Pinterest: a picture of social media success?

Pinterest is big news right now. And not just in digital marketing circles. The site’s grown rapidly over the last few months into a powerful social network built on the shared interests of over 10 million users and counting.

Pinterest is big news right now. And not just in digital marketing circles. The site's grown rapidly over the last few months into a powerful social network built on the shared interests of over 10 million users and counting.

Although it's been around for a few years, only recently has Pinterest has gone truly viral, as the site opens up to more and more people via requested invites. Yet while it's still officially in 'open beta' stage, Pinterest is making for some extremely impressive stats: it drives more traffic than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined, according to the latest figures. And user numbers are up massively, having doubled since late last year.

What's the secret of Pinterest's sudden success? In a word: simplicity. Once you're signed up, using the site couldn't be easier. Install the Pin It button to your browser's toolbar - and off you go, grabbing interesting pics from all over the web and placing them onto your own virtual pinboard. Within a few minutes you're able to build up a virtual scrapbook of stuff you love, stuff you want to check out in more detail later on, and stuff that other people are recommending.

And it's not just a slightly addictive pastime! We think Pinterest could be of real value to business. Given the visual nature of the network, it's the ideal place to get folk seeing - and, importantly - sharing your pictures and links. Whether you're promoting a clothes label, giving foodies an eyeful of the beautiful dishes served in your restaurant, or producing cool new infographics, Pinterest shows real promise as a great platform for showing off products, and encouraging users to click through to a brand's website.

Be aware, though, of the Pin Etiquette advising users to avoid having pinboards purely for self-promotion. Have a look at official brand pages from mighty firms like Gap and more specialist players like Mashable for ideas on how to mix it up.

So far, so good. But over the next few months it's impossible to predict how things will happen with Pinterest. Nothing solid has yet emerged regarding the site's monetization. And it's anyone's guess as to whether the explosion of Pinterest interest is going to be sustainable. But as long as the numbers are there and the buzz remains, it's an essential destination for your visual content.