Pinterest, the website where users "pin" things of interest, has now taken off in the UK, following its huge success in the USA. Experian Hitwise says the site enjoyed a growth spurt between December and January, when UK Internet visits jumped by 55 percent to 1.9 million a month. This compares with 57,000 visits a month less than a year ago, in March 2011.
Users are also spending more time on the site. In a blog post, Pinterest the new social media pin-up, Hitwise says the length of the average visit increased from 8 minutes and 33 seconds in March 2011 to 14 minutes 38 seconds in January 2012.
Other social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, provide Pinterest's largest source of traffic: 27 percent of the total in January 2012.
Visitors are "primarily students or graduates in the early stages of working life, who are well educated and live in the urban areas of the UK," says Hitwise.
"A quick look at our post code demographics confirms that a lot of the visits to Pinterest are coming from the big cities, with London Internet users 31 percent more likely to visit Pinterest than the average user, and university cities Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol, Nottingham and Edinburgh all registering more visits than the population averages."
Hitwise expects Pinterest to keep growing. In the UK in January 2012, it was only the 46th most popular social network, up from 966th in March 2011. It reached the Top 10 in the US last year. However, it is still a long way behind Facebook, which receives more than a billion visits a month in the UK alone, says Hitwise.
Pinterest bears some resemblance to old sites such as Kaboodle and We Heart It, but there are many more new sites that look like clones. These include Image Spark, Juxtapost, Minglewing, Pinspire, Stylepin, Reform & Revolution, Thinng and VisualizeUs (plus more than 30 in Asia). In fact, there's even a site called Pinterestclones.com, which invites users to "Create Your Own Pinterest Clone Today!" There are also "Pinterest Scripts" for systems such as Joomla, one example being Social Pinboard.
It's not clear whether Pinterest will become a huge destination site like YouTube or Tumblr, with which it has much in common, or whether usage will be distributed across hundreds of clones with more specialised interests.
There's also an element of risk involved since the majority of the images pinned on these sites are probably in violation of someone's copyright. There are some sites for which "pinning" could represent useful promotion, such as Etsy, the craft sales site. But many artists, photographers and publishers could take a different view.