Pinterest is quickly becoming social media's new darling, though its greatest strength may also be its greatest weakness.
A popular stat, mentioned almost hourly, is that pinterest drives more traffic than Google+, youtube, and LinkedIn combined and beats Reddit as a referrer. Topically, this is very exciting to individuals and brands alike. It actually gets marketers salivating. But is this really a good thing? Will Pinterest turn into one big advertisement?
In economics, any good that is non-excludable or open to the public and unregulated will ultimately be taken advantage of. What is to stop every other blogger and brand from spamming pin boards with advertisements and call to actions?
As of right now the only "rules" on Pinterest are "no nudity" and "no continuous self promotion." Obviously nudity is an easy one to spot, but how readily will Pinterest spot blatant self promotion? The honor system? And come to think of it, what does Pinterest classify as "self promotion?" If you are an e-commerce site and you post numerous products everyday than surely that is self promotion, right?
Pinterest is positioned as a community where forward thinking users can engage each other through interests and aesthetic sensibility. Social Media Today contributor Cody Damon wrote that "Facebook and Twitter are all about me, me, me -- whereas Pinterest has a unique DIY, hip and inspirational vibe." Damon is absolutely correct, though at one point in time Facebook and Twitter were also unique, hip, and exclusive.
It took Facebook 5 years to turn a profit, and almost 4 years for Twitter. The model? Ad revenue. It is no secret Pinterest will follow suit, the only question is how long before the network becomes so saturated with inauthentic material that it becomes irrelevant? What will stop Pinterest from becoming another hub of information overload?
To start, Pinterest will need to regulate content to keep it fresh, authentic, and engaging. It needs to devise a system that rewards good content and dissuades useless content. Pinterest also needs to regulate how many ads or how much "sponsored content" any given users sees. No one wants to look at J.Crew catalogs seven days a week (well… maybe some people).
Right now over 75% of Pinterest users are female. If Pinterest has any hopes of reaching Facebook/Twitter status it needs to find a way to attract a more even demographic.
Lastly, Pinterest needs to regularly develop and integrate apps and stay ahead of the technology curve. Right now Pinterest is this one trick pony and its one trick happens to be really really good, but eventually that trick will get old.