Pinterest is all about projects. From new recipes to DIY crafts, the bulletin board for your life is designed to inspire you to take on new challenges. But until now, there was no way to privately discuss those plans with your friends and family. So Pinterest introduced conversations on Wednesday, and I couldn't help but wonder: What took so long?
When Instagram rolled out its version of private messages last winter, it seemed like an inevitable (if not exactly sensible) decision. If you're running a social network without a chat feature, you're already behind the curve. But when Pinterest launched its messaging feature, it seemed like a natural fit. Instead of inviting you to chat about any old thing or sharing a photo with you, your followers have to initiate a chat by sending a pin. Then you can discuss the pin, which Pinterest hopes will lead to easier collaboration.
Pinterest launched its "send a pin" feature last May as a way to share an image you loved with someone else. Your friends could like, repin, or comment on the pin, but they couldn't reply to you. Pinterest said that users now send more than 2 million pins a day, and the network wanted to make that process more conversational.
You can send pins and discuss them one-on-one or with a group. Conversations are easily accessible through the notifications tab. The feature will be particularly useful on your smartphone, which is where most messaging action happens anyway. The bulk of Pinterest's traffic (about 75 percent) comes from mobile, CEO Ben Silbermann said at an April press event. If you can reply to a pin while you're out and about, and keep track of conversations while you're at the store buying items for a road trip or dinner party, that makes Pinterest a bigger part of your planning process.
Pinterest conversations will also be more productive, because the network has no interest in being your go-to for all messaging. Because you have to send a pin to start a discussion, the conversation will revolve around the image and might actually stay on-topic. Messaging isn't a game-changer, but it does make Pinterest more useful, which is exactly what the network wants.