Pinterest CEO says key to success was marketing, not engineering

Pinterest/CBS

Pinterest skyrocketed to become the third largest social network in April. But, it might be the site's marketing -- not its technology -- that has made it the success it is today.

Pinterest is a social network where people make image boards to share photos in a collection. When an image is "pinned," it goes to a main feed where other people can either repin the image or follow the user or board.

According to Pinterest chief executive officer, Ben Silbermann, the site's success can be mainly attributed to good old-fashioned marketing. Silbermann spoke at Y Combinator's Startup School at Sanford University, AllThingsD reports.

Silbermann described how Pinterest, which started with just 3,000 users, began having events at local businesses to engage active users and local bloggers. Because the founders did not have a technical background, they found that investors were wary of backing the company.

Silbermann's lesson to aspiring entrepreneurs may be that there is no single secret to Silicon Valley success stories.

"A lot of people in Silicon Valley didn't get, and I don't know if they still get, Pinterest," Silbermann told audience members. "The fact that it made sense to someone is what really mattered to me."

Many say Pinterest's success is rooted in its addictive nature. Some of the most popular "pins" are of do-it-yourself tutorials and recipes.

"All of a sudden it's given me the confidence to do and try things," stay-at-home mom Kristi Gilbert told CBS News correspondent Lee Woodruffin March. "All the recipes, like the centerpiece ideas, everything I just threw to the board. And like last night when I was preparing the food, I go and the recipes right there, I can link right through it. It just makes it easier."

According to ComScore, Pinterest had over 23 million unique visitors and more than 1.7 billion monthly page views in July 2012. Experian Marketing Services reports that the site grew 5,124 percent between July 2011 and July 2012.

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