L.B. + J.T.T. = 4EVER

The most exciting part about getting a school locker was decorating the inside. It was your chance to say, “Hey world—this is me.”

In middle school, “me” was someone who loved Jonathan Taylor Thomas. J.T.T. was adorable, but he also had an edge. He was the only intelligent son on “Home Improvement” and had the voice of an angel on “The Lion King” soundtrack. Homeboy’s got pipes.

J.T.T. was, in essence, perfect. And the only way to honor this perfection was to cut out pictures of him from “Bop”—the ’90s version of “Tiger Beat”—and paste them all over my locker. I should have probably used this space to display photos of my own boyfriend, but since I didn’t have one of those, the voice of Simba graciously agreed to be my stand-in.

Back then, before I physically outgrew J.T.T.’s 5-foot, 5-inch frame and moved on to someone taller, my locker collage represented my greatest passions in life. It was, in many ways, a precursor to Pinterest.

The online-content sharing service—all the rage (yes, I just used that phrase) over the past six months—is a virtual pinboard that allows users to organize and share images they find on the Web. Members can browse other people’s pinboards—a set of “pins,” or pictures, organized by a particular theme—to get inspiration from those who share similar interest. Think of it as a bulletin board or scrapbook—just online.

But Pinterest isn’t just about sharing pretty pictures or creating a visual representation of your love for J.T.T. The website reached 10 million monthly visitors faster than Facebook, Twitter or any other site tracked by comScore, making it one of the fastest-growing websites in history. With such an exploding audience—over 20 million unique users and growing—many apartment management companies are discovering it’s also a marketing platform and resident-retention tool they can’t ignore.

To reach this expanding network of users, some apartment communities are pinning pictures of beautiful model units, creative landscaping designs and DIY projects. Users who click on the pins are linked back to the site it came from—often, a community’s website or blog.

Whether Pinterest will lead to an increase in leases and renewals is yet to be determined, but proponents of the site say, if nothing else, it’s just another way to improve search engine optimization (SEO) and connect with a larger audience.

I, on the other hand, am interested in using the site to connect one-on-one. J.T.T., you have my (work) number.

Call me, maybe.

For more, check out “Interest in Pinterest” in the September issue of units, which mails Sept. 11. Check out NAA’s Pinterest page.