Back in February of 2015, Pinterest announced ata conference that they were working on a tool called “Flashlight.” A tool that I labeled as “visual discovery on steroids. ” This feature will revolutionize the way that visual search is conducted online.
Flashlight is a feature on Pinterest that allows you to highlight a particular part of a pin, and Pinterest will then show you pins that are visually similar. It’s not exactly perfect right now, but it’s definitely an exciting work in progress.
As a side note, Pinterest never called the new visual discovery feature as Flashlight when it officially launched, but that was the name it was given when it was in the testing phases.
Flashlight is being rolled out globally to the public starting November 9th to users of the desktop, Android and IOS versions of Pinterest.
Why This is a Game Changer for Online Retailers
This is a big deal because it will save people time in discovering where to buy a product that they accidentally discovered on Pinterest.
Here’s a scenario that happens a lot. Someone sees a pin that takes place in a living room. She clicks on it and it leads to a blog post about how to save space in an apartment, but she wasn’t interested in the topic, instead she was interested in the speakers that were featured in the pin.
Since she doesn’t know what the brand the speakers is, nor does she have the patience to try to search through the results on Google, she gives up on trying to find those speakers.
With the new visual discovery feature on Pinterest, she can go back to the pin, highlight the speakers and find visually similar results with the hopes that one of the results will lead to a retail site that sells the product (or something similar to it.)
Even if she doesn’t buy now, chances are she’s going to save a pin from the side, as a reminder to take a closer look at the product later.
Pinterest also tries to help you narrow down your search by providing words that are related to your visual search. As you can see on the right-hand side, there are suggested word tiles such as speakers, audio, audio engine, and front load washer (the last one made me laugh because I could never imagine those as front end washers). You can tap on those word tiles to help provide more relevant and personal results.
Now before you get all excited, you also have to realize that it’s not a perfect system. When I highlighted the speakers in the background, these are the results I got. As you can tell for the word tiles, Pinterest didn’t recognize that they were Orb Audio speakers. The visual recognition engine believes that they’re door knobs.
Which Businesses Will Benefit Most from Flashlight for Pinterest
Here are some fun stats about Pinterest users.
- 52% out of 1,500 active pinners surveyed agreed that Pinterest helps them find items they want to buy.
- 79% said that Pinterest helped them with purchases involving food and ingredients.
- 60% said that Pinterest them with purchases involving home decor.
- 53% for clothing and accessories.
Most likely, Flashlight won’t increase the food and ingredients category, but it most likely will increase the numbers for home decor and clothing and accessories.
With 100 million active users on Pinterest, if even just 2% of people use the feature on a daily basis, you can imagine how much more potential business can flow to online retailers.
Here’s the Downside of Flashlight for Business
For businesses, this can also be bad news because people may actually discover your competitors. The goal of Flashlight isn’t to show you the exact same image up close, it’s to be able to show you visually similar results.
If you happen to be the owner of an e-commerce space, and you source your products from the same wholesaler as someone else, then this can provide some pretty stiff competition.
A potential customer may click through to your product pin and go to the page, find out what the price of your product is and then go back to Pinterest and then select the another pin to see what your competitors are charging.
If you’re not the exclusive retailer of a product, you could be at the losing end of Flashlight.
How to Make the Most of Flashlight for Pinterest
1. Load Up On Close-up Shots
Load up on pins with product close-ups. That’s my advice if you haven’t done so yet. The reason for this is because if your product is featured on a variety of different pins but you don’t own those pins, then when someone highlights your product, he is more likely to see visually similar results of a competitor.
If Pinterest can only recommend pins that are in their system, and your pins are not in the system, then they can’t recommend them. It’s that simple.
The goal is to have your pins show up in the “visually similar results” as much as possible, not someone else who’s potentially taking your business away.
2. Load up on Environmental Product Shots
You’ve also got to do the opposite. If you have a product that fits naturally into a specific type of environment, ensure that your products stand out in the picture but make them fit naturally into the environment.
A lamp standing in the middle of a white background isn’t very sexy, but if you have the lamp placed next to a nice comfy couch, it makes the lamp sexier. People can now imagine how that lamp fits into their own home.
As more people become familiar with using Flashlight with Pinterest, they will start highlighting products featured inside your pins.
The one thing I learned is that if your products are in an environmental shot, they should clearly be recognizable visible on a mobile device. In the first picture featuring Orb Speakers, you can see them clearly. However, the speakers are hard to identify on a smartphone screen, making it hard for Flashlight to recognize the object.
Objects that are too small in your environmental shots are bad.
Ensure that your products are nice and visible on a mobile screen.
3. Take Photos of Your Products in Different Colors and Angles
Pinterest needs your help to identify products with Flashlight. In order to do this, it needs visual data points that will tell them what an object most likely is. And if there aren’t a lot of your products on Pinterest, you need to help Pinterest out and provide those visual data points.
This means that if you have a variety of products that come in different colors, make sure you upload those photos onto Pinterest and write good descriptions about what those products are.
Upload photos of your products taken from different angles to help Pinterest identify your products from different angles. Again, provide great keyword descriptions that will help Pinterest what the product is.
If your product comes in a variety of colors, then you need to upload dozens of pins featuring your product with that color. If you don’t, Pinterest may mistaken your product as something else (similar to the bronze Orb Speakers being misinterpreted as door knobs).
4. Exchange Product Placements
If you have a unique product, you should consider doing joint product placement partnership with another vendor who also sells a unique product but is not in your competitive space.
Feature each others’ products in a pin and then share them with each others’ Pinterest audience.
5. Showroom Multiple Products in One Pin
IKEA is the leader when it comes to showrooming their products within the same space. They never try to sell you a bed, they try to sell you a closet, a table, a chair, a knick knack that nobody ever seems to be able to pronounce except someone Sweedish.
You can do the same thing with your pins. Place several different products that you sell in your pins, but make sure that they are visible enough to see on a mobile device. This way someone can select the products within the pin.
The new visual discovery tool by Pinterest is a game changer in the world of search. Flashlight is relatively new and will continue to improve over time as billions of more visual data points are added to their system.
As a business, I highly encourage you to start uploading your product photos on Pinterest. Too many people discover products by accident, and you will never know who’s going to discover yours.
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