What is Pinterest? A Quick Primer on Social’s Next Big Thing

» Posted by on Mar 8, 2012 in Marketing | 0 comments

What is Pinterest?  A Quick Primer on Social’s Next Big Thing

What is Pinterest?

As referenced to being “pinned” start to appear on Facebook Timelines, I’ve noticed that the most common resulting comment is “What is that?”  To answer, we’ve signed up and quickly become fans of online social’s newest creation, Pinterest.

Pinterest describes itself as a way to “organize and share all of the beautiful things that you find on the web.”  Call it an idea board, or file, or a visual favorites list; Pinterest allows the user to create a ”pinboard” of ideas, and adds the social element to a great system for saving things that you like on the web.

Here’s an example.  For years I’ve saved clippings or articles on places around the world that I’d like to visit.  It used to be that I’d find these in magazines or Sunday supplements.   Currently, as my news consumption and reading life have largely moved online, I find that most of my ideas come from blogs and websites; saving all of the references and ideas results in a long and unwieldy “Favorites” list.

Enter Pinterest.  By signing up for an account and using the “Pin It” button on my toolbar, and I can now save all of my travel references to a travel “Pinboard,” creating a visual collage of all of my ideas and the links back to the original sources.   This is the online equivalent of a “dreamboard” (you saw The Secret, didn’t you?) or the manila folder languishing in the back of my file drawer.

This in itself would be great functionality, but Pinterest is a social networking site.  As I create my pinboards, friends can “like” (yes, just like the Facebook functionality) or “repin” (put something I found on their own boards – just like reposting or retweeting.)  My board can be open for comments and feedback from the public, making it both more fun as a way of following my passions and more useful as a collaborative tool.  (Imagine, for example, that I’m planning a trip with another family and am posting ideas of places to stay.  Everyone involved could comment on the ideas.)

Pinterest and Facebook

Pinterest has done a brilliant job of using Facebook terminology to lower their learning curve.  It’s easy to figure out functionality that mirrors Facebook’s terminology closely.  Pinterest is pretty closely integrated with Facebook also, allowing accounts to be created by logging in with a Facebook or Twitter account, and sharing your Pinterest activity with your Facebook Timeline.  (This is another example of Facebook’s “Seamless Sharing” policy.)

While there are a lot of similarities with Facebook, a Pinterest account works more like a Facebook Fan page than a personal account.  Anyone can follow you and you can follow anyone, which allows you to browse other user’s ideas to your heart’s content.  (Pinterest can be a little dangerous for productivity.  Looking through a total stranger’s collections of recipes, decorating ideas, fashion ideas, travel fantasies, etc. can be addictive.)

Pinterest and Business

While it works like a Facebook Fan Page, Pinterest is still in that blissful stage of development when they are not yet generating revenue.  While still basking in the glow of venture capital, they can afford to state that Pinterest should not be used as “a tool for self-promotion.”  That being said, it seems to have fantastic potential for any manufactured product company, providing a showcase for images that link back to the site.  It’s our prediction that corporate accounts will become available within the next 24 months.

In the meantime, I’m back to Pinterest to browse more travel boards.  If we don’t post for a few months, you’ll know what happened.

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