By: Hillel Fuld
I have a problem. I don’t learn from my mistakes. Let me explain. When Twitter launched and people started telling me I need to get on this new micro blogging platform, I, like many others said “Another Facebook but shorter? Why do I need to update my status in two places?” I was wrong. Follow me there.
When Foursquare launched, I, like many others said “Check in? Why would I want to tell everyone where I am at every single moment? That’s just dumb!”. I was wrong again, although many people are still not sold on Foursqaure.
Well, if you have been paying attention, there is a new hot platform that is taking the Web by storm and is expected to explode in 2012. I am talking about Pinterest. If you have not yet heard of this service, you can read the ultimate guide here and Hunter & Bard’s thoughts on how it is good for business here.
Well as the buzz surrounding Pinterest intensified, all I kept saying was how I don’t get it and it seems like another social network I don’t need. I was, of course, not alone, but by now, I should know better.
Well, in my defense, I did try Pinterest a few times, but each time, I gave it less than a minute to wow me. After signing in, browsing around for 20 seconds on multiple occasions, I turned to my Twitter followers with statements of how pointless the service seemed.
Of course, the buzz got louder, and my curiosity for what I was missing got stronger. So, yesterday, I sat down and said to myself “I am going to try to figure out what all the hype is about”.
Now, I can say with full confidence that Pinterest is indeed the next big thing, I just have to try to verbalize why I am excited about Pinterest… So, here goes.
The Twitter Generation
Let’s put in all on the table, folks. Today, thanks to platforms like Twitter and products like the iPhone, we need our content fix instantly. “I need to wait to launch your app? Yea, sorry, there are 5,000 others apps that do the same thing and don’t make me wait”. “I need to read 100 words to understand your point? Yea, sorry, someone did it in 140 characters on Twitter.”
Today, we are all about in and out and back again. No time to wait.
Now if you have a message to convey, what better way for your audience to get your content instantly than by offering it to them visually and not textually? I mean, look at some of the most popular apps out there, they are all based on graphics and not text. Flipboard is the perfect example.
Pinterest allows you to share your content, whether it is a nice table you saw in an online catalog, a pretty dress (yes, Pinterest is still somewhat dominated by the female demographic), or, wait for it… Your app’s logo!
Whether or not you realize this, your logo is one of the most important parts of your app’s marketing strategy. You need to capture the user’s attention while he/she is browsing the other 500,000 apps in the App Store. Guess what? Another feature in your app won’t accomplish that and neither will a good optimized description, but an appealing logo will.
When I say Pinterest will facilitate better app discovery in 2012, that is a statement that holds true for all content discovery, but it is magnified by the growing challenge of getting your app discovered in the App Store. Developers, bloggers, and pretty much anyone offering anything on the Web in 2012 are going to learn fast that text is out and visual is in. Pinterest will be the force that will drive that message home.
The One Word Solution to the App Discovery Problem
Developing an app, even an excellent one, is not even half the battle. Developers are facing major challenges when trying to monetize their app. No matter how you choose to generate revenue from a mobile app, download numbers are crucial and therefore, you need to get your app to stand out. That is not an easy thing with over a million apps across the major mobile platforms.
So what is the answer? In one word: “Social”. Yes, there are apps and services that recommend cool or free apps, but generally speaking, Appboy realized long ago that if you are friends with someone in real life or on the Web, chances are you share some interests. That means the chances of you and that person liking the same type of app are greater than the chances of you finding an app that you like from just browsing the app stores. Hence our SDK to leverage your social graph in promoting your mobile app.
Pinterest is of course integrated with the other social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. You can follow your Facebook friends on Pinterest to see what they are pinning there. Now, imagine those friends would create a board, like I did, of their favorite mobile apps, each with a link back to the App Store where you can download the app.
That would enable you to log in to Pinterest and immediately discover new and interesting apps based on your friends’ opinions and choices. This is still not the ultimate solution because, as some of you are thinking “Just because I accepted someone on Facebook does not mean we like the same apps”. True, but at the end of the day, in today’s uber-competitive app landscape, social recommendations are the best solution we have.
Combine the social graph with the visual appeal of Pinterest, and you, a mobile developer, have yourself a beautiful and effective way of promoting your app. Just make sure your logo is nice…
To move away from app developers for a second, I, for one, intend on using Pinterest on a daily basis to discover new interesting videos about tech, new concept products in various industries (I have a secret passion for cars, not only tech), and just interesting content from around the Web.
The differentiating factor here for Pinterest as compared to other social networks is that unlike Twitter, Facebook (although the Timeline improved it), and especially Linkedin, Pinterest is beautiful. It is downright fun to use, and browsing different people’s boards and pins is addictive on a level no other platform can even dream of. Apparently, others agree, check out the Pinterest 2011 user graph below.
Pinterest is by invite only for now, but anyone who has it can send you an invite. I would definitely recommend checking out this platform, you might think of some original ways to promote your cause whatever it may be.
App discovery is one perfect example, among many others, of challenges created by the endless amount of content, in this case apps, that is being generated by the second. To solve these challenges, some out-of-the-box thinking is required and Pinterest most definitely stands out in the world of social networks.
Well, Chris Pirillo still doesn’t get it, but he always has a way of injecting humor into any topic, so watch his take on Pinterest below.