You have to hand it to Pinterest: They've won near-immediate Verb status. "Pin it" is social action! just a few years in, thanks in part to $37.5 million in Venture funding, even while use remains invitation-only. It took a killer algorithm and several years for google to attain verbhood (as a stand-in for "search"), and Facebook hasn't yet hit that milepost. "I'm going to Face you"? Nope, sorry. Maybe if Zuckerberg had called the site "Friendbook" or "Likebook," linking name to action, Facebook would be a verb.
Yet Pinterest has to be the least-social social platform I've encountered in a while, with the business impact of a pin prick, business-useless except to marketers who are looking for yet another billboard for their brands.
Pinterest is an image-sharing platform. It supports comments and re-sharing but lacks almost every other major social and business-friendly feature I'd seek such as --
- "Find friends" that extends to my LinkedIn and Twitter networks and not just to Facebook and Gmail. My social network and yours span these platforms and more, yet I'd guess the barrier here is business-rooted rather than technical. We socializers (and who isn't one?) abhor boundaries that block our connectedness, and we very, very often mix our work and play lives. Share and share around.
- Collaborative pinning. Wikis do collaboration. Why not pinboards? Wikipedia shows us that collaborative information-sharing models work. Pinnable media -- photos and videos -- are, after all, information. [Added 4:48 pm, April 11: As has been pointed out, which I missed, you can designate a board for pinning by "Me + Contributors," where those contributors are specific people you name. There does not appear to be support for public pinning nor for workgroups.]
- Tagging. Flickr, Vimeo, YouTube: They all let you apply descriptive labels that will you categorize your content and help others find it.
- Meaningful search, by which I mean search on image content, or at least on the tags that Pinterest doesn't have, rather than just on descriptive text.
- An indication of license and rights and some form of content-use controls. (This Pinterest gap has drawn a fair amount of attention.)
- Mobility. Pinterest is im-mobile. (The one free, third-party, Android app I tried, Pin'd, wouldn't even run on my phone.)
And you can't pin Web pages, docs, or other objects?!
Let's hope that the company is putting that $37.5 million in funding to good use. Pinning and sharing is a good start, but let's get social! Pinterest the company would do well to break down platform barriers, support social tagging and collaboration, diversify content, expand search possibilities, and make the site safe for business. But until that good stuff happens, for me, it's Pinterest Uninterest.
Seth Grimes is a strategy consultant and industry analyst with Washington DC based Alta Plana Corporation, founding chair of the Sentiment Analysis Symposium and the Text Analytics Summit, and InformationWeek contributing editor at TechWeb's. Seth consults, writes, and speaks on business intelligence, text mining, data visualization, and their application to meet current-day business challenges. Follow him on Twitter at @sethgrimes.