Pinterest and online behaviours
April 27, 2012
I have a confession to make….I don’t really get Pinterest, I mean I get WHAT it is, and HOW it works, but being quick to dismiss it as a tool for wedding scrap book creation and dream journals I was never really sure how it applied to me.
But with 11million+ registered users and rising, it’s made me wonder, why? What does it offer users that makes it stand out from the raft of other social platforms on the market? I think the answer lies in fulfilling a behaviour that no other platforms tap into.
So what exactly is Pinterest? It’s a virtual pinboard, enabling users to collect, share and categorise images from across the net. It’s visual ‘post bookmarks’ and equally well-suited for building home décor inspiration boards (the number 1 category on Pinterest) or maintaining a ‘to buy’ list while trawling the net.
Despite all the other social platforms out there, from the mighty Facebook with its 900 million+ users to the rapidly growing mobile picture site Instagram (recently bought by Facebook) with 40million users, Pinterest offers something none of them do: visual curation.
Facebook is about ‘sharing’ and Instagram or Flickr are about ‘creating’, but there is this gap in the middle for people who don’t want to create ‘stuff’, they just want inspiration! They want to collect, reorganise and maybe share with friends.
From a behavioural point of view there is no other platform on the market that really enables this level of digital involvement for users who don’t want to ‘make stuff’, but do want a place to keep all the junk they compile while trawling the internet (guilty!) as well as those who want to build inspiration boards, and let others be part of the experience.
Taking this idea of collection and curation and the behaviour surrounding it there is fascinating implications for how Pinterest is planning to evolve. They recently announced ‘video pinning‘ offering a place to organise your videos alongside the images you have already collected. Here again, is another untapped space: a content hub for themes (cat pictures and videos anyone?). This can also really expand how brands can play in the social space, holding static content (images) with dynamic (video) in the one location.
Whole Foods the US organic grocer has been using Pinterest with some success to share images of it’s fresh food (enhance fresh credentials) as well as providing a location for static recipes to live, but video will enable them to take this experience a step further.
So why couldn’t a beer brand use Pinterest to curate it’s historic content, to develop a place where consumers can come to see award wining commercials, and access funny print ads from the 1800s. A place where fans can easily share them with friends, start their own boards and amplify the content out far and wide.
The second announcement is the introduction of a public API (application programming interface), which will enable individuals and brands to build programs and applications to connect or interface with Pinterest A release of public API is often a fast track to innovation as now programmers can get in and tinker… but what does it mean?
Well some interesting data has been circulating about the money Pinterest has been making linking to affiliate sites (link through and click on a picture of that green sweater and Pinterest gets paid), so the natural progression from this is a proper e-commerce/wish list function so I can tag items I like only to buy them through Pinterest later, or for that special someone to pick up the tab.
So, I’m still not sure where I stand with Pinterest, but it’s a platform with a plan and as it continues to evolve and develop beyond being simply a scrap book I think we’ll see some really interesting new behaviours evolve out of it.