Many of the internet’s hottest properties started life out as taking offline, non-digital activities that were already popular and then adding a digital ‘twist; in the process of taking them online: search engines were modelled on phone directories, Facebook was modelled on university face books (showing photos of the students enrolled in each year), and Flickr was modelled loosely on photo albums and sharing them with friends.
Pinterest is the latest hot online social network, and has been getting a lot of press and buzz this year already. It is actually relatively difficult to describe, but the simplest metaphor I have heard is that it is like social scrapbooking. The site allows users to take photos and other media from around the internet and share – or ‘pin’ them to categories – or ‘boards’ – that they create.
It may not sound that appealing, but Pinterest is recording record growth in new active members. Additionally, due to the highly visual nature of the site’s function, people seem to be drawn in – not only to the site itself, but into clicking on the various photos and images people have pinned. Doing so leads the user to the original site the image was taken from. This is called ‘referring’ and Pinterest now accounts for more referral traffic to some major sites than many of the other social networks that have been around for a lot longer!
Another thing that sets Pinterest apart is the demographics of its user-base. In late January 2012, more than 80% of the userbase were registered as female. This is the first mainstream social network to show that kind of skew.
For Catholic geeks, Pinterest creates an opportunity to share and pin some of the inspirational Catholic art and symbols from our rich history. A ‘mysteries of the Rosary board’ anyone?