A February 2012 Hubspot blog on Pinterest named the mostly visual social media site “one of the fastest growing websites ever.” The article continued with the statistic that in the previous six months, Pinterest had grown by 4,000%, “receiving 11 million hits in just one week.”
This might sound exciting, but you also may be wondering what this has to do with anything.
It’s a good question with an important answer, because the way Pinterest does social media has the capacity to revolutionize not just social media, but the future of the web.
How Pinterest Works
Pinterest is a social media site that connects users to other users (and businesses) predominantly through the use of images. Users have pin boards which they can personalize and add images to by “pinning” images already pinned by other Pinterest users. Users can also pin directly from a website by clicking the Pinterest “Pin It” widget if the page happens to have one.
How Pinterest is Revolutionizing the Web
Although Pinterest has only been around since 2010, its swift growth is helping change “established” social media and internet norms in several different ways.
The Rise of the Image
Pinterest has taken the saying “image is everything” to a new level. The entire site is based on images with very little text. And Pinterest is just the beginning. As a recent March 2012 article in The Atlantic points out, “Almost all of the advances taking place within our established social networks have emphasized images at the expense of text.” Take, for example, Google+’s recent push of their video-based “hangout,” or Facebook’s new “Timeline” layout that makes images the main feature of a page, instead of the words.
Not only are many social media sites becoming more image-reliant, but the devices we use to view those sites are gearing more towards image viewing. Think about the impressive technological advances and superior image viewing touted by the new retina display on the iPad and iPod.
Five Minutes of Fame Isn’t Always
When something on the web, such as a YouTube video, goes “viral,” it’s passed around the internet like an out-of-control wildfire through e-mail and social media sites. One of the biggest characteristics of “going viral,” however, is the rapid way in which popularity rises, and then falls away to be mostly forgotten like the fad that it is.
With the nature of Pinterest, this isn’t always the case. As one SEO/social media marketing authority and blogger experienced, popular pins can continue making the rounds for weeks. This certainly isn’t true of all social media sites, but if new sites follow Pinterest’s example of social sharing, “going viral” might be more than just five minutes of fame.
Visual Instructions vs. Written Instructions
DIY has gone from big thick books of instruction, to online articles and blogs, and is now approaching the visual — picture-instructions and infographics. Both take the place of more traditional instructions and numbered lists of steps.
From cooking to DIY to important news and statistics in the form of graphs and diagrams, infographics and picture-instructions give readers a visual understanding of how to do it, what needs to happen and why it needs to happen.
Fundamentally, Pinterest is still a social media site. It’s all about sharing and passing interesting information on.
But movement toward image-prominence by social media sites seems to indicate a trend toward an image-heavy web, if not exactly away from the more traditional text-based sites.
For businesses, it’s important to pin and be pin-able. That means having share-able content that’s presented in a visually pleasing way.
As The Atlantic article says, it might not be the fall of the written (or typed) word, but it certainly could be the rise of the image.