Pinterest connects people with common interests and desires using purely visual stimuli. Yet, women dominate the heck out of this social network, currently comprising more than 70% of its user base. With that in mind, one could legitimately question that whole "men are more visual than women" stance.
For me, it's proof of sexism afoot in the online social space.
This past weekend, I read a great piece by Scott Monty
about his thoughts on Pinterest, in which he draws our attention to a couple of social networks touting themselves as "Pinterests for men." Monty pointed them out as examples of ways men are now opening up to the validity of Pinterest, and exploring techniques to market this type of online interaction to the male demographic.
One of those Pinterest competitors is Gentlemint
, "a mint of manly things." I browsed the site for about a minute. And you know what? I actually thought a lot of what I saw was pretty cool. Yes: I, a woman, found numerous photographs touted as "manly" quite visually appealing. I wonder what the presumably rugged dudes over at Gentlemint would have to say about that.
The other "Man Show" of a Pinterest knock-off is Dartitup
. You need an invite to join, but I did stop by their Twitter feed. There, I found this tweet:
So, let me get this straight: Pinterest is nothing more than an online scrapbook of recipes, frilly outfits, and inspirational sayings for chicks trying to lose weight...which is why men need Pinterest knock-offs to display their manly cufflinks and zombie t-shirts?
And as far as the real Pinterest is concerned, men should just go join the knock-offs and stop trying to crash our "ladies only" online tea party?
Give me a break.
As far as I can see, there's no valid reason why Pinterest couldn't appeal as widely to men as it does to women. We are witnessing a social network in its infancy. And based upon its burgeoning popularity, it will certainly grow up and evolve.
Remember how MySpace started out as a place for musicians trying to get noticed?
Or how Facebook started out as a place for college kids to keep in touch (and rate the attractiveness of their classmates)?
And what about Google+? Right now, a lot of people think it's just a social network for guys who look like the nerds from The Big Bang Theory. But that could — and probably will — change.
When you think about it, Pinterest's user base could serve as an example of women forging ahead of the curve. Perhaps women have just recognized the potential of Pinterest more quickly than men. A while back, I blogged about studies that suggested women were better biologically wired for social media use
. These studies indicated we're apparently better at sharing and forming relationships via social media, while our male counterparts are too busy trying to figure out how social networks can gain them power and influence. Could that explain why women have claimed Pinterest first?
Ultimately, here's the bottom line
: Enough of this boys vs. girls nonsense
. Pinterest, like any other social network, is just a tool. How you use that tool is up to you. And if you shy away from using a potentially useful tool because girls have cooties, then that's an issue.
I understand that as social media nerds/managers/strategists, we often have to determine if a social network is worth the time and investment, based in part upon user demographics and data we've gathered about where our audiences hang out online. Further, many of us are moving toward a "less is more
" approach when it comes to the social channels we nurture on behalf of our clients.
But frankly, I wouldn't be so quick to write off social tools because of who uses them. I don't want to close my mind to tools that could grow my online audiences if I just gave them a chance. Now, discretion is still good, because you don't want to be spreading yourself too thin when it comes to the social tools you offer your community. But shying away from Pinterest just because mostly women use it? Or writing off Google+ because you heard it's a sea of nerdy boys?
Now who's the sexist?