Facebook, Google+ and Twitter are well known names and their prominence has led them to dominate the social media space.
Likewise, social sharing tools such as Facebook's like button and Google +1 badges are battling it out to be the most widely adopted. However, when it comes to the growth of social sharing tools, the smaller players are outperforming these better-established household names.
For brands slow to adopt, this could mean missing out on a massive share of audience and potentially customers as the site grows exponentially; Pinterest is now regarded as one of the foremost tools for brands looking to convert its audience into customers.
Take Facebook’s like button. Findings from Evidon’s latest Global Tracker Report* indicate a respectable 34% growth in usage, so it’s easy to see why it forms an integral part of a marketers’ social campaign.
In the same vein, unsurprisingly, Google + 1 also performed well by growing 38% over the same period.
The big surprise, however, was how well the smaller social players, without such an established brand presence, performed.
AddThis (a social aggregator) grew at 41%, compared with StumbleUpon (an interest-based site index), which grew at an impressive 57%, while LinkedIn (a social network for professionals) achieved 65% growth.
However, overshadowing all of them is relative newcomer, Pinterest, whose Pin It button grew by a staggering 637%.
So why have smaller players seen such unprecedented growth in comparison to larger, more established platforms who can rely on their trusted brand presence?
Aside from publishers valuing the importance of exposure on emerging social networks, one theory on the growth of the adoption of Pin It concerns the shift in Pinterest’s demographic.
Digital marketing agency Tamba analysed Pinterest’s user base and found that men's interest in the site is growing and primarily among those in the 25-54 age group, regarded as a key target age range in the industry.
Perhaps more interestingly is that the site boasts users of above-average income - ideal for marketers trying to reach consumers with disposable incomes.
A fact that has not gone unnoticed by publishers and which has led to the widespread deployment of Pin It buttons on sites all over the web.
However, by incorporating these buttons on their sites publishers are opening the door to data collection without interaction from the user, allowing these social players to collect audience data at the cost of hosting the sharing tool.
This shows tremendous trust normally reserved for the bigger, more established social media brands, but it would appear the concern, at least at this stage, is minimal compared with the reward for adopting buttons.
Or it could be the case that marketers, advertisers and publishers are unaware or misunderstand the issue of data leakage and social tools.
Moreover, with publishers showing an eagerness to offer their readers new ways of sharing content, social startups like Pinterest really do have the capacity to grow at the same rate as a powerhouse brand such as Google.
So what does Pinterest’s success mean for marketers and advertisers? It could have the potential to dramatically alter the way that advertising is bought and sold, and how the success of a brand is measured. Instead of just being concerned with the amount of traffic a site receives, greater emphasis will be placed on the origin of the traffic.
And if a publisher can show that tools, particularly Pinterest, are bringing in the numbers, then potentially they can command a higher price.
Meanwhile, as social networks increasingly become a default means of storing audience data, the success of any marketing campaign and perception of brand will increasingly be measured using shares, Likes, tweets and pins.
*Results were taken from Evidon’s Global Tracker Report and data was compiled from Ghostrank, Evidon’s Ghostery® panel of users who opt-in to report the tracking code they encounter as they browse the internet.