Reducing Product Risk and Removing the MVP Mindset: How Pinterest Grew From 3,000 to 73 Million Users


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 12, 2023

3 min read


Reducing Product Risk and Removing the MVP Mindset: How Pinterest Grew From 3,000 to 73 Million Users

In the world of product development, there is a constant need to reduce risk and deliver value to users. This often involves breaking away from the traditional MVP (Minimum Viable Product) mindset and adopting a different approach. Let's explore how Pinterest, a popular social media platform, successfully grew from 3,000 to 73 million users by implementing strategies that focused on de-risking projects and utilizing word-of-mouth marketing.

One of the fundamental principles of product work is understanding that it is never truly done. Initial releases will never have everything that teams desire, but through continuous iteration, value can be delivered to users as new features become available. This mindset allows for constant improvement and ensures that users are receiving value throughout the product's lifecycle.

To effectively reduce risk in product development, it is essential to understand the type of customer you are building for. Pinterest recognized this and created a framework that categorizes users based on their level of sophistication and the amount of data they generate. This framework helps determine the appropriate approach to de-risking projects.

Additionally, the development approach should be tailored to the level of ambiguity surrounding the problem and the ideal solution. Pinterest emphasized the importance of building minimum viable products (MVPs) or minimum viable features (MVF) to validate ideas and test hypotheses. These MVPs and MVFs were used to reduce ambiguity and pave the way for phased delivery, rather than building the entire product upfront.

Pinterest also leveraged word-of-mouth marketing to propel its growth. The company launched the Pin-It-Forward campaign, which utilized bloggers to publicize the platform. These bloggers created themed boards and accompanied them with blog posts, encouraging readers to remix the boards and pin-it-forward. By engaging the blogging community and organizing meetups at local boutiques, Pinterest turned participants into advocates who spread the word about the platform.

The success of Pinterest's word-of-mouth marketing can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, the platform targeted community leaders and influencers to reach entire communities. By getting these leaders involved, Pinterest was able to generate organic growth and create a sense of community around the platform. Secondly, Pinterest users take pride in their boards, as they reflect their taste and creative expressions. This pride drives them to share their boards and showcase their artistic capabilities, further amplifying the platform's reach.

It is important to note that marketing using Pinterest is also marketing for Pinterest. The platform's core purpose is to encourage users to share what they find dear and valuable. This innate sharing nature makes Pinterest a powerful marketing tool, as users naturally promote the platform through their interactions.

To apply the lessons learned from Pinterest's growth, here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Understand your target audience and tailor your approach to their level of sophistication and data generation. This will help you de-risk projects effectively and deliver value to your users.
  • 2. Embrace word-of-mouth marketing by targeting community leaders and influencers. By getting them involved and engaged, you can tap into their networks and create a sense of community around your product.
  • 3. Design your product in a way that allows users to take pride in their interactions. Create a platform or experience that showcases their taste, creativity, or personal expressions. This will not only drive engagement but also encourage users to share and promote your product.

In conclusion, reducing product risk and removing the MVP mindset can lead to significant growth and success. Pinterest's journey from 3,000 to 73 million users exemplifies the power of de-risking projects, leveraging word-of-mouth marketing, and creating a platform that users are proud to interact with. By adopting these strategies and understanding the unique needs of your target audience, you can drive growth and deliver value to your users.

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