Like any social media network that gains traction, the initial surge is led by people looking for a new way to consume or share content, or communicate with friends and family.
As a social network becomes popular, it is only a matter of time before it captures the attention of brands looking to connect with consumers. A classic example is Facebook, which not only embraced brands but created a new platform, Facebook Pages, so they could establish a stronger and better presence.
As Pinterest continues its impressive growth, one of the big questions is the impact of brands, which are likely salivating when they look at the 12 million active users and the amount of referral traffic.
Will brands ruin Pinterest by making it more commercial and transaction-oriented. Or will brands make Pinterest even more fun and entertaining by adding a new element to the mix?
While it is too early to assess the impact of brands on Pinterest, the thing that may keep brands in check is how Pinterest is a no-frills platform – at least for the time being.
The lack of bells and whistles is a key part of Pinterest’s appeal because it makes the service easy to use. There aren’t a lot of moving parts to distract or overwhelm users, which makes content paramount.
Unless Pinterest changes how it looks and works, brands will have to compete for the attention of consumers by delivering engaging, compelling and interesting content. If your photos, graphics or images have no curb appeal, you’re dead.
This reality could make it challenging for brands to establish strong footholds on Pinterest because they will need to be creative and think out of the box. Unlike Facebook, a brand won’t be able to super-charge its efforts by holding contests or giving away free pastries to become popular.
For Pinterest, the reality of having brands as part of its ecosystem will be an opportunity and a risk.
On one hand, Pinterest could benefit from having lots of brands because it could provide key pillars of its business plan – e.g. advertising and sales commissions. At the same time, however, Pinterest has to be careful not to change too much to accomodate what brands want.
In other words, it is going to be a delicate balancing act.
What do you think? Will brands ruin or enhance Pinterest?
For more thoughts about brands and Pinterest, check out this infographic by Maxymeiser.