- Pinterest last year overtook Snapchat to become the third-most-popular social network in the U.S. behind Facebook and Instagram, eMarketer said in a report. The researcher estimated that Pinterest's user base grew 9.1% to 82.4 million last year, surpassing Snapchat's growth of 5.9% to 80.2 million.
- Pinterest will continue to expand by 4.4% to 86 million users this year, 2.8% to 88.3 million next year and 2% to 90.1 million by 2022, per eMarketer's forecast. Snapchat will expand by 3.6% to 83.1 million users this year, 2.1% to 84.8 million next year and 1.5% to 86.1 million in 2022, eMarketer estimated.
- Pinterest has a more universal appeal than Snapchat, which is popular with teens and young adults, eMarketer junior forecasting analyst Nazmul Islam wrote in the report. The researcher determined that Pinterest is more evenly distributed than Snapchat among a wider range of demographic groups.
Pinterest's expansion to become the No. 3 social network in the U.S., as estimated by eMarketer, may reflect the wider publicity the company received after going public in April. The company, which started in 2010, about a year and a half before Snapchat was founded, raised about $1.43 billion in its initial public offering, helping to finance continued technological development of its platform and to support its marketing efforts.
Pinterest has generally worked to avoid being labeled as a social network at all, with an emphasis on giving users tools to collect online images on digital pinboards rather than sharing selfies or messaging. Those features are appealing to advertisers that seek to reach online audiences based on their interests. Pinterest is considered a more aspirational platform than other social networks, with users collecting images while they plan vacations, weddings, home renovations and purchases of makeup and clothing.
While Pinterest resists the social network label, moves to expand its suite of advertising tools reflect what other platforms, like Facebook's Instagram, are doing, namely pushing harder on commerce through shoppable media. In November, Pinterest debuted an online marketplace, @PinterestShop, to showcase a selection of smaller merchants that sell products through its platform. Pinterest also expanded its "Shop the Look" pins for the fashion and beauty industries to small businesses, and created an ad format based on the pins for retailers that want to feature multiple products in a collection.
In the past year, Pinterest has added more features to appeal to mobile marketers and users as well. Pinterest last month introduced Pinterest Trends, an online tool that shows the top searches among its digital pinboards from the prior 12 months.
EMarketer's report signals potential bad news for Snapchat over the long run. Parent company Snap has shown signs of a turnaround of late, bolstered by an expansion of advertising and augmented reality products and a harder push into newer areas like mobile gaming. But the forecast indicates that the appeal of the company's core image-sharing app remains contained to a limited number of demographic groups.