The web has gotten so big and so social that regular bookmarking has become practically useless. We needed a better way to find and organize the content that meets our interests. Sites like Delicious and StumbleUpon are helpful at suggesting interesting items, but less so in the curation and sharing of one’s own Web collection. Enter Pinterest, GimmeBar, and Pearltrees, the latest darlings of the social bookmarking world, which are gathering momentum with Millennial users who are all about sharing what they’re into. Here’s a brief overview of each.
On Pinterest, users “pin” images they like and annotate it to provide context, and each pin is automatically tagged with the website from which it came. Users can then can pull those together into boards based on different subjects or interests, such as “My Style” or “Comedy” or “Gift Ideas.” Like Twitter, for example, users can follow someone, and others can follow them, but doesn’t have to be a reciprocal relationship. Pinterest is also fully public. Pin an item and it’s on your board for everyone to see. While that might freak out some older users, for Millennials, it’s no big deal. The major detractor, in our opinion, is that Pinterest is image based and doesn’t let users snag text or whole webpages for sharing.
Pearltrees’s major innovation is organized sharing. Its tree structure allows a user to create a node on a topic, and then build it out with related content. Other users can pick from your tree, so to speak. When someone a node from your tree to their account, it will follow your development of that node. They can also request permission to co-curate the node and help you build it. Unlike Pinterest, Pearltrees bookmarks whole webpages rather than images and lets the user give each a name and an icon. It also has a handy browser extension that makes creating pearls and organizing them as easy as drag-and-drop.
GimmeBar is a sort of hybrid model between Pearltrees and Pinterest. It allows users to bookmark everything from a snippet of text to an image to an article to a webpage and also comes with a handy browser extension. The bookmarked items can then be seamed into collections, like Pinterest’s boards. The major difference with GimmeBar is that it allows users to decide if their bookmarks and collections belong in their “private stash” or “public firehose.” It also recently added a feature to allow users to backup their accounts on Dropbox.
It’s not yet clear how marketers can use these sites aside from perusing the public feeds from the sites as a clue to what’s trending. A quick look at the “popular” or “everything” or “discovery” sections of each of these sites gives a clue to who’s using them. Pinterest has a decidedly female audience who are interested in style, crafting, and home décor. Pearltrees is more tech-oriented with popular topics including iPhone and Android apps, educational technology, and social responsibility. GimmeBar is design-oriented, with a focus on creative product innovation, photography, and style.
What is clear to us is why these sites will resonate with Millennial users. They neatly incorporate two needs of young users: to be social, and to share their expertise. Each site allows the user to gather his or her unique perspective into one place, curating what they determine is the best of the Web, and then share that curated experience with friends and strangers, all the while gaining new knowledge and perspective as they peruse the sites themselves. It can even be a little addicting — we had a hard time pulling ourselves away from these sites to tell you about them!