Just Pin It: The Amazing Potential of Pinterest

Rarely does a social network rise to prominence as quickly as Pinterest, the pinboard-style photo sharing community that became all the rage in 2011 and continues to be a hot commodity.

Pinterest has diversified into a true community with millions of loyal fans. Users can read pinterviews from top pinners, and Pinterest is testing a new look that enhances user experience with more intuitive navigation, bigger pins with more information and backend changes to speed up the network.

In just a few years, Pinterest has established itself as one of the larger social networks – and as one that drives a gob of traffic to retailers. Still, the network has yet to monetize.

Trying to pin us down (and succeeding)

Pinterest is a recent phenomenon compared to networks like Facebook and Twitter. Development began in late 2009, with the site launching in a closed beta version the following March. Growth came at an astounding rate for the San Francisco-based startup as people across the globe found the network as an innovative way to discuss their hobbies and share images, get style tips and plan projects.

Soon everyone seemed to be finding “pinspiration” on the new network, and the momentum has continued to amaze. A Pew study of social behavior in 2012 found that Pinterest is as popular as Twitter and, unlike other networks, is equally popular with different age demographics. Moreover, another study found that Pinterest was one of the largest referrers of social traffic – and that people coming from the network were willing to spend more on average than were Facebook referrals.

Analyze (and salivate?)

Businesses like Sephora, Etsy and Jetsetter are sharing their stories of how much value they’ve gotten from Pinterest. And Pinterest recently made headlines in all the top online tech publications with its announcement of Pinterest Web Analytics, which gives you data like how many people visited your site from Pinterest, how many people have pinned your site and how many people have seen those pins.

Pinterest raised some $200 million from venture capital firms in February at a valuation of $2.5 billion. However, the company has not yet rolled out advertising or other means of making money; the free analytics offering is a step toward monetization.

So Pinterest has been driving traffic like crazy but hasn’t yet capitalized monetarily from its potential. Do you think Pinterest will lure advertisers in droves, or will it struggle as social networks often do when it comes to turning eyeballs into dollars? We’d love to hear your thoughts.