Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare…never really my thing. Don’t get me wrong, I have a Facebook account. But, if I had to classify myself I’d say I was a “light” user, checking it maybe two or three times a week. Social media didn’t play a daily role in my life.
That all changed one Sunday afternoon when my Mom convinced me to “just build a board or two” on Pinterest; coaching me through how it worked, the idea behind assembling collections of themed images to a board, how to follow her and so on. I recall the conversations changing to the dangers of social media addiction next. Little did I know how slippery that slope would be.
Since that Sunday I’ve been an avid Piner and find myself ‘selling’ or arguing in Pinterest’s defense from time to time. So, you could imagine my excitement when I stumbled across Clive Thompson’s recent article in Wired, In Defense of Pinterest. The article talks about how a therapist has been using Pinterest with her clients as a way to “paint their internal worlds.” To help express the nature of their depression, clients use Pinterest to collect photos and organized them based on themes to encourage categorical thinking and describe their emotions (and have done so successfully).
Indeed, Pinterest offers users a chance to step out of their world to create virtual worlds – fantasy dream home decor and landscaping, Cinderella weddings, and “oh the place’s we’ll go.” How is this different from other social media sites? As Huffington Post writer Bianca Bosker argued, Facebook and Twitter are inwardly focused (“Look at me!”) while Pinterest is outwardly focused (“Look at this!”). It is the world as seen through not your eyes but your imagination.
At W5, we are using the power of Pinterest to help us understand consumer behavior. Similar to the therapists struggle of helping her clients express their emotions, researchers struggle to capture the unspoken ‘whys’ that drive their behavior. You hear time and time again, “consumer can’t tell you what they want.” But they can Pin it.