Why Are Pinterest & Instagram So Popular?

And why should you care?

Niche social networks Pinterest and Instagram have captured and maintained the attention of the tech elite and the mainstream far past the honeymoon, probationary period. And the numbers are compelling. A recent report from Experian shows that in the past year, Pinterest’s share of the social media market rose more than 5,000 percent in North America. It is a top 20 social network in North America, the United Kingdom and Singapore. Instagram’s share of the social market increased more than 17,000 percent in North America during that same period.

Why? It would be easy to point to the fact that Pinterest is full of food, design and products, which appeal to the pleasure zone for sure, but that would discount Instagram’s broader subject matter. The common feature is the image-centric nature of the content. People  respond to gorgeous images and layout. Simple design that doesn’t get in the way of the eye-candy. This is what the online world wants to see  – something pretty.

Pictures, still or moving, are the best means of engagement in an otherwise still, online world. This explains why YouTube is so popular – we would prefer to “see” than “read.” Reading is work – it leaves much to the imagination. Seeing is a more immediately gratifying experience. The image conveys information that the written word cannot.

So, why should you the lawyer, or online professional, care? Do you want to attract attention? Do you want to hold someone’s interest? Are you trying to connect online? If you have and do, then you owe it to your content to bring it alive with design and color. Pay attention to your site layout, your blog theme and your presence on visual networks. Add images, and good ones, to your blog posts. Maybe use video to give your presence some animated personality. With some creativity, you can build a presence on sites like Pinterest and Instagram for your professional interests. Pinterest boards dedicated to law firm design or courtroom illustrations. Instagram accounts with portraits of coworkers or your “shot of the day.”

The nameplate sites like Zerply, About.me, Flavors.me, and others, also understand this. That is why their templated profiles look great – they spend time on that aspect of the design because it will encourage others to spend time on the profiles hosted on the site. Why are infographics so popular? They are far more fun to look at than an encyclopedia page full of text and tables.

I will readily admit that I tend to spend more time on a site that is easier to “see” – crowded, text-heavy pages tend to turn me off. There is a reason why people are spending time on this image-centric sites. It’s worth considering them and taking a cue from their design sense while setting up your content.

More Social Stats

If you are looking for material for your next presentation on why professionals should consider the social media option, consider some of these fresh figures from comScore and others, via ResourceShelf (link here.) Here are some that jumped off the computer screen at me:

  • Twitter processed more than 1.2 billion tweets during the month of January, 2010.
  • 1 out of very 4 pages views in the United States during December, 2009 was on one of the main social networking sites, with 1 in 10 page visits worldwide.
  • Over the past year, more users have moved to smartphones, incrasing from 11 percent to 17 percent. 3G phone ownership has expanded from 32 percent to 43 percent. Unlimited data plan subscriptions rose from 16 percent to 21 percent.
  • Cisco released its own estimates that global mobile data traffic has increased by 160 percent over the past year to 90 petabytes per month – the equivalent of 23 million DVDs. This is projected to increase by a figure of 39 times, to approximately 3.6 exabytes per month by 2014.

So there you have it. We are mobile and social and getting moreso all the time.