Insights & News

To Pin or Not to Pin? That Is The Question (For Brands)

To date, social networking has been about words. Blogging became a ‘thing’ because people wanted to journal their thoughts online. We communicate on Twitter in 140 characters, and we share about our lives on Facebook via status updates. Sure, images have been incorporated over time, but generally speaking, words have ruled.In 2008 a social network called Pinterest quietly launched in beta that favored images and videos far more than words. It really took off late last year.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest defines itself as a place to catalogue all the things you love. We asked around, and this is how some users defined it:

  • Pinterest is an online, visual bulletin board where you can find or share different ideas, projects, styles, thoughts, recipes and movements all in once place. Also: Awesome. (Via @jana0926)
  • Remember when you were a kid and you’d rip out the pages from magazines that you liked and glue them in your notebook? It’s like that, but online. (Via @youplusmeCEO)
  • Pinterest is an online pin board where users essentially paint a fantasy self-portrait of themselves, their outfits, their home, their philosophies, and their aesthetic using other people’s images. (Via @thepegisin)

At BRG, we think using Pinterest is like reading and sharing pages from a digital magazine.

The facts

Pinterest is so addicting, and such a force to be reckoned with that last December alone, eleven million unique visitors traveled to Pinterest each week. Today Pinterest has 10.4 million registered users and the predominant demographic is women. If that’s not enough, Pinterest drives more traffic to websites than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined. Pinterest is the fastest growing social network of all time.

Brands, are you paying attention?

Women really like to share their lifestyles or desired lifestyles, including their favorite brands, with friends. A recent study by eMarketer showed that 84% of female millennials and 79% of female Generation Xers have purchased (or not purchased) a particular product or brand because of something a friend or family member told her.

Women are actively sharing their favorite brands on Pinterest and are paying attention to what their friends are sharing.

We have to tell you, there may be some copyright issues at play here

This week, Pinterest released a “no-pin” button for companies that want to block users from pinning their content onto Pinterest.

Given the enormous amount of traffic Pinterest can generate, why would a company want to block people from pinning images?

There is quite a bit of debate about the legality of Pinterest. Some say that 99% of all pins are in violation of Pinterest’s terms of service, as typically the initial pinner does not own the image. Additionally, hidden in the terms of service is some language that gives Pinterest the right to use all imagery, even if copyrighted, once it is pinned onto Pinterest. This means that Pinterest is claiming rights to all images pinned by users, who don’t have rights to pin them in the first place.

The no-pin button released this week puts the onus on brands to opt-out of Pinterest; otherwise they lose the exclusive copyright to their images. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

If you want to know more about the copyright issues surrounding Pinterest, read here, here, here and here.

So given all that, what should brands do?

First, be aware that you are entering into a space where the rules of fair use are undetermined, and understand that the terms and conditions could change at any time. If you are a brand with deep pockets, you probably want to sit out until some of this is ironed out. You may even want to install the no-pin feature onto your website.

Second, if you decide you would like to allow people to pin off of your site, and you would also like to share content from your website on Pinterest, understand that you may be relinquishing some of your exclusive rights to your own images. (This is an extremely cautious piece of advice.)

If you are at peace with the above, consider:

  • Pinning products from your shopping pages onto your boards.
  • Pinning videos. These can be product videos, anything from your blog, or your YouTube page.
  • Pinning your blog posts. We do this, and it makes us think about the images that accompany our posts.
  • Adding a “pin it” button to your website and/or blog posts.
  • Organizing your boards to tell the story of your culture through images. We love the way Time Magazine does this.

Want to follow BRG Communications on Pinterest? Check us out here.

Do you still need an invite? Send us a tweet @BRGLiving and we’ll hook you up.