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PinterestI don’t want to say it. I’d love to not say it. But I have to say it: A picture is worth a thousand words.

Sigh.

Now that the cliché is out of the way, let’s proceed.

Pinterest is quickly becoming a major player on the social media scene. According to Alexa, it’s currently ranked as the 107th most popular site in the world (20th most popular in the United States and 45th most popular in Canada).

For those of you who don’t know about Pinterest, you soon will. But, essentially, it’s a platform that allows users to post (or, rather, “pin” as they call it) and share online images they find interesting. It also allows users to upload images of their own.

The picture-posting site has become so popular that it is driving more referral traffic than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined.

Pinterest has also found a way to monetize the site, which is a challenge for most social media startups.

But why is the site so popular, and why will it last?

Here are three reasons:

1. People are drawn to images.

Pinterest is a hit for the same reason Facebook modified its news feed to allow to more prominently display pictures: people like pictures.

It’s why newspapers have pictures on their front pages and websites have don’t just have text.

Yes, millions of books are sold daily with no images inside. but there’s almost always an image on the cover.

Without delving into the actual content, at first glance a  Pinterest is more appealing than that of its many social media counterparts.

2. Pictures are easier on your brain.

Your brain processes pins faster than posts and tweets. More specifically, your brain processes images faster than words.

Measuring how fast your brain processes things isn’t easy. The difference between how much faster you understand a picture of a circle versus the word “circle” is surely in millionths of a second. But imagine how much faster you could skim through a wordless picture book telling the story of Little Red Riding Hood than if you had to read it. It doesn’t take extensive, or expensive, research to figure out that the human brain understands images faster than text, but, it’s been done and the results say we process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.

That means your brain can receive more information in less time when looking at a Pinterest board than a Facebook or Twitter feed.

3. Social media platforms live forever…almost.

With rare exceptions such as the much-maligned Google Buzz, social media platforms don’t die. Long before Pinterest or Facebook, people were using mIRC, ICQ, MSN Messenger, Hi5, Myspace and much more. Each had their time in the sun and each was eventually eclipsed. However, despite their diminished popularity, they’re still alive and kicking.

Here to stay

Although Pinterest has been around for nearly two years (the early part of which, it was in beta), it’s still a baby by social media standards with “only” about 10 million users. By comparison, Google+ is less than a year old and has over 90 million users. But Pinterest is steadily gaining popularity. And every new user increases the platforms potential longevity.

Long live Pinterest.