Are you getting tired of the complexities of Facebook’s user interface? Or do you want more than 140 characters which Twitter offers to express yourself online? If your answer is a ‘yes’ to both these questions, then you might need to check out the new buzz in town about a certain Pinterest, which has already attracted more than 1.5 million users (and counting) for their invite-only beta account. The numbers mentioned make us wonder whether Pinterest is another social networking giant in the making.
So what is Pinterest? They call themselves “Virtual Pinboard” where you can “pin” anything that you find interesting on the net or your real world. I would say it’s a sort of mixture of Digg and Facebook. This means you can make categorized list of visual (image) bookmarks of interesting things, share it with your friends and network with users who share common interests. The ‘pins’ or image links can either be from an interesting website, from your computer or mobile pics pinned through Pinterest’s app. Of course, the pace at which Pinterest is gaining popularity, it ceases to be just a pinboard.
But how did Pinterest go viral even before it’s officially launched? The answer, I would say, is linked with human psychology.
Former Pinterest designer Sahil Lavingia calls social networks like Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and many others “self-expression engines”. I agree with him totally. That is the reason why these social networks gained popularity in no time.
First of all, we, human beings, are social beings. We need to express and share our life with someone, whether a friend, a partner or virtual friends. Secondly, we are visual beings. We understand and are inspired easily by what we see than what we hear or feel. Otherwise, why do we get glued to YouTube tutorials to learn something rather than reading a manual? Or why do we forward all those touchy, inspirational PowerPoint presentations even if we know that nothing is going to happen if we don’t forward them to 7 people in the next few minutes.
Pinterest is leveraging on this aspect of human nature a little more than Facebook. They offer a visual board to users to catalog their interests and express themselves in front of their friends. In this process they find friends with common interests. Result, the network has gone viral.
Let’s wait and watch whether Pinterest can make a worldwide impact as much Facebook did, or be limited to communities like MySpace or Orkut.