What Pinterests You? The new creative online craze.

My interest was piqued last week when at least 4 separate friends on Facebook posted that Pinterest was sucking their life away—because they loved it so much. After exploring this trendy new website a bit, I can see why it has certainly captured hours of time from people across the country. The site allows people to create “virtual pinboards”, “collecting” things from around the web that inspire them. (The images in this post are ones I would pin or repin to my Kid Inspired board.)

You can just lurk around the site without getting involved, as there is plenty to see. Just checking out the homepage, you’ll certainly find a picture that interests you. If you click the category or the pinboard title, you’ll be brought to even more interesting and inspiring related pictures. About 15 minutes of my time was sucked away when an image of a kid’s Halloween costume caused me to type in the search looking for ideas for my son, which brought up thousands of creative ideas to use, adapt, or build on.

If you decide to join the community, you can create your own pinboards of things you find as you are casually browsing the web. You can add a “Pin It” button that lets you pin items directly from the source where you find them. And you can follow people, or people’s specific boards that interest you. Apparently the community is exclusive—I’m still waiting for my invitation, which makes me want to start pinning that much more.

The site may just be a passing trend, like Facebook’s Flare and others that have lost their glory after a while. Or it may have staying power. It seems like a useful, clean tool for anyone planning an event, like a wedding, kid’s birthday party, or anything else you think about for a long time before implementing. It’s easier and less messy than ripping pages out of a magazine throughout the year that you will never get around to filing.

It also could be useful for anyone who is creative for a living—interior designers, web designers, print designers. I am probably going to get in trouble for posting this, since I know several of the creatives at the office, if they haven’t started pinning already, will be pulled into this time-suck and lose hours of their weekend pinning away.

It also may have interesting brand use, if done correctly. Nordstrom already seems to have the hang of it, with 2,688 followers. They have created boards based on fall fashion, dresses, colors, purses. If a brand can stick with the idea of the site—things that people are passionate about—they could find easy success.

This doesn’t even have to mean you pin only images of your products—a hospital could pin inspiring health pictures, and another board of newborn pictures with permission from the parents. A homebuilder could post artsy pictures of the design of their model homes along with other inspiring design ideas. A rule exists that you can’t be self-promotional, so most brands would have to mix their own pictures with other pictures that inspire, but that makes it easier and more fun, still positioning your brand as a thought leader.

So, when you have a few hours on your hands, go ahead and check it out. I apologize in advance for all the time I’ve just effectively eliminated from your Angry Birds playing time!