A few weeks ago a friend asked me if I was on Pinterest and if I was, whether I would send her an invite. "On what?" was my oblivious response. She explained to me that Pinterest was the hot new social networking site that required an invitation to join and that she was curious to check it out. I tweeted my request for an invite and very quickly had a few responses with the needful completed. In a few minutes I was logged in and looking around the site curiously.
Surely the world does not need yet another social networking site?! I sent out another tweet expressing that thought when a few friends wrote back saying they had been using Pinterest for a while now and said they were, in their words, "hooked."
I went back to it and surfed around a bit, but couldn't quite grasp what made it different from other networks like Tumblr for example, which was probably the most popular platform for "micro-blogging". I figured I'd come back to it and play around in a few months till it became more popular.
From the next morning itself it was as if everyone seemed to be talking about Pinterest, whether they'd tried it, what it was for, whether they loved it or like me, didn't quite "get" it.
From friends on Facebook to random tweeters, from my trainer at the gym to the radio show host — Pinterest seemed to be the hot topic of conversation. I finally decided to ask for some help and emailed a few of my "hooked" friends asking why they used it and what differentiated it and spent some time playing around with it.
Once I understood the concept and uses of it, I think it actually is quite an interesting site with a whole lot of uses. A YouTuber explained Pinterest as an organisational desk with an infinite number of drawers where one can segregate ideas, thoughts or To-Do lists to come back to later.
The most used definition of the site is that it is an online visual mood board on which one can "pin" stuff. A friend said she uses it "to pin pictures of shoes and handbags I covet and clothes that will probably never fit me. Places I want to go, things I like, etc. I don't do it for a reason just because I enjoy it. Escapism, etc." Yet another friend used it to help plan her friend's baby shower, and I've read testimonials online where women swear it helped make planning a wedding a breeze.
While I guess there are services like Dropbox that allow you to share information across platforms and devices, and sites like Posterous that allow private blogs to be set up where specific users can come in and share information among themselves, Pinterest stands out by serving a particular need. It manages to not only allow the sharing of information between people easily, but allows them to peak into other people's mood boards to see what they are "pinning".
For example, someone planning their wedding might go on a website where they find a picture of flowers they love. They (assuming the groom too is checking out flowers for the wedding) then "pin" the image onto their "Flowers" board which automatically loads a picture of the image with a link back to the site, so they don't have to worry about forgetting where they saw it in the first place. What makes the site "social" is that they then have the option to search across Pinterest to see what other flowers people have liked, chosen or "pinned" for their weddings, and use those as part of their mood board as well. When it comes to asking for advice or guidance, gone is the need to send image heavy emails that are tiresome to put together and cumbersome to open.
This idea of "pinning" works like a charm for other things as well. Want to remind yourself the name of a good book you've been recommended? Instead of putting it down on a piece of paper or your phone, just "pin" it in your "books to read" board that are then visible to friends who then can then give you further feedback or recommend other books to read based on your taste. To-Do lists and tasks, shopping ideas and swapping of recipes.. it's all a breeze on Pinterest.
It is no wonder that companies are looking to use this nifty site to promote products and services, and once you get into it, I can understand how it helps make tasks a whole lot easier. Which goes to show, just when you think you can't possibly need another social networking site, you suddenly realise… you kinda do.
The writer is Director of Jumbo Electronics and a local blogger who writes at www.kiranscorner.com.