Pinterest has finally jumped into private messaging.
The San Francisco-based discovery platform added a new feature on Wednesday that allows users to chat back and forth in a private window.
Users are required to start a conversation by sending a Pin to another user along with a message, but subsequent replies do not need to include Pins and work similarly to other chat and text services. Users can also send group messages.
Private messaging has been a major focus for other social networks over the past year. Facebook has a slew of private messaging services and spent a whopping $19 billion on messaging app WhatsApp in February. Twitter has added incremental improvements to its Direct Messaging service over the past year, and both Twitter-owned Vine and Facebook-owned Instagram have had private messaging since December.
However, Pinterest wants its messaging feature to stand out in a different way. Instead of casual chats (e.g. “How’s it going?”), Pinterest wants users chatting about specific Pins. “This is different from other messaging platforms because conversations are around a Pin and are focused on planning something for the future,” a spokesperson wrote in an email to press.
That doesn’t mean Pinners will use the feature in this way, but it’s Pinterest’s attempt to put a unique spin on an otherwise crowded product category.
Regardless of how people use it, the messaging feature will be a hit if it keeps users more engaged with Pinterest. If you can chat about a specific Pin within the app or website, it means you won’t need to leave to send a text or message on another platform. The bottom line: Users spending more time within Pinterest will make the product more attractive to potential advertisers down the road.