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Pinterest Rivals Twitter in Referral Traffic

To those of you who lead “the Pinteresting life,” you’ve contributed to a phenomenon that is certainly putting its clicks where the hype is. By that I mean, Pinterest is a two-year old cultural sensation that is borderline causing dependency among its users and the rabid audiences they’re developed. This rapid fire network has pinned itself to a rocket with estimated unique viewership ascending 429% from September to December 2011…and I’m not even sure if the sky’s the limit here.

For those who are unfamiliar with the fledgling community, Pinterest is a effective marriage of social bookmarking and visual curation with an extremely fervent user base. Essentially, people create a series of pinboards for areas of interest where they pin relevant snapshots with commentary to serve as both a reminder for later reference and also as a tour guide for visitors to learn more about each object.

Many consumer brands are also experimenting with Pinterest, using pinboards to present complementary products, ideas, and imagery to inspire consumers to visualize and remix new possibilities. From fashion to interior design and home to retail to entertainment, brands are using Pinterest to thoughtfully assemble a curated lifestyle. And, they’re packaged for the social and mobile web and optimized for driving actions as part Facebook’s new frictionless sharing ecosystem.

Some initial brands to watch include:

Whole Foods
Martha Stewart
Better Homes and Garden
Real Simple
west elm
Bergdorf Goodman
Today Show
Travel Channel

In addition to soaring traffic, Pinterest is also rising as a bona fide referrer of notable Web traffic. According to a new report published by Shareaholic, Pinterest drove greater traffic than LinkedIn, Google Plus, Reddit, and Youtube…combined. Additionally, Pinterest was just .01% shy of tying Twitter for the 4th spot and .02% behind Google, which currently sits in 3rd place.

It should be noted, that Facebook is clearly the dominant player here, accounting for 26.4% of all referring traffic with StumbleUpon sitting far behind, but firmly in second position.

No report can be fully appreciated at face value. The data as packaged is extremely flattering. Shareaholic based its findings on the aggregated data from over 200,000 publishers that reach 260 million + unique monthly visitors. Publishers using Shareaholic are not reflective of worldwide internet web trends or everyday activity, but they do provide a relevant snapshot of the digital lifestyle within the social web.

What’s most remarkable is that Pinterest is still an invitation-only network. This of course lends to its desirability and mystique. Certainly, as anticipation builds coupled with creative and compelling use cases that continue to emerge, Pinterest shows only signs of remaining #pinteresting and relevant to visualized + curated storytelling and driving meaningful clicks for some time to come.

So what are your thoughts? What do you love about Pinterest? Are you a brand finding success or looking for guidance? Share your stories, experiences and questions below…

Connect with me: Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook | Google+ | Pinterest

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71 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Pinterest Rivals Twitter in Referral Traffic”

  1. Dayngr says:

    I had to do a double take. That looked very much like my Pinterest account. 🙂 There’s no doubt that Pinterest is a social network that shouldn’t be ignored. Thanks so much for sharing, Brian!

  2. Wasim Ismail says:

    I have been encouraging my clients, especially the ecommerce brands to setup and start to promote their lifestyle on Pinterest.
    The response so far has been good.
    Even though I don’t have an ecommerce account, I’m using it to show our
    lifestyle, and as a platform to show our portfolio. Again its something
    different but its looking promising.

  3. Worldmedia Interactive says:

    With Social Bookmarking and sharing links via Facebook becoming so common place and easy it’s no surprise how popular Pinterest is. We’re bombarded with digital information everyday and Pinterest offers a visually pleasant way to discover content.

  4. Pinterest is very pinteresting to me (sorry couldn’t resist) – personally I’ve been a big fan for about a year and now I am a big fan professionally. I work for a global technology company and I’m using Pinterest to promote our events, blogs, brands and trends

  5. Tim Mears says:

    Thanks for sharing Brian, has answered a lot of my initial questions around the functionality and usage of the platform. will be interesting to see it’s uptake; by users and brands.

    Just a couple of questions:

    Does anyone know how highly content / boards / pins / users rank in search?
    Also what sort of analytics can be expected for brands / advertisers?



  6. Thank you so much for including Shareaholic in your write-up! Humbled to have your analysis on our findings. You made a really great point that Pinterest is still invite-only – wish I had thought to put that in our post! Thanks again.

    – Janet Aronica
    (Remember me from oneforty? Now at Shareaholic 🙂 ) 

  7. I think Pinterest is awesome, not just for visually appealing collection boards, but also for boards that archive great content. for instance articles on Pinterest for business? That’s my most popular board at the moment, check it out

  8. I love Pinterest, such a powerful, yet simple tool!  I think in addition to it being visual, it’s strength is the simplicity.

  9. jessica says:

    Great article, I actually just started a consulting company based solely around helping companies promote themselves through Pinterest. The amazing thing to me is that it is primarily consumer driven. You rarely see people pinning products from a company’s board but tastemakers on Pinterest can be repinned and repinned. Such a fascinating site.

