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 newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Building a human-curated brand

If the FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) sector and their measured worth are the final argument for the successful 21st Century model, then they are beyond reproach. Fine-tuning masses of algorithms to reduce human touchpoints and deliver wild returns to investors—all with workforces infinitesimally small compared to the giants of the 20th Century—has been proven out.

Will Smith

Co-founder and head of new markets, The Plum Guide

Sustainability trends brands can expect in 2020

​Marketers have made strides this year in sustainability with the number of brands rallying behind the Not Business As Usual alliance for action against climate change being a sign of the times. While sustainability efforts have gained momentum this year, 2020 is shaping up to be the year brands are really held accountable for their work in this area.

Ben King

CSR manager & sustainability expert, Finder

The trouble with Scotty from Marketing

As a Marketer, the ‘Scotty from Marketing’ meme troubles me.

Natalie Robinson

Director of marketing and communications, Melbourne Polytechnic

It's a pretty interesting article to read. I will learn more about this company later.

Dan Bullock

40 staff and 1000 contracts affected as foodora closes its Australian operations

Read more

If you think it can benefit both consumer and seller then it would be great

Simon Bird

Why Ford is counting on the Internet of Things to drive customer engagement

Read more

It's a good idea. Customers really should control their data. Now I understand why it's important.

Elvin Huntsberry

Salesforce CMO: Modern marketers have an obligation to give customers control of their data

Read more

Instagram changes algorithms every time you get used to them. It really pisses me off. What else pisses me off? The fact that Instagram d...

Nickwood

Instagram loses the like in Australia; industry reacts positively

Read more

I tried www.analisa.io to see my Instagram Insight

Dina Rahmawati

7 marketing technology predictions for 2016

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in