Pinterest evolution: between profiling, learning and personal branding


In June 2011 my friend Claudio Gagliardini asked me in his blog: “Which Social Media tools you think will get massive in the future?” and I said: “Reputation monitoring instruments, and content curation platforms.” Pinterest proved me right.

It looks like in the last couple of weeks everybody has been talking about this The Palo Alto-based platform, and the buzz doesn’t seem to get any quieter. We took our time to try it, to analyze its first stage of development, in order to understand where this is going. Let’s see what we found out.

First of all, we have to admit Pinterest has been able to bring the attention of a huge amount of people – including those who didn’t even know what Social Media were – to content curation.

Nothing new, by the way: we’ve seen PearltreesZiteFlipboardGoogle and the Italian platform Searcheeze – just to mention a few. They have the exact same function: Pearltrees describes itself as “a place to collect, organize and share everything you like on the web.”

Yet Pinterest has been able to take off right away due to a perfect integration with Facebook, which led the more conspiration-friendly bloggers to think that it was a ghost-company owned by Zuckerberg… And if we got to be honest, there have already been some spamming-related issues, as The Next Web wrote.

Anyways, the way it works is easy: you can create a themed board and fill them adding “pins” (basically a link + image and description) or “repinning” stuff you’ve seen in someone else’s board. Every board can be modified by the creator only, or by some friend previously enabled by him/her.

My gut impression?

  • immediate like Tumblr
  • easy-to-use like Scoop
  • aesthetically better than any other platform.

Suddenly brands started experimenting with it: it’s clear that the platform can do a lot for marketing. Like allowing companies to show their products in an innovative context (creating awareness), or using the board to communicate their values and reinforce the brand identity.

There already are hundreds of companies on Pinterest, and much more to come – some cool ones from Italy in this post by Davide Licordari.

An example? Toys ‘R’ Us: the American toys retailer just launched the “Be ‘R’ Valentine” campaign, choosing as “pins” all the products that better fit into the Valentine’s theme. They added suggestions on how to use the products and how to make giftcards, and also put in some more “pins” from other boards.

Toys'r'us Pinterest

It’s crazy to consider how big is the impact Pinterest already has on Web design: a few days ago Mashable was reporting how the boards-aesthetic is spreading around new websites like a virus. The success of Pinterest design is just confirmed by the various copycats (just take a look at Pinspire), and even the new invite-only social network for Lady Gaga-fanatics Little Monsters seems to have taken a lot of inspiration from it:

little monsters website


The first doubt I got is: will brand use this 10.5 million users social network to track our interests even more? Well, let me put it straight: it would be stupid if they didn’t.

The second is about the revenue model: somebody affirmed that Pinterest is modifying user submitted “pins“, changing the destination of links in order to sell traffic to websited. We don’t know if this is true; all we can say that maybe – unlike Twitter – they are figuring out ways to make big money right from the start.

Let’s get back to the social side of Pinterest, and think about this: content curation activities require more effort than a simple Facebook post or a retweet. This inevitably means more attention to content: maybe it’s just me – I’ve always seen content curation as a tool to manage our digital-vanity – but I seriously think that people will learn to be more careful in selecting what they collect and share online, otherwise boards would look just like a mess.

As a consequence of this collective effort, contents are easy to find, since there’s defined order in which to put all the elements. And I see this as a good opportunity for personal branding; as an example, you can can create a board and call it “My posts on Social TV (and I’m NOT talking about my account!).

This could potentially turn Pinterest into a huge opportunity for freelance workers to show their works; let’s just think about photographers, enabled to create a board with all their Flickr pictures + boards referred to their favorite photographers, increasing the opportunities to get noticed by other people with the same interests.

Or even more: how about a teacher using a board to organize, let’s say, researches about physics made by his students? Better than Wikipedia, isn’t it? The teacher could enable the students participating to the project to modify it. It’s just a very basic example of how content curation could be applied to real life activities, like the educational field.

pinterest LOL

In case you didn’t notice it, I really believe content curation could become a game changer in our online life. I feel it will become something more than just collecting and sharing a bunch of cute stuff on a board. Or, as Techcrunch hilariously defined it, a 4chan for ladies – based on its demographics.

It’s already becoming a strategic tool for marketers to have a deeper dialogue with customers; I’m sure it will also change the way all Internet users manage their own online image.

Emanuela Zaccone


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