What makes Pinterest so appealing? Like growing traffic 4000 percent in six months appealing? Betabeat has been struggling with that question. The pretty dresses? The food porn? The lady-centric-ness of it all? But investor and entrepreneur Elad Gil, a Google mobile and AdSense vet, who sold his startup Mixer Labs to his new employer Twitter, thinks he’s pinned it down: It’s the social content curation, stupid.
In a thoughtful post on his blog today, Mr. Gil traces the “evolution of social media from long-form to push-button” and posits in the headline that Pinterest “will transform the web in 2012” as the “next big thing.”
It’s not just the simplicity and ease of the push-button however, Mr. Gil argues, it’s also the way the content that gets pushed is organized:
“Pinterest (launch 2010) was one of the first sites to take push button content generation (via bookmarklets and “re-pinning”) and structure it into sets of curated content called “boards”. This allowed users to collect content from across the web, as well as from other users on the site. In some sense it took what a site like Tumblr had been doing but transformed blog-like streams into structured, curated collections users could share. Importantly, it was easy for new users to consume these sets of content visually as structured sets, and to share these sets with others.”
A handy side-effect of that board structure? It makes it less compelling to consume content from Pinterest, or similar sites like Snip.It, on “stream-based” sites like Facebook.
Mr. Gil cites examples of Pinterest’s influence around the web, from Quora’s adoption of “boards” for curated content from across the web into its Q&A product to the way Fab.com “recently used a Pinterest-like affordance in its ‘feed’ to drive social curation of products.” Like Fab, he says, “It is similarly likely Pinterest will monetize in a number of interesting ways on the product discovery and commerce side.” Indeed, Betabeat has heard that Pinterest has already lined up deals with Erin Fetherston, Travel Channel, Nordstrom, and Harpers Bazaar.
Predicting that 2012 will be the year of “curated sets,” Mr. Gil concludes thusly:
“2012 will likely see an acceleration of structured, push button, social curation across the web. Why? Because most users don’t want to take much effort to produce content, and consuming content in a structured manner (especially photos) is also much faster. Just as the first wave of social media has transformed the consumption of information, this next wave of social curation will fundamentally change how users find and interact with content over time.”
To us, the change seems less fundamental than incremental. Boards seem like a natural webby evolution of the classic catalog, only with the ability to mix-and-max the photo-heavy layout of a page and the ease of sharing from different sources, perhaps that’s why we keep hearing that Pinterest is popular both with women and in flyover country. And where those users that crave a little more context with their content might lose out, brands, it seems, are poised to win.