Hot Mobile App Snapguide Integrates With Pinterest

Startup's CEO discusses integration, advertising possibilities

When The New York Times covers your launch, you’re not an average tech startup. When you become the first Apple app to integrate with Pinterest, you solidify that vaunted status. Less than a month old—and with only seven full-time employees (in typical startup fashion)—Snapguide has done both.

The company, which specializes in user-generated how-to content, updated its Apple app on Wednesday with the ability to share to Pinterest. Snapguide founder and CEO Daniel Raffel talked with Adweek about how that happened.

“Basically Pinterest was interested in exploring ways that they could [entice app developers to build something that would] enable sharing [via Snapguide]. So one of their engineers came over and spent a couple hours over a weekend working with us in the office, and we basically built this with them,” Raffel said. For users to share to Pinterest through Snapguide, they must have the Pinterest app downloaded to their iOS device.

There’s a natural fit between the two startups, Raffel said, with Snapguide users taking photos and compiling them into tutorials that can serve as content for Pinterest boards—or conceivably the boards themselves. It doesn’t hurt that Pinterest is “neck-and-neck with Twitter” as one of Snapguide’s top third-party referrers, even though the only Pinterest integration before today was a Pinterest button on Snapguide’s website.

Snapguide’s update is noteworthy considering the growing interest among developers in building applications on top of Pinterest’s platform (like has happened with Facebook and Twitter). Why is that such a big deal? Consider that while Instagram built a stellar product, it largely developed its user base through Facebook’s and Twitter’s platforms, which allowed users to share their content to the social networks. Then consider Instagram’s $1 billion sale to Facebook.

But Raffel said the Snapguide and Pinterest partnership may be the start of a major developer outreach, or may be a special case.

It’s not just developers who should keep an eye on Pinterest's approach to app developments. Nathaniel Perez, global head of social media at SapientNitro, said Pinterest is still an experimental channel for most clients, but the app ecosystem that could conceivably grow out of Pinterest's platform would nudge brands toward taking a harder look. Plus, brands could elect to construct Pinterest experiences on top of the company's platform, rather than building their own Pinterest boards.

“I think the ability to leverage the content in the context of, say, an app or website experience or contest becomes really interesting because each of these things can drive back to the originating sources [such as a brand site],” Perez said.

Given the marketer curiosity surrounding Pinterest, it’s no surprise that Raffel was fielding calls from brands within hours of the update being announced on Wednesday and is in talks with “a few publicly traded billion-dollar companies” about marketing opportunities on Snapguide. Snapguide doesn’t run ads within its mobile or Web apps, but Raffel said Snapguide was developed as “a natural place for a brand to expand themselves into.”

He continued, “At some point in the near future, we’re going to enable a way for users to browse by topic, and you can imagine a scenario where some topics are sponsored by third parties and the content that exists in those topics could be curated or even created by the sponsor.” Raffel added that Snapguide’s first brand partnership will bow within the next month.

Snapguide could also ease marketers’ concerns that running initiatives on Pinterest would require the brand to constantly monitor content for any possible copyright violations. That’s something that Pinterest sought to clear up in updating its terms of service, acceptable use policy and privacy policy earlier this month. But Perez said brands still worry about any moderation burdens. Raffel said Snapguide has a proprietary content moderation tool, and Perez said that a brand getting involved with Snapguide as a sponsor of already curated content “could solve a lot of copyright issues.”

While Snapguide is still very much a startup, it’s seen solid success since launching on March 29. Raffel said its “hundreds of thousands of users” average more than 23 minutes spent in the app, with 7.6 million items shared to Facebook thus far and the average how-to guide garnering 400 views.