Pinterest: A Social Network With Legs

There are so many new social networks out there that it gets daunting just to keep up. Between Facebook, Twitter, Path, Oink, Tumblr and everything else, who has time to actually get anything done? That’s why, for me, it takes an awful lot to decide to come onboard a new system.

But then Pinterest happened. At first, I wasn’t really sure if I liked it — it did seem a bit girly for my taste — and I wasn’t quite sure how it would fit into my life. But then I got the iPhone app, and a new perspective came up that I hadn’t really considered before: could I be social while still being unsocial? 

Breaking Down the Pinterest Beast

OK, so you’ve never heard of Pinterest. Here’s the deets: You know how you wander the web all day and find these cool pictures that you then IM, email or text message to all of your friends so they can see how awesome said image is? Maybe you found the perfect sweater to match those pants you love, or there’s a car with the exact rims you want. Whatever it is, you have to manually send off this information to everyone, and that can get tedious. Pinterest solves that problem.

Explore new boards using the iPhone app.

Explore new boards using the iPhone app.

Think of it like a virtual pinboard (hence the name). You’ve got this board on a wall that everyone can see, and on the board are varying categories for your particular interests: cool cars, fashion sense, books, whatever. In those categories are images and a short description of said image (collectively called a Pin). But how is all this a social activity?

Like most of these new social networks, you can tie Pinterest into your Facebook or Twitter accounts, and post your pins right there. Friends then follow you on the site, and can either repin your image to their boards, Like a pin or comment on it accordingly. It’s social, but not with the required commentary that you’d find on Facebook or Twitter. It’s not about conversation, it’s about imagery.

Pinterest on the iPhone

I really didn’t find the concept that fascinating, but I was keeping tabs on it because it seems like in today’s world you have to either be on the train or not, and if you’re not, you could be losing business. Then the iPhone app came out, and I took a look just in case it would be a good review for the site. Turns out that, like with many social networks, the iPhone changes the game.

Logging in is as simple as connecting your Twitter or Facebook account.

Logging in is as simple as connecting your Twitter or Facebook account.

Once signed in and all that, you’re greeted with a very Instagram-esque screen, complete with a Photo button in the middle, and a feed to the far left. This is what made Pinterest click with me. On the web, you’re bombarded with thousands of images at one time, making it almost impossible to weed out the good stuff or even take a closer look at some of the bad. The iPhone narrows your focus, allowing you to flip through the feed as you would your Twitter or Facebook versions, but because you’re only looking at pictures, it can go a lot faster. It’s more fun as a result.

Exploring and Using

Using Pinterest is more of a web thing than an iPhone thing, so at first, it seems like the app would be a waste of time. Without installing a bookmarklet on your iPhone (which I couldn’t find an option for in the app), there’s no way for you to pin a photo that you like when you’re shuffling about the web. So what’s the point of an app?

It’s all about consumption and unique content. As mentioned before, you start with a view that allows you to flip up and down through your feed, also repinning or liking things along the way. This view has a pretty innovative move worked in as well. When scrolling up, the navigation bar disappears and you’re left with full-screen images as well as the usual Repin, Like and More buttons. Scroll down however, and the navigation reappears, ready for you to switch sections. It’s very slick to use, and when integrated with the now standard “pull to refresh” option, it becomes very user friendly.

With navigation, and without. Fancy.

With navigation, and without. Fancy.

As for unique content, since you can’t pin existing things on the web, you can take your own pictures and pin them yourself. Now it’s no Instagram, but what’s nice is that you can use this as a personal pinboard for your own life. Imagine having a board for your child’s sporting events, or to capture those odd things you see on a trip across the country. It’s a way to put your photos into categories, without the drudgery of making photo albums since it’s quick and easy and social.

Take your own pictures using the app, then publish them on the site.

Take your own pictures using the app, then publish them on the site.

Should You Get Onboard?

Although I’m not quite an avid Pinterest user yet, I do love the added functionality that the iPhone brings to the table, which makes it a much more useful app for me to use in my day-to-day life. Ultimately, that’s the goal of any social network: be indispensable.

So is it for you? Take a peek at their site and see what you think. But if you like it, make sure to get the iPhone app as well, because it takes what is a useful service and polishes it up nicely.


Summary

Share images from the web or from your iPhone without talking to a soul.

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