We Heart It quietly amasses a following, sneaks up on Pinterest

With 20M young, active users, We Heart It has become the dark horse of social networks

We Heart It has quietly amassed 20 million active monthly users and given Pinterest some competition.
We Heart It has quietly amassed 20 million active monthly users and given Pinterest some competition.

If Pinterest is looking over its shoulder, it's probably keeping an eye on We Heart It, an image-based social networking site that has quietly amassed a user base of 20 million.

We Heart It is a social site focused on photos, much like Pinterest. However, unlike it's older and bigger rival, We Heart It has that marketer's dream of a 16- to 24-year-old core base and US$8 million in investor funding.

The site says it's adding a million new users a month.

We Heart It has quietly amassed 20 million active monthly users and given Pinterest some competition. For a company that was incorporated two years ago and hired its first CEO just two months ago, We Heart It has made a lot of progress.

"We've been very quiet. We've been focused on the product and our users," said CEO Ranah Edelin. "Facebook is great. I use it all the time. I have a lot of respect for them but this is about defining who you are and expressing who you are in a visual way. And that can make it easier to understand someone."

We Heart It is built to enable users to collect and share images, which sounds a lot like Pinterest, a pin-board-style service that also allows users to create and share collections of images.

Pinterest, with about 50 million active users, is known for having its older users who are interested in do-it-yourself projects and images focused on gardening, fashion and crafts.

We Heart It's younger users are more interested in telling the world about themselves through images of things they're interested in, says Edelin.

"You can follow people, but it's not about connecting with your friends," he said. "Facebook is about connecting with the friends you know. This is more about following people you have shared interests with. If I'm interested in scuba diving or traveling, I'm going to follow people interested in the same thing."

Brad Shimmin, an analyst at Current Analysis, said younger users especially are increasingly into sharing images, perhaps more than written posts, on social media.

"Look at how somebody uses Facebook compared to a site like this," said Shimmin. "You are telling people who you are through this service without writing a 4,000-word manifest. What strikes me as compelling is that some people may not feel comfortable talking about what they had for breakfast but they can tell people who they are, in a very intimate way by associating themselves with things they like."

We Heart It is all about what things, interests, causes or hobbies people want to be identified with. It's kind of like a visual ID, Shimmin added.

"Here you get rid of these contractual social obligations," said Shimmin. "This is more emotional, I think. It's more about following images than people."

We Heart It youthful base, and the fact it's adding a million new users a month, gives Pinterest something to worry about, said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.

"I had not heard of the site, but my teenage girls had," he said. "Social media is like TV channels, in that as long as it is very different and has enough scale, it can pull users away from the largest sites. This is very different from Pinterest, which has drawn an older and more diverse crowd but 20 million active users is impressive."

Pinterest needs to figure out how it could draw in the 16 to 24-year-old demographic, Moorhead added.

Shimmin, however, said there's plenty of room for both Pinterest and We Heart It to succeed with their own user bases.

"The market for social network destination sites is phenomenally large and vibrant and able to support a wide array of audiences," said Shimmin. "I think Pinterest and We Heart It have a different philosophy about them and I think the market can house both. You don't' have to pledge your allegiance to one or the other."

<<p>Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

Read more about social media in Computerworld's Social Media Topic Center.

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

What does the CMO of 2017 look like?

The marketing landscape continues to evolve, and leading marketers are working hard to ride the wave. So what does it take to stand out from the pack?

Andrew Haussegger

Co-founder and CEO, Green Hat

The real asset of small data – getting granular unearths opportunities

When most marketers use the word ‘data’, what springs to mind are large sets of numbers, Excel spreadsheets, cloud-based IT systems and complicated algorithms. Big data speak is the mot du jour. There is even a big data Week in London called the Festival of Data.

Pip Stocks

CEO and founder, BrandHook

Digital Transformation challenges for CMOs

New problems are rarely fixed by applying old thinking. In the last decade, a combination of circumstances has evolved that requires new thinking from marketers. This new thinking takes advantage of the digital environment and transforms business as we know it.

Mark Cameron

CEO, Working Three

it is natural that agriculture needs innovatons. I'd say that it's a must. by the 2050 there will be 1/3 more people on the planet and no...

mariobros77

How a new digital and data strategy for agriculture is helping farmers innovate

Read more

Need to improve your customer journey? We're excited to announce that we are holding that we are holding two more sessions of our sellout...

Proto Partners

Customer journeys: The new differentiation battlefield - Customer insights - CMO Australia

Read more

Thanks Mark. A third of customers leave brands after one negative experience, thats why it is ever so important that we optimise EVERY in...

Proto Partners

Customer journeys: The new differentiation battlefield - Customer insights - CMO Australia

Read more

Hi Kyle -- great piece. I couldn't agree with you more when you say that we as marketers are in the business of choice. I actually wrot...

Matthew Willcox

Tapping behavioural science for consumer influence

Read more

Great points. When it comes to optimizing the app experience, making sure you collect rich usage data is important, but making sure you c...

Dustin Amrhein

Why app engagement must be personalised - Mobile strategy - CMO Australia

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in