If you belong to any kind of social network (you do), you experience social discovery. Social networking giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ have realized that giving users the ability to be selective and as private as they’d like to be keeps people coming back. As a user of a social network, you see friends’ specific updates, photos, videos, music, news, and recommendations of any kind because you choose to. The model of following/unfollowing an individual, brand or idea is what continues to drive positive social experiences on the Web right now. Using social sites and the Web in general isn’t about just coming and going anymore. The social Web is becoming a user’s “home,” completely customized and protected just like someone’s house would be. Facebook doesn’t want you to just connect online, it wants you to live online.
This post was inspired by a couple of blazing hot social startups – namely Pinterest, Quora, and Clipboard (among many others) – that seem to have nailed this idea of ‘The Web as Your Web‘ on the head. Pinterest sticks out for me mostly because I’m a user and I’m able to see and understand how easy it is to use the service and get others using it as well. For those of you that aren’t yet familiar, Pinterest is a visual pinboard for sharing and collecting content online. Users sign up for Pinterest and are able to ‘pin’ any image or video they find anywhere on the Web to a ‘board’ on Pinterest. Users can create different boards and organize the content they collect by naming boards ‘Architecture,’ ‘Cooking,’ ‘Design,’ ‘Fashion,’etc.
If you aren’t using Pinterest yet, I’m guessing you’re thinking that sounds pretty cool, right? It is. Pinterest has created a visually-stunning experience that allows users to gather content that matters to them from anywhere on the Web and keep it in a central location. They are helping shape a shift from search to discovery. And, on top of this shift, sites like Etsy – an online marketplace for very small businesses and individuals as vendors – are experiencing a huge increase in Web traffic because of Pinterest. Why is this? It’s because of social sharing (social discovery). People using Etsy are pinning all kinds of different products (on Etsy) to Pinterest, which in turn show up in Pinterest users’ streams. Add a price and a URL and vendors on Etsy are now “selling” on Pinterest.
This is the power of providing users with positive experiences and ways of allowing users to share those experiences. The Web continues to become more a user’s “home” every day. We’ve seen something similar with Facebook’s Timeline, where users can see their entire experience on Facebook on the same page just by scrolling (“lifestreaming”). Now it’s Pinterest, allowing users to collect content from anywhere on the Web and organize it however they like. What’s next?