If you regularly do your rounds on Mashable, Techcrunch, and other social media blogs, we would probably be really great friends. You’ve also most likely been seeing one word, repeated over and over again, mentioned seemingly everywhere across the tech blogosphere. It starts with a “P” and ends with an “Interest,” the newest social network in town and the one making the biggest splash; Pinterest.
With the emergence of shortened blogging platforms such as Twitter and Tumblr, the face of social media has been gradually trending into something much less macro and much more micro. For those of us who thought blogging was going to be the saving grace of the publishing industry and revive the dying arts of reading and writing, this has been bittersweet, but it seems like all things must inevitably be reduced to something small and efficient, consuming as little of your time as possible. That’s why Pinterest has decided to focus their platform on the quickest, easiest type of content on the web: Pictures. So far, their success has been unprecedented.
If you’re a big time Redditor like myself, you already know the importance and the heightened share-ability in image-based content. Even on Facebook and Twitter, you are most likely dedicating most of your engagement to people’s uploaded pictures, and the most popular Tumblrs are all image heavy. Pinterest thought, “Let’s cut out the middle man,” and designed a platform that was completely comprised of images, attached to (pinned to) user-created boards, with the capability of liking, commenting, and repinning, Pinterest’s answer to retweeting; The perfect slim down of a social network to arguably its most attractive element.
So why isn’t everyone you know begging you to set up an account? There are a number of reasons. First off, successful social networks always start out as something very niche and gradually come into their own as more and more people find a purpose for them. A good portion of my friends are just now signing up for Twitter accounts, and we’re talking about a social network that launched in 2006 and posted $140 million of revenue in 2010. Even Facebook was in its 3rd or 4th year before it reached mainstream recognition, as difficult as that might be to imagine. Relative to time since launch, Pinterest is exactly where it should be.
Secondly, and rather unfortunately, Pinterest has developed a little bit of a stigma in some circles, the sentiment being that it’s primarily for women. The homepage that I’m currently staring at, featuring a flowered centerpiece, a purple bedroom, and a baby chimpanzee, is not helping their case. While something so focused on visual and aesthetic stimulation is obviously more-likely to attract women before it attracts men (if we’re being frank), once you venture into the inner pages of Pinterest, you’ll find that there is just as much for a guy to enjoy as there is for a gal. Typing in basketball, football, men’s fashion, and beer returns hundreds of awesome pictures and boards, and that’s not even tapping the surface of the vast, sometimes dark male psyche.
Gender-related concerns now relieved, I am brought to my ultimate point as to why you should be on Pinterest. Simply put: Pinterest has something for everyone. If you’re normally a lurker in the social sphere, there are a seemingly infinite amount of boards, users, and categories, all tailored to a specific interest group and being updated by the minute with new images. It’s easy to surf, easy to browse, and the like function will point you in the direction of the cream of the crop.
If you’re more of an expressionist and a self-promoter, I can’t think of a better way to demonstrate and brand yourself than through pictures. For musicians, Pinterest could be an extremely useful tool for posting pictures of yourself performing, you on the road, or even holding contests for your followers to design your new album cover. I don’t think I even have to mention what a visual artist could do. The more places people can find your art on the web, the better, especially on a page devoted specifically to images and with share capability. And lastly, if you’re like me and just have a knack for knowing where to find the web’s coolest and funniest image content, Pinterest makes a great hub, allowing you to develop a following around your taste, and your personal brand. If you’re good, you could even make a career in marketing out of it.
New social networks come and go every week, without even getting your attention. My point is that when one is getting this much traction and this many impressions, so soon after launch, you know it is the real deal. While image boards might not be something brand new, where great social networks are succeeding is in taking something you already do and streamlining the process. Pinterest saw this kind of opportunity in image sharing and has taken the reins. If the present is any indicator of the future, they have staked and harnessed their claim. You signing up for an account is practically an inevitability, so why not get in now and kill it? More importantly, what have you got to lose?