Monday Author: Susanne Skinner
In the world of social media I am considered behind the curve. Facebook is for family and friends and Linked In covers me professionally. No Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter or Google Plus + for me; I am content to manage the two I have and keep my social media universe small. Hello Pinterest.
I knew it was out there. It held no allure and I wasn’t curious enough to explore it. Then my sister-in-law showed me photos from a wedding reception. When I commented on the stunning table centerpieces she responded with “Pinterest.” The blank look on my face gave me away; within in seconds my eyes were opened and my education/fascination/obsession began.
Pinterest is like window shopping. Limitless and visual; detailed descriptions of anything and everything are a click and pin away. It didn’t take long to make a believer out of me. Food, crafts, fashion, DIY, travel, books…if you can put a name to it, Pinterest has it. It wasn’t long before it pulled me in.
The best description of this on line bulletin board has been called visual-scrapbooking which is fairly accurate, except you’re curating and storing other peoples content instead of your own. It’s an on line cork board inviting the creation of a limitless portfolio of things that interest you. They can be as public or private as you like; it’s low maintenance and non-invasive…and it’s dangerously addictive.
Just Pin It
Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social networks, coming in at number three behind Facebook and Twitter. Pin It has taken its rightful place alongside like and tweet in the lexicon of social media. Launched in March of 2010 it was immediately named one of the “50 Best Websites of 2011″ by Time Magazine. In the following two years it grew 4377%, in unique visitors and search engine clicks. The average user spends about 2 hours a month on the site which averages 5 million daily pins. Not too shabby.
The Pinterest community is a large part of the draw. With 70 million users, 80% of them women, you can browse and search a vast network of topics and create a ‘vision board’ with pictures that inspire you. I am one of them – I have joined The Rapture.
It was like stepping into a pair of comfortable slippers. I sat down with my iPad to see what all the hype was about and immediately discovered an easy way to find and track ideas and inspiration that I didn’t want to forget. By ‘pinning’ them to the bulletin boards I created for recipes, crafts and books (just to name a few) they were filed and a click away from retrieval. I found a way to virtually categorize and store all those wonderful projects, complete with detailed instructions, that I just know I am going to do someday soon. Very soon. Really.
What Else Does it Do?
Pinterest is about more than clothing, crafts, weddings and food. With my marketing background I can see the open-ended potential for business on this network. Brands are using it to generate revenue and gain customer loyalty through Promoted Pins, a paid advertising service for large businesses. Recently the site also began promoting a new product for small businesses that works on a cost-per-click-basis.
Creative applications are available to promote Pins and drive traffic to their sites. Organizations including schools, universities and nonprofits are putting it to use as a communications and marketing tool with great success. Sites are widely diversified, showcasing causes that include fundraisers, capturing criminals, job searches, war zone reporting and lost pets.
Before you smirk, consider this. When Tornadoes hit Oklahoma in May of 2013, 13,000 homes were destroyed and 33,000 people displaced. In the aftermath Pinterest sites were created for those affected to post images of their lost pets, or pictures of pets that had been found. Pinterest created accounts called “Tornado Cats” and “Tornado Dogs” which separated the pets by breed and color, making it easy to share pictures and reunite owners. If you are a pet owner, you get this. Now imagine being a pet owner in a tornado.
Warning: You Are Not What you Pin
Our boards tell a visual story of what is important to us. They create a visual panorama of what we aspire to, what makes us laugh, our passions and dreams, activities we enjoy, places we want to travel, and what inspires us. It is limited only by our imagination. They say something about who we are, or who we would like to become.
The risky part is allowing images you pin to define you. You cannot become what you pin. There will never be enough time, money, enthusiasm or patience for all of the things you find and save. A Pinterest image does not have the ability to create the lifestyle it represents. Unrealistic expectations convince us that what we pinned will make us happier, healthier, thinner, prettier, greener, more successful and unimaginably content. It’s the Pinterest Trap.
Let’s just take Pinterest for what it is— a virtual magazine that entertains us and enables us to organize and store concepts for future reference and inspiration. Some users, like me, have found a place to track and store things we don’t want to forget. Some of them I might actually do, some of them I will do only in my mind.
Pinterest is a place where you can find exactly what you’re looking for; even when you didn’t know you were looking for it.
I am afraid of Pinterest. I created an account and looked around but quickly became overwhelmed. Also, I realized I could spend all day wandering in the halls of Pinterest without accomplishing anything. I have way too much to do every day to risk that allure so I haven’t been back. Maybe I’m wrong, though.