1. What’s surprising is that no one developed the “pinning” concept before Pinterest. This shows that despite the overwhelming popularity of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, there’s always room for innovation—greener pastures are but a click away. As I argued last year, “Internet innovation is so fierce and constant that it undermines the notion of zero-sum market share. Instead of vying for a piece of the same fixed and static pie, webtrepreneurs bake whole new pies. Not for nothing does Jeff Bezos insist that the Kindle comprises a ‘different product category’ than the iPad. Just because a company maintains a seeming monopoly on a market doesn’t mean the market is devoid of opportunities. When there’s an innovator, there’s a way. With the web, Goliath is always vulnerable.”
2. I suspect that food is so popular because foodies are already well-established online, what with Foodspotting and Yelp and Urban Spoon. Similarly, I suspect that arts/crafts, fashion, home decor, and “inspiration” are so popular because these are things we already pin to our physical bulletin boards. My mom, for one, loves pictures of interior design, usually torn from a magazine. Uplifting material naturally lends itself to be displayed.
As for brands that aren’t getting much traction, I suspect that a big factor is whether the target audience skews male, as is the case with motorcycles. This may change when Pinterest opens itself up beyond the invite-only stage. When this happens, I suspect we’ll be surprised by the popularity of certain niche brands that most of us wouldn’t consider visually arresting.
3. The idea of a “Products I Love” board is a brilliant way to monetize pinning. Consumers form emotional attachments to products we can’t live without, and in publicly pinning these things, we act as brand ambassadors.
For brands lucky enough to attract such fervor, the next step is to connect with these users. Whether it’s done on Pinterest or elsewhere (via, say, e-mail or even a tweet), now is the time for brands to deepen these relationships, to attach a name and face to their products. For example, at the big budget level, there’s the contest idea: a wine company might offer to take its top pinners on a wine tour. On a regular basis, it should be feeding them news nuggets and coupons that they’ll want to share with their friends.
Addendum (3/15/2012): Success!