The LAB: Innovating Pinterest with Attribute Dependency (September 2012)

by | Sep 30, 2012 | Creativity Tools, Emergent Customer, Pinterest, Technology | 0 comments

It’s official. Pinterest has joined the elite group of social apps along with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, and Google Plus.
Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard that lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web.” How popular is it? It is the fastest site ever to break through the 10 million unique visitor mark. A report by Shareaholic claims, “Pinterest drives more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined.” As of March 2012, Pinterest was valued at $1.5 billion.

There are many creative ways to use Pinterest. New apps are emerging around it much like what happened with Twitter. But to maintain growth, Pinterest needs innovation. For this month’s LAB, we will apply Attribute Dependency, one of five techniques of Systematic Inventive Thinking, to Pinterest. Our goal will be to create new innovations around Pinterest as we did with Twitter and Facebook.

To use Attribute Dependency, make two lists. The first is a list of internal attributes. The second is a list of external attributes -those factors that are not under your control, but that vary in the context of how the product or service is used. Then, create a matrix with the internal and external attributes on one axis, and the internal attributes only on the other axis. The matrix creates combinations of internal-to-internal and internal-to-external attributes that we will use to innovate. We take these virtual combinations and envision them in two ways. If no dependency exists between the attributes, we create one. If a dependency exists, we break it. Using Function Follows Form, we envision what the benefit or potential value might be from the new (or broken) dependency between the two attributes.

The attributes of Pinterest are:

PinterestInternal Attributes:

  1. size of board (number of pins)
  2. size of the displayed board
  3. number of boards
  4. description of board
  5. subject of pins
  6. number of likes
  7. number of re-pins
  8. number of guest pinners
  9. who following

External Attributes:

  1. time
  3. boards trending
  4. links to other social networks

The new concepts are:

1. Push To Friends: Pinterest pushes a notification to Facebook friends or Twitter followers based on a keyword in the description of the Pin. This is a bit like RSS feeds into a reader, but different in that the Pinterest board owner gets to decide what gets pushed to friends. There are some existing links between Pinterest and the other social networks, but an approach like this could make it much stronger and more valuable.

2. Pin Recommender: Pinterest finds and recommends new Pins to you based on keywords in your Pin or Board description. It is similar to the “You Might Also Like…” feature on many web applications. A new app called SpinPicks does something similar, but it does not pull from the inventory of images in Pinterest.

3. Board Cloud: The Boards of a Pinner change size depending on Likes and Followers. This is similar to a tag cloud where each word varies in size depending on how often it shows up on a website or document. Tag clouds help the reader quickly understand which words are most prominent or popular. Twitter has a similar feature called Trendsmap. Given the highly visual nature of Pinterest, I would expect users to be able to turn features like this on or off in their settings to give a more personalized experience.

4. Twitter Trender: The boards displayed on the viewers main page vary depending on what is trending on Twitter. Twitter has become the “eyes and ears” of the world, and hot topics trend all the time. Pinterest would read these trends and match them to Boards for display on the front page, perhaps as defined by the viewer.

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