Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Pinterest making big moves to commercialize?

It has been quite a while since I've written about Pinterest, but they've recently made some big moves and I think they're significant changes affecting how people use it and get more from it.

Mashable recently wrote up a good summary of what happening in the land of pinning:
Pinterest Partners With Brands to Add Information to Pins

On the face of it, the changes are all about becoming more commercial and essentially letting brands advertise their wares to users. While this is certainly true, I think it's a great additional resource for Pinterest users themselves. There's essentially two types of things being added here:

  1. Informational pins which provides direct info about the pinned item. As Mashable states, an example would be the recipe for the Blueberry Crumble that's been pinned. It could conceivably be other types of instructions for DIY projects that for Ikea Hacks, Paint colors for rooms, etc. These, I think take the site into being a really useful resource to catalog such things across various sites, rather than having to save off recipes or instructions from various blogs or sites like FoodNetwork.com.
  2. Ability to go directly to the appropriate mobile app to buy the pinned item. Here's a direct way to turn a user into a buyer and it'll be interesting to see if people actually leverage this ability rather than just keeping the pin and potentially never actually buying the item. What's great here though is the ability to go from app-to-app rather than being sent from the Pinterest mobile app to a website for the site selling the item. On mobile, I think this provides a potentially far better experience since mobile apps tend to meet users' needs much better than mobile versions of websites. This is a very necessary thing as I wrote about a couple of months ago when Twitter implemented Twitter Cards. When social sites play well together and have clean hand-offs, it can only encourage more usage and less frustration.
There's a few things to mention about where this takes us. 
  1. These moves take Pinterest much closer to what I wrote about more than a year ago:
    P'Oh My Gawd! - What you're obsessing about on Pinterest
  2. Pinterest is moving into these informational pins through specific Brand Partners rather than enabling every user or pin to have this ability. I think it would be ideal to allow all pins and users to post informational pins, but I also see the benefit to limiting this (for now) and also having a visual notification that the pin was posted by a brand (to differentiate from the organic pinning which the user-base may be doing)
  3. This whole thing positions Pinterest in an interesting way such that it's not just a social site, but potentially a marketplace as well. Right now, Pinterest may just be a pass-through to allow users to get to the final product sale page on another site, but I wouldn't be surprised if they're already working on the ability for users to purchase directly via Pinterest (and presumably for users to also sell directly)
I'd be interested to hear from you all about what you think of social sites partnering with brands and becoming more commercial. It's inevitable to me, but it's not just about "selling out". I think if it's done well, it can be a very useful thing to every social user.

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