Pinterest: An Entrepreneur’s Dream?

by Thomas Samph · 39 comments

Pinterest- Entrepreneurs Dream
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Howdy doody all. 

OK so I am definitely not yet on the Pinterest bandwagon as yet (still waiting on that invite Pinterest! Hint. Hint.) however all I see and read about lately is Pinterest this, Pinterest that. 

So when Tom approached me regarding a guest post on the very topic, I said sure, I’d be happy to run it because I might learn a thing or two along with you guys! Entrepreneurs live for new tools right?

That said… see below for the extremely thoughtful post by Tom, back for his second debut.

Please make him feel welcome in the comments below with any questions or input you may have. ;) 

When I first signed up for Pinterest a couple months ago, it was a sleepy social network that seemed destined for mediocrity. Several people I knew were using Pinterest to share photos with friends or seek out up-and-coming artists.

In general, images on the network were recycled in the small network, which seemed desperate for new content.

Today, that same network drives more traffic in referrals than Google+, and is second only to Facebook in time spent on-site.

This graph from Alexa.com shows a comparison of time spent on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

RJmetrics writes that Pinterest retains and engages users 2-3 times more efficiently as Twitter did during a similar time in Twitter’s history.

What’s more, the press is loving the social network’s success, and bloggers have been eating it up. Shel Holtz wrote an article on February 16th on PRDaily.com entitled, “It’s Foolish for Brands to Ignore Pinterest,” noting that at that time, there were 50 million-plus Google Blogsearch results for the budding social network, Pinterest.

As I write this, the number of blog search results for Pinterest has jumped to well over 66 million. That’s about 5 million blog mentions per day over the 13-day period. It’s big news, and there’s lots of it.

Pinterest is here to stay. For any entrepreneur interested in the tech world, it’s a dream to create a tool with pickup like Pinterest. But is Pinterest as disruptive a tool as, say, Facebook was? Does Pinterest rank up there with other disruptive technologies, or is it just a catchy social network?

Will people use Pinterest for marketing? Or just for sharing? Looking at the data and hype about Pinterest can give us a look inside the real value of the Internet’s latest darling social network.

Pinterest Drives Traffic

The big news at the beginning of February was the number of referrals Pinterest was sending to other sites. Pinterest drove slightly less than both Twitter and Google, but more than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn, combined.

Pinterest is proving to be a referral machine. And since the real draw of social media for business is the ability to market content in a unique way to get referrals back to their site, this is a real chance to capitalize.

Of course, as with any of social network, we’ll see a barrage of articles about using Pinterest for business. Instead of asking How do you Twitter, we might start getting How do you Pinterest. But unlike Twitter, Pinterest could prove to be the real deal for referrals.

This data was released at the beginning of February about referral traffic from the content sharing firm Shareholic:

Facebook claims the top referral spot, sending 26.4% of total referral traffic, with StumbleUpon in second at 5.07%. The biggest takeaway from this chart is that Google, Twitter and Pinterest are all about tied for 3rd place with 3% of total referral traffic. With Pinterest user base growth, look for that number to increase.

Pinterest Users Are Engaged

Facebook is the shining example of the largest, most engaged user base. None of the other social networks come close to the engagement numbers that Facebook boasts: highest in referrals and highest in time-on-site.

But besides Pinterest’s rapidly expanding user base, the average time-on-site per visitor has grown just as fast. Pinterest users are tied with Tumblr users for the most average time-on-site per visitor, albeit both remain well behind Facebook.

In the near future, brands will be scrambling to get in front of those eyes. The data shows that people are spending lots of time on Pinterest, and they’re also surfing through a lot of pages on the site. Alexa.com’s data on estimated unique pageviews per user is also impressive: it’s coming close to that of Facebook:

Pinterest’s User Base is Growing

ComScore reported that Pinterest was one of the fastest sites in history to hit the 10 million monthly unique visitor mark. The site has only been around for a couple months: It’s now one of the most popular sites on the Internet in the United States.

