Pinterest. I invoked its name. Are you paying attention now? Pinterest recently took the crown of Most-Written-About Startup. The site has grown by leaps and bounds organically since its March 2010 beta launch, and it's not hard to see why. Pinterest is king because of its simplicity. (I've been a user since 2010, before it was cool, obviously.) The design is straightforward and works really well as a platform to project your personality or design asthetic. Its UI is incredibly intuitive: install a bookmark Pin It button, and you can use Pinterest all over the web. If it's so easy to use, though, why am I writing about it?
Over the past few weeks, articles and blog posts about Pinterest are popping up everywhere. A local ad rag just ran a pretty bland story that took the sentiments in my first paragraph and extrapolated a feature from them. ("I like Pinterest and so do some other local people!" took up 6 pages ... I'm sort of impressed.)
Blogs and online magazines are glomming onto the trend, too. Some stories cover Pinterest from interesting angles, like whether retailers benefit from pins and should be paying attention to the site. Others, like Mashable's "13 tips and tricks for cutting-edge users" are incredibly silly.
"For instance, a user who is planning to remodel a house may Pin interior decorating ideas to a Design Board. Or a bride-to-be can post wedding dress inspirations to a Wedding Board." Really. So what you're saying is that I should create Pinboards around my interests? I hadn't thought of that!
Install the bookmarklet? Connect to your social accounts? Pretty sure you do that as soon as you open an account.
Social networks and other services online are becoming more and more intuitive, and selling "tips and tricks" for them is becoming more and more ridiculous. I loved this tweet from Ian Schafer:
How many minutes until someone comes out with the "Marketing Secrets for Pinterest" book?
The reason Pinterest is big is because it's intuitive and, as Tim Jahn pointed out on Entrepreneurs Unpluggd, real people use it. Once the waters are muddied by less-than-straightforward users and interactions, Pinterest loses value. I'm not saying that marketers and retailers shouldn't use Pinterest. They should. People want to interact with brands, and they're already pinning products and sharing prices. But there aren't Tips and Tricks that will help you get more followers or drum up numbers to brag about (at least not yet – maybe Pinterest has bigger plans).
Right now, "success" on Pinterest is organic. It relies on your ability to share something interesting with your target audience. They have to find you, repin your products and follow your boards, and that's the beauty of the system: there's not much predictability on Pinterest. In fact, one of my most-repinned images is one that I posted over a year ago. It suddenly gained traction this month and has been repinned by 62 people. Pinterest still has the organic sharing innocence that many social networks lose once Tips and Tricks are applicable.