But what about the sites that track the trends themselves? Pinterest, a start-up based in Palo Alto, Calif., has emerged as one of the top 10 sites (pardon the pun) pinpointing social trends in 2011, according to the Hitwise Social Networking & Forums category.
The site debuted in March, and since then, traffic has ramped up incredibly fast. Pinterest received nearly 11 million total visits during the week ending December 1 -- almost 40 times the number of total visits versus just six months ago (the week ending June 18).
Access to Pinterest is still available only by invitation, a soft launch mode that worked well for both Spotify and Google+ this year.
As someone who has just starting playing around with Pinterest, I have to say that the site is addictive, and it's no wonder that it is growing so steadily in popularity. I'm only surprised it hasn't caught on faster.
The platform is incredibly simple to use -- almost to the point where it is refreshing to see a new social networking site that fulfills a purpose we might not have realized we wanted. Users can create "boards" to which they "pin" images with very short descriptions (i.e. article title, price tag amount, etc.) that link back to the original source.
Essentially, they are visual bookmarks but designed in a way that is organized and can be shared with friends. It gets even more social as you can elect to allow friends to pin photos and info to your own boards, and vice versa. (I've noticed that this is particularly popular with friends planning major trips and weddings.)
Given those two example topics, it's not terribly surprising that the majority of users are female (58 percent) and between the ages 25 and 44 (59 percent). Nevertheless, once Pinterest breaks the invite-only barrier and further develops its platform, we will likely see much more about this site in 2012.