NEW YORK—The online social media industry continues to evolve. Pinterest, formerly a little known photo-based website, has become the third most popular social media website in the United States since February, according to a new research study by Experian Marketing Services.
Pinterest is a website that lets users “pin” and share stuff they are “interested in” on virtual corkboards; essentially allowing users to share the things they love with the Internet population. It was founded in early 2010, and now counts U.S. President Barack Obama as a user.
The Palo Alto, Calif.-based Pinterest’s online traffic has increased 50 percent from January to February, and now stands behind only Facebook and Twitter as the third most popular social media site in the United States by total visits. Which means, Pinterest’s traffic has exceeded heavyweights such as LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Google+.
“Six-month trend numbers speak volumes. The invitation-only site received nearly 21.5 million total visits during the week ending Jan. 28, 2012, almost 30 times the number of total visits versus just six months prior (week ending July 30, 2011),” wrote Experian in its “2012 Digital Marketer: Benchmark and Trend Report.”
Experian called Pinterest the “hottest social media startup since Facebook and YouTube.” That is high praise, but considering that the website is still technically in beta and is for now by invitation only, it’s safe to say that Pinterest’s growth has exceeded all expectations.
But Experian’s results are skewed because the data does not include mobile access from smartphones. However, this only affects the page-view tallies of Facebook and Twitter mostly, which claim the most app-based users. But those two sites are already far ahead of Pinterest.
Experian’s data was corroborated by analytics from comScore, another market research firm. More than 17.8 million U.S. visitors landed on Pinterest in February, comScore data indicates.
VentureBeat, a publication for the venture capital space, estimated that Pinterest is worth around $550 million in a sale. It has 30 employees and more than $37 million in startup capital.
Different Kind of Social Network
By scanning Pinterest’s website, most of the images and posts relate to food, fashion, and home decor. Not surprisingly, Experian found that over 60 percent of the site’s users are female, and 55 percent are in the 24-to-55-age bracket.
Pinterest co-founder Ben Silbermann explained, “To me, boards are a very human way of seeing the world,” he said at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in March, according to a transcript.
“The site is about helping people to discover things they didn’t know they wanted—things that feel like they’ve been handpicked just for you.”
According to Experian, most of the Pinterest users come from California, Texas, and the Midwest.