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Pinterest: Just a Passing Fad?

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Ben Bloom (Digital Strategist, Wunderman):


My argument, featured in "gloves off" for DM news , is that no network is intrinsically important, and to my mind Instagram's acquisition by Facebook strengthens that idea. What do you think? Is tumblr's acquisition of Pinterest around the corner?

If you would like to weigh in on the site, please do, but I would love to hear what you all think. (see Article Here)

Gretchen Scheiman (Marketing Strategy Consultant):


Nice Ben, thanks for sharing.

There are two aspects to this question - do we think photo sharing as an activity separate from other social sharing is unlikely to be self-sustaining, and do we think Pinterest itself has not been designed with enough competitive advantages to forestall competition from moving in quickly.

I suspect that photo sharing (outside of ones' own pics) is - like video - complex enough that it deserves its own space. I can't imagine an integrated user experience with either FB or Tumblr that would work as elegantly. So I'd have to say that photo-sharing as a separate utility looks like it is here to stay.

As for the second question - while I think that Pinterest in some ways is a negative for businesses (specifically its policies around link/affiliate stuff), I actually like the business model overall. They deserve kudos for actually having a business model this early on - let's face it, that's a bit of an anomaly in the social space. It's quite refreshing. I'm sure Pinterest has some growth and revisions ahead of it, and I'm not sure it's well-protected against competitors, but it does seem to have enough legs to make it a worthwhile investment for some companies right now. Anthropologie is an early adopter that seems ideally suited given the target demographics of their audience.

Which gives Pinterest another face: ultra-relevant affiliate promotions. Could Pinterest be a catalyst for consumers to create a sort of micro-affiliate market, on a far greater scale than we've seen so far? Is Pinterest really a combination of FB/Etsy or FB/eBay?

So while Pinterest may go the way of MySpace, it feels a bit more like Twitter right now. And with more potential and a better business model than that company.

My 2 cents to help start the dialogue - I'd like to hear others weigh in on this topic too.

Andy Goldman (Principal BRAND+MEDIA+TECHNOLOGY):


Pinterest is enabling something that other site services and networked platforms have not, communal expression through photos. To date this has been attempted only by brand-owned platforms with very little sharing capabilities (KODAK Gallery, Snapfish, etc.).

People like to express themselves. They like to do so with varied creative techniques. Photo and picture sharing combined with a communal 'voting' or approval technique like Pinterest provides a unique media for consumers to engage with. It's not going anywhere too fast, is my bet, in its 'intrinsic networked form.'

It may be acquired, or folded into, something new. That's for sure. Because without the piggyback effect of a broad social network that exists for more than to connect consumers to their visual pinups, I do believe Pinterest begins to fall off - it just won't be FOTM (flavor of the month) at some point.

However, I might see a Google acquisition (G turbo business plan?) before I'd see Tumblr. Or really interesting ... Twitter Pinterest? That would fundamentally change how visual sharing works ... will be interesting.

Loren McDonald (VP, Industry Relations, Silverpop):

No idea if Pinterest is "just a passing fad" - but it apparently is a fast-growing least according to Experian Hitwise, it is now the 3rd largest "social network" in the US having passed LinkedIn and Google+ - based on monthly site visits -Pinterest Now No. 3 US Social Network, Surpasses Linkedin

In my view, Facebook may have won the battle for the ubiquitous social network, but we've entered the era of there being room for thousands of social networks to succeed in niche areas.

Arien Gessner:


I think Pinterest is a flood of copyright lawsuits waiting to happen. I wouldn’t be surprised to find the percentage of photos pinned by people with ownership rights to be in the single digits. Am I the only one that sees this as a major roadblock for Pinterest’s longevity?

Andy Goldman:


Arien, it might come to pass with respect to commercial rights, given that some businesses are claiming transactions off of Pinterest engagement, but I don't know that they company is liable for the sharing of imagery any more so than Getty images if I went to the site, right-clicked an image, and put it on my web site.

Now, rights management has come up alot with Pinterest, and I'm no expert, but I'm thinking that unless there is a transaction that Pinterest is somehow taking a piece of, it will be some time before they are specifically liable for what others do with images through their technology.

