The Real Reason Pinterest Matters

A Sizzling Startup

Pinterest is a two-year-old social bookmarking site with a visually-pleasing “virtual pinboard” interface. Users collect photos and link to products they love, creating their own pinboards and following the pinboards of other people whom they find interesting.

Pinterest’s growth has been exceptional; in fact, larger than Facebook experienced at the same age. In December 2011, the sizzling social site generated 11 million uniques and recently became the top traffic driver for retailers. Like many individuals in the tech, social, media and startup space, everyday my news-feeds are flooded with Pinterest’s current and potential success stories. Most recently, they were presented with the award for Best New Startup of 2011 at the Crunchies Awards.

What Sets Pinterest Apart

Through the lens of social technology there is something very powerful about Pinterest: They are conquering territory no other entrepreneur or startup has come close to: harnessing the power of images for brands.

Other social networks have attempted to leverage photo sharing but the results have not proven successful:

  • Flickr – one of the world’s first and largest social photo networks, has failed to build technology that brands can fully utilize. Sure brands have Flickr pages, but it’s just a dumping ground for their content. Open social network product features such as friending, following, content redistribution, advocacy and gaming have not been built into the platform. Perhaps this is because it landed in the hands of Yahoo. I have no doubt that Caterina Fake could have done significantly more.
  • Instragram, Color and other mobile photo sharing applications are not fertile grounds for brands to engage consumers through images – at least in the present we are not seeing brands rush to leverage these networks.
  • YouTube mastered the power of videos, Facebook with content, advocacy, advertisements and gaming, Twitter with realtime conversations, and Foursquare geolocation, but no-one has fully harnessed the power of images.

Pinterest is pioneering the fusion of image hosting technology with social product features and are the leading destination where brands can engage with consumers through photos.

Pinterest for Brands

Brands are capitalizing on the Pinterest platform – even running promotions and competitions. Brands include, GAP, Whole Foods, Martha Stewart, Better Homes and Gardens and the Travel Channel have all started to utilize the network.

Whole Foods Engaging Fans on Pinterest

So what’s in store for the social network in the near future? Three of my predictions:

  • Official brand pages
  • Integration with SMMS vendors – opening the door to content strategy, management, publishing and analytics.
  • Social commerce – specifically a method for transactions to take place within the Pinterest platform

I have established contact with Pinterest and they currently do not have official brand-agency programs or teams – however they have made it clear it’s coming. I can’t wait!

Michoel (@Twabbi).

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