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Pinterest – Should Facebook be Worried?

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Over the years, we know how technology goes through a fad state. Even the internet is not spared from the ‘boredom’ curve and many websites have gone through this – remember MySpace and Orkut? As soon as a new way to connect with people comes onto the scene and gains popularity, it takes the crowd away from the already existing places and people find a new place to hangout, virtually speaking, of course. Over the past few years, Facebook has emerged as the most popular option for social networking across the world and has managed to hold its own – Twitter and Google+ notwithstanding.

Now, there’s a new kid on the block – Pinterest, and it has been raising quite a storm of late with many people falling in love with the concept of pinning and repining their favorite visual representations. The million dollar question that strikes us is whether the growing popularity of Pinterest must be of any concern to Facebook? While internet users debate about Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram as a means to eliminate any potential threat the latter posed to the social networking giant, Pinterest has quietly emerged as another plausible contender that could potentially overthrow Facebook’s reign.

While originally a favorite with female users, Pinterest has been steadily increasing its user base, with more and more people signing up to share and post photos of anything and everything they like, on their digital pinboards. It has been ranked as the fastest growing website in present times, having 17.8 million registered users by March 2012, recording an increase of 52% within a month. Think of it like your virtual scrapbook – where you can put together images you like by pinning them onto your board and letting others view this board. Your network grows as you repin posts by others and you can continue to share your board of images with this growing network of users across Pinterest.

Mostly used by women to help plan their weddings, renovate their houses, or even collect recipes, it works in a deceptively simple manner by letting you pin any image that you like onto your board for future reference. However, of late, many organizations have jumped onto the Pinterest bandwagon, realizing the potential for social media efforts through this site. Businesses are bullish about Pinterest’s growth because it is a much faster method to share information, when compared to Twitter and Facebook and works on the simple logic of people preferring visual images to text.

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Pinterest presents a lot more advantages from a social commerce perspective, in comparison to Facebook. Primarily because it is a newer platform, there are many more new users organizations can target, as opposed to Facebook lags in getting new users currently. Also, data shared on Pinterest is more targeted and directly in tune with what you like – you would only pin or repin images and content you are interested in. Images you like are more public on Pinterest than on Facebook, without necessarily raising significant privacy concerns, unlike Facebook. With the recent changes Facebook has been making, more users are wary about sharing their personal information the same.

On the other hand, Facebook users are more engaged and tend to spend more time logged into their account as there so many different things keeping them occupied on Facebook – be it chatting or catching up with their friends, playing games, or accessing other apps; while Pinterest can only be used to pin up images.

Pinterest is a great platform to help you discover more things that you could like over the internet, as you view boards shared by other users and repin what you like. Organizations think it’s a great way to identify interested customers depending on images they share on their boards. For instance, if you’ve been lusting after designer shoes and pin up images of various shoes, designers may just bet on making a sale of their latest collection to you.

Who knows, maybe Pinterest can just be a stronger social media aid from a business perspective. But will it gain as much traction among users the way Facebook does? Facebook continues to remain- at its core –a great way to connect people but it may have to rethink its strategy for generating more revenue to keep shareholders happy and continue growing.

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