OPINION – Girl Power: how women rule the internet and how Pinterest will monetise to make millions

Rosie
Rosie

Rosie

Not all internet users are created equal. Some are social beings, apt to share, interact, inspire and engage with other users. Some are the majority of Twitter and Facebook users and the massive majority of Pinterest logins. Some have the power to champion your brand online, make your product go viral and reel you in millions of dollars. And the rest are men.

It might be glib to say that Men are from Foursquare and Women are from Facebook as a recent talk over at Social Media Week claimed, but it’s fair to say that it the massive net trend of social web, women wield the true power.

The “curious” case of Pinterest

Pinterest’s phenomenal rise to fame as the fastest-growing website since Facebook (it’s currently enjoying 45% monthly growth and has seen its figures explode to 11.7 million despite still being invitation-only) has cemented its status as The Next Big Thing.

And it’s been accompanied by a massive amount of digital column inches on the “phenomenon” that the vast majority of its user base (70-80 per cent) are women.

But is this so surprising? Reports last year by Nielsen show that women spend 30% more time social networking than men and are 55% of mobile social networkers, while their purchasing power on sites such as Groupon and Etsy is massive.

So why is the Pinterest case causing (mostly male) web commentators to get their trousers in such a twist? Pinterest is perfect for sharing inspiration and ideas in a way that appeals to women. It’s social, visual and inclusive.

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The cha-ching moment for Pinterest

Women are sophisticated consumers – that’s why so much offline marketing is directed towards them – why should it be so surprising that we would now harness the same influence online? Or is there still an assumption from the tech world that the internet is just too “hard” for us to use in any meaningful way?

And Pinterest has (unwittingly or not) created a massive network of key female influencers, who are willing to recommend brands, share what’s hot and create a huge buzz around products. And this is why the site is worth hundreds of millions without yet having any actual revenue.

In having attracted the tech-literate cream of the female consumer crop, Pinterest is a marketing man’s dream

Over half the items that I pin are things I want or plan to buy, or things that I wish I could buy. And the most interesting by-product of this type of social sharing is that members are using Pinterest as a shopping discovery engine. Some Pinterest pages make me want to faint with fashion finds. Will these opinion-formers get snapped up to promote certain brands?

Josh Davis of LL Social has reported that Pinterest may already be employing affiliate marketing and modifying pins. So if you share Victoria Beckham’s cat-print dress and it links to a retail site, Pinterest can adjust the link with an affiliate tracking code. So if someone browses and purchases thanks to a Pinterest recommendation, Pinterest gets a cut.

What next for Pinterest – and its Berlin brethren?

Pinterest has refused to confirm this strategy yet, but David J Barnowsky of LikedBy – another Berlin-based Pinterest-alike with plans to develop the social sharing concept to beyond a Samwer clone is less secretive: “Yes, we’re working on affiliate marketing,” he states. And he’s aiming squarely for the female market: “We are totally aiming for women – they’re much more intuitive and willing to share and are more engaged with products.”

But will we be courted by clones? Or will we be turned off by the change in nature of these social sharing sites? Not if they’re done well argues Barnowsky: “Rocket’s experience is in taking an existing idea, copying it and deploying with heavy SEM. But communities aren’t something you can just scale with money. We want to build predictive features and smart product recommendations to attract key opinion-formers”.

And that ladies, now means us. As if we didn’t know that already.

Image credit: flickr user michal_hadassah