Pinterest drives more than window shopping

Today's Best Tech Deals

Picked by PCWorld's Editors

Top Deals On Great Products

Picked by Techconnect's Editors

By this point, most people know that Pinterest creates a massive amount of Internet referral traffic; in fact, the social pinboard recently surpassed Yahoo to become the fourth largest driver of traffic in the world. That's a lot of window shopping! The traffic potential alone makes Pinterest an intriguing prospect for businesses with social intentions, but a new survey by BizRate Insights suggests that a large number of Pinterest users sign up for the service with real shopping in mind.

Users "pin" items they like to pages that represent themes, such as home design.

The company asked 1248 Pinterest users and 4738 Facebook users how they used their network of choice, with most questions about shopping and brand engagement. A full 69 percent of Pinterest users reported buying or planning to buy an item they found on the social network, compared to 40 percent of Facebook users. Here are some other eye-popping Pinterest stats:

  • 70 percent of Pinterest users cite "to get inspiration on what to buy" as a main reason for using the social network; only 17 percent of Facebook users claimed the same.
  • 67 percent of responding Pinners use the virtual pinboard "to keep up with the latest trends on things I like (e.g., fashion, home décor, other interests)."
  • 43 percent use the network specifically to engage brand and retailers, compared to 24 percent of Facebook users. Furthermore, 39 percent of Pinterest users look for special offers from retailers and brands.

Granted, this is just one sample of Pinterest users, but those numbers should give small business owners cause for pause. Could your scant free time be more productively spent on Pinterest than on the world's biggest social networks? If you're a retail businesses or consumer goods manufacturer, the answer just might be yes, especially if you sell photogenic items and don't mind investing the time, money, and effort to frame goods in their best light.

There is the issue of scale; Pinterest's user base is growing, but Facebook's billion-plus users utterly dwarf it. Then again, a small business with a visually appealing product probably has a better chance of standing out on Pinterest than in the vast sea of Facebook profiles, and it's hard to overlook the fact that so many people are using Pinterest specifically to identify potential purchases and engage with brands.

Bizrate survey: Facebook users consume; Pinterest users create.

Speaking of engaging with brands, Pinterest users do so differently than Facebook socialites. The chart below outlines Bizrate Insight's findings, which suggest that Facebook user   s are more likely to passively participate with a brand, join a contest, or claim special offers, whereas Pinterest users are much more active evangelists, re-pinning a brand's posts or pinning items they find at a brand's website.

Facebook's not going to sit idly by while Pinterest takes all its referral traffic, of course. The network's new Gifting and Wanting initiatives suggest that Facebook wants to delve into impulse buys stemming from visually stimulating posts itself. If and until those business-friendly features take off, however, product-oriented small businesses should seriously consider whether a Pinterest presence might be a worthwhile investment.

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon