A lot of big news has been coming from the popular social bookmarking site Pinterest recently, including their updated “guided search” feature and their venture into advertising with Promoted Pins.
Plagued by the stereotype that Pinterest is only for women, many men have been “afraid” to join the site, causing the site’s visitors to skew 80% female since its inception four years ago.

The San Francisco-based company is looking to change that.

In an effort to attract males to the prominently female-driven site, Pinterest is trying to make the site more gender neutral. The pinning powerhouse has been making changes in an attempt to attract the opposite sex, and their first step was to add more categories that men would be interested in. Since then, male-focused content has increased, specifically in the following categories: “Geek” increased by 175%, “Cars and Motorcycles” by 134% and “Men’s Fashion” by 122%.

Pinterest is also targeting search queries based on gender. Before this change, if you typed in “Shoes,” a variety of shoe images would appear, mostly female with some male shoes tossed in. Now, if a man searches for “Shoes” men’s shoes will appear, and if a female searches for “Shoes,” women’s shoes will appear.

Pinterest has also modified the site sign-up process. On sign-up, a list of “suggested interests” recommended by the site is now generated based on gender.

Further, Pinterest has been pushing gender neutral content when introducing the site to new markets, including Japan, Korea and India, and they have seen a sign-up ratio of 1-1, men and women. In the U.S., however, the sign-up ratio remains at 3-1.

comScore estimates that 71% of the 72.5 million visitors the site saw in December were women, making it the most female-skewed social network, while most social networking sites are closer to a 50/50 split on gender. However, with the recent changes, those numbers are beginning to change. According to a recent Pew survey, 13% of online men in the U.S. use Pinterest, up from 8% last year.

With the fastest growth rate of any social networking site, there is no doubt that Pinterest is successful. The executives at Pinterest state that they want to do for discovery what Google did for search, and that is in part why they are reaching out to new target markets.  If you have an interest, Pinterest has something for you to discover. So far, there have been 30 billion unique entries pinned to the site. Not only does this speak for the growth of the website, but it also provides marketers with valuable information about what users may be interested in. With all of these changes still in their infancy, our attention will be pinned to Pinterest to see how the site evolves over the next year.

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