Pin it to Win it

Napoleon Bonaparte was a master strategist, a brilliant general, an able civil administrator.                              News? hell No! so here is some – He was also an internet visionary. Yep,  in a vague acid induced sort of way yes, but in real terms when he stated “A picture is worth a thousand words” he was certainly not talking about the “I wanna be a billionaire dream” Ben Silbermann, the 29 year old founder of Pinterest woke up with.

Yet Napoleans’s words, almost 300 years back not only inspired many artistic gentry and the photography business but also this latest social networking phenomenon.


Found in late 2009, Pinterest is an online pin board/collage of your interests, likes, aspiration, choices expressed as pictures.

A membership request based website, it allows you to

  • Pin pictures (of products, places, people you like, any picture you stumble across on the web or have stashed in the depths of your hard drive)
  • Follow others pin boards,
  • Repin (post them on your boards) Comment & Like (yes you can like every else comment and like here too, they’ve got their hygiene in place)

So you might ask and rightly so, why isn’t it called Pinpix, surely a simpler more marketable name?

Secret’s out – Because just like a real pin board this one is organized  yet flexible  enough to make navigation fun. It reflects the pinner’s interests and therefore Pinterest.

Data presented by Mashable, who’ve crowded there desks with a pile of articles on Pinterest focus, that too with a dozen flood lights on the latest social networking phenomenon’s unprecedented popularity. Here, lookie:

Ok now, don’t be daunted by big numbers and pleasing graphics characteristic of responsible media, here’s what we think deserves serious thought:

  • In what is now perennially sliced social networking-scape, where does Pinterest feature?
  • Will it be a raging success or will it be an also ran, flattering to deceive before falling by the wayside?
  • How is it relevant to brands? What would be their take away from being on Pinterest?

Beginning with the challenges that lay in the path ahead

  • No revenue model or reported revenue so far except little and undeclared affiliate sales. The silly big question is, how will it monetize, will it be sans the pure play advertising route?
  • Criticism based on the potential copyright issues on images pinned on the website by users. Flickr & Getty images have legitimately shit bricks and  brought to fore their concerns.

Answers to which could be

  • The difference between Pinterest and others in the space is that, it does not seem to  aspire to be a Facebook or Twitter. With minimalism at its core and “a picture says plenty” philosophy it is a welcome clutterbreaker amongst other word weary social networks. User goes online, creates boards of likes, aspirations and whoever wants  to have a piece of its repins or follows user boards.
  • Not having an apparent revenue stream or a model is no more considered to be cataclysmic. Facebook did not have one for years, neither did Youtube. People appreciate that these things eventually take shape, if you’ve got enough people subscribing to the core idea. Ultimately its users through their browsing behavior on the site who open doors for money to come in.
  • Similar copyright issues plagued Youtube in its early years. Microsoft’s Ballmer famously said “youtube is a lawsuit waiting to happen”. Well, by his own admission it was a colossal misjudgment. More recently to tackle this Pinterest has introduced a no pin html meta (go figure) tag to allow websites to prevent pins from their copyrighted images or pages.

This said, Pinterest’segmented, homogenous (cougar town women with significant disposable income)  user base has thrown a plethora of opportunities for brands and the site itself. It is anybody’s guess whether Ben Silbermann worked towards this audience or the platform attributes attracted this group.  Eitherways, it’s a happy little coincidence. It has managed to achieve what many marketers spend many hours looking for in  conference rooms that are badly lit and have a selfish vibe –  “Delight a few to create demand  from many.”

They have managed to build a substantial following in a rather narrow segment of consumers, and while thier own monetization strategy remains elusive, it has opened up a new area of opportunity for brands in

  • Home improvement & Design
  • Wedding Apparel & relatedservices like photography
  • Women’s fashion & accessories
  • Food brands
  • Multibrand  online retailers

There are over 250 brands on Pinterest today in various categories  but most content posted and repined falls in the above mentioned categories. With a substantial user base this affluent demographic slice, its not hard to understand why.

Let’s take the example of the online retailer of handmade and vintage articles etsy.com who is one of the early adopters of Pinterest:  Etsy accounts for 3% of all Pinterest’s images. Closing in at about 314 million usd last year Etsy is pretty  excited about pinterest’s contribution as it goes perfectly with the ethos that Etsy’s build on. Of course it doesn’t  surprise us that the majority of Etsy’s subscribers are women . It points to the fact that so far Pinterest is highly segmented and effectively so.

With the current rate of new members joining the site everyday, the fem domination would be diluted, which would in turn open more avenues for brands targeting the menfolk as well. Anybody who’s been on the site long enough would know there is equal potential for boys toys.

This would opens doors for categories such

  • Travel and lifestyle
  • Youth apparel brands
  • Men’s fashion & accessories etc
  • Niche brands
  • Electronics
  • Automotives
  • Sport and Lifestyle


Pinterest in a short span of time is the 82nd most popular site in India. 4.2 percent of its users are from India generating 3.8 percent of page views. This implies that the site has more than just raised an eyebrow. There are unique challenges though.  Most of them being adoption issues that Pinterest cant and should not have sleepless nights over. It is whether the brands and/or their agencies in India, still grappling with the dynamics of advertising on Facebook and Twitter are prepared to take on another social network.

The biggest pitfall here would be to take the slice by 3 route, instead of understanding the relevance of one alternative vis-à-vis another, bearing in mind what the brand stands for

All said, Media planners and agencies have plenty reason to promote their youth brands on Pinterest.

Apart from all the categories listed for global brands – Niche Indian lifestyle Brands like People tree, Happily unmarried, chumbak, Quirk box etc stand to gain as early adopters. Plus there is no denying that traditional advertising routes are expensive. They must  build a unique character whilst the big boys grapple with mass media FB and Twitter.

All said and done, more than being on the site or riding the so called Pinterest wave  alow us to  reiterate, it’s imperative to understand what, how and why of this particular phenomenon is right for the youth brand you attempt to build. Pinterest with its affluent minimalism is the latest big opportunity in the social networking space. Pace at which you react will be as critical as how creatively.

Whether Pinterest becomes another alternate universe like Facebook or  meets its waterloo in the sands of time only the Mayans can predict. However, it is now up to Youth Brands to take to the board or learn the hard way, just like their doing buying millions worth FB ads.

All we can say is, you always have the choice.



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