Over the past couple of months, the social network Pinterest has permeated our online lives. Users of other popular social networks like Twitter and Facebook — even with their already overcapacitated feeds — begun expanding their online social lives once more.
Gathering users together to create boards and share pins, Pinterest created a social media platform that focuses on the idea that one user can consume and/or share an enormous amount of information in a very short amount of time. The basic premise of the site, and why it is such an appealing platform for users, is that Pinterest is the virtualization of tearing pages out of a magazine, but if that magazine had the entire Internet inside it. In fact, many believe the surprise popularity of Pinterest is due to its supposed target demographic, women.
Truth be told, the idea behind Pinterest is not unique. Many Tumblr users might argue that it is a direct variation of their already existing network, where one user can post a stream of content that others subscribe to. Though similar, the idea of a pinboard beats that of a stream of subscribed tags any day. Pinterest is great for its non-personal value of sharing ideas in a collective nature — whereas Facebook for instance, is known for its intrapersonal value of sharing opinions and status updates with friends and family.
Pinterest differs from its more popular rivals in that it curates a homemade DIY section, which is not so much about the brands or unlockable deals, but about the handcrafted creation ideas that you would not necessarily get from your nearest retail store. Pinterest’s uniqueness lies in its ability to spark the user’s imagination, giving them a unique browsing experience, and curating the content they already love, but also the items they never knew before.
Recently, Pinterest was asked by the tech community and its supporters how they are going to build a sustainable revenue stream. As of right now, Pinterest’s method is using a behind-the-scenes affiliated marketing method. This is smart, non-intrusive, and a simple way to monetize the traffic they are sending to eCommerce sites. Though practical to append affiliate links associated with pins, this cannot last forever. Another possible way would be to sell the curated pins of users to advertisers, similar to what Facebook does with user demographics, likes, and other added content. As of now, a direct advertising method is not possible on the site without changing its layout, and therefore, the entire experience. So far, one of the best discussed solutions is using curated content and partnering with eCommerce sites to drive more traffic out of Pinterest and onto their sites — a relationship that would inevitably benefit both sides.
In addition to Pinterest’s monetization methods, its biggest obstacle so far is protecting copyrighted material. Their solution — already used by Flickr — gives companies the ability to insert code into their sites that will block the Pinterest pinmarklet. What this does for the users of Flickr is ensure that their content is proactively protected. Pinterest is also letting publishers embed a “Pin It” button directly on their website — a virtual permission slip for people to share content.
One thing we can be sure of: Pinterest is changing the way we organize our saved content on the web. Because it does not follow the traditional building blocks of design, a major part of the appeal is the layout, and how information is displayed. More importantly, users appreciate the fact that they are not burdened with having to make comments, or “feed the beast” on a daily basis. It seems the interest in Pinterest is here to stay.