Pinterest: The new hit social network explained
PINTEREST has been the most talked about social network of recent weeks but what is it for and who is using it?
What is it?
Pinterest provides virtual pinboards onto which members can 'pin' collections of images. These can be pictures they have taken themselves or images collected from around the web. There is no limit to how many boards you can have and users are collecting all kinds of things, from clothes they want to buy to possible paint colours for a decorating project.
Once something has been pinned, others can re-pin it, making it possible for an image to spread throughout the social network. Though the buzz around Pinterest has only just begun, the site launched in 'closed beta' almost two years ago.
Who is using it?
The stereotype has it that the site is being used overwhelmingly by women, whether to collect images of craft projects or this season's fashions. In the US, the stereotype seems to be broadly true: 83 per cent of Pinterest's US users are female. In Britain, according to figures from Compete, Pinterest's membership is 56 per cent male.
The average US user is aged 35-44, while the average British user is 10 years younger. Pinterest's user base is overwhemingly American though, with around 12 million members, compared to 200,000 in the Britain.
Will it be the next Twitter or Facebook?
At this point it is difficult to predict whether Pinterest will continue to grow at a phenomenal rate or whether this current wave of interest will subside. At the beginning of last year there was enormous interest in Quora, a question-and-answer based social network that many people thought would be the new Twitter. Though Quora continues to be popular, its appeal has not been broad enough for it to challenge the social media giants. What happens to Pinterest will be determined by its ability to meet a need that is not met by the existing players and to keep users coming back day after day.
How will it make money?
One way that Pinterest already makes money is by converting pins into affiliate links with ecommerce sites. That means that if you post a picture of a sofa that you are thinking of buying, Pinterest could add an affiliate link to a partner retailer so that the site gets a cut of any subsequent purchase. The site's Q&A says "We might also try adding advertisements, but we haven't done this yet." Other ways that the site could make money include selling additional tools and features for brands or high-end users or charging for 'sponsored pins'.
How can I use it?
Membership is invite-only at the moment so you will have to know someone who is a member or request an invite from Pinterest and then wait a day or two.