Analyze This: Pinterest

So far, I have identified three distinct approaches to evaluating Pinterest….

Evaluating the site

Pinterest has become extremely popular in a very short span of time, and most of the analytic attention is spent measuring that skyrocketing growth:

Evaluating User Behaviors

A few studies have evaluated user behavior and preferences:

  • AdWeek (via BlogHer): More women trust Pinterest than Facebook or Twitter. More women have made purchasing decisions based on Pinterest content than Facebook or Twitter. More women use Pinterest than Twitter to get product information, for product discovery, and for advice and recommendations.
  • RJMetrics (via Mashable et al.) claims that 80% of pins are re-pins, and that the most popular categories are Home (17.2%), Arts & Crafts (12.4%), Style & Fashion (11.7%), Food (10%), and Inspiration/Education (9%). Their report also claims that Food is fastest-growing category, and the most re-pinned.
  • The RJMetrics report also presents interesting data on user quality, which essentially measures the volume and frequency of pins by users who joined Pinterest at various times in the company’s history.
  • Then there is the subjectively discussed issue of whether Pinterest users are knowingly or unknowingly committing copyright infringement or plagiarism. There does not appear to be any scholarly or non-scholarly research on this topic.

Evaluating the Return on Your Pinterest Investment

This third type of inquiry–measuring the value of utilizing Pinterest as a tool for outreach, engagement, and literacy–is most likely to be of interest to libraries and museums. However, most libraries are still in the experimental phase and may not yet be measuring the impact of their efforts.

Evaluation Methods

Web and social media analytics appear to be the preferred method, although some studies used surveys.

How Libraries Are Using Pinterest

What Kind of Measurements Can We Take?

There seems to be a wide variety of measurements we can take, due in part to the fact that most content and activity on Pinterest is public.

  • We can take quantitative measurements of records (pins), collections (boards) and their attributes: Likes, Follows, Re-pins, comments, content sources, etc. Obtaining a random, representative sample population is a topic of discussion in and of itself.
  • We can evaluate attributes associated with our accounts or the accounts of specific institutions to measure the impact of their efforts (e.g., number of followers, likes, re-pins, referrals back to the library website and/or collection, etc.).
  • We can measure the use of specific attributes such as the description field.
  • We can survey a sample population to gauge their perceptions and use of the site.
  • The ability to measure gender creates potential for demographic user research.
  • We can use text or image analysis to examine the content of the description field, for example to determine adherence to Pinterest etiquette and Terms of Use (e.g., to determine whether a pin contains appropriate attribution or a copyrighted image).


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