A site called Pinterest is growing like crazy and none of us are talking about it enough.
What Tumblr was to 2011, Twitter was to 2007, and Facebook was to 2006, a site called Pinterest is to 2012.
Launched in 2009, the site had 11 million visits during one week in December of 2011. You can safely figure its monthly number is around 40 million by now. That’s impressive 40% growth year over year.
Like any social media success on the Internet, what Pinterest is, exactly, is hard to explain. Users post things they find on the Internet there. Mostly, they post photos – photos of products, pretty people, dogs, houses, design, and landscapes.
Pinterest calls itself “an online pinboard to collect and share what inspires you. Discover new things hand-picked by people who share your interests.”
How is Pinterest growing so fast? Mostly through word-of-mouth. My wife joined when her mother told her about it. Since then, my wife has told lots of her friends to join.
Word of mouth marketing like this only starts when there’s a great product to inspire it. So that’s the foundation of Pinterest’s growth. The web site works well and people (mostly women, it seems) love to use it.
But the other thing Pinterest does exceptionally well is get people on-board who think they may want to try the site, in a very sticky, compelling, and highly branded way. It is not run-of-the-mill.
The Pinterest sign-up process is the secret to its success. Any startup can learn from it.
Taking a cue from Gilt Groupe, Pinterest makes new users request an invitation to join. You have to ask to belong.
It also means Pinterest can use the user's photo right away. Why this is smart: It made me feel like I already belong. There's me!
With those categories in mind, Pinterest automatically sets the new users up with a bunch of accounts to follow. This is smart because too many social sites start users with a blank page.
Next Pinterest asks you to describe how you'll be contributing to the site. It provides suggestions.
Pinterest uses the sign-up process to teach new users 1) how to use the site 2) what kind of users they should be
The training continues on Pinterest's final screen where there's a helpful video showing you how to use the screen you are looking at.
Pinterest makes the actual sign-up process very easy by encouraging users to click on the big blue Facebook button.
Pinterest teaches its users not only how to use the site, but how to be good, productive users that other users will enjoy.
Even though it's been done by millions of others, Pinterest makes signing-up feel like a special privilege.
Users finish the sign-up process as active members who are already following others. No one starts with a blank page.
It also gets the new users thinking about what kind of content he or she will pin to the site.