The site’s search function is rather limited, and when you do try to search for a dude-friendly topic, the results are presented (with the exception of technology, as one commenter explains) with a definite feminine twist.
So, searching by topic might not be the best route, but what about searching for people?
In theory, you should be able to type a name like “Dave” into the search box and find a bunch of Daves who are currently pinning things you might want to see. In reality, however, when you search for “Dave,” most of what you get is a bunch of pictures of various Daves who female users think are cute. (I hope you like pictures of Dave Matthews and Dave Grohl.) Some tweaking or expanding of the site’s search capabilities could help, but for now, the search function is very limited.
Pinning It Down
So, if Pinterest’s search functions are lousy, and the content being posted there is a veritable sea of frilly, flowery nonsense, why should guys even bother with it?
Also, while the majority of Pinterest users in the United States are female, the majority of the users in the U.K. are male. This can be directly traced to what users in each county are pinning. In the U.S., the Pinterest audience is most interested in female-friendly topics, such as crafts, gifts, hobbies, design and fashion. Since more women than men seem to be interested in these topics, more women than men are using the site. In the U.K., however, things are different. While Pinterest users there also like crafts and design, the rest of their preferred content is comprised of stuff traditionally more appealing to men, such as venture capital, blogging, web stats, analytics, SEO, marketing, content management, and public relations. Since more men than women seem to be interested in those topics, more men than women are using the site.
Following the above logic, Pinterest can become more relevant for more guys if more guys use it.
First, request an invite from someone you know who’s using the site. Then, set up your account and create pinboards devoted to things of interest to you. Since you’re a dude, chances are these things will be of interest to other dudes, too. According to BlueGlass.com’s Ryan Sammy, boards that are of particular interest to men include cars, motorcycles, men’s apparel, science, sports, (the aforementioned) technology, geek and architecture. Start one or more of these boards and pin to them often. Other dudes will notice, start following you, and repin your images. Return the favor by following them and repinning their images. If more guys do this, the gender gap will begin to even out.
The gender gap will also even out if men also post content that appeals to both men and women. This common-ground content includes posts about food, drinks, health, the environment, cars, geek and luxury. Start boards devoted to one or more of these topics and post to them often. Other people will notice, start following you, and repin your images. Return the favor by following them—regardless of their gender—and repinning their images.
In Conclusion, Inclusion
Pinterest is gender neutral, man. It’s the user base and not the technology itself which is driving its traffic. If you are at all serious about expanding your digital man cave, make friends with it and its users—both male and female.
This post originally appeared on AREA203 Digital’s 2OH!3 blog on March 2, 2012.