Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Virtual pinboard gets into news feed

Six months ago, very few of us had heard about a site called Pinterest. But Friday last, cyberspace was abuzz after "The 2012 Digital Marketer: Benchmark and Trend Report” reported that Pinterest was the third-most visited social networking site by people in the US, after Facebook and Twitter. The report also said that 60% of visitors to the site are females and 55% in the 25-44 age group.

Pinterest, development of which began in 2009, is a virtual pinboard (or a notice board, as the Brits would say) on which you can pin interesting items. It could be photos of animals like puppies or decorative items like wall hangings, or nature like mountains or culinary delights. To join you have to send a request or you can join by responding to an invite sent by someone on Pinterest. You can also connect Facebook and Twitter accounts.

There are three ways you can pin: “add a pin” by pasting the URL of site where you found the item or “upload a pin” from a folder in your computer. Also, you can have a ‘pin it bookmarklet’ on your browser, and each time you find an interesting website, you can pin that by clicking on the bookmarklet. Only a website with a photo on it can be pinned.

The site works like Twitter or Google Plus -- others can follow your pin; you can follow others’ pins; you can repin what you find on others’ sites; you can “like” pins of others; and you can comment on others’ pins.

But, who has time for another networking site and why is it catching on?

One, it’s a visual medium, which tends to be more popular. Two, like FB, it’s a place to publicize and discover new ideas. Three, it is a social marketing medium: if you are, say, an interior decorator, you can see the latest trends just as you can publicise your innovations. And, four, this is not a Flickr-like site where you upload your pics and share it among friends. Pinterest combines elements of Facebook and Twitter.

A random check shows that the site has some following in India; and the fact that some well-known websites already have a “Pin it” button on their pages, indicates that the site is gaining some traction here.

Will Pinterest pose a threat to Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and Yahoo!? It may not, since this looks like a niche site that is to do with style, decor and such visual aspects; unlike the other four that are more broad based with many facets to them.

Still, the established giants -- even while competing among themselves -- will have to take notice of cyberbeings’ new interest to pin items.

(This was published in the Wireless World column in The Times of India, Bangalore, today)

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