What Does All of it Mean?

With all of this data that’s been reported over and over about Pinterest, what can we say about its future? Will Pinterest have an impact on the Internet?

So far, what Pinterest has had is an impact on our consumption of news: it’s been in headlines everywhere. But it will also become an outlet for marketers, as we can see from the referral traffic data. Brands will begin to leverage Pinterest for that referral traffic. When a social network is considered in brand marketing strategy, you know it has made an impact.

As far as technology goes, however, Pinterest has found a place like few other social networks. It has carved out a niche from existing social networks themselves. Like Twitter snatched up the real-time news niche from Facebook (which resulted in Facebook integrating more real-time news features) Pinterest has grabbed another slice of the social network pie.

Social networks will continue to become more niche oriented, but is there room for continuous growth in the number of social networks? Even after stripping out a niche market like Twitter and Pinterest have, is there added value for consumers in a constantly growing number of social networks?

Pinterest’s impact on the Internet is as the place to go to share photos, images and video: it’s a new take on the social sharing network. That’s why it has had the pickup. People like sharing photos, and Pinterest is the fastest and easiest way to consume and share images to date.

However, what’s the tool that’s really going to change the Internet? Who has the idea for the next Google? Or the next Facebook?

That’s still the dream.

Alrighty ladies and gents. If you found this post insanely useful, do share with your buddies. Or here’s a thought.. Pin It! You can do either of those things via the share buttons kicked off to the left of this post. In the mean time, I’ll kick off comments with a question of my own! See below.

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

admin March 20, 2012 at 11:43 AM

Hey Tom.. OK kicking off comments with a question. As stated, I don’t as yet know too much about Pinterest (yes, I may be living under rocks lately… hard to tell they’re all so damn pokey)- however I have seen some articles floating around that mention issues with copyright infringements when using Pinterest and opening up a can of worms for users.

Can you share any insight on that at all? :)

Reply

Tom March 20, 2012 at 11:55 AM

Cori – There have definitely been concerns over copyright infringement on Pinterest, as well as their use of a company called Skimlinks to generate revenue through affiliate links. Pinterest has downplayed all of these stories though, and they said they’ve stopped using Skimlinks.

Here’s a good read in the WaPo about copyright infringement and Pinterest: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/pinterest-addresses-copyright-concerns/2012/03/15/gIQAijAFES_story.html

And another about Pinterest, Skimlinks and affiliate links: http://marketingland.com/skimlinks-downplays-pinterests-affiliate-link-practice-5644

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admin March 20, 2012 at 12:05 PM

Awesome! Hadn’t read the Washington Post piece, that makes me breathe a bit easier about using Pinterest in the future. Interesting about the Skimlinks, I’m all for monetization, but it should definitely be disclosed somewhere if you’re changing your users affiliate links to your own. No one can dictate what you choose to implement on your own site or within your own company (as long as it’s not illegal) but things like that should certainly be disclosed so that people are aware. Thanks for all the food for thought m’dear! :)

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Tom March 27, 2012 at 9:25 AM

I think its really a creative way to monetize. I think it’s good that they stopped, because it’s deceptive, but I’m glad that people are thinking about creative ways to monetize online.

I like hearing about companies like Skimlinks that are thinking this way – This kind of thinking could really help how old media generates revenue in new ways in moving to the digital world. This could be important to newspapers/publications who are struggling financially. Admittedly, Skimlinks isn’t the answer for them – but creative use of affiliate links or ads like this could be part of it.

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El Edwards March 20, 2012 at 12:48 PM

I’m glad you asked about the copyright issue Cori. I started using Pinterest but then read that now infamous post by Kirsten and didn’t really know what to think so while I didn’t delete anything, I did stop using it quite as much.

