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24 Oct


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What is Pinterest and Why Does It Matter for Brands?

October 24, 2011 | By | One Comment

For the last month or so, many of my friends have been gushing over photos they’ve seen on Pinterest. What is Pinterest? The site styles itself as an online bulletin board that allows users to share images of things that catch their eye. In essence, it’s a social bookmarking site for images.

When a user finds an image they like on the web, they click on an icon in their browser window. The image is then “pinned” to that user’s collection. Others can view the images and “re-pin” them to their own Pinterest account. For example, a bride might search online for wedding flower ideas. When she sees an image of an idea she likes she “pins” it, allowing her friends to see it and even make comments.

Sounds pretty cool if, like me, you’re looking for Star Wars costume ideas for the little guys. But what does Pinterest mean for brands? Start-up Advisor Semil Shah, in an exchange on Quora, wrote that he sees the site’s popularity as an indicator of a potential shift in purchasing behavior.

Currently, the consumer signals intent by actively searching for what they want, like, Semil writes, “Black Nike running shoes.” But a site like Pinterest makes “discovery” possible. He writes:

“Say that I’m in the market for new shoes, but instead of researching them myself, I elect to browse the boards of some friends on Pinterest who I already know are dedicated runners? I could find a pair of sneakers on a friend’s Pinterest board and have reasonable confidence that this pair would suit me, too. In this manner, I may elect to buy the shoes right after seeing my friend’s board on Pinterest and get to a transaction much quicker. If Pinterest can bypass intent-based search on just even a small fraction of online transactions, it will be a huge success.”

For more info about Pinterest, check out Marshall Kirkpatrick’s wonderfully titled (and informative) article on ReadWriteWeb: If You’ve Never Heard of Pinterest, You’re a Big Dork.

What are your thoughts on Pinterest? Will more brands find the usefulness of social bookmarking for images?


  1. Great and very timely post. Pinterest has been a company of discussion around my professional life and also personally. In fact, last weekend, as I sold a dog crate to someone from Craigslist, she was talking about how much she loved using the platform to check out venues, design ideas, to see what her friends are bookmarking to buy – important word there for anyone in business – BUY.

    While there is a bit of competition in this space for Pinterest, like FFFFound (how many “f’s” – exactly) and Path for the iPhone, I think Pinterest has a lot of advantages like their simple user experience and sleek design, the shopping habit data that they are capturing on (their mostly female) members “likes” is tremendously valuable. Content curation, social collaboration and subscription has made this an investors dream – the numbers are across the board, but I’ve seen $40 to $75 million dollars. They are gaining a lot of members and certainly a lot of buzz.

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