Pinterest might be two years old but it’s not until now that it’s name has become renowned in the world of social media.  The site’s popularity is quickly growing but there is still a lot of confusion on what the site is actually about.  One thing is for certain, it is now a top five referrer for many retailers.

This week, the hype around Pinterest is going crazy but not enough people actually know what it is about.  Described as ‘an online pinboard to collect and share what inspires you’, Pinterest users are discovering all manner of things from across the internet, all of which have been handpicked by people who share similar interests.

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What Pinterest is is hard to explain and you’ll never really get it unless you sign up.  Put simply, users can post things they find on the internet on to boards organised by topic and repin posts others have posted on their boards.  It’s like loads of virtual pin boards all sitting on one page and the result is pretty impressive.  All lined up by topic, each user’s profile is a collage of images, from fashion to food and DIY ideas to photography.

Pinterest is highly addictive and as a result is growing in popularity, and quickly.  Pinterest’s traffic increased by 429% between September and December of last year, making it a key player in the world of social media.  Last year saw Pinterest really take off but it seems Pinterest is to 2012 what Facebook was to 2006.

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What’s interesting about Pinterest is that every post ‘pinned’ on a board on the site is bookmarked showing the original source, hence why it has become a top five referrer for retailers across the net.

I expect 2012 will be a big year for social media as many more companies take on social media campaigns in an attempt to garner attention from the ever-powerful online shopper.  Social media already plays a big part in building brand awareness as many social networking websites continue to drive a growing share of referral traffic.

Google+ may have caught the attention of many this year but it seems new player Pinterest has entered the game, reshaping social commerce for online retailers.  The Mighty Google and its social network isn’t making as big an impact as many would have expected as Pinterest makes fifth place and Google+ just ninth for the sites driving the most referral traffic.

Whilst social networking sites like Pinterest may not be referring more visitors than organic search, many retailers are turning to social networking websites to communicate with current and potential customers.  After all, that’s what social media campaigns are all about.

I, for one, know many people who have purchased products spontaneously via random discovery on the site.  Perfecting in-network virality with the Pinterest lingo (pin, repin, like), I expect Pinterest will grow further in the coming year as many more people become obsessed with pinning what they see online.

Check out my Pinterest profile at http://pinterest.com/pokerdot/ and sign up to discover the hundreds of thousands of pins on-site.  Follow our tweets at @youngacademic and subscribe to our RSS feed for the latest student fashion and education news from Young Academic.
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About Author

Rachel Deer is a recent graduate of the University of Chester gaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in French and Sociology. She is now working with Young Academic and responsible for a range of editorial tasks including collating press releases, chasing images and organising interviews. Her interests include photography, music, fashion and current affairs. Keep up-to-date with Rachel’s work via the website and follow her tweets at @rachdotdeer or connect with her on Google+

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