It is difficult to catch lightning in a bottle, and this is particularly evident in social media where hundreds, if not thousands, of new services battle to become the next Twitter or Facebook.
As a result, it’s fascinating to get the back story on how a social media service managed to somehow capture the imagination of millions of peole.
Case in points is Pinterest, which after scuffling along, has become the latest social superstar with more than 23 million visitors a month.
At the Web Summit conference last week in Dublin, co-founder Paul Sciarra provided some insight into Pinterest’s history and how it connected with millions of users.
Keep in mind, Pinterest is not an overnight success story. It was around two years before it started to catch fire about a year ago.
Sciarra said when Pinternet launched originally, it was a different product. What they discovered from the people using it was how they liked to “pin” photos so they could come back to them later. In the scheme of things, it was a relatively minor feature but users liked it to Pinterest realized it was an opportunity to pivot in a new direction.
Based on this insight, Pinterest turned into the Pinternet we know today. Sciarra said while there are a growing number of similar services, Pinterest has been able to maintain its stature due to features such as Repin and Like, as well as the asymmetrical user interface that makes it easy to browse content.
The big question facing Pinterest is how it plans to make money. Sciarra, who left Pinterest last April, said the focus was always to build a “great business as well as a great product”.
“When you guild great business, you can continue to develop the product. We made a point form the outset to not just included strictly commercial content but a lot portion of the content share on Pinterest has some commercial interest,” he said.
“You will probably see additional ways for people to act on that content built into the platform. It will be a form of advertising but definitely not display advertising. It will be a way to show people content they will be excited about.”