pinterest and media theory

Pinterest is a digital media platform that has developed an increasingly large sphere of influence outside of the internet space. Retailers are especially attuned to this, as many of them use Pinterest to propel their brands, whether they are providing services or products. Pinterest itself has responded to the popularity of its use by businesses by enabling businesses to create separate, verified business accounts.

Pinterest exemplifies McLuhan’s idea of “the medium is the message.” McLuhan states that the “message” of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs” (8). It is clear that Pinterest is having an influence on the scale at which consumer goods are previewed and eventually purchased, as detailed in the examples below.

As it relates to space and time, Pinterest follows the present need that we as a society have for instant gratification. Pinterest operates in a manner through which you can save something that catches your eye, immediately. It is a form of curation, where users can organize the items they have pinned for easy viewing at a later time period. This is great for retailers because it reinforces brand recognition.

In respect to the social-ideological value, power, and authority of Pinterest, the medium clearly has demonstrated that it is influential and here to stay. In a somewhat cyclical fashion, Pinterest has become a form of social proof (similar to retweets on Twitter or likes on Facebook): the more times an image is pinned, the more valuable the product in the image is perceived to be. Most recently, Nordstrom has implemented a strategy to use the social proof that Pinterest provides within its own stores. The fact that this is possible is a reflection of the facts that 69% of Pinterest users find items they desire to purchase or have purchased via Pinterest (

In order for Pinterest to have the power that it does, one must consider the fact that it is an image-centric medium. Over time we have become a society who is constantly exposed to images, thanks to advertising, mass media, and cinema. Pinterest rose to success largely because it capitalized on the fact that we are an image-centric society. Pinterest continues to reinforce the value not only of the products that are pinned, but of the images that represent them. Along these notes, the technique and equipment needed to produce those images is also validated because images of a certain caliber are in demand. Viewers are able to recognize when images are professionally produced, versus the otherwise. This “[has] driven online sellers to begin to spend less time optimizing text for search engines and more time tweaking images to please human shoppers (Tate).” To explore societal dependencies that influence Pinterest’s success even further, one would bring the consumerist mentality of our society into account. Pinterest provides a platform for consumers to have a virtual experience with the product they are eyeing, and in a manner in which they can save all of their favorite items in one place.


Kern, Eliza. “Using Pinterest’s Social Cred to Get In-store Shoppers to Make Purchases — Tech News and Analysis.” GigaOM. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 June 2013.

Marshall McLuhan, “The Medium is the Message,” (Excerpts from Understanding Media, The Extensions of Man, Part I, 2nd Edition; originally published, 1964).

Tate, Ryan. “How Pretty Pictures Are Conquering Online Shopping.” Conde Nast Digital, 24 Apr. 0013. Web. 26 June 2013.