Penned by Paul Wilson
Like Facebook, Pinterest started out as an exclusive network. You needed an invite to join (which could take weeks, and in some cases even months). Today that changed. Anyone can sign up on Pinterest through their Facebook account, Twitter, or via email address.
With all the excitement around Pinterest it’s no surprise that Ben Silbermann, CEO of Pinterest, and his team want to capitalize on the site’s popularity and open up to a larger audience. However, is this the right move or will allowing everyone in hinder the popularity of Pinterest? Obviously, no one really knows, but here are a few ways we think the change will impact their future growth.
HURT: Facebook and Twitter are No Longer Required for Sign-up
One early strategy that perpetuated the growth of Pinterest is that they mandated that registration be through Facebook or Twitter. When this happened, Pinterest tapped into your life on those specific networks. This was especially powerful with Facebook, because when registering you automatically followed your Facebook friends who were also on Pinterest. Now you can simply sign up with only your email address. There isn’t even an option to import your email addresses or inviting friends when registering on Pinterest.
HURT: Email Registration Option Makes it Easier to Game Pinterest
As stated in our last point, now you can join Pinterest with just an email address. Utilizing Facebook and Twitter in the past as the only way to register made it harder to spam the network with multiple accounts. Both Facebook and Twitter are veterans in fighting spam and have their own spam defenses, Pinterest benefited with these security measures. Unfortunately, now all spammers need to do is is create multiple email addresses, and they are in business.
HELP: With Less friction, More People will Join Pinterest
There’s nothing that kills momentum like making people jump through hoops to join yet another social network. Pinterest’s numbers have grown but also have slowed down in recent months. Facebook started out being for college students only. They would never be a publicly traded company or reach their level of success without opening it up to everyone.
HURT: You Dilute the Pinterest Community
When Pinterest started they tapped into fashion and mom bloggers who had vast networks. These influencers shared it with their friends, which was instrumental in overcoming social network fatigue for many. Now that anyone can join, will that core audience be turned off? Will the quality suffer? It definitely opens the door for lower quality pins or spammy members of the community. While you can’t stop this from happening, it used to be harder.
HELP: Pinterest is One Step Closer to Opening their API
We think this is a signal that Pinterest will be opening their API soon. With further growth Pinterest will need to lean on their community to provide custom tools, especially for businesses who will leverage the API to build tools, apps, and addons. With rapid growth, it is not too far of a speculation to see more corporate sites integrating with Pinterest directly. Hopefully with this change, we will see the web evolve from what Eric Schmidt of Google calls a cesspool, to more of Ben Silbermann’s dream of the web being a beautiful and Pinteresting place.
What do you think, is this a good move? And if so, is the timing right?