Thinking about Pinterest this morning and how, a few months ago, I spent many hours sifting through DIY projects on the site to get ideas. For my use scenario, as strictly a “content consumer” Pinterest was a great place. I got the content I wanted, sprinkled with relevant, native ads. Even though I was not signed in at the time (I have maybe a dozen pins on all my Pinterest boards) I thought that Pinterest was doing many things right. It has many, many registered users who are content creators, who pull together beautiful boards (have you seen the bridal boards? Go only if you have a spare day or two) and plenty more who come and enjoy the boards.
That said, I thought that Twitter would do well to learn from how Pinterest engages non-users with its beautiful, user-created topic-based boards. About a year ago, I looked at Twitter’s new user onboarding process and how it seems that new users have to learn about how Twitter works and how to curate content. The learning curve on Twitter is steep but the long-term users (myself included) of Twitter say that it’s worth it. At the time I thought the onboarding was great but that Twitter wasn’t doing enough to show causal, non-registered browsers of Twitter its benefits before signing up. After all, it’s home page, to unregistered users, looked like this, with all content fenced behind a registration.
So, today, as I was about to write how Twitter should learn from Pinterest about engaging those unregistered users, I went over to Pinterest to grab a few representative screenshots, a few with those beautiful flower arrangements that Pinterest does so well. I was surprised to see that Pinterest changed its approach and now it puts all content behind a registration requirement.
I’m curious to see the data behind this product decision. Does forcing casual visitors to register to see content turn more of them into users or more of them to abandon the site? If they do register, is their commitment to creating pins as high as users who registered only after seeing content? How many return to Pinterest a second time when compared to those who didn’t have to register? For sites that rely on user-generated content, does it even make sense to assume that all users will eventually create content? After all, not all YouTube visitors share content, some are and will forever be passive viewers, and that’s OK. Revenue is driven by advertising, after all.
Finally, after Pinterest disappointed me with its walled content approach, I looked at what Twitter looks like to a new user. I was surprised to see that Twitter completely revamped its home page, with a great new focus on popular topics as well as a look at current trending topics. So after turning my planned blog post on its head, I can only say one thing: well played, Twitter. Well played.