With more than a billion members and growing, the sultans of social media websites have invited a slew of start-up attempts since their inception in the early 2000s. Considering the ubiquity, skeptics first regarded Pinterest as another valiant but unsuccessful attempt at the notoriety of Facebook and Twitter. When the number of site users tripled from 1.2 million to four million in just four months, however, naysayers were forced to eat their words. Accruing more than $27 million in funding since then doesn’t hurt Pinterest’s reputation either. So what is Pinterest, how does it work, and why is it so popular?
Much more than the clever amalgamation of words on the surface, Pinterest is a social media website that uses images to entertain, inspire, and unify site visitors. Prospective Pinterest members must be invited to join. After requesting an invitation directly or receiving one through a friend, they can then begin uploading images and organizing them into Boards. Each Board is personalized according to the criteria that Pinterest members choose. If you want to designate an area for your favorite sport, for example, that Board will be updated with relevant images or “pins” for your review. Like Twitter, you can choose to follow Pinterest users or specific Boards that you come across with no obligation.
As it concerns the technical minutia of the website, Pinterest has established a flowing interface to accommodate even the most technically challenged users. First, the “Pin It” button allows users to save images to their Boards with a single click. While pinning, users can add a title or caption to further personalize the image. Pinterest users can also re-pin content, which includes videos as well as images posted by other site visitors. Similar to Facebook, Pinterest users can interact with each other by commenting, liking, and following the images and videos posted by others. When you are in need of inspiration, the “Popular” button displays the most popular images and Boards so you can begin new pursuits and connect with other users. Finally, Pinterest has integrated itself into Facebook and Twitter to connect with that billion-member audience.
Pinterest has already delivered a number of stunning benefits to a variety of demographics, from businesses to job-seekers. Especially in the art, photography, wedding, tourism, and clothing industries, Pinterest gives businesses the ability to solicit their services and expand their demographics. Recognizing this, Pinterest allows businesses to pin images with prices included. As a result, online retailers who skillfully navigate the site’s audiences are seeing huge spikes in traffic. Retailer ideeli.com, for example, has more than quadrupled web traffic because of the exposure it received on Pinterest. Similar to YouTube and Facebook, businesses are now optimizing images and content on Pinterest with the hope that they will gain national or even global attention.
The rest of us, of course, can still utilize Pinterest for practical purposes beyond entertainment value. Musicians, models, artists, actors, and all other self-marketers can establish a solid reputation using the social media website, especially if they link to personal websites. Sports fans can catch up on the latest happenings with their teams and leagues so that they don’t have to peruse different media channels for hours. Charity initiatives and political campaigns can also use the sight to build a following.
When it comes to the social advantages of using Pinterest, there is no easier way to unobtrusively gather gift ideas than to peek at the Boards of the intended recipient. Pinterest also adds another dynamic to the relationship-building aspect of Facebook and Twitter by uniting people with common interests. For clubs and work groups that collaborate online, Pinterest provides a constant stream of inspiration to fuel discussion and projects. Having combined these applications in business, social growth, and self-endorsement, Pinterest is quickly becoming the most popular website of 2012.
As the era of instant gratification introduces faster-than-ever loading times, 99.9 percent site availability, and hugely popular viral content, it’s no surprise that websites like Pinterest show the most progress. After funneling more traffic to external websites than Google+, Linked In, and Youtube combined, Pinterest is staking its claim as one of the hottest websites of 2012. In addition to its already rock-solid rapport with grateful businesses, Pinterest is favored by over seven million users and counting. The websites growing list of accolades, which includes publishing features in Time magazine’s “20 Best Websites of 2011,” is expected to triple or quadruple in 2012 alone. Whether or not Pinterest founder Ben Silbermann planned for his glorified corkboard to achieve such fame, it is sure to revolutionize the social media realm in 2012 and beyond.