    • ioven says:

       Very interesting blog I must say. The things you say are generally right, but I do not agree on everything you .

      I will come back to see what else you have to say and what the reaction of other people on your blog is. Keep up the good work.

  10. Leslie Hughes | PUNCH!media says:

    I have been enjoying Pinterest to oogle at pretty things to covet but have married “pinning” with business by creating a board for social media infographics. I’m sure as the interest in Pinterest continues to climb, we will see some amazingly unique ideas for marketing business.

    My pin board:

    Happy pinning!

  11. Bizelo says:

    Unbelievable! I did a double take as well. I wonder how long Pinterest can keep this crazy momentum!

  12. jordanv says:

    It really is amazing to the see the stats stand on their own for how Pinterest has the potential to help brands. I had a conversation with a colleague the other day about how Pinterest, to protect copyright, is not allowing pins from most blogs. Seems like a catch 22, as it protects but also hinders potential visibility and traffic. Would be curious to hear your thoughts? Great to see you this week at iStrategy by the way!

  13. What I love about Pinterest is how I can create an inspiration dashboard with little to no barriers for sharing. Two clicks and you’re done. Also, the pin it button helps a lot to this “frictionless” dynamic, which makes it one of my top of mind inspiration sources and sharing platforms.

    Regarding the high traffic… I think it’s about the images. If an image is worth a thousand words, Pinterest has understood that better than anyone else. And retailers better step up their graphic imagery if they want to remain valuable there (ex: if you sell cakes, make sure you have gorgeous pics of them).

  14. Thanks for the post. I’d been hearing the buzz about Pinterest; hearing a fellow food blogger talk about getting 4,000 repins on a recipe photo got me to sign up! After just a week or so, starting to see it in traffic reports. Thinking about setting up an account for my nonprofit, but for now, have a board “social capital” dedicated to our work. I am at

  15. Pinterest
    is leading me think deeper about the images I use in blog posts. After
    all, while Digg, Reddit and StumbleUpon all allow us to review and vote
    up web pages (blog posts included), in Pinterest, any submission is
    based on an image (you choose which one) within the blog post. Read: if
    your blog post’s images are are plain-vanilla as mine have been, you
    could be well-connected and Pinterest Boarded; no one’s looking at or
    re-pinning your stuff – because they are looking not at the blog text,
    but rather, just one of the images that you pinned from it.

    • briansolis says:

       Great comment and excellent observation. Have at least one image that really grabs attention or matches the headline to visually tell the story without text. I’ve tried to master this over the years, and while not easy, it’s fun and effective.

    • Thanks, Brian. What’s more, while I am certain that I have added images and videos in the same manner, sometimes Pinterest cannot sense them; for example, perhaps you noticed my last article – also appeared at SMTODAY: Pinterest cannot take the images from that.  A fluke…?  I’ll tolerate those 🙂  On the other hand, to those boldly stating that Pinterest has taken the glory from StumbleUpon, I say it has not.  G.Analytics Referral Pageviews tells me otherwise.

  16. Cweins says:

    Thank you for sharing! There certainly is a
    lot of buzz around Pinterest lately. I personally love the site and find it
    refreshingly unique compared to some other social media/networking sites.  I find it fascinating that an
    invitation-only network can experience that kind of growth in such a short
    period of time.

    I am currently taking an ethics in
    communication course, and we recently discussed whether or not Pinterest is a
    site that promotes dialogue among users. There was some debate of whether or
    not the site actually does promote meaningful
    dialogue. In an article written by Carl Botan (1997), he states that “From the
    dialogical perspective practitioners would begin from the assumption that
    target publics have interpretations of the world that are as varied and valid
    as the client’s interpretations. They would assume that the real goal is not
    reducing publics to the service of the client through instrumental mastery but
    joining with the publics in the process of negotiating new mutual understanding.”

    You mentioned that “Many consumer brands are also experimenting with Pinterest,
    using pinboards to present complementary products, ideas, and imagery to
    inspire consumers to visualize and remix new possibilities. From fashion to
    interior design and home to retail to entertainment, brands are using Pinterest
    to thoughtfully assemble a curated lifestyle.” Out of curiosity, is there any
    specific brand or industry that you think might not benefit from Pinterest?



    Botan, C. (1997).
    Ethics in strategic communication campaigns: The case for a new approach to
    public relations. The Journal of Business
    Communication, 34(2), 188-202.


    Caitlin Weins

    Drury University
    Graduate Student


  17. Antje Wilsch says:

    We sent this to Ben. The comments are good too – all things that Pinterest NEEDS to fix in 2012 (and they have the $ and staff to do so).

  18. Fantastic!!! I like Pinterest so much..i’m here to glad from a part of pinterest…

  19. For me it is not quite a surprise for Pinterest to have a boost on its traffic rate. I found it as a very friendly user interface which attracts not only the people who are commonly aware to this kind of social media stuff but also to some people who are new in the virtual world (we must admit they still exist). Not forgetting to mention its simple looking design that is very calm to the eye. 

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