In what looks like a precursor to the launch of paid products somewhere down the road, Pinterest announced details of new tools for businesses on Wednesday.
“We want to help more businesses provide great content on Pinterest and make it easy to pin from their websites,” the San Francisco-based social networking company wrote in a post on its blog, adding, “Today, we’re taking a first step toward that goal with some free tools and resources.”
Companies are now invited to open a business account on Pinterest – before now there was just one type of account for all users – with its own specific terms and conditions, which mean the platform can now be officially used for commercial purposes. This is certain to result in a boost in interest from businesses, as before now anyone creating a Pinterest account had to agree not to use the site for explicit marketing. This goes some way to explaining why, in a survey conducted over the summer, only seven percent of companies questioned said they had a presence on Pinterest, while 44 percent said they had no interest at all in using it.
Businesses already on Pinterest can easily convert to a business account by clicking on the ‘convert your existing account’ button here.
A Pinterest business account allows companies to sign up with the name of the company (as opposed to first-name-last-name as before) and go through what Pinterest calls “an optimized user flow” that enables new members to verify that the business owns the website on the Pinterest profile so visitors can “more easily find the business they want in search results”.
It also helps users to add a Pin It button, Follow button, Profile widget, or Board widget “to get more engagement from pinners and traffic back to your site.” Holders of a business account will also receive information on upcoming features “that will provide more powerful ways of reaching and understanding your audience on Pinterest.”
If a company is in two minds about whether to open a Pinterest account, the social networking firm is encouraging it to check out new pages showing case studies and the like, which explain how businesses are already making use of the site.
Matt Wurst, director of digital communities at digital agency 360i, told Adweek that Pinterest’s launch of business accounts was “a symbolic first step toward understanding the value that brands can have leveraging [Pinterest’s] platform to connect with consumers.”
He added that the move would likely result in the roll out of paid-for options for businesses to highlight their Pinterest profiles and wares to users.
Pinterest has been gathering members fast since it ended its invitation-only model in August. On top of that, the site, which launched in March 2010, broke into the top 50 chart of most visited US websites for the first time in September with more than 25 million visitors during that month, according to research firm comScore.
Visitor numbers have also been boosted with the recent launch of free apps for Android devices and Apple’s iPad.