Pinterest is a social photo sharing website that was released in March 2010. But it took over a year before it really started gaining popularity and it’s not until last December 2011 that it entered in the top 10 social networks, according to Hitwise data. In January 2012, the site received 11.7 million unique users; quite an achievement.
So, what’s the secret of Pinterest’s popularity? After trying it for a week, I admit I still don’t understand what all the fuss is about.
Boards, pins, likes and comments
These 4 words sum up Pinterest pretty well. The idea is the following: you find a nice photo or illustration on the internet, you “pin it” to one of your boards (those are categories you create to organize your content by theme) and wait for people to repin or like it. You can also search for keywords to find people who share the same interests as you and follow their Pinterest feed. From there, you can then repin their pictures on your own profile. It’s a great way to gather inspiration, make moodboards and perhaps share your online discoveries with your friends.
Not so social after all
On Pinterest, you collect photos. And that’s pretty much it. There is no way to interact with the users other than by commenting on their pinned images. Taking this into consideration, it’s hardly a social network at all; you can’t send direct messages to other users and there is no way to engage into a conversation. Like Melanie Brooks puts it in this article on Freelance Switch: “What gets me is that Pinterest holds your followers at an arm’s reach. Unlike LinkedIn or Facebook, it’s not personal.”
Like Tumblr, minus the original content
When I started using Pinterest, I told my partner that I felt it was almost exactly like Tumblr. After a week, I still stand by that statement. Pinterest does have a better UI (user interface) than Tumblr but unlike the former, the new social website does not encourage the publishing of original content. As a designer and artist, I like to be able to promote my work by posting my creations; on Tumblr, you can post pictures, literary content, links to sites that you like, inspiring quotes, audio and even video. In opposition, Pinterest is for someone like me a very poor tool and it is inflexible since I’m not supposed to use it to pin my own work.
If you like to collect images you find on the internet for inspiration, moodboards or for sharing them with your friends, Pinterest will be a great tool for you. I haven’t really found a practical use for Pinterest for freelancers and SMEs though. Most of us will be unable to increase our productivity when using Pinterest, at least in its current form. It’s a leisure website, a very fancy bookmarking tool.
Do you use Pinterest? What are your thoughts?