The word Pinterest has been popping up on Twitter a lot recently. This is perhaps down to how fast the social networking site's user base has grown in such a short space of time. The website launched in 2010 and already has 13 million users, and is now one of the top 10 social networking websites. But what is Pinterest? In its simplest form Pinterest is a virtual pin board. It allows users to save any image they find on the Internet and add it to their Pinterest pin board. Images can be stored in various boards, which the user can title, such as ‘fashion’ or ‘home ideas.’ Users are able to search and browse other members' boards and 'repin' the images to their own ‘pin board.’
The idea is similar to Tumblr, which I use as a virtual scrap book, but what makes Pinterest more effective for this purpose is how easy it is to organise your images, instead of a long feed of often unrelated images. The way the website displays other user's pictures, shown below, makes it easier to quickly scan for relevant 'pins.'
I have been spending less time on Tumblr since I created my Pinterest account, but the one major down side is the lack of a Pinterest app for Android phones, and therefore still spend time on Tumblr via their app when I am away from my computer. There has also been a major debate on copyright infringement, as users are essentially taking other people's images without the owner's permission. However I don't see how this is any different from what Tumblr or other social networking/social bookmarking sites have been doing for years. Not to say that I condone it, but the popularity of the platform must surely bring a lot of traffic to the owner's website, as every image on Pinterest is linked back to the image's location, and therefore this must help to promote the artist/photographer/designer/illustrator. The images are always credited this way, unlike Tumblr, which often does not link back to the image's original online location. Pinterest responded to these concerns by releasing a short line of code, which can be added to a website to stop users pinning images from that site.
There has also been a buzz within the digital marketing industry regarding the benefits of Pinterest for brands. Vikki Chowney recently wrote an article for Econsultancy about ways in which Pinterest could be used by brands. Chowney gave Kate Spade Pinterest as an example of a successful brand account, which is filled with images that inspire the designer brand, reinforcing its vibrant, colourful and retro branding, with board titles such as 'dress colourfully,' 'travel colourfully,' and 'think colourfully.' Chowney writes that the titles of the boards 'might just be a naming convention, but the repetition means that the message sticks.'
Pinterest is flexible, and simple to use, and will thrive on our ever growing consumer culture and obsession with beautiful things. I just wish they'd hurry up with their Android app!