Pinterest is similar to earlier social image bookmarking systems based on the same principle. It allows users to save images and categorize them on different boards. They can follow other users' boards if they have similar tastes. Popular categories are travel, cars, food, film, humor, home design, sports, fashion, and art.
Pinterest users can upload, save, sort and manage images, known as pins, and other media content (e.g. videos) through collections known as pinboards. Pinterest acts as a personalized media platform, whereby users' content and the content of others can be browsed on the main page. Users can then save individual pins to one of their own boards using the "Pin It" button, with Pinboards typically organized by a central topic or theme. Content can also be found outside of Pinterest and similarly uploaded to a board via the Pin It" button which can be downloaded to the bookmark bar on a web browser, or be implemented by a webmaster directly on the website.
Initially there were several ways to register a new Pinterest account. Potential users could either receive an invitation from a friend already registered or alternatively they could request an invitation directly from the Pinterest website, however, this may take some time to be received. An account can also be created and accessed by linking Pinterest to a Facebook or Twitter profile. When a user re-posts or "re-pins" an image to their own board, they have the option of notifying their Facebook and Twitter followers; this feature can be managed on the settings page.
On the main Pinterest page, a "pin feed" appears, displaying the chronological activity from the Pinterest boards that a user follows. When browsing for new boards and relevant pins, users can visit a "Tastemakers" page that recommend pinboards with content similar to previous pins saved by a user. For both guests and Pinterest users, there are currently four main sections to browse: everything, videos, popular, and gifts.
The website has proven especially popular among women. According to Nielsen, in 2012 the U.S. female audience of Pinterest accessing the website through the computer was 70%. The same report showed U.S. computer users spent an average of one billion minutes on the website in 2012. The most popular categories on Pinterest are food & drink, DIY & crafts, women's apparel, home decor, and travel. Pinboards can be used by educators to plan lessons. Teachers can pin sites for later referral. Students can pin and organize sources and collaborate on projects.
Business Pages & Advertising
Pinterest also allows businesses to create pages aimed at promoting their businesses online. Such pages can serve as a "virtual storefront". In one case study of a fashion website, users visiting from Pinterest spent $180 compared with $85 spent from users coming from Facebook. These users spent less time on the company's website, choosing instead to browse from the company's pinboard. Further brand studies have continued to show Pinterest is more effective at driving sales than other forms of social media. In 2013, Pinterest introduced a new tool called 'Rich Pins', to enhance the customer experience when browsing through pins made by companies. Business pages can include prices of products, ratings of movies or ingredients for recipes.
Retail companies have taken advantage of Pinterest for advertising and style trending. The web design provides an ideal layout for "style conscious retailers", where products can easily be visualized within a consumer context. Companies like The Gap, Chobani, Nordstrom and West Elm use Pinterest as a tool for online referrals that link users with similar interests to a company.
For January 2012, comScore reported the site had 11.7 million unique U.S. visitors, making it the fastest site ever to break through the 10 million unique visitor mark. comScore recorded a unique users moving average growth of 85% from mid-January to mid-February and a 17% growth from mid-February to mid-March. Much of the service's early user base consisted of infrequent contributors. The site's user growth, which slowed in March 2012, could pick up as the site's user base solidifies around dedicated users according to a comScore representative.
In October 2011, after an introduction from Kevin Hartz and Jeremy Stoppelman, the company secured $27 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz, which valued the company at $200 million. In May 2012, Pinterest was valued at $1.5 billion. In February 2013, it was valued at $2.5 billion.