For years, the quest to more directly generate sales through social media networks has been the holy grail that both the social networks and the companies who market on them have sought after. In retrospect it seems almost silly that the solution that we’re finally reaching wasn’t the first and most obvious choice.

That solution is as simple as it gets: put a button on the posts to go ahead and buy what you’re seeing. That wave has finally started to head to shore, and very soon it will be the standard on most of them.

Facebook has been talking about implementing theirs over a year ago, and word is it’s just around the corner now. Twitter started testing theirs since then. Google’s using one in mobile search. Even Instagram is in on the action. Heck, you can even buy products by clicking within Youtube videos now. Now Pinterest has their own buy button launching, and it could be the most obvious and best use of the buy button yet.

The 1970s, Digital Style

Ever since Pinterest came on the scene and started gaining traction, this is exactly the direction I thought they should go. I’m surprised they weren’t the pioneers. Why do I say that? Because my parents still have a huge hoard of mail-order catalogs from back when they were the order of the day.

In the 1970s and ’80s, catalogs from the big department stores were in almost every home. The first time I looked at Pinterest, my first thought was “This is the new catalog!”. Considering that the majority of pins there were mom/baby stuff, DIY and crafts, and women’s fashion, it made even more sense. Women and mothers have traditionally been a huge and powerful purchasing block.

Pinterest is set up exactly the same way as the old catalogs, with images front and center and supporting text as a description. But now instead of having to pick up the phone and place an order (how old fashioned is that?) or even following a link to Amazon or the website of the seller, you just hit the buy button and boom, you’re done.

Will the Underdog Win?

Okay, so Pinterest has a buy button, so what? After all, isn’t Pinterest just a step above Google+ in terms of an active user base? Ah, my friend, you don’t follow Pinterest much, do you? Did you know that the network was up almost 50% year over year this past February? Are you unaware that Pinterest drives more referral sales than any other social network besides Facebook, and that data from this year shows that an incredible 93% of users go on the site to plan some of their purchases? Can you believe I just wrote an entire paragraph of questions?

Is everyone you know on Pinterest? (whoops, there I go again) Probably not. But in terms of sales derived from social networks, it’s impossible for companies to ignore the power it holds. That could change in the future of course, as even Instagram looks to be a competitor in the visual-social-network-that-drives-sales space, but for now it’s an overlooked giant.

They aren’t driving away any of the curious but uninitiated, either. For now Pinterest will not take a cut of sales from companies, and buyers won’t pay anything more than they would buying directly from the company’s site. The network is hoping to attract more business from companies with their promoted pins.

Apple First, Of Course

As is so often the case, the Buy It button will show up first on iOS devices in the coming weeks. Not only that, Apple Pay is the first mobile wallet to be integrated. Don’t fret if you’re not an Apple person (*raising my hands and waving*), the Android integration is coming soon as well. It’s also unlikely that services like Google Wallet and Paypal won’t be available pretty quickly, too.

So how does this affect you as a business? Let’s review quickly: no fees from either end, a loyal and dedicated block of users who already use the site in making purchasing decisions, and a growth rate in users that’s very impressive. Do I really need to explain how you can take advantage of this situation?

Oh, by the way, Sendible’s social media management software is fully integrated with Pinterest, and measuring direct sales are about the best indicator of ROI I can possibly imagine. No guesswork or fancy analytics needed to see what kind of impact you’re having there.