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3 Ways Pinterest is Shaping Its Future The popular image-sharing site looks toward improved search results and expanding its ecommerce capabilities.

By Katherine Gray

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Pinterest, once the purview of wedding planners and overachieving parents, has become one of the most popular social sharing networks, and has been taking steps to become more of a resource for businesses. And it has a plan for its growth in the months to come.

For instance, the site recently rolled out "rich pins" -- product pins, recipe pins and movie pins -- which provide information such as price, availability and locations where users can purchase items they pin from certain retailers. Today, Pinterest is going a step further with automatic notifications for users when a product they've pinned goes on sale.

And it appears these efforts are paying off. With back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons getting into full swing, many businesses are eager to get in on the rich pin action. According to the Pinterest, product pins get higher click-through rates than regular pins and include automatically updated details, like price changes.

In regard to Pinterest's roadmap for the future, engineering head Jon Jenkins discussed with TechCrunch where the company has come from and where they plan to go in the future. Jenkins was candid, explaining that "Pinterest isn't fundamentally about connecting people to other people. It's about connecting people to interests."

Here are three points from that interview that we found particularly interesting:

1. Interest Graph makes data meaningful.
The Pinterest engineering team is working on exploring new ways to connect people to their interests using deep data analysis. By building the "Interest Graph," all that data will help "identify interests through collaborative filtering, associative rule mining, natural language processing," Jenkins said.

So if a user pins a large number of hiking boots, tents and backpacks, Pinterest will deduce an interest in the outdoors and tailor recommendations and search results to better reflect that interest.

Related: Pinterest Pins Will Promote Product Pricing, Availability and Retail Location

2. Expanding workforce to grow ecommerce offerings.
Dealing with that amount of data is a challenge, of course, which is why Pinterest is aggressively hiring in the areas of machine learning, data mining, operations and infrastructure. And the company plans to bring expanded information such as can be found now with recipe and movie pins to more types of pins in the future.

Already well-known for driving traffic to ecommerce sites, Pinterest is working on ways to bring more of the shopping experience into its website and app, which could eventually become a bid for some sort of revenue share or commission.

3. Keeping business options open for future changes.
For now, though, there is no cost to businesses to use rich pins. Once a business has established itself with a verified business account on Pinterest, it can apply to get rich pins for its products, recipes or movies. There will also eventually be a Pinterest API, but don't look for it any time soon.

"We are working very closely with a very select set of partners to figure out what the API is that we should release," Jenkins explained. "We are going to work with content providers to offer extended functionality so they can understand how the content they produce is being used in the Pinterest system. Content providers want distribution. If we can help them understand what resonates they'll be happier, and pinners will be happier as well."

Related: Move Over, Facebook: Why Your Business Needs to Be on Pinterest

Katherine Gray is a freelance writer, photographer and desktop publisher based in western Maryland.

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