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Could Pinterest be the next Google?



Pinterest recently announced that it had reached a milestone figure of 100 million active users per month. This once considered huge achievement has been marred by naysayers, who sceptically doubt the company’s gravitas. This may be in part due to its relatively small following in comparison to other social media behemoths such as Facebook, YouTube and Facebook-owned competitor Instagram; whom between them have amassed over 2 billion active users per month.

Fearlessly, Pinterest have set themselves apart from the outwardly imposed pigeon hole that it has been placed in, by branding itself as some might think, an unlikely competitor to Google. Co-founder of the five year old company, Evan Sharp states that

“We’ve been called a social network. But we’re solving a different problem, we’re a visual search engine for your phone.” With this bold and interesting statement, how can this non-traditional, ‘non-social network’ be used as a search engine?

Change your thinking

It is an easy mindset shift to see the correlation between the boards which people create within their accounts, and the types of things that users are interested in; in order for brands to gain insights into consumer behaviour. It is widely known that the more you can understand about your customer and predict their behaviour, the more agile your business can be.

Harnham see the need for predictive analysts and data engineers etc. as part of tight-knit data science teams increasing at an almost exponential rate. We see the benefit brands gain from understanding their customers better; this is a concept leveraged on a daily basis by retailers and large financial services brands alike. However, are other verticals and sectors missing out on the wealth of real time data that is created on a daily basis via this platform? Could a concept that Pinterest is trying to master take some of the guess work out serving personalised content and recommendations to make engagement easier?

Users of Pinterest, use the platform for three main reasons:

  1. To find aspirational imagery and motivation. 
  2. Plan and gain inspiration. 
  3. Define their personality.

The most valuable of the three use cases, is the second. This is because knowing when people are on the verge of a major life event, such as marriage, the birth of a child, retirement or moving house etc. is data gold dust in terms of user insight, and attractive to marketers. The potential to monitor these shifts in mindset should trigger a reason as to why a company could engage with buyers earlier to influence their decision making process in real time; and have a deeper resonance and impact.

David v Goliath

This could be the main USP that Pinterest could have over a juggernaut like Google, as the latter relies on a user having a query and initiating interaction before Google can collate user behavioural insights. With the introduction of “buyable pins” retailers can turn aspiration into action.

General Manager of Pinterest Tim Kendall supports this fact, stating

‘In fact, about 70% of these 100 million monthly users don’t just visit Pinterest, they wind up discovering something so interesting that they also save or click on it to learn more and take action.’

This is perhaps why Pinterest has such a high valuation of $11bn. It does not need to compete with the other social networks. It is creating its own niche that is proving ever more popular with its user base, as it has grown 81% in the last year and also includes more and more men every year.

 

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