Pinterest: Why Bother?


Written by Tshepo Mokoena
Photos and illustrations by Miss Vu, Mathew Scott
05 Monday 05th March 2012

At face value, you’re probably thinking “why bother with this thing when we already have Tumblr and weheartit?”. Fair play, Pinterest is entering a competitive market for social sharing in general, and visual shares specifically. Whether on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook or Google+, a lot of young people using the internet already have a myriad of ways to share things they like, covet or make.

Pinterest does well, however, by being both self-contained and ridiculously easy to use: it just takes two clicks to get something shared, and you’re not dealing with html or a publishing dashboard that uses up that extra 30 seconds to get something ‘pinned’. On that front, they trump Tumblr and have already overtaken Google+ in terms of the amount of traffic they can drive to a site.

But who’s doing all this pinning? As with a lot of English language and social share-y stuff on the internet there are more Americans on the site than any other nation of primarily English speakers. In the US girly-oriented crafts pins dominate the overall site landscape, with wedding plan inspirations and food porn coming in not far behind. The demographics skew towards current university students, and university-educated young professionals who want an online scrapbook to keep all their various inspirations in one place.

The breakdown of the gender split on Pinterest: US on the left, UK on the right (via

On this little island though, it turns out more men than women are using Pinterest (well, as of January this year). Dudes in the UK seem to be turning to Pinterest more as a blogging tool, a PR mechanism to interact with consumers and for SEO purposes – all round more ‘business-y’ choices. That being said, there is still a big UK audience for design and art inspirations. Overall though, the numbers of UK users are totally eclipsed by those in the US: about 250,000 compared to a whopping 12 million, respectively.

Since users are able to pin items as they hop from site to site, Pinterest is cited as being massively addictive and constantly rewarding; reaching beyond your personal circle of friends in the way Facebook does, sharing something on Pinterest can have it go viral on the site in a matter of minutes. And with the communal feel, starting up dialogue and building a rapport with like-minded strangers is a big part of the site’s pull.

3 of the 16 in Pinterest's current team (L-R: Paul Sciarra, CEO Ben Silbermann, Evan Sharp)

Now: the legality. Last month two different bloggers (one a practising lawyer, the other a social media consultant) pointed out the glaring inconsistencies in Pinterest’s copyright policy agreement. Initially compared to Napster for quickly gaining popularity while harbouring copyright problems, Pinterest represents a slight conundrum for photographers and other owners of the material pinned, liked and repinned on the site. Essentially, people who pin photos they haven’t taken themselves or gained full consent to use are breaking copyright law as well as the site’s terms of use. Weirdly though, Pinterest discourages people from just promoting their own work on the site.

So where does that leave us? With a beautiful and visually rich site that could potentially get a whole lot of people sued. Pinterest are working on a ‘fingerprint’ for all photos on the site, to prevent them being duplicated and easier to track to their source, but for the moment we should probably pin with caution until the site responds to the recent copyright worries. We’ll have to wait and see.

Are you using Pinterest? What are your thoughts on it so far, if so? And if not, why doesn’t it grab you?

Don't Panic attempt to credit photographers and content owners wherever possible, however due to the sheer size and nature of the internet this is sometimes impractical or impossible. If you see any images on our site which you believe belong to yourself or another and we have incorrectly used it please let us know at and we will respond asap.