I generally don’t get caught up in all the hype and hysteria about new social media tools, but this one’s different. At the time of writing, it’s the third most popular social site on the planet but it has the capacity to take Twitter’s second spot in a very short time period.
I joined up about 12 months ago – you have to invite yourself and be accepted (a left over from beta testing that really has no point now). I had a look around and that was that. I’ve only gone back recently when I noticed the amount of business buzz that Pinterest was generating. It has seen nearly a 3000% increase in usage in the past 12 months.
I know what you might be thinking. We already have Facebook, Twitter, Webpages, LinkedIn etc, what more do we need? But as I said earlier, Pinterest is different.
In simple terms, Pinterest lets you organise and share images. You collect pictures and sort them onto different pin-boards that you create. Subjects including fashion, home furnishings, recipes, restaurants, architecture and travel take up most of the screen. The only criterion seems to be that the pictures need to be pleasing to the eye – no quick happy snaps here. If that sounds very Better Homes and Gardens, you’d be right. It’s like taking the best pictures from all the lifestyle mags and putting them all on the one page.
That’s why it has a huge female following and they’re tending to be more affluent and spending more time on the site than on Facebook and Twitter combined. So if you’re planning a wedding, looking for a new do-it-yourself home project, or thinking about next week’s dinner party, you can collect visual ideas and put them onto your own custom built pin-boards.
For the small merchant, designer, artist or craftsman, that means an opportunity to display their wares and connect with new audiences. It even allows for the picture to have a link back to the website and to pin a QR code. But it’s also attracting corporations as well. US companies like Whole Foods, Nordstrom, Benjamin Moore, Random House Books, Southwest Airlines, Wall Street Journal and GE are all building a presence on the site with some success. And as we know, big business will always go where people congregate. Remember those organisations that spend thousands of pesos building virtual stores in Second Life? Well this is cheaper and has a very desirable target audience.
But it doesn’t stop there either. Business teams are using it to garnish ideas as a type of in house brainstorming/discussion/development board. Government agencies and not-for-profit organisations are managing community campaigns through it. Educators both in high school and universities are using it as project boards. The list goes on and on and it’s likely to take another 24 months before we see the variety of uses it has.
But with every upside there is the eventual downside. Pinterest is a thing of beauty and with all these commercial possibilities, it could become saturated to the point where it ends up looking like some sloppy student notice board or virtual retail junkmail. We will have to wait and see.
So if you haven’t already, head over to Pinterest and start looking around because the only question I have for you is, ‘How can you use this tool to help your business or team?’