In Social, Is A Picture Now Worth Lots Of Money?

After all this, is social really coming back back to the old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words”?

Or maybe I should embellish a bit: “A picture is worth a thousand words -- and lots of money if it has an e-commerce button attached”?

Before we continue, let’s hit the “pause” button for a moment  as I tell you just how mind-blowingly real-time this column is. I had written the two paragraphs above and decided to then take a quick research trip over to Google to check out the latest news on Pinterest – which is supposed to be a key player in today’s column. Here’s the first headline I found, from USA Today, posted late this morning: “EBay launches site redesign, Pinterest-like feed.”

See, I told ya! Everything is about big pictures with e-commerce buttons attached! As the story explains, “The most striking change [in eBay’s redesign] is the visual, Pinterest-like home page ‘Feed,’ which lists brands that users follow and makes suggestions based on their browsing history and past purchases.”



People, in case you haven’t noticed, everyone is coming to the same conclusion at roughly the same time:

Social isn’t just a place ripe for pretty pictures, because pretty pictures sell!

In fact, before the eBay/Pinterest headline slapped me upside the head, I was planning to focus this column on Facebook “Collections,” which is really old news by now – it launched in test two days ago! But let’s stop to reminisce. Collections -- chockful of big, splashy visuals -- is in test with a handful of retailers on Facebook, including Pottery Barn and Neiman Marcus. Consumers can do Pinterest-y things with it, like click a “Collect” (and allegedly a “Want”) button to tag an individual item, add it to a Wishlist, or click over to the retailer’s site to buy the item. Will it be very long before Facebook has an e-commerce facility in-house?

I think not.

Which brings us to Pinterest. A while back, at the Social Media Insider Summit in August, I hosted a discussion on Pinterest. It was heavily suggested by that session’s  dramatis personae – Renegade’s Drew Neisser and The Buddy Group’s Bryan Boettger – that Pinterest might consider going e-comm. But with Facebook and eBay getting in on the game, I wonder if it’s already too late.

7 comments about "In Social, Is A Picture Now Worth Lots Of Money?".
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  1. Ted Rubin from The Rubin Organization / Return on Relationship, October 11, 2012 at 6 p.m.

    Two important points... 1- it is never too late and 2 - it is nt as simple as Facebook adding the capability.

  2. Betsy Kent from Be Visible Associates, October 11, 2012 at 6:27 p.m.

    Catherine, Great article. I love reading your stuff. I don't think it's too late for Pinterest to get into the ecomm game. If they can make shopping as pretty, as much fun and as user friendly as their platform is now, people will use it.

    After all...too much shopping? never!

  3. Michael Adams from Peninsula Crossing, October 11, 2012 at 6:41 p.m.

    Great article! You folks are definitely the Go-To site for the most timely Social Insights. There is something happening when eBay, Facebook and who knows what other social channels start chasing after your ideas. Why can't social also be commercial? Emotional-connections, visual thirst quenching, get-it-now, small indulgences - risks-be-damned, etc. Keep up the great work!

  4. Rich Ullman from Outbrain, Inc., October 12, 2012 at 8:28 a.m.

    Nice timely article. Add into the mix Scott Kurnit's which relaunched yesterday and is one to "keep an eye on." Referred to in one article as, "The Pinterest you can actually buy from."

  5. Lisa Crosby from IT, October 12, 2012 at 9:08 a.m.

    Thanks for the article, Cathy. You read my mind! I wanted Pinterest to go e-comm when it first launched. It made perfect sense and seemed the natural progession for monetizing. I would have thought it was part of the plan from the beginning since it just seemed so obvious. As a 'Pinner' I WANTED to be able to buy from the site. My biggest frustration with the site was trying to find where I could purchase items I saw there that I loved but had no information attached to them. I really don't think it's too late for Pinterest since the other players are just getting in the game. The ROI would certainly be easy to track! As a marketer it would be far more satisfying to track sales versus clicks or impressions!

  6. Carol Skelly from, October 12, 2012 at 9:48 p.m.

    Absolutely! As cliche as it sounds the "picture is worth 1000 words" is so true. We are visual creatures. A recent stat from Performics:

    "People are more likely to engage with branded content on social media that contains pictures (44%) and videos (37%)"

  7. Jeff Rutherford from Jeff Rutherford Media Relations, LLC, October 14, 2012 at 10:46 p.m.

    I think Pinterest was an outlier. As you pointed out, we've now got eBay, Facebook Collections, etc.

    I don't think it's just social that's driving this trend. I think we're seeing the next evolution of the web as a whole.

    Since MediaPost is built on examining and discussing the advertising and digital advertising space, spend 20 minutes on Pinterest. What do you notice about the look and feel of the site? I know one thing you won't see. You won't see blinking ads, you want see stories chopped up into "slideshows" for page views, you won't see a site cluttered and drowning under ads. And, sure, I absolutely understand that the commercial web is an advertising-driven business.

    But, while every digital ad conference out there is crowded with industry speakers talking about how exquisitely they can track consumers with the goal of delivering relevant ads, those same speakers leave the conference, go back to their offices, and plan to buy or sell another million impressions of blinking, interrupting ads.

    If more sites follow Pinterest's lead and we see more elegant, photo-rich web design, hopefully we'll also see focus on one, visually stunning ad per page vs. the current ecosystem.

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