Last time we checked, Pinterest was a site mostly full of women pinning away images of wedding planning and home decor. The site is in fact about 80% women, according to data from Google Ad Planner. But there are still a few dudes on the site. User Mike Dew, aka tempspaz, is the most-followed guy on Pinterest. ReadWriteWeb tracked him down via some search sleuthing and asked him a few questions about what it's like being the most-followed guy on the Internet's new social-network darling. Mike joined the site in October 2010, meaning that he didn't even read A Guy's Guide to Pinterest before becoming a pinner.
Mike Dew is a Philadelphia-based, Cincinnati-born graphic designer. On Pinterest, he just goes by Mike D. His profile pic shows his faded red Cincinnati Reds cap, eyes, eyebrows and nose. Mike currently has 16 boards, ranging from design to sustenance to threads. He is only following 62 people. A total of 1,331,092 people currently follow him.
Strangely, Mike says he found out about his immense amount of followers accidentally. When we chatted on the phone, he didn't come off as a kind of Twitter social-media marketing guru type. Rather, he's just a pretty cool guy with an awesome eye for design. He is a tastemaker, and his platform is Pinterest.
"Over the winter, things just kind of took off," he tells ReadWriteWeb. "Someone I work with DM'ed me the Mashable article of top 15 Pinterest users. I saw it and thought 'That's pretty crazy!' "
Pinterest and the Social Media Celebrity
Celebrities are made on social media. Or, rather, social-media celebrities are made on social media.
"It's just a website, so it's not like I'm a celebrity," Dew says. "It's hard to know how great of a reach I actually do have. I've been doing the same thing on Pinterest for the last year and a half or so, and there's just a different number on my Pinterest page."
He also doesn't really have any idea how all this happened.
"I started noticing that I was getting a lot of followers over Christmas time," he says. "I had about 300 or so in October 2011. Then I went home to Cincinnati over the holidays, and when I came back I had 150,000 followers. I asked my friends if the same thing had happened to them, and they said no, it hadn't, and they didn't know what this was about."
By late March, when the Mashable top pinner dudes article came out, Dew says he had accumulated about 600,000 followers.
"And from there it was just like boom, boom - 500,000, then 750,000, and then I hit 1 million."
But what does it all mean? Dew tells us that he didn't bother to contact Pinterest to figure out how this happened or even why. In the meantime, he says that his Pinterest popularity has helped him gain some freelance design work, but nothing that he would describe as "weird" or "over-the-top." He has also pinned a few things for friends, to help them get additional exposure.
Dew is not new to using the Internet for cataloging imagery that he finds inspiring or interesting.
"Over the years, I have had all these different blogs and inspiration sites that I would go to," he says. "Stuff would pop up, and there was never a good way to catalog stuff that I wanted to save. When Pinterest came around, that was perfect."
Even though his focus is design, he does say that having a lot of interior design and travel imagery has helped him take off.
"A nice picture of Japan gets around," he says. "Or, that's a nice picture of a kitchen - and I really do like to cook. So that might have a little bit to do with why I have a lot of people following me. Everyone likes beautiful pictures of food."
Dew is a considerate pinner, only pinning images once or twice a day. He is polite and not interested in filling his followers' streams with too much stuff.
"Some people I follow fill up my news feed and it gets irritating," he says. "I don't want to overload people with too much stuff."
Pinterest or Facebook? Why Not Both?
For visually oriented folks, such as artists, designers, chefs and those with good taste, Pinterest is a haven of images. It complements the already visual nature of Facebook - yet, on Pinterest, it's hard to have a full-fledged conversation about images. Plus, Facebook is still a very personal space; at least, it is for Dew.
"Keeping Facebook private for me is still important," says Dew. "People find me from Pinterest, but I don't accept those friend requests. If I don't know you and you don't know me, why be friends on Facebook?"
Will Pinterest eclipse Facebook? Or are Facebook and Pinterest fraternal twins of some sort?
"As long as there are people like me, Pinterest will have an audience or a user base," Dew says. "It might not eclipse Facebook, but it will be a Web standard like Google and Facebook. I think Pinterest could be on that level."