I was a very early user of Pinterest. If I remember correctly, it was by invite-only at first. I don’t remember if I had an invite or if I joined in the first open wave, but I’ve been on there a long time. I remember when the feed was in real time and there was no algorithm involved at all. If someone you followed pinned the same image to ten boards one after another, you saw all ten images in a row in your feed. It was annoying, to be sure, but there was no manipulation of what you saw. If you followed a person or group, you saw everything in real time.
Over the past year I’ve realized Pinterest has changed so much that it is no longer worth my time to actively use it either as a user or a business owner. I’ve asked myself more than once if Pinterest is actually a dying brand and business. Will it even survive the Fourth Turning as people abandon that which doesn’t fit their values as they press into the First Turning?
Let’s take a look.
For the record, I don’t own stock and I am not a financial expert. These are simply the observations of a long-time Pinterest user.
I’m not alone in my thinking that something isn’t right at Pinterest. Just a quick glance online brings up recent articles like these:
- Pinterest Users Left the Platform. The Stock Fell.
- Pinterest’s User Trends Are Driving the Stock Down. Why One Analyst Is Bullish.
- Pinterest Stock Has Slumped. Why One Analyst Doesn’t See Much of a Rebound.
I took a look at their stock trends this morning when I decided to write this article. I wanted to see if what I was perceiving was lining up with the public perception. I’ll let you be the judge.
There is a Pinterest Reddit I’ve been regularly peeking at over the past several months. There is unhappiness with how the site functions in just about every way.
Any time Pinterest comes up in conversation, it is usually negative. I’ve yet to interact with anyone who loves the changes. I’m sure those people exist, but I’ve not talked to anyone who is gushing about how great Pinterest is now.
Even my fifteen year old daughter complains often about how Pinterest doesn’t function correctly on her iPod and iPad. She frequently mentions features that have changed or disappeared. So this isn’t necessarily a generational thing or a long-time user not wanting to adapt. Something is clearly wrong at Pinterest.
But perhaps most helpful in deciding what to do with my Pinterest use was this article from Simple Pin Media: Is Pinterest Still Relevant?
Kate Ahl says that we are now in Pinterest 2.0 and that the platform is completely different. If you want a quick overview of what Pinterest was and where it is going, this is the piece to read.
I found her emphasis on Idea Pins interesting because one of the main complaints I hear when I ask people about how they like the new Pinterest is that they hate two things – idea pins and video pins that overrun their feed.
Pinterest has to appeal to advertisers. And to appeal to them means keeping people on the platform longer. The longer a user remains on the platform, the more advertising dollars Pinterest earns. They have to pay their bills just like you do.
That means idea pins don’t link directly to a webpage but they can be saved to a board for later. Bonus – they don’t expire after 24 hours. They live on the boards they are pinned to and they are seen in the home feed and search.
Pinterest is prioritizing this feature now, which means we should prioritize as well in our Pinterest marketing.
Yes, Pinterest has to make money and I’m all for people making as much money as they can legally. But forcing people to use a feed they hate, full of irrelevant pins (another common complaint) and videos that constantly load when they aren’t wanted isn’t a winning strategy.
(I honestly question if qualified people are making decisions at Pinterest or if it is reaping the results of hiring for qualifications other than strong business skills. Given that another common complaint is the total lack of customer service, I’m inclined to believe the latter.)
Unfortunately, I don’t find Kate’s take on Pinterest 2.0 very compelling. I realize that Pinterest is what her own business is built around and she must pivot herself. But reading what she writes sounds like making the best of a bad situation and not a trumpet call for something really fantastic.
Pinterest is a publicly traded company. They can do whatever they want and I support their freedom to remake their company into whatever they decide. However, I am personally not optimistic about the platform at all. I see no compelling reason to use it. Pinterest took away what made it great (the simplicity of collecting visual ideas) and is attempting to mash it into some new kind of marketplace platform that takes a bit of this and a little of that from all the other platforms they aren’t in order to somehow compete.
At one time I could spend an entire evening on Pinterest, lost in the world of beautiful images and interesting people who had curated interesting boards. As a business owner, it consistently drove people to my website. I created my Pinterest images whenever I wrote a new post or created a new product. When Pinterest changed things, I dutifully went along with it since I believed in the power of the platform.
I’ve pivoted for Pinterest many times. Pinterest changed their image sizes? I dutifully redid all my images to meet their new specifications (more than once for probably thousands of posts and products). Pinterest emphasized group boards? I created and joined group boards. Pinterest wanted multiple pin designs for the same post? Well, I didn’t do that because at that point I was starting to realize something wasn’t working. Idea pins? No way. That’s not what I want out of Pinterest and I don’t think I’m alone in this.
Pinterest has become Pinterest 2.0.
I’m not pivoting again.
The question is how many people will buy into Pinterest 2.0 and if it survives the Fourth Turning. Many businesses will not. Will Pinterest? Time will tell.