Predicting social media trends isn’t easy. Given the buzz that built up in a wave around Google+, you’d imagine that it would have buried Facebook handily, but it’s been around for nine months now and has only reached 170 million users, according to a Google+ blog post this month. That’s a far cry indeed from the 845 million that Facebook reported in December.
Facebook is still the biggest social network around, and Twitter also retains its popularity, with its simplicity, to-the-point functionality and “hash-tag” system. The presence of real-life celebrities and political figures on Twitter gives impetus for real-time interaction that would otherwise be impossible in real life. Either way, people stay on these sites because it’s where everyone else—friend or stranger—is.
While networks like Tumblr and LinkedIn are probably still better known, the No. 3 spot has recently been taken by Pinterest, which remains an invite-only affair despite its growth—online consumer behaviour tracking analysts Experian Hitwise have named it the third most-visited website on the Internet as of this month.
As the network grows, it’s getting easier to get an invite, but there are still only two ways to join. Either you could visit the site directly and request an invite, which requires you to leave your email ID, or someone already on Pinterest could send you an invite. Naturally, the latter option is a lot more reliable —an invite directly from the site took over a month to come through.
Express yourself, visually
Pin your interests: It’s like a digital scrapbook, with the focus on content discovery
In Pinterest, you “pin” collections of pictures on “boards”. A user can have multiple pinboards, arrange them on the basis of themes, and these can be viewed by other users on the site. You can pin images from around the Internet, and you can also look at other people’s boards and add pins to your own boards.
It may sound like one of the world’s biggest digital scrapbooks. That could be one reason why it’s extremely popular with women. However, as you add more pins and constitute more pinboards, you can visit the “Tastemakers” page to find content similar to pins already saved. This opens the door for more visual content, thus personalizing your page and tastes even more. A pin feed keeps track of a Pinterest user’s activity over a period of time. It sounds similar to Facebook’s Timeline feature, but Pinterest always keeps the focus on your interests.
Those interests are what constitute you as a person. By continually upgrading and adding on to your interests, you not only open the doors for people to know you as a person, you’re also defining yourself, little by little, finding joy in things you never knew you could like. Facebook keeps the interconnection of interests more simplistic; it will find pages your friends have already liked, and invite you to explore them. However, it doesn’t point you towards content based on what you already like. Pinterest is an altogether active mechanism that helps your profile to grow continually.
It’s not just about sharing
What makes it interesting is that unlike most social networks, Pinterest isn’t just about sharing. Its real focus is content discovery. The sheer amount of content you can pin on Pinterest goes into absurd levels of personalization. Pictures of yourself, recipes, dresses, wedding gifts, interior decorating designs, clothing—even if it’s something that’s only visually arresting, you can pin it and explore it further.
Sooner or later, you’ll find connections between differing pinboards you didn’t think at all possible in the first place.
In a way, it also appeals to the basic sense of visual wonder we felt as children. Those were the days when we tore out magazine pages, or collected newspaper clippings, of the newest fashions, news, technology and personalities.
It’s about your interests
At the end of the day, it’s about your interests. Interests that Pinterest wants to safeguard, but more than that, interests it wants to help you expand on. An active user base more than aids that objective. Some Facebook friend lists could easily average close to 1,000 friends—yet there will always be complaints about nothing interesting happening. Pinterest’s audience is decidedly more active. The US-based financial data analysis company, PrivCo, reports that “80% of pins are re-pinned”. So you can rest assured that you’re making as much of an impact on others as they’re making on you.
While Google undergoes a revamp in its interface, streamlining things further for users, and Facebook marches on with its Timeline, one can only wonder where Pinterest can go from here.
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