Pinterest is the newest social media crazy that is taking the Internet by storm. It is basically an image sharing website that allows you to group pictures onto themed boards. The pictures are usually connected to websites where the images were found. For example if I find a picture of a something I like and would potentially want to buy I can “pin it” to one of my boards. People create boards for just about anything from fashion and food to pets and places. I would say that Pinterest is targeted more at women, but I did just learn that there is also a more masculine version called Gentlemint.
I just started using Pinterest last month and have to say I love it. However in the back of my mind I did wonder how they were making money. Unlike Facebook, Pinterest has a very simple and clean design as well as none of the advertisement bars that Facebook has. For our blog assignment this week I read a post from onecoolsite. The post talked about another article relating to how Pinterest is basically hijacking links to make money as an affiliate. When I first read this I did not really understand the concept.
Basically when you “pin” something it takes you back to the original website where you found the image. However sometimes when things get pinned they don’t have an affiliate link meaning the company that actually makes the product or the original person who posted the picture does not get credit. Pinterest is now using a company called SkimLinks. What SkimLinks does is connect people’s pins with the affiliate link if the original picture does not. How Pinterest profits is if the item that was pinned, say a mug, was clicked on by someone else, the pictures takes them to the e-commerce website where the mug can be purchased. If the person then decides to purchase the mug, Pinterest gets a cut of the transaction.
Now what most people have been saying in articles I have read is that this is totally fine, the issue is this practice seems to be very secretive and not openly disclosed to users. I agree that I don’t mind Pinterest making money off the things I post however I would have preferred to know about it before I started using Pinterest. I think Pinterest should now come clean about how it is using SkimLinks and allow people to individually decide if they want to connect a pin back to an affiliate site or not. This allows people to post pictures of things they like but not be a walking advertisement for different products if they don’t want to be.