POV: Move over Lin-sanity, it’s time for Pin-sanity!

Written By David Thai | April 2, 2012 | No Comments


What is Pinterest?  Pinterest is a ‘Virtual Pinboard’ website where users can share photos/videos (pins) of ‘things’ they find interesting.  Individual boards can be created based on a specific category to maintain organization of ‘pins’.  Taking a page from the Twitter handbook, users can ‘follow’ other users to see real-time pins.  One can follow all of the user’s pins or follow just a specific board.  The design of the page makes it simple to view many images and doesn’t require a ‘next page’ button to load more. As a user continues to scroll down, more pins will appear.

How Does it Work

There are two ways to pin something:

1)      Via website using the ‘pin it’ bookmarklet (javascript bookmark)

2)      Uploading an image directly from a computer.

There is an app for the iOS that allows a user to pin images easily; an Android app has yet to be seen.  Currently, all things that are ‘pinned’ to a profile are public.  Other users can comment, ‘like’ or ‘re-pin’ (sharing the pin to that user’s own boards) anything that has been pinned.  A user also has the choice to view all pins from a specific category, displaying pins from any user in the Pinterest-sphere.  There is also a great search feature that allows users to find pins filtered by pin names, board names or user names.

Why is it so Addictive?

According to a report provided by Shareaholic, Pinterest drove more traffic to blogs than Twitter in February!  That is very impressive, given that the company has only been around for two years and only recently became very popular.

But why? Pinterest is addictive because users can easily share things a user identifies with, recommends or wants.  It allows users to be thought leaders/curators in various types of categories (fashion, food, travel, arts, etc.).  It’s all about the individual.  The freedom to share anything and the instant gratification of other users re-sharing pins or ‘liking’ them keeps users engaged.  It’s the acknowledgement that fuels the wildfire.  Whether it’s to create a board filled with things a user wants or to create recommendations for other users, there are limitless reasons why people enjoy sharing images/videos in this manner.

How Do Brands Get Involved?

Currently, there are no forms of advertisement on the Pinterest site, but that does not mean a brand should not have a presence there.  With the current list of categories, some brands may think they do not belong.  But in reality, it’s not about the categorization of a brand at all; it’s all about the individual boards that will gain followers and drive engagement.  Also, just because a brand fits into a specific category doesn’t mean it should shell itself into that category. 
For example, Hyundai’s Pinterest page has a board for a few of their models.  Most likely, the boards are listed under in the ‘Cars & Motorcycles’ category since it’s the most obvious.  What if Hyundai started categorizing in a more creative way, thus creating many more boards? Here are a couple ideas: sharing an image of their ‘Blue Link’ technology and categorizing it under ‘Technology’ or an image of their family-oriented SUV vehicle under the ‘Kids’ category.  This will result in reaching many new audiences in a very unique way.

Barneys NY has a great Pinterest page.  They are all over the ‘Fashion’ category with multiple boards ranging from ‘spring trends’ to ‘black on black’.  Many of the pins are directly from the Barneys NY website, allowing users to easily purchase a product they like.  For Barneys NY, this serves as an additional outlet of advertising at no fee.  Sure, a user can go directly to the e-commerce site and browse through all the listings themselves, but at a time where people are inundated with media consumption, advertisements, social networks, etc., the Pinterest formula is much appreciated.


Even if a brand is not prepared to manage their profile on Pinterest, they should still sign up to claim their ‘vanity URL’ before another user registers for it.  The ability to share pins via Facebook & Twitter allows a brand to quickly notify their existing engaged customers of pin updates to increase exposure. 

What’s Missing?

While Pinterest is currently a very ‘hot’ topic in the online world, there are some features that can be added to make it more valuable:

  • Messaging capabilities for communication outside of commenting
  • Customizable board covers with relevant pins, rather than sorting pins by ‘most recent’
  • Expanded video/image support beyond YouTube with additional platforms (i.e., Vimeo, Hulu, etc.). Some rich media that should animate remains static; gifs pin as a static image and flash doesn’t pin at all.
  • Reverse pinning to allow followers of a user to ‘Pin’ items to an existing board. This would allow even more engagement with followers of a brand.  Imagine a brand hosting a game or competition where users have to submit pins and the users could vote by ‘liking’ pins.
  • Advertising opportunity via top board placements or ‘sponsored’ boards. If a user selects a category, all the recent pins show on top.  Since there is only one page, the top of the page is most valuable.  Another option is serving an advertiser’s board on another user’s feed page. If a user follows a specific category of boards more than others, brands can take advantage of this option.

Final Thoughts

There is still much growth for Pinterest, especially with other photo-sharing competitors like Instagram & Lockerz trying to gain market share.  The main difference for Pinterest is the images which are shared are not only taken from a user, but could be from anywhere on the web.  With more users signing up for the free service, it’s only a matter of time before Pinterest becomes part of an every-day conversation with sayings like, “That looks so yummy, you should pin that!”

Recommended Reading

13 ‘Pinteresting’ Facts About Pinterest Users

Pinterest Now Generates More Referral Traffic Than Twitter

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