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The Future of Pinterest

By: Brittany Hodson
PinterestPinterest is big and it’s only going to get bigger. Pinterest development is huge right now and many companies are already following their business model (i.e. Google). For those of you who may not be familiar with the growing social network pinterest.com, it is a place where users can create profiles that are made up of boards filled with bookmarked images and websites. Users categorize their boards and can share their pins (their bookmarked web findings) with other Pinterest users. People pin everything from exotic cars to their favorite snicker doodle recipes.

Pinterest founder Ben Silbermann’s initial goal behind this social network was “How do we help people discover things that they really love and help them to do those things in real life?” “Collecting tells a lot about who you are,” he said, and when they looked at the web “there wasn’t a place to share that side of who you were.”

How does Pinterest currently make revenue?

It doesn’t. All current efforts are going into making Pinterest a better experience for the user. Pinterest is working on developing new tools and features  (Pinterest Analytics) that will enable brands to understand what users are pinning and their reasons behind pinning. Think about how useful it will be as a business to know the details behind why your product was pinned or why a competitor’s service was pinned over yours. These tools will allow market research to fall right into business owner’s hands.

“We’ve tested a few different approaches to making money such as affiliate links. We might also try adding advertisements, but we haven’t done this yet. Even though making money isn’t our top priority right now, it is a long-term goal. After all, we want Pinterest to be here to stay!” – Ben Silbermann.

Pinterest’s users are multiplatform. They view the site from their computer, tablet, mobile device, etc. This makes the development a lot trickier in catering to each user’s platform and Pinterest wants to get it right. They are spending time now to attain as many happy and satisfied users possible – the money will come later. A lot of business models today get this order mixed up. Satisfaction must come first. After all, Facebook and YouTube didn’t make money in their early beginnings either and look how successful they’ve become.

Potential ideas of how Pinterest might make money:

  • Similar to Google Analytics, Pinterest could sell their own analytics to businesses. User data is so beneficial in today’s online consuming world. Business would pay good money to know how many Pinterest users link to their website, for how long they stay, what links they are clicking on, how they arrange their boards, etc.
  • Pinterest could charge advertisers through branded campaigns, outbound links and traditional ads similar to how Facebook generates revenue through advertisements.
  • Pinterest could charge ecommerce partners for affiliate links. If someone clicks on a link to buy something and buys it, Pinterest would get a portion of that money similar to how Etsy and Ebay work.
  • Pinterest has a lot of potential to charging users for various things: virtual goods, printed collections, better tools, premium pins, upgradable accounts, etc. If pins became exclusive based on price, a whole new model could be introduced. [Pay $1 to pin this website and view the information.]

Quora goes into great detail on the subject.

Should your business be more involved with Pinterest?

It depends. 70% of Pinterest users are women and 64% of pinners are under the age 34. The most popular pin categories include food, arts & crafts, fashion, interior design, family related content, and photography. If this is the target market of your business, I would think you would be missing out on a whole lot of influence in your business. If your business is something along the lines of manufacturing machinery equipment, maybe not – but you’ll have to make that decision for yourself.

27% of Pinterest users have purchased a product as a result of seeing it on someone else’s pin board.

Being a 22 year old female wife and mom-to-be, I can attest to this statistic. In the past year I have bought at least five items online because I saw them on a friend’s board. This is huge for you business owners. Pinterest generates consumer awareness to your products. Although you may not get any money upfront for producing Pinterest leads, if you can get your products to become compelling to your target audience on Pinterest, I believe a big difference will be made.

Key Takeaways from Pinterest’s business model:

  • Keep things simple. “Small ideas can be big.”
  • Make your consumers happy first, then worry about money later.
  • Develop something that you’re passionate about.
  • Get in at the right time. Pinterest came after Facebook and Twitter when people are comfortable with sharing and posting online. Also, the early users of Pinterest were highly beneficial. “The people who used the product early were designers and bloggers, and they really set the tone.”