Pinterest – are tech brands ready?

Over the past few weeks, many of you will have heard some of the buzz surrounding Pinterest – the latest social bookmarking craze. If you haven’t, we bet that you will, especially as the two-year old social bookmarking site is bringing in more and more unique users each month (the site brought in 7.51 million in December alone). 

So what exactly is Pinterest and what does it do? Simply put, the service allows users to create categorised bulletin boards, or ‘pinboards’, of images. This can include food, décor, art, fashion and any others that they would like to create.

Members can use Pinterest’s ‘Pin-it’ plug-in tool on their web browser and iPhone app in order to save ‘pins’ that they find on and offline, while exploring and repining the images that their friends collect via a newsfeed.

Though the general consensus about Pinterest has been positive, there’s been criticism that the social site is not ready for tech brands quite yet – especially those without any visual products.

Below are some thoughts why:

Brands are hidden in search: If you search for someone on Pinterest, you’ll notice that ‘Pins’ appear before ‘Boards’, followed by ‘People.’ Since brands are organised under ‘People’ they’re hard to find, making the connection hard to achieve.

Accumulating active communities is hard: If you pin something interesting or beautiful, it’s highly likely that you’ll get a ‘repin’ or get someone to ‘like’ your content or even to follow one of your boards. However, because the ratio between ‘repins’ and board followers to brand followers is low, we can conclude that making the conversion is very difficult.

It’s a great place to share visuals: The reality is that not all brands are visual. For this reason, Pinterest leaves a huge amount of brands out of the mix. While you may be able to share the personal side of your office and include staff pictures, the value of this is questionable. This is because it becomes hard to convey the core business offering of your brand if it can’t be done through visuals.

Homepages don’t always work: It’s hard to ‘repin’ brand homepages directly. Most sites will have trouble pinning their images because they’re the wrong size – and are not ‘pinnable’ from Facebook. Creating a ‘pinboard’ of favourite websites, for example, would not work.

Brand Name might be taken: Currently, there’s no way for a brand to be verified on Pinterest, which means that anyone can personate your brand name and take your vanity URL. This is a huge problem for brands. However, we’re fairly certain that this is a con that’ll be sorted out sooner rather than later.

Support is hard to come across: There just simply isn’t enough resource at the moment to respond to everyone’s technical issues, it’s just the nature of being a start-up. This means that brands won’t be able to (quickly) ask for the ownership of their brand names, along with a multitude of other queries/request.

It’s dominated by a female audience: Currently, 59% of Pinterest users are women aged 25-44, which leaves a huge gap in the market for brands targeting other demographics, particularly males.

Have you heard about/used Pinterest? If so, what are your initial impressions?

You can read the original article here.

Data privacy at DLD

A few weeks ago it was all about tech innovations at CES 2012. This week, though, it’s been all about DLD, or ‘Digital Life Design’, the network dedicated to uniting an informed community with interest in the digital age and what it means for the media, commerce, business and the customer.

And for the Vice President of the European Commission, Viviane Reding, this is an issue of privacy.

Data protection and internet privacy is the current buzz topic the world over. Today, representatives of Google and Facebook are due to give evidence at the Leveson enquiry on press intrusion. Google has also released a new set of privacy laws. And the world is still discussing the implications of SOPA and PIPA following the protests last week and the likelihood of an impending arrest of the team behind Megaupload, one of the biggest sources of pirated content on the internet.

But at DLD, the speakers are more interested in discussing how internet-based companies deal with individuals’ private data. Reding has made a series of sweeping statements regarding data privacy which have drawn an angry reaction from the blogging community, chief among them being the proposal for all countries’ law enforcement services to pool their information regarding suspect individuals, while placing tighter restrictions on individual companies’ uses of private data.

The two conflicting statements that best sum up the problem with data privacy are as follows. Reding first claims that ‘Personal data is the currency of today’s digital market. And like any currency, it needs stability and trust’.  This is true, but will be especially ironic for big companies like Google and Facebook, whose cache of personal data is their lifeblood and who, under the proposed new restrictions, may find their pocketbooks considerably thinner. But whether or not the EU demands their surrendering of private data, they and other data-based business models may find themselves at the mercy of the individuals by means of which they monetise, with a proposed piece of legislation on the ‘right to be forgotten’ allowing users to request the deletion of certain personal information kept on the internet.

So, who is likely to benefit from these proposals?

They have, of course, been done for the benefit of consumers, who will have the power to request the removal of sensitive information on the internet and from storage by companies. This will be of particular use to those wishing to remove damaging content from social networks, which currently there is no permanent way of doing. Proposals would also require companies that store data to notify users of breaches, allowing for better awareness of the movements of hackers among the general public. How this relates to data stored in press archives, which are governed by an additional set of rules currently being furiously debated at the Leveson enquiry, remains to be seen.

This could also be of benefit to the European governments at large. Currently, there are at least 27 separate kinds of regulations that govern piracy in the EU. These take over 2 billion Euros a year to enforce. A single set of laws would certainly be a more financially sound measure for the EU at large, and would also alleviate the complexities of cross-country legal issues relating to privacy.

If it sounds like the EU is providing the perfect steps to gang up on smaller tech start-ups, this may not be the case. While it will certainly make the initial phases of development more difficult for start-ups, particularly with regards to users’ ability to request removal of data, it would be better for the later stages of a start-up’s development when they look, as many do, to expand. It would also eliminate international competition if all start-ups are governed by the same rules. And with an increased transparency it may even increase consumer confidence.

Larger companies such as Facebook have found negotiating some stringent European privacy laws difficult, so it’s not hugely surprising that they were apprehensive about the specifics of the laws proposed. But Facebook’s spokesperson indicated that they were confident that the measures would promote economic growth and do much to appease the rights of their most valuable asset – their users.

Clearly, these proposals are in need of a lot more consideration before they are close to becoming laws. And with the likelihood of cloud computing and storage becoming the norm in the next decade, the race to complete this potentially game-changing legislation before the ‘net changes again is on.

What do you think of the proposals? Would you support a European-wide law on data privacy? And is this bad, or good news for SMBs? Let us know what you think in the comments, or tweet @btbizdirect with the hashtag #btbizdebate.

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