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Felix • Pinterest ethics questions

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Pinterest ethics questions

According to ZoomSphere, there are more than 50 people on Pinterest with more than 2 million followers; the top pinner (if that’s the right word) is Joy Cho, with almost 7 million followers.

When these people pin items, that’s amazing marketing. The items don’t just get seen by all those millions of followers; they get re-pinned by them. And then those people’s followers re-pin them in turn. A single pin by one of these top-50 pinners can result in millions of pageviews to the item in question — and unlike tweets, say, those pageviews are persistent. They don’t go away in minutes or days; they last a very long time.

So if I’m a brand, I’m going to willing to do just about anything to get my products pinned by the top pinners. And I’m certainly going to be willing to pay good money to these pinners if they’ll pin one of my products. Similarly, the top pinners have put a lot of creativity and effort into building up their brands on Pinterest, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be paid for that.

And anecdotally, I was told last night

a) that it’s commonplace for people with lots of followers on Pinterest to be offered money to pin certain items;

b) that such offers are frequently accepted;

c) that such “sponsored pins”, for lack of a better word, are almost never disclosed as such.

This bothers me; it feels as though it’s advertising dressed up as editorial.

So a few questions: is this commonplace? Is this a temporary phenomenon, during the young days of Pinterest, where over time we’ll end up with more disclosure? Do you think it’s OK for pinners to accept money to pin certain items, either with or without disclosure? Or, is it a sign that we’re moving in the direction of blurring the distinction between editorial and advertising entirely, with (for instance) magazines like Monocle, or the way in which a lot of editorial content is increasingly being produced by advertisers like Amex, GE, Red Bull, etc?

It's not commonplace.

It is temporary -- eventually there will be disclosure.

It's no worse for Pinners to take money than for Bloggers or Tweeters.

So yes, we're blurring the line.

Example: I'm making a Red Bull stash. Is that commercial or not?

are you paid for it?

Nope. Never have been. Curious to see if I ever will be.

Then there is no need for disclosure, right? Having a popular person like something may be a non-paid endorsement but it is not sponsorship. Commercials, sponsored content, financial gain, and the like need to be disclosed.

I agree.

Sometimes the disclosure is subtle -- Twitter puts it in small yellow letters that say "Sponsored".

I think the disclosure should be as transparent as possible.

i have fallen for a tweet that is sponsored and labeled as "-sp"

Me too. Twitter doesn't give much room and their "sponsored" is too subtle to be transparent.

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