Pinterest has come a long way in its short, two-year history.

Last year many tech writers wrote they “didn’t get” the image-sharing network and wrote it off as a place “just for women.” When it was named as one of the top 10 social networks in December, many tech blogs found themselves scrambling to catch up.

Now there’s no denying. Pinterest has made the big leagues.

According to Experian’s “2012 Digital Marketer: Benchmark and Trend Report,” Pinterest has become the third most-popular social network in the world, trailing just behind Facebook and Twitter.

Pinterest owes its affluence not just to its massive userbase, estimated by Comscore as 17.8 million unique visitors in February alone, but to its engagement—on average, 89 minutes per user.

The report indicates that the people spending time on Pinterest do skew female, account for 60 percent of the site's users. But that hasn’t stopped the site from becoming the fastest site in history to hit 10 million uniques. Perhaps it’s time to realize that women, who also make up the majority of Facebook and Twitter users, are influential social-media tastemakers.

Pinterest may now be on the same playing field as Facebook and Twitter, but, as the Daily Dot previously pointed out, the network differs from its contemporaries in that it lets users create networks focused on their favorite topics instead of their closest friends.

The Experian report claims that Pinterest’s popularity lies in this unique approach:

“The popularity of Pinterest is a result of the next phase of the behaviour we've seen online over the last few years. Users are increasingly more comfortable with recommendations from friends or other users when they come through social personalisation."

We’ve already seen dozens of Pinterest imitations, and you can even make your own. As the Experian report suggests, Pinterest isn’t just a social networking fad. It’s the future.

Photo by Debbie Chialtas