If any social network is suited to foster an ecosystem of third party developers, it’s Pinterest. Like Facebook, brands have quickly realized the value of Pinterest as a marketing engine. The number of “how to leverage Pinterest” articles for brands is staggering.
So it makes sense that, less than a year into Pinterest’s impressive growth, a new crop of startups would spring up to serve those brands. Four years after launching pages, Facebook has more than 250 preferred developers in its network, one of which just sold to Oracle for $300 million. Young Pinterest already had a small handful. One of those is Pinerly.
The company makes a page management tool for users of Pinterest. Users can schedule pins, receive real time analytics on which pins are most effective, use multiple accounts, and bookmark. The company also churns out best practices data for content creators and brands on the platform (see infographics below).
The difference between Pinerly’s relationship with Pinterest and Facebook’s relationships with its hundreds of developer partners is that Pinterest hasn’t exactly asked Pinerly to do what it’s doing. The company’s API has been read-only because, as co-founder Rick Kats says, “They wanted to see what developers could do.” Pinerly’s sense is that Pinterest will continue to build a community around users and keep its efforts consumer-facing, Kats says.
And this leaves room for companies like Pinerly to step in as the go-to account management system for brands on the site. Within its first three weeks, 40,000 users signed up, he says.
Of course, there’s nothing stopping the Buddy Medias of Facebook from becoming the Buddy Medias of Pinterest themselves. Existing social SaaS companies like Buddy Media, Wildfire Interactive, or Hootsuite could step in and wipe out Pinerly before it really gets started. They can and will easily add Pinterest integration to their suites of existing tools built around Facebook and Twitter. (Update: As of this month, Buddy Media has Pinterest integration in place.)
But Kats says Pinerly has a couple of advantages. For one, its platform is self-serve, so clients don’t need to deal with a sales person and training in order to use it. For two, like Pinterest itself, Pinerly is focused on simplicity. Pinerly is positioned somewhere between Buddy Media and Hootsuite. Hootsuite is consumer facing and pulls in streams from multiple accounts, whereas Buddy Media requires social media managers and a relationship with the company’s sales team.
There are more competitors out there. Pinreach tracks previous performance using the same data Pinterest already spits out. Curalate, which just raised $750,000 in seed funding, allows users to moderate their Pinterest accounts better. Pinpuff gives you an influence score similar to Klout. WP Pinner offers something similar to Pinerly but for WordPress. “[WP Pinner] started because they saw the success we had,” Kats says. For what it’s worth, I hope any future entrants to this market avoid using the word “pin” in their names.
Clients of Pinerly, still in beta, include AllRecipes.com, Universal Music, and Glamour magazine. Pinerly started as a side project to Toronto-based Setnight.com, an event discovery startup. It’s in the process of raising a round of funding, moving to Silicon Valley, and joining the Plug and Play tech center incubator.