What is arguably the greatest thing about social media, both on a personal and business-related basis, is that it provides all users with an equally blank slate to craft an online identity, and what is an identity if not a collection of interests? Enter Pinterest, the overnight social photo sharing phenomenon that has given single women everywhere an excuse to browse wedding dresses, a way to devour endless cupcake recipes without ever having to preheat the oven, a means of learning a quick DIY trick for hemming jeans (which you can look at on your iPhone en route to the tailor.) In all seriousness though, Pinterest is genius. It has given us a way to visually curate, catalog and share everything we like, and it has undeniably become a satisfying pastime for 11.1 million visitors.
So how to brands begin to take advantage of this growing pinboard obsession? Well, the obvious next question here (which to some may have an equally obvious answer) is, who exactly is using Pinterest? The answer is that the overwhelming majority of users are, you guessed it, female. Mashable estimates that a somewhere between 68-87% of users and a whopping 97% of Facebook fans are women. Crazy, isn’t it? Well, not really. I would be willing to bet that female allegiance to Pinterest transpired early on, and their feminine appeal became a sort of “self-fulfilling prophecy” and grew exponentially from there. Maybe “girly” things lend themselves more to visual imagery. Maybe our social nature facilitates a need to share and be shared. Maybe, psychologically, we are more fulfilled by a sense of collective interests and hobbies, rather than competing ones. Maybe we’re just innately social creatures, and thus more in tune with the relationship building and personal interaction that Pinterest encourages. But if it’s the act of pinning itself that naturally separates us, would creating an almost identical bookmarking concept that is exclusively male really work? The creators of Gentlemint seem to think so, and this article from Forbes relays their dedication to helping users collect a “specific set of content” (according to co-founder Glen Stansberry) which is really code for reinforcing the superiority of stereotypically manly things.
It seems to me that the social media world (and not just Pinterest) is perpetuating a gender-dominated hierarchy of interests and activities, when in reality, whether we prefer to post information on nail art or Ferrari engines, we are equally as valuable to marketers and brands who aim to reach us through social media. Yes, online behaviors are more or less correlated to gender, but do these differences necessitate different venues and expectations for those behaviors? The bottom line is, we all have things we like. It’s one of the very things that makes us human. And it’s also one of the things that makes us consumers.
The flagrant social media segregation brought to light by the Pinterest vs. Gentlemint opposition has definitely ruffled feathers within the online community. One blogger says “gendering our social media only makes both experiences worse,” and this raises a very important question: are men and women using social media differently because culture and genetics compel us to do so, or are the platforms themselves facilitating a gender divide? And more importantly, how do top marketing agencies look past these superfluous boundaries in hopes of appealing to the consumer and driving referral traffic?