It’s always fun when hard facts demolish critics who scoff at a tech thing for appealing only to geeks. So plaudits today go to Pinterest, which is now the third most-popular social network in the United States. Only Facebook and Twitter have larger user bases, leaving Google+, LinkedIn, Tumblr and all the others to play catchup.

Less than six months ago, Pinterest was creeping up toward making the top ten at all, having been launched in January 2010. It reached no. 10 by the end of 2011. Then it found another dilithium crystal and gained 50 percent just from January to February. Check out the chart below for a snapshot of what this growth spurt looks like.

The research report from Experian Marketing Services found that Pinterest had 17.8 million unique visitors in February.

Social media seems to be the proverbial rising tide that raises all boats, however, with Twitter growing 45 percent and LinkedIn growing 98 percent.

Facebook still looms large over its entire space, of course. Experian found that 1 out of every 10 U.S. Internet visits are going to Facebook, accounting for 20 percent of all pageviews.

Related links:

Pinterest – official site

Experian Marketing Services – official site

Mercury News – Pinterest vaults into third place for social networks, ahead of LinkedIn and Google+, report says

VentureBeat – Pinterest now the third most popular social network after Facebook & Twitter

Voice of America – Pinterest Website Draws Millions of Women

CNN – Report: Pinterest is third most-visited social site

TG Daily – Pinterest overthrows LinkedIn, Google+

AllFacebook – Pinterest Now Ranks 3rd, Trailing Twitter And Facebook

Photo by Flickr user ReillyButler, used under Creative Commons license