When Pinterest declared last summer that it was looking at new ways of personalizing comment, some people in the social media marketing business wondered if this might mean the end of the follower system. This week the image-based social network launched a new home page feature centered around users’ interests, giving them an entirely new way to search.
The new feature fundamentally appears as a new category, labeled Interests, which is based around Pinterest’s assessments of what individual users find interesting. It is being rolled out slowly and several of those who have encountered it so far have expressed surprise at how accurate these assessments are. Unlike the follower system, this makes it relatively easy for users to discover new content, making Pinterest an easier place for new brands to break through.
Within this category, users don't see individual pins but a selection of topics based on what they look at most; therefore, the challenge for marketers is how to get their pins near the top of each topic section. The very top pin in each section is immediately visibly beneath the topic header. If the system takes off – and so far it is getting a warm response – it could change the way Pinterest operates at a fundamental level, making it much easier for users to find things that appeal to them so that many may not bother to continue using the other categories. Some have suggested that it may even see the follower system dropped altogether.
One interesting aspect of the move is that it has the potential to make the Promoted Pins (introduced by Pinterest late last year) significantly more useful, as brands will now be able to employ them not only to increase their general reach but also to specifically target individual users with relevant interests, even on days when they are making little effort to search actively. As far as Pinterest itself is concerned, this may prove useful by drawing users back more often to see what has been posted there. This kind of habit-forming regular use is potentially more valuable from a marketing perspective than lengthy but rarer visits, during which interest is likely to decline throughout the time spent on the site.
Alongside this move, Pinterest has announced that it is now providing support for .gif images, thereby increasing the formats available to users and reducing the hassle involved in putting up some archive pictures. Overall, Pinterest is clearly moving towards building a broader base of operations.