Pinterest Steps Outside Its Walled Garden With New Animated Follow Button For Brands

Pinterest, the image-based social network now riding on a $5 billion valuation and 60 million monthly active users (per comScore), has been making a lot of moves to improve how people discover and navigate content on its own site. Today it unveiled an updated, animated Follow pin that it hopes will be used to snag more users when they are somewhere else on the net.

Designed for businesses and brands, Pinterest’s new Follow button is actually more than a simple button that will take you to the brand’s Pinterest page; instead, it prompts a pop-up preview, which will feature Pins from the account in question that float up, one by one, from the bottom of the window.

There are a couple of things going on here.

By offering users a preview pane with Pins, it will potentially entice more people to follow the brand, given that they will have a better idea of what kind of content they will be seeing as a result.

By not navigating users away from a brand’s main website, Pinterest is offering a message to brands that it’s not looking to compete directly with them by luring users away from their primary pages.

“Your visitors won’t ever have to leave your website to follow you,” Pinterest product manager Jason Costa writes:  He adds that once someone follows an account, they’ll start seeing those Pins in their home feed.

Costa writes that those who are already using a Pinterest Follow button on their sites will automatically be upgraded to the new experience. Otherwise, any site can implement it using the widget builder on Pinterest’s developer site.

Examples of the new button in action can be found on WayfairRandom HouseModClothGoProMotorala, and Whole Foods.

While the new Follow button may entice more brands to think of Pinterest as ever more marketing- (and advertising-) friendly, it’s not going to be a commercial vehicle in itself. There is no fee associated with the Follow button, a spokesperson tells us.
The new follow button builds on a couple of other advances that Pinterest has made outside of its own walled garden: the Top Pins API (launched last November) and Profile and board widgets both allow businesses to bring Pinterest content to their site. However, the user interface for the Follow button feature is entirely new, and is more of a direct line back to building up usage on Pinterest itself, which remains the sole aggregator for all of a person’s Pins.