Tim Kendall, general manager at Pinterest, wants to make one thing clear: Pinterest is not a social network.
“One of biggest misconceptions — and this is probably partly our own fault — is that people think that we’re a social network, and were not. People do not go to Pinterest to share what they’re doing with friends or family,” Kendall said.
It’s a destination for individuals planning for future. Whether this is the very immediate future — such as what they want to wear that day — or planning for a party or a wedding. Kendall said queries range from looking at options for how to wear a scarf that day to a purchase one might be contemplating for the weekend. He called this “immediate planning,” but Pinterest is also widely used to find what kind of car someone might want to buy in a year or what vacation home they want to own in a decade.
The one thing that all of the above scenarios have in common is that they are all future oriented.
“It’s not about the past or even about the moment, and that’s principally what social networks are about: what you did last night or what your friend did last weekend,” Kendall said. “It’s [Pinterest’s] really like a magazine or catalogue of ideas that we’re hand-crafting every day for you based on what we know about you.”
And an extensive catalogue it is. Kendall said 100 million active users interact with 50 billion pins on one billion boards, and when users pin to boards, Pinterest can do two things: drive insights to make a better experience and help marketers reach the right people.
He is clear that the majority of content living on Pinterest is not of the user-generated variety. Three-quarters of the content comes from the businesses themselves (pulled from their domains or apps), another point of differentiation from social networks like Facebook where users are responsible for many of the images that live on the platform.
Another difference: Pinterest content is more evergreen. What this means is that while the half life of a tweet is 24 minutes and a post on Facebook is 90 minutes, a Pin has a half life of three-and-a-half months. That is great news for marketers, because at three months in, a pin still hasn’t even gone halfway through the clicks and engagements it will ultimately receive.
And more good news for marketers is that Pinners are interacting with pins in-store. Kendall said 85 percent of pinners indicated that they’ve looked at something they’ve pinned while inside an actual store. He acknowledged that what consumers are not doing enough of yet is buying through these pins.
But the company is working hard to change that.
In June, Pinterest introduced the Buyable Pin with select launch partners, and rolled out the feature more widely this month with big name e-commerce partners such as Demandware and Shopify. He said the completely self-contained buying process has been the number-one requested feature since launch. Right now, about 60 million pins today are buyable and that number is constantly growing.
And even though it’s just a few months in, Kendall said the initial signs are good. For instance, Spool No.72 said the sales on Buyable Pins are driving new customers. Eighty-four percent of these purchases are from new customers. Brooklyn-based Madesmith now sees 7 percent of total orders coming from Buyable Pins, with 100 percent of these customers being brand new to the company. Daily Chic saw 30 percent growth this summer, which was driven by Buyable Pins.
Kendall said there is no fee for merchants to use Buyable Pins. The platform wants all brands to use the service — because users are visiting Pinterest with the intent to shop. In research conducted by Pinterest, 93 percent of Pinners told the platform they are using it to buy and 87 percent said they bought something they saw on Pinterest (even though most of the time that is happening off-line).
As for how Pinterest does monetize, Kendall said revenue is generated through advertising. The Promoted Pin is put in front of users when the platform thinks its relevant to them, and this can be a powerful tool. In addition to awareness and consideration objective being met this way, the product “actually works pretty well on a conversion basis, too.”
“A number of retailers are putting search dollars into Pinterest and seeing positive results — some results on par with paid search,” Kendall said.
He also noted that intent begins earlier on the discovery platform.
“Christmas on Pinterest starts to scale up four months before the holidays, [and] you don’t start to see that scale up in search until a month before. We see a similar thing for fall fashion,” Kendall said. “Because we have this window into the future we’ve seen retailers make better merchandising decisions.”
He wouldn’t say which ones, but “one or two” retailers have already tweaked their supply chain decisions based on trends they’ve seen in Pinterest’s data.