Pinterest is a new social network which has recently become popular all over the internet and is claiming to be one of the fastest growing sties online. With a demographic of over 80 percent female users, Pinterest also boasts that it is the “first site in history to break through the unique 10 million user mark.” The site is quite simply to put it, an online scrapbook, and a place where people can show their interests visually. Pinterest describes itself as an “online pin board” which allows people to show the world their interests through images found on the internet.
Currently to join Pinterest, it is based on invite, primarily through current users on the site, or through obtaining an invite through Pinterest’s website itself, which is not difficult to obtain. This invite only style of joining new social media websites has proven to be quite successful in recent efforts, such as Google + which has still been unable to really differentiate itself from Facebook and other more traditional social network websites. I believe this could be the reason Pinterest is currently enjoying an online traffic rate of about 11 million users a month.
To actually use Pinterest, there are several ways to share pins on the site. The most convenient way to do this is through the “Pin this!” tab which goes on your bookmarks browser online. When you are surfing the World Wide Web and you stumble upon an image you find interesting, you just click the “Pin this” button on your browser to be taken to a page where you can pin the chosen image on a board of your choice. Users can also upload images from their computers or through web links as well. Pinterest users divide their interests into “Pin Boards” which can be on nearly any subject, from inspirational imagery, cats, kitchens, places to see before you die, yummy kitchen recipes, etc. Inside of these different categories are your pins, which are the heart of Pinterest, which can be “repinned, liked, or commented on.” Predominantly, this website is image sharing website, much similar to Flickr and Tumblr (which has unintentionally become an image sharing website as well.)
Introspectively, what makes Pinterest most interesting out of all things is how there is not much emphasis on “self-promotion”, “online ego boosting”, or “how great I am.” Instead Pinterest is more interested in showcasing how great something would actually be. While a Pinterest user can make a whole page, or pin board about themselves, the essence of Pinterest lies in how great the images themselves are. Businesses have jumped on board this new Pinterest bandwagon, seeing it as a new opportunity to connect with customers and showcase their ideas. There are quite a few different companies both large and small whom attract business by using this relatively new social network. Whole Foods Market for example has a Pinterest board for “Super-Hot Kitchens” which has attracted nearly 20,000 followers. Also, online crafts shop Etsy, is an appropriate fit for Pinterest, using the site to show images of crafts and then linking users to where they can purchase the crafts in the Pinterest Pins. There is a strong social aspect to Pinterest, where you can follow people in a casual way similar to Twitter, and people can “Re Pin” your pins to their pin boards, similar to a “Re-Tweet” which implies agreement with a tweet and sharing it with your followers. I really like how Pinterest uses the casual Twitter lexicon way of following people without a mark of approval (approving friend requests), like what Facebook currently uses.
I have only been a Pinterest user for about one week now; however I have encountered some opportunity areas for Pinterest to develop. The biggest obstacle for this young online startup is revenue. There is currently no advertising on Pinterest, the only real way Pinterest is making any revenue at all is through affiliate linking, which is also used by retailers like Amazon.com. Essentially, affiliate linking just allows links to the products, and Pinterest can modify the links so that Pinterest gets a small cut of the revenue upon a product being sold through its website. For new users, there are other obstacles which are prevalent, such as the learning curve which can be kind of high if you are unfamiliar with using bookmarks tabs, or if you’re using a mobile browser. One of my own biggest Pinterest gripes is how there is no pinning of images allowed directly from Facebook. Since Facebook still continues to be the dominant social media juggernaut, it would be nice to be able to pin images posted by friends on Facebook. Also, as the website is still in its infancy, there is no setting yet to make pin boards private, which could be an issue if someone wants to use Pinterest to convey ideas for a potential project, but not want other people to see it.
Pinterest has a lot of potential to stay around and change how people interact through social media. Today’s society is becoming increasingly more visual, I remember taking Visual Communication last semester at UCF and learning about this ongoing trend for people wanting to see things versus reading them. With any small businesses Pinterest is still learning the ways of social media, as the whole world is doing. I’m hoping Pinterest can find a way to keep its own purity and uniqueness while not encountering some of the problems found through spam and advertising such as what runs rampant and Facebook and Twitter.
You can follow me on Pinterest at