Friday, December 7, 2012

Pinterest: so what if its about recipes and hairstyles?

This morning I heard this story on National Public Radio:

The story pointed out that Pinterest is the next up and coming social media platform and went on to talk about police departments pinning Wanted posters to Pinterest.  It also started out with this line: “Pinterest is known as a place where people share recipes, crafts or fashion.” And noted that 80% of Pinterest users are women. So basically once Pinterest moved beyond a place to feed families, educate children and shop for deals it of actual importance. There’s a sly misogyny to this line of thinking I felt as we discussed social media platforms and the Election.  Whereas Facebook and Twitter had various metrics attached to them and we carefully studied the campaigns use of them,  we desperately searched for value from Pinterest (which, by the way, both campaigns used).  With 80% of users women, I actually see enormous value in using Pinterest during the campaigns as well as moving forward to promote social issues and better inform the public.  As the NPR story argues, these women are “".. the younger-ish women, who are decision-makers, heads of households, or at least the decision-makers running the family. They are the ones who are going to be most engaged,".
A major point of the 2012 Election was capturing the female vote.  Meghan Casserly, writing for Forbes, has an amazing perspective on Pinterest and the Election. Check out the full article here. She took a look at Obama’s Pinterest account. While Obama has boards that actually attempt to inform followers on campaign issues:

Is this simply a campaign responding to how Pinterest users (again, mostly female) seem to engage with the site? Is Pinterest itself with its cursive font and warm colors perpetuating its image as a feminized social media platform? And if they are is that a problem?
I actually love the idea of a space where women can engage, collaborate and connect on the internet. After the entire horrifying news about some of Reddit’s content including boards to share images of women’s body parts, the idea of a space that is welcoming to female users feels downright second wave feminist.  But I think the issue is, as this space promotes itself as female friendly, its promoting a very specific type of female: the homemaker, the crafty gal, the fashionista.  And while these are very real parts of some women’s identity, its not all the parts. 
But what does this have to do with the Election? Actually a whole lot. As campaigns become even more adept at carving out specific constituent demographics, tools that purport to reach “women” or “low income families” become even more valuable. And when campaigns choose to publish content that pander to the worst stereotypes of these specific groups, it doesn’t make for a smarter electorate.
So now, I’m going back to Pinterest with these questions and thinking about how I might use the platform to better engage with women and create content that defies the Pinterest Lady stereotypes. But that doesn’t mean I’m getting rid of my Wedding Board…..

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