PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - If you ever spent time clipping articles from magazines or endlessly bookmarking links online, there is a new social network that looks to help you out, but is it for everyone?
NEWS CENTER Social Media Coordinator, Brett Whitmarsh, has been spending the last few weeks checking out Pinterest.
So what is Pinterest?
It's an "online pin-board." Think of things you have an interest in and then think of the saying; I?d like to put a pin in that. They've been around for about two years now, but they've been getting a surge in popularity in the last few weeks. They claim to still be in beta mode and require you to have an invite to join. Though some early users I spoke with said they didn't always need a request and that the request mode is a new thing. Which makes sense, since they?ve become so popular lately they might not be ready for so much use yet. According to a Mashable report, they grew in use by 400 % from September to December last year.
From 1 million in September to 7 million in December to 10 million this week.
Currently driving more traffic to company websites and blogs, than YouTube, Google + or Linkedin combined according to a study from Shareohalic:
How does it work?
If you?re a Twitter fan think of it like a big board of re-tweets. So when you join up, you get default categories as your ?boards?.
What are some of the default categories?
-Books worth reading
-Places I?ve been to
-Products I love
You can then add anything to your board. It could be something you upload, something you see on another website, or something you see on Pinterest. You can follow others who you see re-pinning, and you can like items they post to their boards, or you can even re-pin something you like to your board.
What if you don?t like all of your friends boards, are you committed to following everything they love?
You can decide which of your friends boards you want to follow. For example, if my friend has ten boards and I only like one of them, then I only need to follow that one board. So I?m a geeky Doctor Who fan and I made a board for that, but not all my friends are, so they don?t have to follow that board. Likewise if I?m not into wedding planning, I don?t have to follow their board. But if we both like to cook, we can both follow each other?s recipe boards.
How can people get it?
Right now it is still under invitation only, but if you know anyone who is on there you can get right in if they share an invitation. When I posted on Facebook I was looking for an invite, I got about ten right away. You?ll be surprised how many people you might already know who are there already. One of the complaints is that it wants to link with either your Facebook or Twitter pages. Some people like this, some don?t. For one, it can post a lot on you Facebook or Twitter accounts. And a report this morning showed there is a high spam factor there too from those posts. However, the option is there from Pinterest to NOT post to your pages, but that does ask the question why do they want you to link it. You can also hide your Pinterest profile rom Google.
Who is using it now?
It seems to be dominated by women, that?s not to say men aren?t there because they are, but Pinterest has been very popular for wedding planning. It works great for whatever your interests are. Especially niche interest where you can gather more info. More and more companies will start to appear there. The USAToday is now there and they have a series of boards you can follow. More and more companies are jumping onboard now.
I know a number of people who have started either wish lists or gift ideas for others.
Why has it grown so much in popularity recently?
Most recently, it's become a popular app on Facebook. There is also an iPad and an iPhone app, but the reviews on both have been hit or miss (though getting better). One of the major features is that it is very easy to share content. It has a like option similar to Facebook, and the re-pinning is as easy as a re-tweet like Twitter. The photo layout is stunning and that is a major feature for many. So if you want to drive traffic to your site through Pinterest, have a good quality photo to work with. The sire is very visually driven.