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.

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Infographic: Compare User Demographics of Popular Social Networks

Haven’t posted an infographic for a while. Here’s one for you that is informative AND great to look at. Found this over at The Blog Herald.

Pinterest – Clean, Visual, Social Bookmarking

If a social service is going to grab me, it has to have two things, in varying degrees: utility and visually appealing design. If it has visually appealing design, but only a bit of utility, then I may play around with it for the sheer beauty of it. If it has tons of utility, but crappy design (I’m looking at you Twitter), then I will still play around with it, but might avert my eyes a bit. Pinterest has a healthy dose of both criteria.

What is it? Pinterest is an online scrapbook / pinboard / visual bookmarking / social network. Now that is an eyeful! The idea is to use Pinterest to save beautiful, useful, interesting things, but I can imagine it moving beyond that for your own personal use. Create a profile, mark your interests, and start pinning stuff. Save your web finds (called “pins”) on “boards”, which resemble a page or bulletin board. Organize and share your pins and boards and browse those created by others, tagged with your interests. You can use a bookmarklet to “pin” from across the Web, or you can upload your own images (super simple with the iPhone app for saving stuff while on the go).  You can re-pin something that someone else has pinned – pin-etiquette suggests that you should credit the original pinner with the save. Thus, the site is also social in that it encourages you to browse others stuff and interact via the repinning and crediting functions. You can also comment on pins, “like” someone’s pin and share your own pin with another user who might also like what you are saving.

Another cool feature is the ability to open your boards up to other contributors. Say you have a firm and you want some ideas on how to decorate the lobby. Each member of your firm assigned to designing the lobby could create Pinterest profiles. Open a board called “Lobby Design” and set your contributing members loose on the web.

Fit out your website with a Pinterest badge to encourage people to visit Pinterest and marvel at your design sense. Or add a “Pin it” button to your site in the hopes that other Pinterest users will reward you with a “pin”.

Even their FAQ is visually appealing. Way to go Pinterest – the “pin”nacle of design and utility!