Pinterest is one of the hottest and fastest-growing social networks in the world, and therefore it's no surprise that a growing number of brands are making the image-centric service a part of their social media strategy.
But up until now, their activities on Pinterest have technically been in violation of the service's rules, which forbade commercial usage.
The official rules of engagement changed yesterday, however, as Pinterest officially launched Pinterest for Business. Pinterest product manager Cat Lee announced the move on the company blog, explaining:
If your organization is new to Pinterest, sign up on Pinterest for a business account. Existing accounts on Pinterest can be easily converted by following the steps on the business site.
Signing up on our business site allows you to specify your business name (instead of first name and last name) and go through an optimized new user flow...
That user flow provides for verification, a la Twitter's verified accounts, as well as easier access to new buttons and widgets. Pinterest has also created a dedicated site for businesses, which contains best practices, case studies and documentation. The goal of providing this content: "help businesses interact with people the right way."
Pinning together a business model?
Pinterest obviously has an interest in establishing a more formal relationship with brands. It's one the most popular social networks in the United States, but doesn't yet have any revenue to show for it. The company's investors, which have provided more than $130m in funding, will expect that to change, and probably sooner than later.
To that end, it's worth noting that Pinterest's Lee made reference to "future products and services that will provide more powerful ways of reaching and understanding your audience on Pinterest" in her blog post. That would seem to indicate that some sort of paid tools or ad offerings are coming.
That, for obvious reasons could be good news for Pinterest and its investors. And it could be good news for brands. After all, even if Pinterest adds paid offerings into the mix, it's better to avoid a Facebook-like situation and establish where Pinterest is heading as a business sooner rather than later.
The likely losers in Pinterest's impending push for revenue? All of the companies that have popped up hoping to take advantage the fact that Pinterest hadn't yet developed a business model. The big question now: is Pinterest thinking about the opportunities that seem so obvious, or does it have a few surprised up its sleeve?