That's a gut feeling from a non-legal expert in the field. But if you look at how long it's taken(ing) for digital rights management standards to form along content that is known to have monetary value (i.e. music), one might think it'll be some time before it matures into solid arguments in this case. Or maybe not.

Loren McDonald:


A post from the Electronic Frontier Foundation on Pinterest's Terms of Service...which just changed on April 6. Pinterest's Pernicious Terms of Service

Ben Bloom:


On the rights issues:

Pinterest apparently tested one approach to generating $ from traffic to retailers, and stopped just before a blogger posted a story which created its own firestorm in Feb.

Pinterest adds disclosure about how they (might) make money. Conversations with Pinterest CEO.

While as Loren notes, pinterest updated their TOS to reflect such a possibility for the future, the monetization (via data sharing, CPA deals, affiliate links, or whatever) of the shared image make Pinterest's future appear, to me, similar to YouTube. The company will be sued, acquired- and then settle out of court for $$$.

Karen Talavera (Principal, Synchronicity Marketing):


I think like MySpace was eclipsed by Facebook, Pinterest itself could be eclipsed (or acquired) so whether they specifically will survive I don't know. I don't think the concept, however, of a visual/graphic social sharing site is a passing fad.

I think the concept IS sustainable and most likely if Pinterest doesn't evolve or build on it, someone else will (or as I mentioned will just buy them first). Because Pinterest was the first to offer/master virtual pin-boarding/scrapbooking/whatever maybe they'll be able to become entrenched enough and quickly leverage their position to stay the frontrunner – if that's what the founders want. Otherwise I suspect they'll sell.

I think there's a lot to be said for the "social scrapbooking" concept specifically around the idea of showing vs telling. Facebook, FourSquare, Twitter, LinkedIn are all so much about telling – chat, conversation, announcement, soundbite, status. But people LOVE the show as well, and as the saying goes, a picture can speak a thousand words.

There's something about a visually-rich, text-light social experience I find deeper and more satisfying than the alternatives. That said, I think Pinterest will remain niched toward users/brands/interests that skew toward and benefit from "show" at least as much as or more than "tell". So sure, the cooking and wedding planning and home décor will prevail, but it there's also the celebrity factor (neat to see what celebrities like, use and share), the expert factor (what your favorite author, chef, designer or life coach is doing) and the topical-community factor (easier to share prom dress ideas/photos here or places not to miss in say, Istanbul, than on other platforms) to consider.

I love how brands that are a natural fit are using it – like Horchow – and it gives them more specialized real estate to "show" than either a print catalog or their website – both of which are built more to sell than act like an interior design service.

Tobias Schremmer (Sales Director, MarketingProfs):


Karen, great thought process on all of this…thank you.

I’ve had versions of these same ideas floating around in my mind for months, but your write-up crystallized it better than I could have. For me, the turning point (if that’s the right phrase) from ‘telling’ to ‘showing’ was Instagram. I had soured on Facebook over 2 years ago, to this day I rarely go on it. Same with FourSquare – it just got old really fast, felt like a rat pecking the bar for a fresh food pellet for every check-in.

Then Instagram came along and immediately it was awesome: a photo and a few words or hash tags is just extremely compelling. And I’m not even a “visual” person as much as other people are. IG is in my shortlist of iPhone To-Do’s first thing every morning (with checking email and catching up on Words with Friends). One key to both Instagram and Pinterest is the ability to so effortlessly explore & discover other content. And even when it comes to “likes” (and follows and comments) – I’ll trade one random-stranger-from-Japan’s Like on IG or Pinterest for 5 friends Liking a FB post or 10 new Twitter followers/retweets.

Also, not mentioned enough is that every new social channel like Pinterest means another fresh wave of fodder for MarketingProfs (et al)!

Loren McDonald:


One thing that continues to confound me about a lot of the conversations about social networks/channels/tools on this and the Email list is that there is often an assumption that for something to be viable and valuable - it has to be ubiquitous and everyone must like it.

Foursquare and checkins won't succeed unless there is broad adoption (but I can still have fun getting more points than you) - but not everything will have to beat Facebook or have 1 billion users to survive. Just ask Bill McCloskey. I think it is OK that you love Instagram and I love Foursquare...but not the other way around.

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Guest Sunday, 20 April 2014