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Is Pinterest the Next Social Network to Explode?

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All of a sudden, it seems to be everywhere. Maybe it is because it appeals to our visual nature, is so easy to use, or because a picture can convey a thousand words, but Pinterest seems to be on the tip of everyone’s tongues as of late. Over a dozen articles have been written about the platform in the past 24 hours (in my writing this post) on CNN International, The Telegraph, Fort Worth Star, PC Magazine, ZDNet, and The Frisky, to name just a few. BlogHer’s latest edition in my inbox is all about Pinterest, with many of its writers singing its virtues. And our very own Zenzians have been addicted the past year or so, exchanging wedding dress suggestions and pinning up creative ideas, spanning personal to business.

A recent article from Lauren Indvik of Mashable sites the network’s rapid growth. Pinterest’s traffic increased by more than 4X between September 2011 and December 2011, with 7.51 million unique visitors in December alone, according to Compete. The amount of traffic it has sent elsewhere has also risen. It is a top five referrer for several apparel retailers, according to Monetate, an independent provider of testing, targeting, and personalization services for websites (search engines are still #1).

Monetate developed this Infographic, which shows (amongst other interesting facts) that Pinterest now drives more traffic than Google+.

In case you are not yet hooked…"Umika Pidaparthy, Special to CNN":http://edition.cnn.com/2012/01/26/tech/web/pinterest-website/, describes it “Think of Pinterest as a way of cataloging your passions. Members have used the website to plan weddings and holidays. Others have pinned images of clothes, recipes, architecture, art, crafts, cars and even technology.”

Pinterest allows users to follow each others’ boards and “re-pin” another person’s images. With the ability to easily download the “pin it button” on your web browser, Pinterest offers an easy way to share images, products and ideas that inspire with others (just a click of the button, while selecting the image of your choice).

You can also add a “Pin It” button for people to post products they like from your own web site. And people can now add their pins to their FaceBook timeline.

While women may be the leading users of the site, it has gained a surging number of men. And new sites have sprung up, including the network Gentlemint, deemed as a Pinterest for “manly things”.

I asked our own Social Media Goddess (not her “official” title), Courtney O’Rourke, for feedback and she had the following to share:

“Pinterest is the stuff that dreams are made of. It’s where I go to find inspiration for many facets of life: cooking, DIY, fashion, travel, or simply to escape for a ‘few’ minutes. It’s no surprise that brands are flocking to Pinterest in the hopes that their boards and pins will inspire users and hit that emotion that is weaved throughout the site. While there are some brands that are using Pinterest in a wonderfully artful way, the landscape is not as forgiving as other networks. Brands need to be more cautious and thoughtful on Pinterest, and most importantly do their research before they can expect to be pinned to anyone’s dreams.”

As Courtney alludes, the allure of Pinterest for marketers is great. CICILYK on Babble tends to agree, “With 3.2 million users, of course Pinterest has come to the attention of marketers. In fact, I’d say that of all the social networks I’ve seen develop over the last fourteen years, Pinterest is likely the MOST natural fit for marketers because it’s visually based and everyone on there is talking about their dream items, whether it’s kitchens or crafts or food. Those dream items all require things that need to be purchased in order to complete them. In other words: Pinterest lock, meet marketing key.”

Because of this CICILYK cautions marketers need to tread lightly. As with any social network, brands need to be aware of being too overt when it comes to trying to sell their wares on Pinterest. Being too “ in your face”, without also thinking about what is in it for followers, can be a turn off for many and only result in negative perceptions, and ultimately, “unfollows”.

Still, Pinterest done right holds a world of potential. At Zenzi, our brains are already abuzz with applications for brands and their advocates (bloggers, consumers, celebrities, etc.) to generate “conversation” and subtly build recognition for their ideas and products. Think sharing pictures, images and products for: planning birthday parties, creating the best ever Valentine’s Day dinner, planning your next Disney vacation…to name just a few…and ensuring welcome collaboration with just the right balance.

The possibilities are virtually endless…

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