Pinterest is the new tool everyone is talking about. In January it had almost 12 million visitors and the numbers continue going up. I think of it as a bookmarking tool for my favourite pictures that can be organized into various categories and “pinned” onto virtual boards. So how does it work and what’s the hype about?

Over the last weekend, I decided to set up my own ccount and check it out. I thought I would simply sign up but it turns out you have to Request an invite. I dutifully provided my email address and waited… At first I received a confirmation email to let me know that my request was received. Approximately 7 hours later the official email invitation came in.

Interestingly, you have to use your Facebook or Twitter information to set up your Pinterest account. I suspect that this will restrict many users from going any further. I have many friends or colleagues who don’t want to use Facebook and don’t have time for Twitter… Many others would not be comfortable with linking their social accounts to Pinterest.

I decided to use Facebook and after going through a few screens to link my accounts I was taken to a profile section where I had an option to add a picture and few sentences about yourself.

Next I set up my boards. I was able to choose from preset categories or create my own. I created one for inspiration and another one for recipes.  Later, as I explored content pinned by others, and loved the pictures I was finding, I created more categories.

To explore and get inspired, Pinterest asked me for some of my interests and based on my responses, it recommended some users to follow.

As I explored the pinned pictures, and found images I liked, I had the option to “repin” them to my own account. I have to admit it was hard to stop… I found so many amazing pictures and wanted to pin them all. I also had the option to “like” and “comment” on the pictures I came across. By using search options, I found amazing gardening ideas, yummy recipes and simply beautiful images.

Pinterest also provides a bookmarking tool that you can install in your browser to add new images to your boards with one click. You simply drag the tool into your toolbar and you are set.

Although not everyone might find this tool useful, it is a great tool to provide inspiration and ideas. It can be great for planning a wedding, redesigning a home, sharing landscaping projects, collecting favourite books, fashion tips, and so much more.

Here are some things that I added to my Inspiration board:

 It is important to note that each pinned picture provides a link back to the source website. Still, some people might not like to have their images pinned and shared. For that purpose, Pinterest recently released a special code that can be added to a website to stop users from pinning copyrighted content.

<meta name=”pinterest” content=”nopin” />

You can also check out the goodies section for iphone app, ‘follow’ and ‘pin it’ buttons for websites and Pinterest logo.