The latest social media site causing major interest is Pinterest.

Currently one of the fastest growing websites in Europe (12 million users and a month on month growth of over 800%) the site has been steadily growing its addicted base of users in the US for a couple of years now. And it seems that the infectious activity of 'pinning' has finally made the leap over the pond to our shores.

What is Pinterest?

 Pinterest's mission is to 'connect everyone in the world through the 'things' (images) they find interesting via a global platform of inspiration and idea sharing. Pinterest allows its users to share 'pins' on both Twitter and Facebook which allows users to share and interact with a broad community.' 

Why is Pinterest so successful? 

The website started off almost exclusively the preserve of women from the Midwest with more than a passing interest in home décor, baking and arts and crafts. However, the type of people now using the site has become far more diverse and there is an ever-growing army of 'pinners'.

The man behind the site, Ben Silbermann, founded Cold Brew Labs in 2008 and their only product so far, Pinterest was launched as a closed beta in March 2010. Despite its 12 million users, the site is still invitation-only open beta.

Here are some of the reasons Pinterest is so successful;

  • Simplicity

As with most really successful websites, the idea behind Pinterest is very simple - it's essentially a pinboard aggregating 'pinned' images from its user's own personal pin boards. An article on tech blog Mashable recently explained Pinterest's success thus, 'Pinterest's secret weapon is the simplicity of its design, which allows for excessive scrolling of content with minimal distraction.'

  • Imagery

Pinterest is also riding a general trend away from written content, towards pictorial. As Guy Levine, CEO of Return on Digital, says, 'Perhaps in an effort to mesmerise users, images take up the majority of space, with comments and repins kept neatly tucked under each image. All action buttons remain hidden until they are scrolled over.' He goes on to say, "Google is bringing images directly into its search results. Facebook is based around images…others will follow."

  • Social Media Burn-out

 The site is also very well timed. Reports are growing of social media users becoming increasingly disillusioned with constant status updates, check-ins and the complex world of relationship statuses. Pinterest offers a refuge for burnt out social media users.

  • Linked by Interests rather than social groups

 Like Twitter, users are linked by their interests, rather than existing, offline friendship groups.

  • Value for businesses:

Facebook users famously became irritated by, and ultimately resistant to being marketed to on 'their' social platform, leaving Facebook unable to fully maximise the potential in terms of marketing, to a 300 million-strong audience. Pinterest, or rather the marketers who use the website on behalf of their company or brand, seem to have learnt from this. Pinterest users, creating pinboards on say, wedding ideas, or inspiration for a new kitchen, seem to welcome appropriate suggestions from marketers. After all, searching for inspiration and ideas are what motivates people to visit the site

Will it last?

Companies are seizing the opportunity which Pinterest presents them with, especially those marketing to the site's core demographic - women. Fashion, food and lifestyle brands are amongst the most prolific marketers on the site, and analysts predict others will follow.

Conversions, from suggestion to sales are strong, and this is very promising news for a social enterprise; start-ups have, traditionally struggled to successfully monetise their websites. Some major American Brands including Land's End and Victoria's Secret are currently using Pinterest and, as with Facebook, it's surely only a matter of time before it really takes off in the UK. So, if like me, you work in marketing and you think you've got to grips with how your organisation can benefit from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn - it's now time to look at Pinterest and focus on pictures instead of words.