Pimple popping's popularity
It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but the “no pimple popping” philosophy basically sums up how Pinterest is positioning itself to brands in a marketplace run by algorithm-driven engagement machines. Pimple popping is not a small trend, it has spawned a reality TV show on TLC, and last year Teen Vogue asked, “why is popping zits so grossly satisfying?” On TikTok, videos tagged #pimplepopping have 16.1 billion views, while those tagged #eyeshadow have 3.2 billion views, in comparison.
Pinterest's public stance against certain varieties of weirdly engaging subject matter comes at a time when it seems every other platform is trying to mimic TikTok, which perfected the allure of the internet rabbit hole. TikTok is only behind YouTube in terms of average daily time spent among U.S. adults, according to eMarketer.
Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube and Meta have been trying to keep up with the popularity of TikTok, which is grabbing attention in social commerce and creator economies. The competition has never been fiercer, so to make any decision that could dissuade a consumer from spending time on platform could be detrimental to a company’s bottom line.
Pinterest continues to make these platform decisions based on keeping the positivity up, and not in order to keep consumers doom-scrolling on their phones, Andréa Mallard, Pinterest’s chief marketing officer, said this week at Cannes. Pinterest has had some setbacks, reporting a 9% decrease in first-quarter global monthly active users, to 433 million.
Ducard said that Pinterest is not tuning its algorithm to amplify content simply because it’s compelling. It’s not that people can’t find any “pimple popping” material on Pinterest, it’s just not surfaced as readily. Pinterest promotes more content that people “save,” which is one of the main social interactions on the site that suggests someone is into the material.
“We focus on inspired engagement, so content that’s really driven by ‘saves,’ as an example of what is inspired engagement,” Ducard said. “And when you focus on that, the content that surfaces to the top, and that we surface more to the top, are step-by-step guides, how-to videos."
"When you don’t optimize for that,” Ducard said, “you just get something that looks different. You get pimple-popping videos, and that’s not what Pinterest is about.”