"The Power of Building Communities: Pinterest and Goodreads"



Aug 06, 20233 min read


"The Power of Building Communities: Pinterest and Goodreads"


In the ever-evolving landscape of social media and online platforms, two standout players have successfully harnessed the potential of community-building: Pinterest and Goodreads. These platforms have managed to carve out unique niches and connect users through shared interests. While Pinterest focuses on visual discovery and demand aggregation, Goodreads caters to the book-loving community. Let's explore how these platforms have grown and thrived, and what lessons we can learn from their success.

Pinterest: From Discovery to Monetization

Pinterest, with its visually appealing interface and focus on discovery, has become a go-to platform for users seeking inspiration and ideas. Creators and brands have recognized the potential to sell additional goods and leverage Pinterest as a demand aggregator. By tagging images and videos with metadata, Pinterest ensures its content appears at the top of search results, creating a self-reinforcing growth loop. However, monetization has been a challenge for Pinterest, as its specific use case revolves around discovery rather than purchasing. While it may not be a shopping destination, Pinterest has the opportunity to refine its ad strategies and capitalize on its engaged user base.

Goodreads: A Book Community Built on Passion

Goodreads, on the other hand, has tapped into the passion of book lovers worldwide. With a mission to get people excited about reading, Goodreads has amassed a community of over 2.6 million members. Founder Otis Chandler initially built the platform with a focus on personal use, allowing users to track the books they've read. However, Goodreads truly took off when users began sharing the platform with their networks, and influential bloggers and media outlets featured the platform. Goodreads became the go-to destination for book lovers, particularly English literature students, who embraced the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals.

Lessons Learned: Smart Hiring and Focusing on User Experience

Both Pinterest and Goodreads offer valuable insights for aspiring entrepreneurs and platform builders. One crucial lesson is the importance of hiring smart and determined individuals. Despite initial doubts about the viability of their ideas, both platforms succeeded due to the dedication and expertise of their teams. Additionally, prioritizing user experience and offering seamless functionalities are key elements in driving user engagement and retention. Pinterest's focus on visual discovery and Goodreads' emphasis on connecting with friends' reading activities have proven effective in keeping users coming back for more.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Capitalize on user intent: For platforms looking to monetize, it's essential to align ad strategies with user intent. Pinterest, for example, can further refine its advertising model to cater to users who are ready to make a purchase.
  • 2. Embrace niche communities: Goodreads' success lies in its ability to cater to a specific community (book lovers) and offer a unique value proposition. Entrepreneurs should consider building platforms around niche interests to foster more engaged and passionate user bases.
  • 3. Listen to user feedback: Both Pinterest and Goodreads prioritize user feedback and actively seek insights from their communities. By listening to user needs and preferences, platforms can continuously improve their offerings and ensure long-term success.


Pinterest and Goodreads have demonstrated the power of building communities around shared interests. While Pinterest seeks to monetize its engaged user base, Goodreads has successfully connected book lovers worldwide. By learning from their successes and leveraging actionable advice, aspiring entrepreneurs can create platforms that resonate with users, foster engagement, and drive growth. The journey from a quiet developer to a thriving community of millions is within reach for those who prioritize user experience and continuously adapt to meet user needs.


  1. "Pinterest Has a Chance", https://every.to/napkin-math/how-pinterest-can-win (Glasp)
  2. "How A Quiet Developer Built Goodreads.com Into Book Community Of 2.6+ Million Members - with Otis Chandler - Business Podcast for Startups", https://mixergy.com/interviews/goodreads-otis-chandler/ (Glasp)

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