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:
- comScore claims that Pinterest hit 10 million U.S. monthly unique visitors, faster than any standalone website ever.
- Shareaholic reports Pinterest drove more referral traffic than Twitter in February 2012, and more referral traffic than Google Plus, LinkedIn and YouTube combined in January 2012.
- RJMetrics claims that Pinterest is a top traffic driver to women’s lifestyle magazines and independent blogs.
- Alexa reports that Pinterest is on pace to become a “Top 50″ website.
- Compete.com’s SiteAnalytics claims that Pinterest had more than 16.25 million unique visitors in February 2012.
- AppData.com reports that Pinterest has 11.7 million active registered users.
- TechCrunch reports that “Pinterest growth is better than Facebook or Twitter at the same point in their history”
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.
- PinReach is a Web-based services that offers a “simplified view of your overall Pinterest social media reach” with trend monitoring, etc.
- Several sites offer tips on how to “optimize” your Pinterest presence.
Web and social media analytics appear to be the preferred method, although some studies used surveys.
- BlogHer asked questions about Pinterest as part of their annual survey study on women and social media
- RJMetrics employed two methods: cohort analysis and central limit theorem. Their study identified random users who joined at various times in the company’s history, downloaded their complete history of pins, and analyzed variables such as engagement and quality of content from new users vs. old users.
How Libraries Are Using Pinterest
- Pinterest and Academia webinar: Joe Murphy
- Pinterest for Museums and Libraries: Joe Murphy
- Using Pinterest in School Libraries
- Pinterest: Revolutionizing the Way Libraries are Used
- Uses of Pinterest for Libraries
- Pinterest for Libraries: What We’re Doing
- Library as Incubator
- What Is Pinterest and Why Should Museums Care?
- Pinterest, Copyright, and Terms of Service
- Fear of Pinterest
- Pinterest Contest for the New Librarian
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.