If you aren't already on Pinterest, then you may not know if you're interested or not. But if you've heard of it, you're likely either a woman or know a woman who's using it since that's the vast majority of the user base...for the moment. (Mark my words: That gender gap will shift.) So, imagine this - a virtual pinboard, if you will. (Okay, that's actually what they call it.) A place to:
"...organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.
Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests."
And what's the purpose or mission of said virtual pinboard service?
"Our goal is to connect everyone in the world through the 'things' they find interesting. We think that a favorite book, toy, or recipe can reveal a common link between two people. With millions of new pins added every week, Pinterest is connecting people all over the world based on shared tastes and interests."
Pinterest and other niche networks like Twitter first and later Tumblr, Instagram and others have revolutionized the way we use the Web to consume content. The emphasis on search has eroded to make way for us to discover things that interest us and then save or share them within our networks.
When Lara and I started talking about our She Said / She Said post for this month and she suggested Pinterest, I let out the biggest mental groan. I remember seeing a friend rave about it back in the spring, so I requested an invite. None was forthcoming, but more and more friends were getting in, so I got one of them to send me an invite. I jumped in and saw all the pretty pictures and fun little sayings and had great fun for about 10 minutes. Once I had my fill I closed the app and it didn't enter my mind for about another month. I think what prompted me to look at it again was seeing someone post about a pin. So, I fired it up and enjoyed 10 minutes of browsing and then shut 'er down and forgot about Pinterest again for another few months until Lara decided to torture me by suggesting we write about it.
This isn't a network that grabbed me at all. I kept hearing for months about how people just loved it and how fun it is and wondered what the allure was. Then Lara decided to make me write about it and I knew I was going to have to immerse myself in it to give it a fair shot. So, of course I forgot all about it until the last week.
I was reminded of my need to get moving on immersion when Robert Scoble - of all people - posted on Google+ his prediction(?) that Pinterest was on his list of possible "next big things" (paraphrase). And get this: he wasn't even using it yet! My comment is in there amongst the 90 other people who had some view of Pinterest's scalability and chances of long-term success where I say: "I have no interest in the tool. I've tried to get into it, but so far it's not my thing at all. I can see it going big, though."
After reading Scoble's prediction, I started doing my research, studying away about this tool that I really don't "get". And I was convinced of how my post was going to go. I was going to tell all of you how it's great for people who are visually stimulated by really cool stuff, but that it doesn't seem to be the right social network for me. (I truly believe that not every social network is going to work for everyone and no person needs to be on every network.) Pinterest is niche, boutique-y, an accessory network - more technically known around The Media Mesh as a secondary network. The kind that is useful in a few minutes every now and then. Unless you're me.
But something happened that I didn't expect. I was up ridiculously late one night with insomnia and decided to get immersed. I figured five or ten minutes would get me nice and sleepy. Forty-five minutes later, I forced myself to turn it off and I'm officially hooked.
I'll say it again - Lara's evil masterful plan worked: I get Pinterest and I think you should too.
So, what changed my mind about Pinterest?
It was more of a mindset change. I originally went in looking at pretty things, admiring pretty things and that feels so artificial and boring after a while. It's just not me at all. But this time I had my friends' uses ringing in my head, namely something to the effect of: I use it as a bookmarking tool to remember recipes and crafts I want to do. It's a visual way to save these things. To have visual cues of what you were thinking about when you saved it. And that is perfect for me because I am a visual person, despite the fears and doubts I started to have when Pinterest didn't catch my interest. Why did I want to save that recipe for slow cooker sweet potatoes? Because at 1:15am, they looked really delicious.
Oddly enough, the timing of our Pinterest exploration seems to be coinciding with the tool taking off. With the exception of Facebook, no other tool - not even Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ - has been mentioned as much in the social media news scene this week. Here's a sampling of the stories I've seen, so you don't have to listen to me tell you Pinterest is going to be huge - I've assembled evidence for you:
- Pinterest Is Now Pulling In More Pageviews Than Etsy; Grew 2,000% Since June | TechCrunch
- Niche Social Networks Deliver Big Results for Brands | Mashable
- Pinterest May Become a Social Networking Takeover Target | Wall Street Cheat Sheet
- Pinterest Appeals to Online Collectors | The New York Times
- Why Image-Sharing Network Pinterest Is Hot | Bloomberg Businessweek
- How to Make Your Startup Go Viral The Pinterest Way | TechCrunch
I'm not one to be seduced by popularity - I can assure you I found all of these stories after my abrupt turnaround. I can also say that I have long felt that Pinterest was going to grow to be a pretty important secondary network that would be very popular before I finally understood why. Now that I get why Pinterest is going to be big and know a few practical ways to use it, I just have to make sure I go back to those pinboards and do those crafts and make those foods I found that were interesting enough to pin.
Are you on Pinterest? How do you use it? Any creative ways I haven't mentioned here?
Be sure to go check out Lara's post to see what she has to say!