Pinterest’s Product Problem: Where Are The Men?

In the world of social media, few firms have become quite as large as quickly as Pinterest has – clearly they have a very good product development definition. This social networking site allows visitors to “pin” images that they find on the Internet on their page and then share these pins with others. As a product manager, if we found ourselves in charge of a product like Pinterest, I’m pretty sure that we’d be feeling quite proud of ourselves and what our product manager resume looked like. However, even in the world of Pinterest there is trouble brewing. It turns out that the majority of their users are women – men just don’t seem to pin. What can be done to fix this problem?

The Problem With Men

Let’s face it: Pinterest is pretty much like an online version of scrapbooking. You know, scrapbooking is when women get together and put all of the photos that they’ve taken of their children, family, dogs, etc. into big binders decorated with lots of memorabilia and flourishes. Generally speaking, guys don’t participate in this kind of activity. Pinterest’s statistics appear to reflect this: last month 71% of the visitors to Pinterest were women. Clearly there is an imbalance here.

Pinterest is doing very, very well. Stats show that 42% of online U.S. women visit the site. However, Those same stats are showing that just 13% of U.S. men are visiting the site. The reasons for such a low male rate of visitors is somewhat complex. The product managers at Pinterest want the site to become a go-to destination for people who want to find things. Their tag line is “We want to do for discovery what Google did for search.”

When the Pinterest product managers talk with men about the site, what they discover is that there is a perception that the site is designed for women. The initial success of the site was based on women visiting it and that caused even more women to come to it. When men visit the site they have difficulty finding the things that they are interested in. Additionally, when they search the site, they are presented with a lot of “women friendly” results that they may not be interested in.

How To Get Men To Pin

Success is a wonderful thing, but it’s not going to do you a lot of good if you are not able to attract half of the planet’s population to visit your site. Clearly the Pinterest product managers have their work cut out for them. One of the first things that they are going to have to do is to make it easier for their male visitors to actually find the things on the site that interest them.

The product managers don’t have to worry about some of Pinterest’s most popular topics: cooking, gardening, and travel – these are gender neutral. Instead, what they need to focus their time and energy on is to change what results are presented to a user when they perform a search. An example would be to present more pizzas and tacos when a male user is searching for “recipe ideas”. Additionally, if a user goes looking for costume ideas, the site needs to take their gender into account before presenting its results.

To really get the site to take off with men, not only is Pinterest going to have to get men to visit the site, but they are also going to have to convince them to use it and to “pin” images. This means that the Pinterest product managers are going to have to spend some time promoting the areas of their site that might have the greatest appeal to men: geek, motorcycles, and men’s fashion. Having more of this content will serve to remove some of the social stigma that men may feel when they visit the site.

What All Of This Means For You

The good news here is that the Pinterest product managers have read their product manager job description and are aware that they have a problem on their hands. As the service expands into new countries, they are dealing with this issue and the result is that they have much more balanced usage between the genders in their new markets. However, they are still going to have to work out how to solve their U.S. issue.

When men visit the Pinterest site as it stands today, they have difficulty finding what they want. With the perception of Pinterest as being for women, these issues are combining to minimize the number of men who are visiting the site. To fix this problem, the Pinterest product managers have to change the search results that are presented to male visitors. They also have to work to enhance the portions of the site that are likely to appeal to men.

The good news is that Pinterest is very successful. This gives their product managers a great deal of runway with which to work in order to attract more male visitors in the U.S. They need to take steps to make their site more “gender aware” and improve the experience of males who visit the site. Additionally, they need to create more male-friendly content.

All of these things can be done. The Pinterest product managers just need to take the time to do all of the things that they have to do. When they are able to look at their usage stats and discover that they have a 50 / 50 gender split between their visitors, they’ll know that they have accomplished their job!

Direct Mail Still Works for Trade Shows

It’s the electronic age. If you want to do anything with marketing, it must be done digitally, right? If you want to distribute information, you have to do it on the web, with website content, blog posts and social media sharing. So why go to a trade show? No one wants to trapes all over a convention center and leave with sore feet. Let’s just go sit in Starbucks and read all about it on our smart phones. Yeah, it’s a different world.

But is it really? How much do you really learn about that new software package by looking at a picture on it’s website. And, how can you really appreciate the size of a warehousing system that’s as tall as Madison Square Garden. So, sometimes you just have to go put on your running shoes and go to the trade show. And how are you going to know it’s the right show for you. Because you probably received a nifty direct mail piece, or two, from one of the exhibitors, inviting you to visit with them when you get there.

In this digital world of electronic communications and gadgets, direct mail is still one of the most used methods for trade show marketing. In fact, today direct mail averages 30 percent of advertising budgets being spent to attract trade show attendees. Even “snail Mail” is still highly affective a getting folks to the show.

How to make it work.

So the exhibitor doesn’t just send out a postcard and hope to see folks at the show. They have to start about 4 weeks out and create some awareness. Send it to all of their customers and prospects. That list is extremely important for them to be successful. They need to let ’em know they’re on the way. Put it on your calendar. And start thinking about what you can expect to see and learn at the show. Then, about 2 weeks out, they hit you again. Now, they’re getting you excited. Getting the non-planners to start planning. Time’s gettin’ close. With today’s technology advancements in printing, they can send different versions for different audiences. Split it up all they want. You and your spouse may each get a piece. A different piece. Then send you something. Like a flash drive with some really good information. Here’s the thing about freebies. This is something you can touch and feel. They can never do that on the Internet. How about some complimentary tickets? Offer you something free when you visit their booth.

And speaking of that booth. Count on them knocking your socks off with that. Make the graphics BIG! Don’t dilute the message with a whole bunch of little stuff. You will just glaze over that. They’ll make it all tie-together. The direct mail, the letters, the freebies, the booth, and even their attire. It’s all stacked against you.

And, they’ll track it all. They need a database of customers, response rates, and what got the most attention. Direct mail still has its place in the trade show world. And it’s an important role. So don’t get caught up in the hi-tech world thinking that’s what’s necessary to make the show work. The tried and true methods can still be very effective, especially when combined with some of today’s innovations to boost response rates. Direct mail can be effective and fun. After all, it got you there.