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Nadworny: Going Visual

04/16/12 5:55PM By Rich Nadworny
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(Host) Commentator Rich Nadworny is an expert in new media and digital marketing. And he says that if a picture is a poem without words, then the Internet is becoming very poetic.

(Nadworny) Recently two new social media sites, Pinterest and Instagram have become the fastest growing social networks yet. Both have one thing in common: people use them to share pictures rather than text. And this may prove to be a tipping point in our digital communications bringing us back to a much more fundamental pattern in human sharing.

Pinterest is a Web site where people can share pictures they find on the Internet. If you find a picture you like, or find interesting, you "pin" it. Your Pinterest page or album becomes a visual mosaic of colors, shapes and ideas. It's far more interesting to look at than most pages online, which is probably why it's grown so fast.

According to recent data, it took Pinterest only 9 months to go from 50,000 site visitors to 17 million site visitors. That's the fastest growth ever. Facebook took 16 months to reach the same level while Twitter took 22 months. In fact Pinterest is now the third largest social media site in the U.S.

And while most of the other social media sites saw male tech geeks as their pioneering members, Pinterest has far more women using its site than men. Women on Pinterest are more likely to come from the mid-west than the coasts, another key difference. It's become a perfect place to share pictures of crafts, fashion and interior design.

Instagram, on the other hand, is a mobile app that lets you share pictures you take yourself, with your smart phone. It's now the largest mobile social network around. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, when you follow someone on Instagram, you see their stream in pictures, rather than text. I think it may be the most personal and intimate real-time social network I've seen. Even if there is an overabundance of pictures of meals and lattes

One of the reasons something like Instagram resonates has to do with the vast improvement in smart phone cameras. With 8-megapixel resolution, these phones are far better than the digital cameras we bought only a few years ago. The pictures are better and the ability of some of these photographers is astounding.

The Internet has primarily been a text-based medium, from its humble beginnings with HTML coding right up through Twitter's 140 characters. Sure we've added pictures and video, but it's still mostly text. Pinterest and Instagram's popularity could imply a tipping point for the Web to become a true visual medium. Certainly Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook team think so, since they just bought the 10-person Instagram for a whopping $1B!

In a way this shift could mark a return for us humans to something much more basic and intrinsic. We started sharing information with others through drawings on cave walls. Perhaps technology is allowing us to come full circle. While all of these pictures aren't worth 1,000 words, most are worth more than 140 characters.

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