Even if you’ve never been on Pinterest, you’ve probably heard of it—this hot social network is drawing attention everywhere, from newspapers and magazines to television and political campaigns. Since beginning just a few years ago, it has become the fastest website in history to hit 10 million visitors a month—buoyed to success by loyal fans who spend hours on the network each day.
So what’s all the fuss about? What is this latest social craze? Why does it matter?
1. Pinterest Is Visual Bookmarking. To put it in a nutshell, Pinterest is a super simple way to visually bookmark what you like on the Web—products you’re interested in buying, recipes you want to try, outfits, craft ideas, articles, infographics, etc.—all through pictures that link back to their original sources. As a new user, you set up boards (like folders) named for categories of your choosing; then, when you see something you want to bookmark, you pin it into its category and have it neatly organized to find again. As you pin, you build stunning, pretty-to-look at boards that hold all your favorite places online.
With an attractive and user-friendly interface, it easily solves a felt need for individuals—how to organize info online.
2. Pinterest Is a Community. Visual bookmarking is handy, but what makes it so powerful is the social aspect: not only are you pinning products and sites for yourself, but also for your entire network of followers to see—even as they’re pinning likes for you to see. Pinterest profiles are public, meaning anyone can view your pins while you can view theirs, and there’s no limit to connections that can be made.
When a user pins something on Pinterest, it can be repined by another user, which can be repinned by another user—leading to the kind of exponential sharing and high referrals that marketers dream about. Time Inc.’s Real Simple magazine, for example, already sees more referrals from Pinterest than Facebook.
3. Pinterest Is Hot. You can’t argue with the numbers: when a network draws 12 million monthly unique visitors and 10.4 million registered users, it’s worth paying attention to. Called “white-hot popular” by the New York Times and “the Web’s hottest new social network” by a Minnesota newspaper, Pinterest is appealing to a diverse audience—one that grows by thousands of new users every month.
While there are the obvious personal benefits of using Twitter for your own online bookmarking and networking, the sheer volume of Pinterest users alone also represents great potential for business. Millions of people are using Pinterest every day—so when marketers find a way to tap into that audience, they find a way to boost their brand, just like companies such as Whole Foods, Martha Stewart, Nordstrom, Minted and the Travel Channel are already doing.
With such a simple interface, thriving sense of community and wild popularity, it isn’t going anywhere. So looking at all of these factors, all of us have to ask ourselves: How might it be of benefit to me and my brand?
What potential do you see in it? Is it chiefly a fun online pastime, or could it be a powerful marketing and relationship-building tool?
Shanna Mallon is a writer for Straight North, a Chicago marketing firm with clients in diverse industries, from the makers of leather safety gloves to specialists in broadcast video equipment. Check out the Straight North Blog, or follow @StraightNorth on Twitter!