New Delhi: Start “pinning” in Hindi—that’s exactly what Pinterest Inc., an online tool that enables millions of users around the world, to “pin” their interests ranging from fashion, travel and food on to its website, is expecting its Indian audience to do.
On Thursday, the website that promotes itself as a “tool for collecting and organizing things you love”, announced launch of its local site, which will enable people in India to access a translated version of the website and Android apps in Hindi, a move that indicates the need for social media companies to localize content and language to cater to a burgeoning Internet population.
The San Fransico-based company that was valued at $3.8 billion, according to an October report by Bloomberg Businessweek, started operations in 2010 with an active user base of more than 50 million monthly users worldwide (as of March 2013). Generous investments from a bunch of private equity companies over the years has helped the start-up sustain momentum.
Flush with funds—the company raised $225 million last October, according to online technology and media website AllThingsD.com—the company has pushed for international expansion by launching in more than 20 languages in 2013.
India’s active “pinning community” lured Pinterest to adapt to Hindi, said Matt Crystal, the company’s head for international business. “Today localization is a first step toward helping pinners discover their interests and hobbies in an entirely new way,” said Crystal. The more popular categories in India range from fashion, travel, food, home decor and crafts. Pinterest did not disclose its active user base in India. A detailed questionnaire sent to the company remained unanswered.
India’s Internet population is proliferating rapidly. Last estimated numbers pegged India’s Internet population at 205 million users, the world’s third largest, according to November data by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International.
Internet companies have in the past localized content and used regional languages, indicating a surge in active online users who consume content in local languages.
Pinterest is still not as popular in India as it is in other countries, said Jessie Paul, managing director of Paul Writer, a marketing advisory firm; the shift to Hindi could just indicate its need to grow more relevant to the Indian audience, she said. Cooking, fashion and home decor are big trends in Pinterest across markets whose audience is largely female.
The world’s largest social networking website, Facebook Inc., took to Hindi in 2009 while Twitter Inc. allowed users to read and upload feeds in Hindi in 2011. Search engine Google Inc. became the first Internet platform to offer a Hindi translation to its users in 2007.
The move to local languages will help increase levels of engagement and interaction with the site by users, though the impact on actual user base will need to be measured post launch, said Prashant Singh, managing director at research firm Nielsen India.
As young Indians become more adept at communicating with the world through their Internet enabled devices, the relevance of networks such as Pinterest is likely to escalate.