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Interest in sharing site Pinterest grows

Wednesday - 2/15/2012, 12:57pm  ET

Pinterest (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)
Users may find that like the early days of Facebook that they spend hours looking at people's pins. (Courtesy of Pinterest)

Colleen Kelleher, wtop.com

"Pinterest.. addictive.. the end." That's how Stacie Montgomery describes the social media site on her Facebook page as she encourages others to try it.

In telling friends about it, she says it's "more like a giant bulletin board, billboard...just great ideas out there from all over."

Others seem to agree with her. Pinterest has garnered more than 10 million unique visitors faster than any other independent website, according to The Week.

For those who have never heard of Pinterest, it's a site where you find a photo and add it to a virtual board and share it with friends. Here's how it works.

Montgomery is among the people who have "pinned" thousands of photos to her boards. Photos attached to mixed drinks. Photos of her dogs. Photos of home décor. Photos of her favorite hockey team, the Capitals.

Some people are using Pinterest to find interesting photos of foods. At a Crofton party recently, hostess Anne Stevens boasted that her dinner entrée and appetizers came from Pinterest. One couple at the party talked about how they planned their wedding and honeymoon to Bali using the site.

Food photos that link to recipes are among the most often shared. WTOP Director of Digital Media John Meyer jokes about how he's eating better, thanks to the recipes his wife, Jodi, pins. She's pinned 629 photos to her 25 boards. Sixteen of her boards are dedicated to food.

Pinterest started when 29-year-old Ben Silbermann, a former Google number cruncher, thought others might be interested, as he was, in collecting things online. His love is entomology and more than 552,000 people are following his boards on Pinterest.

Photo collections on Pinterest may be as simple as gorgeous scenic shots people have taken on vacation. They may be photos of do-it-yourself projects -- how to turn a baking sheet into a pretty board for magnets or how to make a bunny-shaped bread bowl with vegetables and dip. Or those photos may link to websites that feature everything from furniture for dream homes to inexpensive gifts to shoes.

Pinterest photos can be shared on Facebook and Twitter, but the site won't allow users to pin photos already on Facebook. Another downside is Pinterest's search function. Photos you've seen on other boards that you want to add to your own -- what's known as repinning -- can be hard to find again, as can specific people who have Pinterest pages.

Despite the drawbacks, the invitation-only site has seen tremendous growth since its start in 2010.

It has 10.4 million registered users, one-fifth of whom visit every day. The average user spends 98 minutes a month pinning, with roughly 97 percent of the users being women. Women between 18 and 34 are propelling the site, The Week reports.

While women are huge users of Pinterest, TechCrunch reports Pinterest is pursuing more men.

Guys may find it useful not only for creating their own collections of photos of tech gear, super models and humorous phrases, but to follow the ladies who are important in their lives. Hint: You might get some great gift ideas from their boards or a little inspiration for your next trip abroad.

Haven't been invited yet? Here's how to get a Pinterest invitation.

Another option for men is Gentlemint, a social media site geared to what it calls "manly things." Think Harleys, mustaches and sports. Time describes it as Pinterest without the girlie stuff. Here's where to request an invite to Gentlemint.

WTOP's Nathan Hager contributed to this report. Follow Nathan, Colleen and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)