Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pinterest: E-marketing Success Story

Great article today on the rise of Pinterest, that now seemingly viral service that has exploded onto the scene. The article focuses on a few aspects that I have marveled at:

  • Unlike Facebook Like and Twitter, this time online marketers, specifically those with e-commerce capabilities, have embraced and integrated Pinterest into their offerings in absolute record time. While it took months/years for many etailers to figure out how to drop Facebook Like buttons onto product pages, Pinterest buttons popped up in mere weeks.
  • There seems to be as much emphasis on mobile with Pinterest as web; that's a huge differentiator. In fact, as today's article points out, it's forcing changes to site designs to accommodate the mobile visitor automatically. Who's have predicted the catalyst to make sites ubiquitously mobile friendly would be a rehashed social bookmark service?
  • Unlike other services, e-marketers are embracing Pinterest across the enterprise, not just in the "home turf" of e-commerce. This week, I've seen a commercial from Lowe's that features the Pinterest logo on the logo screen at the end; when is the last time we've seen that happen?
So, what happens with Pinterest? Three possible paths:
  1. The Twitter Path. Twitter has successfully raised a lot of money and attracted millions of users...with no discernible business model. However, they seem to be doing just fine. Pinterest makes a little money (those links you post? They reformat them to have affiliate encoding, so they get a piece of any purchases made from those people who click and buy), but they could emulate Twitter: focus on the product, remain pure, cultivate the celebrities to continue to drive traffic.
  2. The Instagram Path. With a $1 billion acquisition by Facebook, you can see someone like Google acquiring Pinterest and making it a central piece of Google+, which is desperately in need of a boost. With the absolute insane growth, the ad hoc social network that is springing up within it, and the already baked in adoption of major retailers, it's a tempting target.
  3. The Facebook Path. Pinterest has a heavy female database; this is similar to what made Facebook successful. Women, being the smarter of the sexes, understand that glitzy features and ease of use is not the be all and end all: it just needs to work for them. There's the story of how men and women give directions: 
  • Men will say "Go right on 3rd, take a left at Main, drive a 1/4 mile, and take your third  right onto Spring St. Halfway up on the 2nd block." 
  • Women? "Go down the street; when you see a red house with white shutters, turn right. After you pass a gas station and the market, look for a yellow mailbox; take a left. Up a hill, and past two strip malls, there's an old brick church; turn right, and drive past the old fruit stand and the stop sign."
Men and women think and perceive differently, in general. Pinterest is much more visual, and that adds to its appeal for women, but that's hardly it. Facebook encountered some of the same: women embraced it for the ability to keep up with the news from their friends, while men lagged behind, bitching about the interface, etc. Pinterest has already created the ability for social connections to be formed between members outside of established social networks (like Instagram); they could build upon that and create the next Facebook. 

No matter the path chosen, Pinterest is clearly the next major player and woe to those, like me, who simply shake their heads, wondering why this service has been embraced by so many, so quickly, and so pervasively. Time to drink from the well

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