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6 Signs That Facebook Is Hyperventilating Over Pinterest

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A heap of recent social media research studies have shown that users Pinterest are more likely to make purchases (and for more money) than any other social network. These findings are great news for retailers, but a scary pants nightmare for Facebook.

The “Like” network’s past attempts to have commerce opportunities for brands (known as f-commerce) have found little success.  And since going public in May 2012, Facebook has struggled with a way to show investors a viable monetization strategy. Take that, combined with all the reports about Pinterest’s power to encourage sales, and you must imagine that Facebook is trying hard to catch its breath.

This year, Facebook seems to alternate between breathing in a paper bag and showing the world its increasingly “pinteresting” functionality. Here’s what I’ve seen of the latter thus far:

1. Fan page cover photo. Unveiled in February 2012 as part of the new Timeline for Pages, this was the first sign that Facebook started to embrace the power of evocative photos. No longer could brands use a landing page for fan-gated content and carefully crafted sales copy. Now it was up to business to upload an image that would encourage likes and prompt fans to share the page with others.

2. Pinned posts. Pinned posts were also part of the brand page overhaul. Now, where do you think Mark Zuckerberg and crew got that verb “pinned” from? I’ve brought this eerie similarity up before, but it worth revisiting in the context of this list.

3. Revised EdgeRank algorithm. Facebook uses a formula called EdgeRank to decide what posts get seen in users’ news feed. That’s right– not all posts go to all fans. The Social Network has just recently tweaked the algorithm to allow only the most engaged posts to appear. Think about what posts typically do well for you. I know that photos and inspirational quotes in image blocks do extremely well in terms of likes and shares for my clients. Funny that those posts are similar to what you see on Pinterest, huh?

4. Updated photo albums. I noticed the changes to this earlier in the month. Photo albums used to have small thumbnails on top with a description on the bottom. With this recent update, the photos are considerably larger and have hover capabilities. The album title and description are now centered and appear above the photos. A quick view to a Pinterest board (click this hairstyles board for an example) will reveal great resemblances between these two galleries.

Photo Album on Sierra Tierra Marketing Facebook Page

Photo album on my Facebook fan page. Note the album description now is above the photos.

5. Collections. Here’s where Facebook’s strategy begins to shift from pretty pictures to getting  fans to spend money while on brand pages. A select group of brands (many of whom do extremely well on Pinterest) have been given access to Collections, a way to format image posts to foster sales on its fan pages.

6. Want button: This feature, currently in test mode with the “collections” brands, taps into the “I lust for that” vibe of Pinterest but also encourages sales from (or on) Facebook. If a user sees a product in a collection that she absolutely must have, she can click “Want” and tell her friends why it’s on her shopping list. (Note: I have gone to several collections and a “Like” button appears where the “Want” should appear.)

It’s a matter of time before we see more ways that Facebook tries to literally capitalize on the current pinning frenzy. What Pinterest-esque feature should Facebook try next? Or should Facebook halt its pursuit of Pinterestifying its site?

Headline photo credit: istockphoto.com

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