The Shopping Site that Didn’t Know How to Make Money

Ladies, let’s face it: we do the majority of our online shopping, even if it’s just ‘window shopping’ or browsing, via Pinterest. We discover new clothes we might not have come across if we were simply looking at the store’s website, and more importantly, we discover new online shops and boutiques that we definitely would have never found by simply browsing – come on, we all know how hard it is to find a new shop online.

Okay, so we use Pinterest to shop. And, well, most of us use Pinterest everyday. So how does the social media site generate any profit? Think about it: it’s not like we’re pinning or buying products created by Pinterest. The things we pin all come either from an individual user or, in most cases, from an external site (like the aforementioned little boutique or shop). Apparently, shortly after the site’s inception, Pinterest claimed that “they weren’t sure about how they make money” but that they wold eventually get to it. Hmm… does this sound extremely fishy to anyone else?

So, in typical Paige fashion, I did a little digging.

According to Forbes, the social media site is valued at a staggering $7.7 billion. Let’s compare that to the other social media juggernauts for a second, shall we? Facebook is valued at $1.26 billion, Twitter claims it is worth $8 billion, and, as the recent news of Facebook purchasing Instagram tells us, Facebook values Instagram at $1 billion.

But, seriously, how is this possible?

From a marketing perspective, it actually might be easy to see how Pinterest is valued at so much and how it generates a profit. Essentially, Pinterest is a gigantic hub for product advertising without pinners really realizing it. Well, that is, as long as its users pin your company’s products. So, one way that Pinterest potentially generates profit is through partnerships with other companies trying to advertise their product. In doing this, Pinterest would then promote the pins of said company to initially get the ball rolling and get the company’s pin travelling through the site at warped speed. Once the first pin is promoted, then users re-pin the product and promote it to their friends, who then, in turn, promote it to their friends, and the beat goes on…

Another way Pinterest could potentially generate profit through partnerships with companies is through promoting a company’s pins in the category sections on the site. This way, the first thing users would see when they click on a specific category would be the promoted pin (without them realizing that it is being promoted, of course).

Additionally, I did some more research and found out that Pinterest generating profit by modifying user-submitted pins by altering the links. I find this extremely interesting because this is something, that, if I would have never researched, I would have had absolutely no clue was being done. Who am I to care that Pinterest is generating money from what I pin from my favorite online boutique? It’s not affecting me in any way, so, personally, it doesn’t really matter to me (in terms of my usability with the site). But, as the article also states, it is a little fishy now that I know about it.

So, there you have it. Even though you probably never thought about it, Pinterest must be generating some sort of profit in order to be running at the high capacity that it does. Even though it technically doesn’t really affect us all that much, it’s still something to think about.

Lawd Jesus! Somebody Got Time Fo’ Dat!

We all have bad days. For me, I believed that today was going to rank at an unfortunate ‘2’ on a scale of 1-10. Not only was I not granted the luxury of sleep last night, but as I was being the ever-so-gracious friend that I am and chauffeuring my roommate to her 8 am exam, the PDjeep decided that today would be the day she would just stop running all-together. After watching her get towed away at 8:30 in the morning and walking home through downtown in my tie-dye sweatshirt and sweatpants (hottie alert!), I had pretty much given up all hope that today would be a good day.

That’s when I checked twitter. Scrolling through my timeline per usual, something caught my eye that just NEEDED to be addressed as soon as possible. Being the avid internet nerd that I am, I was ecstatic to find out that the face of one of my favorite viral videos and corresponding favorite gifs was now communicating with her fans. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Sweet Brown is now on twitter. I took action immediately, and the following event made me more giddy than I probably should admit.

ain't nobody got time for that

And if you really want one more reason to be in love with Sweet Brown, the autotone remix of her viral video is one of the most inspirational clips of our generation. I mean, come on, Joe Jonas in a leotard and a gospel choir mashed up with the sweet, sweet sounds of one Miss Sweet Brown.

Carry on.

Cowbird: the Lovechild of Twitter and Traditional Blogging

If you have never heard of Cowbird, do not fret; you are not the only one. I was introduced to Cowbird in my Emerging Technologies class at Clemson University and I can honestly say that I am so very thankful. In essence, “Cowbird is a community of storytellers.” Like the title of this blog post states, it is very much the lovechild of Twitter and traditional blogging. Cowbird is a social network for stories. Unlike Twitter, users can go way over 140 characters to tell their stories, as well as use video and audio to enhance their stories. And unlike traditional blogging, the user interface is much more heavily based on interaction with the other users, making it much more social than traditional blogging. According to the Cowbird, this is how they describe the site:

We build the world’s simplest and most beautiful storytelling tools, and we offer them for free to anyone who wishes to use them. When you tell stories on Cowbird, we automatically find connections between your life and the lives of others, forming a vast, interconnected ecosystem, in which we all take part. Our goal is to build a public library of human experience, so the knowledge and wisdom we accumulate as individuals may live on as part of the commons, available for this and future generations to look to for guidance.

I recently posted my first story to Cowbird called ‘The Color Orange’ and it is about my journey through college. For those of you that know me well, you know this story all too well. For those of you that don’t know my college story in detail, it’s something I’ve been meaning to blog about for a long time now, but for some reason, the setting of Cowbird made it much easier to express and put out in the open. Besides the basic idea that Cowbird is much more social than traditional blogging, the site gives off a much simpler vibe than most blogging platforms, allowing the author to focus on what’s important: the content. This being said, Cowbird users need to be dedicated to their storytelling and to engaging with other storytellers; if they want to have an audience for their work, they need to actively seek other authors and ‘join their audiences,’ so that they’re story can be read. Users most also know how to use all of the functions of the site, including the topic tags, location tags, etc., otherwise, their story will not be heard.

As much as I enjoyed my experience sharing my story on Cowbird, I am having trouble deciding whether or not I want to become an avid “citizen,” as they call it, of the online community. Whereas a blog can serve as a platform for individuals who want to get their voice heard by all netizens, Cowbird gives off the vibe that your voice will only be heard by citizens of the Cowbird community. In that same sense, even though there are multiple traditional blogging platforms that have different user interfaces, all blogs are mostly straightforward and easy to navigate, even for non-blog users. In contrast, Cowbird, while simple, uses a very different interface that might be striking to people unfamiliar with the site. Nonetheless, I really do enjoy the artistry and seriousness of the content that is posted on the site. It reminds me of why I am so passionate about writing. Like the creator of the site, Jonathon Harris says in this NYTimes article, “It’s soul food, not fast food,” and that is why I truly do appreciate the all-encompassing goal of cowbird.

In all honesty, however, I do not see how Harris is generating any sort of substantial profit from Cowbird. There aren’t any advertisements on the site, so that source of income is not being utilized. I suppose the site could be used for companies to find new artists, copy-writers, etc. for employment purposes, but do companies really actively go searching for things like that? I do not see the site as having any real business value, but simply as another outlet for today’s artists to get their voices heard. I feel like a majority of Cowbird users already have careers in their line of work and simply use Cowbird as another creative outlet. Not that any of this is bad, though. Even though there might not be any business value in Cowbird, as a creative individual, I truly do enjoy the site and it’s purpose. Whether or not this will take off, though, will be interesting to find out.