Monetizing Social Media

For all my interest in new technologies and business trends, I am generally very skeptic when it comes to the “new, new thing” that has everybody going crazy.  Maybe it has something to do with having lived through the rise and the first crash of the internet in the 90s and 2000s, where many seemingly unshakable and ingenious business models crumbled to dust.  Or maybe it is because I get that uncomfortable and suspicious feeling, when something becomes very popular and  rises too high too fast, be it a stock market index, ratings of a TV show, or, say, usage and traffic of a website.  The same feeling visits me whenever I think about the various e-commerce projects that have been popping up like crazy in Turkey over the past couple of years, but I digress.

Pinterest was one of these things.  Suddenly, everyone around me was on Pinterest, making portfolios and pinning things like crazy.  I asked around for the business model, and how it hoped to ever become profitable.  Not many people knew, but hey, it was way cool! Like I do with any craze, I decided to wait for a while for the dust to settle.

Well, the dust has not settled yet.  In fact, things got even more interesting last May, when Pinterest raised USD 100 million, with a USD 1.5 billion valuation.  In Uh Oh! Amazon Researchers Say Pinterest Doesn’t Generate A Lot Of Sales, Owen Thomas talks about Pinterest and the latest report by Zappos Labs (owned by Amazon).  Zappos has recently unveiled their PinPointing website, which suggests Zappos products, such as shoes, dresses and swimsuits, based on Pinterest posts to consumers.

“… Pinterest users are far more likely to share a purchase than Twitter or Facebook users—but that shared items generate far less revenue than Twitter or Facebook. This is a big problem for Pinterest, because the whole idea of the site is that it’s supposed to be better at monetizing social activity than Twitter or Facebook.”

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