I hadn’t read that Washington Post piece either. It was very reassuring so thanks for that. :)

It was interesting to learn that most traffic is driven from Pinterest to Facebook (as opposed to the pin ‘author’ site. I wonder if it might then be useful as part of a strategy to build one’s Facebook presence. Lots to think about. Thank you. :)

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admin March 20, 2012 at 12:57 PM

Hey El! Thanks for dropping in! :) Glad you found the read useful. That’s a great point regarding building your FB presence. I hadn’t thought of that myself! But I’m also not yet using Pinterest, so I’m just thinking it’s great to get all this info to arm myself with when I do. LOL

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Tom March 27, 2012 at 9:18 AM

Thanks for the comment El!

The copyright issue has been Pinterest’s latest reason for being in the news and I think it will continue to be an issue. Lots of people have been talking about it, and concerned about it: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-500395_162-57404630/pinterest-tightens-copyright-rules/

Also very interesting that it drives so much traffic to Facebook. All depends on where people are pinning from! In the end, it’s just become a great way to get referral traffic to any other site, and I think that’s a huge draw. For the average user trying to build a web presence, this is a huge thing to understand when considering Twitter v. Pinterest v. any other network. Each one has its draw.

I wonder when Pinterest will factor into Klout score?

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vikas March 20, 2012 at 4:16 PM

Nice post. Pinterest has redefined the social sharing. It offers a great user experience .

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Tom March 24, 2012 at 5:04 PM

Definitely – it’s like no other, especially for images. And the data is really impressive.

Thanks for your comment!

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Jesse Newhart March 20, 2012 at 5:50 PM

Pinterest: An Entrepreneur’s Dream? http://t.co/NkIAMCaf

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Hela Wozniak-Kay March 20, 2012 at 5:54 PM

RT @JesseNewhart: Pinterest: An Entrepreneur’s Dream? http://t.co/4pS1gJmz

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susan borst March 20, 2012 at 11:46 PM

Pinterest: An Entrepreneur’s Dream? http://t.co/omuyAUo5 rt @MelissaOnline via @BigGirlBranding @LoriMoreno #socialmedia

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Stephen Jeske March 21, 2012 at 8:57 AM

Tom, great overview of pinterest and thanks for addressing the copyright issue. I too am surprised at how much traffic it’s sending to facebook. Didn’t really expect that. Now that pinterest is gaining so much exposure, I wonder how much spam we’ll see (pinspam?). You know, people just pinning any kind of image just to get someone to check out their site. People using images in an attempt to garner some traffic.

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Tom March 24, 2012 at 5:03 PM

Thanks for your comment Stephen!

That’s a good point – Twitter has had, and continues to have issues with bots and spammy account. Wonder if this will happen with Pinterest.

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Melissa Giovagnoli March 21, 2012 at 5:01 PM

Pinterest: An Entrepreneur’s Dream? http://t.co/YUtNs0wV via @ThinkDevGrow

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12 Most March 21, 2012 at 10:44 PM

Pinterest: An Entrepreneur’s Dream? http://t.co/hh2McfIn via @BigGirlBranding

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CASUDI March 22, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Pinterest: An Entrepreneur’s Dream? http://t.co/acjJ0rY3 via #12Most

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CASUDI March 22, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Pinterest: An Entrepreneur’s Dream? http://t.co/ejNeQOvu via #12Most

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Matt Browne March 22, 2012 at 2:19 PM

RT @CASUDI: Pinterest: An Entrepreneur’s Dream? http://t.co/b1zgRPNC via #12Most

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Matt Browne March 22, 2012 at 2:19 PM

RT @CASUDI: Pinterest: An Entrepreneur’s Dream? http://t.co/fFiy5Lku via #12Most

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Gelgarin March 22, 2012 at 2:39 PM

I think Pinterest’s success stems from the fact that it was specifically designed for sharing content, unlike most other social networking sites that were primarily networking tools that have hastily adapted.

For a small business wanting to advertise to potential clients, Pinterest’s features are often superior even to the jugganaut that is Facebook.

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Tom March 24, 2012 at 5:01 PM

This is definitely true – the interface allows you to consume image-based content much easier than on Facebook.

Thanks for the comment!

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Dr. Gudrun G. Vogt March 23, 2012 at 9:19 AM

#Pinterest: An Entrepreneur’s Dream? http://t.co/aKDq7UBq via @KlausBillinger

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Jim Jenks March 23, 2012 at 12:27 PM

It has been fun to utilize Pinterest in our entrepreneurial efforts. It’s amazing how fast information and links to my website travel. And I thought Digg and Reddit were fast

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Tom March 27, 2012 at 9:07 AM

Great to hear!

What’s your experience been like with traffic? Big numbers? Average numbers? What’s been the difference compared to other traffic drivers like Digg, Reddit and Stumbleupon?

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Elena Anne March 25, 2012 at 2:22 PM

I am totally on board with the Pinterest as a traffic source. It is totally great because you get people to follow you then check out what you are about. Not to mention how fun it is.

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Tom March 27, 2012 at 9:08 AM

So true – I love that it is so visually oriented. Definitely one of the best image browsing interfaces out there.

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James Duncan March 26, 2012 at 12:56 AM

Great data here–thanks. Confirms how hot Pinterest is. I feel like it’s an art gallery for ideas and I like the site a lot. However, I do worry what the site will become “post-monetization.” Will be interesting to see…

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Tom March 27, 2012 at 9:11 AM

Thanks for the comment James!

It will be interesting what the site will evolve into. It’s already been through a minor layout redesign recently, but not much changed. All sites go through an evolution: Twitter and Facebook are great examples. They both have changed dramatically from their first UI.

I think Pinterest had a little slip up with their first efforts at monetization – all of the news about Skimlinks was a little off-putting. We’ll see how they change that in the future and what other methods they can use to monetize. At the very least, that was a pretty creative way of monetizing!

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Shane March 27, 2012 at 2:37 AM

I just joined Pinterest and I am trying to create some good inforgraphics to get more traffic to my website but alas, I seem to be visually untalented. I definitely do understand the appeal of the site, I have been on it for hours at a time just looking at interesting pictures and leaving comments on everything. It’s very addictive.

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Tom March 27, 2012 at 9:12 AM

That’s the beauty though! All of the visuals are there for you and in a beautiful interface! It’s definitely a joy to use.

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Gerald Martin March 28, 2012 at 3:58 AM

The stats are really convincing, and they do make me want to sign up for an account! As someone who goes around looking for blogs and engaging with other people, I also have to know the other places where they hang out online other than in their own blogs, or in forums. It seems that Pinterest is the right place to be in when you’re looking to engage in content sharing with other people.

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Jeane March 30, 2012 at 5:41 AM

That was really gold mine article. Strategics in driving traffic to one’s website have been an indispensable one for social media marketing specially creativity in medium used and thats where Pinterest really fits. Great online community for sharing awesome images whether from one’s blog site or website.

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Ryan Hanley April 1, 2012 at 7:09 PM

I’ve gotten a ton of value Pinterest… Mostly by using the Boards format to collect social media articles and share what I’ve collected each week.

I mix my own content into the stream as well…

Thanks!!

Ryan H.

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What is SEO April 22, 2012 at 9:45 PM

I started using Pinterest but then read that now infamous post by Kirsten and didn’t really know what to think so while I didn’t delete anything, I did stop using it quite as much.

Reply

Nashville Newsletter April 24, 2012 at 3:12 PM

Several people I knew were using Pinterest to share photos with friends or seek out up-and-coming artists. People like sharing photos, and Pinterest is the fastest and easiest way to consume and share images to date. Today, that same network drives more traffic in referrals than Google+, and is second only to Facebook in time spent on-site.

Reply

admin May 1, 2012 at 2:22 PM

Well I have to say since getting my invite, I’m addicted. lol

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jenli May 17, 2012 at 4:52 AM

I think pinterest is a threat to facebook in the near future?? Online users
may change their taste about social networking, etc. and try something new..

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admin May 17, 2012 at 5:37 PM

It could happen Jenli! :) You just never know with technology. lol

Reply

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