I am sure that there has been some point in your life when you have willingly or unwillingly put together a collection of related images. Remember the days when making a collage seemed to be the easiest way out of doing a project? Well, what if this experience were to be translated into an online service?

Meet Pinterest.

Simply put, Pinterest is a virtual pinboard with an angle of social networking. The service allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections. In other words, it’s a cross between a social bookmarking tool and an image-sharing website. It works by ‘pinning’ images from any corner of the internet to the aforementioned virtual pinboard. You can create an infinite number of boards on just about any subject – fashion, food, interior design, architecture, craft etc. You can even ‘pin’ on-the-go with your phone using the official Pinterest app or third-party apps like Pinscape.

So, what is the social networking angle? Well, users can ‘re-pin’ items from other boards to their own and then go about the whole ‘like’ and ‘comment’ routine if they wish to. They can also create collaborative boards where a group of people can ‘pin’ stuff collectively. People have used this service to make everything from industrial-style lamps to cup cakes. And the best part is that charities like charity: water, UNICEF and NRDC have started using it to spread awareness about the causes they support.  Believe it or not, even the U.S. army is using it! It is a different thing that the U.S. army is probably the most share-friendly armed force in the world. They have very active Facebook and Twitter accounts as well.

The site has become so popular that it has even spawned numerous clones such as Pinspire, Gentlemint, Minglewing and Stylepin. Some of these are complete knock-offs and some have just borrowed a few features. But when a site has clones, one knows that it’s really good; especially for a site that is relatively new. It has been around for a while now (2009, if Wikipedia is to be believed). So why would I be writing about it now? Well, it has entered the league of the top 10 social networking sites of the world in December 2011. The more important fact is that it has been driving more referral traffic to online retail stores compared to Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Since it is an invitation-only platform, you can request an invite on the site itself or ask a member to send you one. If you want to, you can drop us a mail at [email protected] and we’ll send you an invite to this brilliant service.