Monday, June 18, 2012

Taking off on Pinterest

I have already explained how my attempts to build an audience on Twitter automatically were unspectacular but there's better news from Pinterest.

Look what's been happening to follower numbers for my Places as they used to be board in the past few days:

After taking about three months to reach 1000 followers, the board has grown to 6000 in a little over a fortnight. And I haven't been doing anything different.

What's going on? I'm guessing that my name or the name of that board is now being offered to people when they sign up to Pinterest.

That looks right because many of the recent followers (below) haven't themselves got followers: in other words, they've just joined:

Compare that with a sample of earlier followers, who look like old Pinterest hands:

This lot probably started following my board in the normal way - seeing a picture from it on the Pinterest home page and clicking to follow the board. 

But there are other mysteries to Pinterest's numbers: either I don't understand how they work or they don't work:

So, for instance, why don't the follower numbers of a board equal the person's follower numbers plus the number who have followed that particular board?

That isn't the case: apparently 200 more people follow me than follow any of my boards. By the above logic, the board numbers should be higher than the person numbers.

Then there's this: when I set up a new board, it immediately had 624 new followers. And these aren't just the people who follow me, because that number is around six thousand. 

I came across this phenomenon because I set up a board with just patterns to test whether I'd even get followers for that. Indeed I did: to my surprise, 624 instantly (up to 667 a couple of days later). 

So what about an empty board I set up to test an even more extreme case? Again, about the same number of followers from the moment it was set up (and 668 now). See below (well I put one pic on it now).

Whatever's going on here, I think we can take it that several hundred people don't actually want to follow an empty board: Pinterest is somehow massaging the figures to provide encouragement for its users and make them think there's more interaction than there really is. 

Although I'm a bit surprised by my sudden increase in followers, the numbers are peanuts compared to some boards. 

Take Jane Wang of Chinstrap Penguin, Antartica: more than 3 million followers for her 89 boards (e.g. Happy - 2.2m followers).

How did that happen? She's not Stephen Fry or Lord Sugar, yet she's got their kind of Twitter clout on Pinterest, and there are plenty of others in the same league. 

Are there penguins on Pinterest?

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