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What a year or so ago was a photo-collecting site adored by millions of US-based women is now being cited by some experts as a rival to Facebook in terms of business-usage. Yet, while the buzz about Pinterest is relatively new, only really registering on Google Trends midway through last year , it has actually been going since 2009. However, even it’s founders admit that even then when first shown to friends and family, people didn’t really get it.

I think the same is true today for many in the business world and social media sphere, myself included. I can see some of its worthy qualities and some of the reasons for its success but I am yet to be convinced that Pinterest is ever really going to be more than a secondary social network. Effectively it encourages visual search instead of text based search.

For certain businesses that could be a big benefit. Many designers, architects, photographers, cake-bakers, etc are using Instagram to great effect to show off their skills. But is that new? Haven’t they been able to do that with Flickr, Picasa even the 123-app Gallery, for many years? A gallery of your portfolio? I for one can’t see it changing the way we search.  People surf looking for solutions and Pinterest doesn’t really solve problems. It’s like an art gallery or large scale portfolio. It has a place but that isn’t the forefront of the internet in my opinion.

The other big noose hanging over Pinterest is intellectual property rights. From what I have seen too many small businesses are using it as a sounding board for creatives . Great to get feedback and act upon what your customers want but, it is a public forum and it is a nasty world out there. Once you have shared your concept or idea in the public ether you open it up for people to copy it and potentially steal your thunder. There’s also the issue of what rights Pinterest can claim in anything posted up using there service. It probably won’t be long before all of this ends up having to be tested in a court of law.

I am not adverse to Pinterest. Indeed I even have my own account. Mainly I use it as a visual bookmarking tool, for nice things I see and may want to refer back to. In terms of my own account, I have found it useful to tag infographics I quite like.

What do you think? How do you use Pinterest? Is it changing the way you do business?

Tim Fuell is a former investigative journalist and qualified lawyer, turned social media fanatic who now oversees the 123-reg blog. After writing his Masters thesis on the topic of cybersquatting back in 1998, he has seen the internet develop before his eyes from dial-up bulletin boards to the beast it is today.

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