- Facebook confirmed to TechCrunch it is testing a new feature called “Sets” in a few countries. Sets allows users to combine status updates, photos and videos to share as a themed collection, making them similar to Pinterest boards.
- The new feature isn’t the first time Facebook has attempted to directly compete with Pinterest. The social media giant previously introduced Collection ads that let people save items to a wish list and an Instagram bookmarking feature that saves posts to private collections. Sets is the first feature that most closely resembles the Pinterest user experience, per TechCrunch.
- For Facebook users, Sets will be a new way to curate content around a topic or interest that can be shared to all of their friends or just to a select group. Facebook could monetize the feature by letting users save a brand's products to their Set.
Facebook's Sets test shows that the platform is still trying to get discovery and inspiration right, two activities that are popular with social media users and are important for building strong connections with brands. While Pinterest is among the smaller social media platforms, it has a dedicated user base and a high overlap with Facebook as people tend to use the two platforms for different purposes. When Sets eventually rolls out to all users, it will be interesting to see if Pinterest users adopt the feature and if this hurts Pinterest's performance.
Facebook has shown a penchant for copying its social media competitors' popular features. Probably the most blatant example of this type of copycat behavior was the launch of Instagram Stories, a feature that later rolled out on the main platform as well. Stories borrowed the user experience and even the name from core feature of Snapchat right at a time when Snapchat was ramping up for an IPO and when it was rapidly expanding its user base. Instagram Stories as a feature now has significantly more active users than the Snapchat app has overall.
While Snapchat is still extremely popular, especially among younger demographics, one investor complaint since its IPO is a lack of user growth — a slowdown that ostensibly can be traced to the launch of Instagram Stories.
For its part, Pinterest has been taken a number of steps to shore up its role as a discovery and inspiration platform, including ramping up its marketing-related offerings with autoplay video ads and self-serve tools for creating search ads as well as partnering more closely with brands like Target. Recent research suggests Pinterest is effective at helping brands engage shoppers.
Other examples of Facebook co-opting experiences from its competition include the recently launched Watch designed to compete directly with YouTube as well as its restaurant discovery and food ordering options which compete with Yelp.