Brands are so ubiquitous on Pinterest that it’s hard to believe that until this week, Pinterest’s terms of service specified that the platform was limited to "personal, non-commercial use."
Pinterest has officially welcomed businesses with the introduction of new tools and new business terms of service, which makes it explicit that the platform can be used for commercial purposes.
Wednesday’s announcement could be a sign of how Pinterest might evolve as a tool for brands as the site continues to grow in popularity. The site drew 26.7 million unique visitors last month, up from 3.3. million in the year-ago period, according to research firm comScore.
"On the surface, this isn’t a hugely actionable move for most brands, but it is certainly symbolic of where Pinterest is going and what it can be as far as a platform for connecting brands and their fans," says Matt Wurst, director of digital communities at 360i.
Although the new free business accounts don’t look different from other Pinterest pages, they are a clear indication that Pinterest is opening the site up for business and is looking toward a monetization model.
"Everything eventually has to monetize," says Darrell Whitelaw, executive creative director at IPG Media Lab. "This news shows they’re being forward thinking."
While Pinterest won’t provide a specific number of businesses that have pages, in a blog post Pinterest product manager Cat Lee acknowledged that "thousands of businesses have become part of our community, giving great ideas, content and inspiration to people on Pinterest."
Lee highlighted Anthropologie,Whole Foods, the Smithsonian, and Amazon, in particular, as inspirational brands on Pinterest and presented case studies from Jetsetter, Allrecipes, Etsy, Organized Interiors, and Petplan Insurance, including analytics on how they have used Pinterest to drive traffic.
The business pages will make it easier for brands to showcase their content, according to Alison Feldmann, editor-in-chief, Etsy.
"Business pages provide brands with an authentic platform to drive loyalty and engagement within their community. Curating new trends, perspectives, and products gives brands an exciting way to express their point of view and distinctive voice," Feldmann tells us.
The business pages may or may not change the way brands create content, but they will likely inspire brands to come up with creative ways to use the platform. For instance, now businesses will be able to embed pins and boards on third-party sites and brands can incorporate elements of Pinterest on their own websites.
"By sharing Pinterest content via buttons and widgets, brands can reach engaged, relevant audiences through their own online platforms," says Feldmann.
To provide ideas about how to use Pinterest for business, Pinterest has, fittingly, set up a Pinterest for Business page with best practices, case studies, and other creative solutions.
Marketers and agencies are seeing the new business pages as a sign that Pinterest is looking toward a way to generate revenue.
"Promoted posts would be a no-brainer," says Toby Barnes, product strategy director at AKQA. "But just looking at the response some consumers have had to promoted posts on Facebook makes it clear that when it happens, it will have to be played out in a sensitive way."