Surely you have heard of Pinterest by now. If you haven’t, here are five reasons you better look it up quick.
1. It’s really easy
There seems to be some debate over whether or not people like to make lists. Sure, there are those who live and die by their to-do list, and those who have never made one. But it’s a little more complicated than that. Way back in 2010, when talking about privacy concerns and the concept of sharing Facebook posts with only a subset of friends, Mark Zuckerburg said, “Guess what? Nobody wants to make lists.” What he really meant, though, is no one wants to make lists of their friends. It is flat-out hard to do. Consider that nice lady in the cube next to you. You don’t really care if she sees photos of you and your girlfriend, but she is not quite on that sure-let-me-show-you-pictures-of-last-Friday-night level. So what is she? Close friend? Acquaintance? See, lists of people are no fun.
But Pinterest gets it right. People like to make lists—or categorize and keep track—of things. As Dennis Crowley of foursquare said about the service’s new-ish lists feature, “People make lists of places all the time. I’m going to Chicago, what should I do? Let me jot down five ideas.” It is easy to look at a picture and identify it as a “recipe,” “place to travel,” or “idea for the kids’ room.” And it’s fun.
User can re-pin existing pins, or pin images from websites using a bookmarklet.
2. It’s the definition of super-curation
If you’re like many consumers, your expectations for controlling the media you consume are ever increasing. Last September, Facebook helped advance this shift by giving you the ability to choose whether or not you “subscribe” to updates from your friends and even whether or not you see all or just some of a particular person’s updates.
That’s excellent, but how do you tell Facebook you do want to see every photo your old college roomie uploads of the fabulous food he is cooking up, but you have zero desire to see any other content from him. You don’t. So you see every “important” update or you unsubscribe from all of them. Neither suits you, and Facebook is suddenly less able to meet your “needs.”
Pinterest doesn’t put you in that predicament. If you and your sister have all the same dream travel destinations, but she has atrocious taste in art, fine—follow her travel board and not her art board.
Co-founder Ben Silbermann’s “Delicious Food and Delicious Drinks” board shows the items he has pinned, as well as others’ engagement with the pins.
3. It’s aspirational
Unlike other popular social networks, Pinterest allows you to create the you you want to be. In fact, that is the very point of Pinterest. Social network “etiquette” calls for using a representational photo for your profile picture. Your activities and interests are captured by little thumbnails, and your status updates and uploads create a very real virtualization of your life. You are bound by who you are in that moment and who you have been.
Pinterest is forward looking. It says, I may live in this shabby apartment due to circumstances, but this is the kind of house I would like to have. It is about things you will do. It is about getting better.
4. There’s no urgency and no pressure
For the average social media user, being active on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is plenty to keep you parked at the computer for hours on end and justify that unlimited data plan. The thought of another “must-do” social media network might be terrifying. The pressure to respond to messages on Facebook, to maintain an active Twitter stream and update your blog regularly is intense. But there is not that pressure on Pinterest (at least not yet). No one will care if you don’t pin anything for a few days (though most users are quick to admit they are on the site daily) because following a person on Pinterest is secondary to sifting through the steady stream of visual satisfaction.
5. And last, it’s like a game
The fact that you can pin on your own terms makes it a little like those asynchronous games—Farmville, Words with Friends—whose popularity has caught us all by surprise. There is no required commitment, and a low level of commitment will not hinder one’s ability to enjoy the site. But, the more you pin and follow people or boards, the better your experience will become.
As one Pinterest “super user” said, “To me, Pinterest is a game I can customize and always win.” Bingo.
Pinterest, which is still technically in beta and is invite-only, allows users to create “boards.” Not unlike the real bulletin boards you may have in your home or workspace, users “pin” images to the boards from around the web and from photos they upload. Users can follow other users or choose to only follow particular boards from a user. Though some sources say Pinterest launched as early as 2008, it didn’t start to gain mainstream popularity till last fall; since that time, traffic to the site has grown 400% to almost 12 million monthly unique visitors.
Want to see what all the fuss is about? Request an invite on the site or ask one of your friends that is already pinning (they have unlimited invites to dole out). Just want to take a peek? Here you go.