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What Is Pinterest?

A few pointers on the social photo-sharing website

By Nilofer D'Souza, N.S. Ramnath
Published: Mar 27, 2012

1. A social photo-sharing website that some call (sigh) the new Facebook killer. Its users ‘pin’ photographs on virtual boards sorted by ‘interests’. It’s as easy to use as Twitter, except that it’s visual. It’s about photos, but unlike with Flickr, Pinterest users pin other people’s photographs, not their own. It’s like a Facebook page, but less personal.

2. Facebook killer?
It had 11 million users as on January, and is booming. As we write this, it has an Alexa traffic ranking of 63. What makes it more interesting is that it cracks the early-adopter stereotype in that a majority of users are female: Over 80 percent of its users in the US are female.

3. What explains its success?
You never know when it comes to social media. Maybe people just like photographs? In eBay, products with images command a better price; in Facebook, images get more likes and comments. It certainly has something to do with the service making it easy to pin images and easier to browse—ideal for these attention-deficit times.

4. Why is it a big hit among women?
The site itself doesn’t say that it’s targeting women. Some say it’s the pink logo. Others that it’s because it facilitates shopping. We skirt politically incorrect territory if we try to answer that. If you figure it out, let us know?

5. So Pinterest is the Next Big Thing, then?
First, it has to sort out its legal issues. One reported controversy is the way it treats affiliate links: Say you link to something with your own affiliate link, Pinterest changes the link to its own affiliate link, and gets a commission if your reader buys something you link to.

But the really big noise has been about copyright. Pinterest advises its users not to pin too much of their own work. Since this leaves only the rest of the world’s photos to pin, its critics say it encourages stealing of intellectual property. The site saves a relatively high-resolution copy of the photo, unlike, say, search engines, or Facebook.

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(This article is excerpted from the Forbes India 30 March, 2012 issue. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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