Visual bookmarking service beefs up its UK team, although no confirmed launch yet for ads and shopping features.
Social service Pinterest has doubled its number of users in the UK in the past year as Britons “pinned” 1.6bn items with DIY and recipes among their favourite topics.
The US-based visual bookmarking site launched in 2010 and debuted a British-English version in 2013, with a London office focused on working with local brands and users.
According to Pinterest, its users are particularly keen on DIY, with 52% looking for that, while 46% search for recipes. In terms of building their own boards, 37% are planning home decorations, 17% a holiday and 14% a wedding.
“We see a lot of similarities between the UK and elsewhere in the world, although gardening is much more prominent in the UK,” co-founder Evan Sharp told the Guardian.
The company has taken steps to tap into UK culture, setting up partnerships with brands like Manchester United, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer.
Pinterest does not disclose how many British users it has but Sharp said that it sees “about 3m pins a” day in the UK. The research firm comScore estimates that in May 2015, it attracted 10.3 million unique visitors in the UK: 54% only visiting from a mobile device, 34% only from a computer, and 12% using both.
Pinterest is notably seen as a female-focused service and seems to be making efforts to appeal to a wider audience. Its head of international, Matt Crystal, said: “Some people might have found it surprising that we did a partnership with Manchester United, but for us it makes perfect sense: whether you’re interested in women’s fashion or football, we have a home for that content.”
Under its new UK country manager – former Facebook and Google executive Adele Cooper – Pinterest will be trying to get more British companies and brands using its service, even though it has yet to launch commercial features like promoted pins (advertising) and buyable pins (e-commerce) in the UK.
Buyable pins are due to launch in the US imminently, with big retailers like Macy’s, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom on board for launch, along with independent stores.
Their products will feature blue price tags, with Pinterest users able to click or tap through to buy them using a credit card or – on iOS devices – the Apple Pay mobile payments system.
“It’s about making Pinterest more useful really – making it easy when you find something good to buy it – rather than it is about revenue in the short term,” said Sharp, who stressed that Pinterest will not be taking a revenue share of these sales.
The plans for buyable pins have sparked controversy among some pinners, coming months after Pinterest started automatically removing “affiliate links, redirects and trackers” from pins on the service – links that some people had been using to earn money when visitors bought the products they had pinned.
Although Pinterest said the change in policy was to cut down on “irrelevant pins in feeds, broken links and other spammy behaviour”, when it announced buyable pins in June, there were suggestions that the company had blocked pinners from making money so that it could build its own shopping business.
“We’re not getting a cut ourselves from buyable pins, and that’s very intentional. We could have gone the other way. Pinterest isn’t taking a cut, and I don’t know why users would take a cut either right now,” said Sharp when asked by the Guardian.
“The last thing I want is users trying to game some affiliate system and making a bunch of very inauthentic boards just to try and get a little bit of money.”