—Alan Bergstrom, Brand Insights

The explosion of social media and its accessibility via the internet and mobile devices have given rise to a number of products that allow people to share a variety of things, including photos, websites, locations, and activities with their friends, family and others.  Two of the more recent social sharing products that are especially “hot” right now are Pinterest and Path.  They have “apps” for smart phones to allow users to post and share while on the go.

Both essentially do the same thing, which is to share elements of your life, activities and interests with others.

Pinterest was started in 2010 and is positioned as a “virtual pinboard/bulletin board” or “scrapbook”.  It allows users to organize and share a variety of photos and personal interests from the web, as well as browsing the boards of other connected users.  It requires an invitation to become a “member”.  http://pinterest.com/

Path is positioned as a “smart journal” that allows users to “tell their story” and share it with others.  It is “smart” in that it learns your preferences and behaviors as you use it, surfacing patterns in your life and those you connect with.  It was started at roughly the same time as Pinterest, and includes among its founders Dave Morin, who was one of the early staffers of Facebook.  https://path.com/

Social media today is driven, in large part, by the press it garners from others who tweet about it, talk to others about it and create their own communities of “fans” and “followers”.  Path ran into some trouble recently by “grabbing” information from its users contact lists as a means to promote its service.  Following a large backlash among users who felt their privacy was violated since Path didn’t request permission to capture this data; Path publicly apologized and withdrew its approach to expanding its network.  Pinterest also ran afoul of some of its users by failing to disclose that affiliate link click-throughs on its site were hidden revenue generators for the network.

Interesting stuff.  But that’s really not the point of this post.  Look carefully at the phone app icons of these two brands.

From my perspective, they share an uncanny resemblance.  I’m not sure if this is intentional by one or the other, but as a consumer, the “app” identities bear close similarities.  At the moment, Pinterest seems to be attracting more users than Path; it’s talked about more and has generated significant buzz.  As of January, Pinterest claimed 12 million users, while Path is said to have over 2 million.   Pinterest is also thought to be exploring ways to “monetize” its network through advertising.  Time will tell whether either or both survive and thrive.  The one constant is that the world of social media is constantly changing.  For a somewhat humorous take on how social media gains users, view the following cartoon: http://holykaw.alltop.com/the-pressure-to-join-pinterest-comic.

What’s your perspective?