Pining to pin: Pinterest fever catching on in areaFARGO - Katie Almond remembers the first time she used Pinterest. “It was like, ‘Ooooh,’ ” she says with a hearty laugh. “Then it was followed by a week of my husband going, ‘You need to get off the computer now. You need to get off the computer now. It’s one o’clock. You need to go to bed.’ And (I’d) be like, ‘One more minute! I just need to be on here for one more minute!’ ”
By: J. Shane Mercer, INFORUM
FARGO - Katie Almond remembers the first time she used Pinterest.
“It was like, ‘Ooooh,’ ” she says with a hearty laugh. “Then it was followed by a week of my husband going, ‘You need to get off the computer now. You need to get off the computer now. It’s one o’clock. You need to go to bed.’ And (I’d) be like, ‘One more minute! I just need to be on here for one more minute!’ ”
With that, Almond became yet another addict of the relatively new popular social media website. Pinterest allows users, also known as “Pinners,” to create virtual bulletin boards where they can “pin” photos with links to things they like from across the Internet. But if you think every tech trend has to start on the East or West Coast, think again.
While the company is based in Palo Alto, Calif., Pinterest founder Ben Silbermann was quoted by the Des Moines Register in October 2011 saying the site’s first adherents were mostly women in Des Moines, followed by Minneapolis, Houston and Chicago.
“To this day, the Midwest and Iowa in particular are disproportionately represented given its population amongst our user base,” he told the Register.
It’s unclear how Silbermann, himself an Iowa native, defines “Midwest,” and a Pinterest representative said the company does not provide user data breakdowns. But suffice it to say, at least certain interior parts of the U.S. beat the coasts to the Pinterest party.
And there are plenty of people in our neck of the woods who have jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon. Beata Woyen, a Moorhead Pinterest user and freelance graphic designer, believes Pinterest hits the same nerve with Midwesterners that a publication like Ladies Home Journal traditionally would.
“I think in the Midwest we tend to focus on the home a lot, you know, your garden and your home,” Woyen said.
One thing’s for sure: Pinterest has exploded. An April article in digital news source Mashable declared Pinterest the No. 3 social network in the U.S.
The story cited research showing Pinterest received 21.5 million visits during the week ending Jan. 28, a nearly 30-fold increase over a comparable week in July 2011.
Not bad for a site that launched in March 2010.
Pinterest is basically the digital form of an old-fashioned corkboard. If you find something on the Internet you like, you can “pin” a picture (assuming it has at least one usable photo) associated with that link. Or you can create a “pin” by uploading a new picture to the site. Users create “boards” to categorize their pins according to topics ranging from wedding planning to quotes to “things that make me laugh” to cars and beyond. You can browse other Pinners’ boards to find interesting items and “repin” them to your own board.
Pinterest came along at just the right time for Almond. A 2011 fire ravaged the Fargo home where she and her husband lived.
“I found out about Pinterest just about the time we were starting to rebuild the house, so I was going crazy on there,” Almond said.
You can see the ideas she’s drawn from Pinterest throughout her Fargo home today. For example, instead of the standard closet in the entryway, the Almonds have a nook, a tidy little inset area with a bench, no doors and hooks for coats, jackets, etc.
A Pinterest-inspired key rack Almond made hangs near the door to the garage. It’s trendy and made on the cheap – “three bucks and leftover paint.”
Pinterest allows users to find, collect and categorize information they’re interested in in the sometimes-overwhelming world of the Internet.
“There are so many ideas out in the world, it’s hard to keep track of everything you hear all the time,” said Breezee Hennings, a Pinterest user who lives in Fargo. Pinterest offers a way to compile “all the things that you really like about what you hear or what you see.”
Henning saves hairstyle, fashion, recipe and home inspiration ideas, as well as design patterns she likes.
It’s not just something individuals use. It can also be a business tool.
Andreea Ayers is writing a book about how to use Pinterest for business and created the “Profiting with Pinterest” online course.
“I really think that if you can get creative and really think about what it is that your customers want, if you’re using it for business, then I really think you can just create boards around that and really draw a huge following and more traffic to your site regardless of what type of business you have,” Ayers said.
Part of the beauty of Pinterest is its aesthetic appeal. The site is an image-based social medium with lots of shiny, eye-catching images to peruse.
Ayers points to research that shows “for example, if you have an image on a blog post that’s mostly text, people go to the image right away before they even read the text. And if you have blog posts that don’t have an image, they’re less likely to get read than the same exact blog post that does have an image.”
Ayers, who has a blog at launchgrowjoy.com, be-lieves people are image-driven and that “Pinterest really plays into that.”
Then there’s the site’s simplicity. If you’re pinning an item from an existing Web address, Pinterest goes and finds the pictures for you and allows you to scroll through them and pick what you want. Pinterest doesn’t do a lot of different things, and that may, in fact, be a strength.
“It’s not super techie,” Almond said. “Anybody can use it.”
That’s just what Almond does.
“I would say I go on every day,” she said.
To her credit, she’s honest about her addiction. She admits she’s hooked.
“I would be sad if there was no more Pinterest,” she said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734