Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Pinterest Removes Ban on Commercial Use as It Adds Business Accounts

On a site where people share pictures of stuff they want to buy, it makes sense that people who make stuff would want to share it themselves. And so Pinterest is full of businesses posting their own content and products.

The company is formally acknowledging this kind of use by adding business accounts. As of today, business users and normal users will have separate tools and terms.

What’s remarkable is that prior to now, commercial usage of Pinterest was prohibited, according to its terms of service.

But Pinterest is tacitly acknowledging this history of usage by allowing users to transfer their existing accounts to business accounts. It’s also taking the opportunity to brag about how it drives all sorts of traffic and recruits new customers for businesses like Etsy, Jetsetter and Allrecipes, via case studies posted on a new business site.

For instance, after Allrecipes added a prominent Pin It button, 50,000 recipes were pinned in three months, driving 139 million Pinterest impressions and a 900 percent increase in clicks on Allrecipes’ Pinterest content.

As platform manager Cat Lee described it on a call this week, “This is about providing tools and resources to the thousands of businesses on Pinterest.”

How to know if you should be a business user? Per the new Pinterest terms, “If your boss is making you use Pinterest, you need to set up a business account.”

Aside from being allowed to act commercially, there are a few more benefits to being a business user: Verification badges, buttons and widgets to try to drive more people to follow your Pinterest page, and access to new features.

What’s unstated here is any future plans by Pinterest to monetize commercial usage. “This is not about monetization or business models,” Lee said.

She did say that some of the tools Pinterest would like to provide businesses in the future are around analytics.

Meanwhile — haven’t we seen this story play out before? — as Pinterest formulates its business plans, other start-ups are working to fill holes around the Pinterest platform. The Los Angeles incubator Science today launched HelloInsights, a service dedicated to helping brands manage their Pinterest presences and find influential pinners.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik