Pinterest.com
Pinterest.com

Puppies, cupcakes, wedding gowns and nail art: a list of your guilty pleasures or some of the most popular content on one of the fastest-growing social media sites in history? The answer is both. With 104 million unique visitors last month, a year after its launch in March 2010, the popularity of the  social image-sharing site pinterest.com has skyrocketed; its traffic levels are topped only by social-media giants Facebook and Twitter. But Pinterest has proven to be different than all other tech trends — the vast majority of the users are women.

Pinterest lets users create “pinboards,” a virtual space for each user where one can collect favorite photos, hobbies, recipes and much more that is found on the Internet. The goal is simple: To connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting.

“Pinning” something can be compared to bookmarking a page, but instead of creating a long list of sites stashed in one’s Internet browser, Pinning lets users select photos to display and share with their followers. They can then organize those photos onto a variety of themed boards. Many users don’t post their own content, simply “repinning” the photos selected by others to their own boards.

With a quick glance at the most popular pins, you will see everything from baby animals to cocktail recipes, wedding ideas to arts and crafts. There are funny photos, handsome celebrities and makeup tips. Though they all appear together on the “popular” board, they can be sorted into categories like food, fitness and the vague “my life.”

Like many Hoyas, Ciara Foldenauer (COL ’14) is a part of the growing Pinterest trend. She’s been on the site since the beginning and has witnessed its growth over time.

Foldenauer curates seven boards, including one for her favorite photographs — the type of content that originally lured her to the site — as well as boards for recipes, inspirational quotes and home decorating ideas. She attributes her love for the site to its unique structure and individualized content.

“It’s a new way of connecting with people,” Foldenauer said. “It’s not like Twitter because [tweets are] so short and just words. Pinterest is a lot more personal. … Twitter is more narcissistic.”

She isn’t alone in her belief that the growth of Pinterest marks a new era of distinctive, personalized social media content.

“Pinterest is just for you,” Elizabeth Buffone (COL ’14) said. “Twitter is all about what you’re doing.Pinterest is personal because it’s what you’re into.”

The site shifts a user’s focus from the opinions of their peers to their own ideas — instead of posting things you hope your friends will “like” or retweet, it’s about putting together things you want to remember.

Of course, while people pin smart tips, they often never carry out those plans. While Sarah Christiano(COL ’13) pins recipes or craft ideas onto her boards, she’s never actually used one.

“I have not actually done any of those ideas, but I’ve told people about them because they’re clever,”Christiano said.

Buffone is a little better about using her pins in real life.

“I like to cook, and when I want to cook I look for recipes [online], but I get tired. But that’s why I usePinterest, because I have things that I want to cook and now they’re organized [on my board],”Buffone said.

“It’s the only organized thing I’ve ever done — my Pinterest.”

Both Christiano and Foldenauer have found themselves involved in one particular Pinterest craze — wedding boards.

“We would all be lying to ourselves if we said that none of us have been thinking about our weddings,”Christiano said. “We just see pretty things and pictures and think ‘That’s nice, maybe one day.’”

Foldenauer is more convinced that her pins will help her in the future.

“Some of the [wedding ideas] are so unique. I want to remember [them]. You can pin things to remember for later on, even if it’s not for 10, 20 years,” Foldernauer said.

Christiano enjoys the site because of the chance it gives her for self-expression.

“I’m not a very creative person individually, but I can steal [the ideas of other users] and feel creative,”Christiano said.

Pinterest’s creative model has allowed the site’s users to create the type of content they want to see, but Christiano believes this has turned men away from the site.

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