Now, when users receive a pin, they can reply with a message or send a pin back. Industry insiders say this feature adds another layer to Pinterest’s Guided Search and brings more opportunities to online businesses.
Visual discovery platform Pinterest has upgraded its "send a pin" feature that was released a year ago.
Previously, Pinterest users could send pins to their friends, but recipients couldn't respond. Now, however, pinners can have entire conversations about the pins they are interested in.
For example, if a user wants to cook dinner with friends, the user can send cooking pins to one friend or a group of friends to figure out what dishes to make.
This messaging feature looks more dynamic than the likes of Facebook's Messenger, Google's Hangouts and Twitter's Direct Messages. Within the messaging platform, pins can be saved to a board right from the window, added to users' favorite lists, as well as be dragged and dropped into the conversation box from the home feed.
And unlike Facebook and Google, Pinterest does not plan to separate the feature into its own app.
"Messaging is not meant to take over the entire Pinterest experience," says a Pinterest spokesperson. "[The updated feature] is geared at helping people plan something specific, such as planning dinner for the night with your partner [or] sharing travel ideas with a friend."
For brands, this feature seems to offer both internal and external opportunities.
"Internally, brands can use this to brainstorm new ideas for the platform or for projects outside of Pinterest," says Diana Kelter, social strategist at Chicago-based social media agency Socialdeviant. "Externally, brands could eventually use this feature to offer one-on-one customer service."
Take, for instance, a wedding planner, who can now help a user plan the ceremony pin by pin, or a stylist, who can now have a private conversation with a pinner to design her wardrobe.
At the same time, the upgraded "send a pin" feature adds another dimension to Pinterest's Guided Search, a feature that helps users discover specific interests. That's because users searching for pins based on a specific interest can start conversations during the search.
"The brands that want to be part of this conversation should pin items that inspire a user to take action offline," Kelter notes.
With the launch of this messaging feature, Pinterest allows users to "do" things with each other, rather than just "pin" things by themselves. Looking forward, does that mean Pinterest might be eventually encourage users to "buy" things, especially after Facebook has been testing a "Buy" button and Twitter has reportedly added a "Payment and Shipping" option?
"No plans at this time," a Pinterest spokesperson says, adding that instead, rich data for more useful pins will show up in the chat and click through to the source, so that users can take action on them.
However, industry participants think that Pinterest will delve into e-commerce sooner or later because there is a blurred line between user and brand interaction on the platform.
"Pinterest is missing out a huge opportunity in e-commerce," says Courtney Spritzer, co-founder of New York-based social media agency Socialfly. "We've been working with many e-commerce sites. And we see from their Google Analytics that lots of their traffic is from Pinterest."
Socialdeviant's Kelter agrees that Pinterest has a strong e-commerce nature, pointing out that the platform has already launched Rich Pins to allow users to track product information right from the originating image site.
"I think their key direction at the moment is focusing on Guided Search, with promoted pins being the stronger drive towards e-commerce," she says. "However, I could definitely see them connecting both in the future."
Yuyu Chen is a reporter at ClickZ. Her work has appeared in Local East Village, New York Daily News and Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce website. Yuyu received her M.A. in Business and Economic Reporting from New York University in May, 2013.
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