Ok, if you read as many articles as I do (or at least see as many headlines) you’ve surely noticed Pinterest fever among bloggers lately. What’s Pinterest you say? Well, it’s a simple Social Media platform called a Pin Board that lets you share your user generated content in a way that is markedly more visual than Facebook or Google+. It’s also a runaway train, reaching the 10 million member mark a few weeks ago after an explosion of publicity in early 2012.
If you think you’re reporting news or breaking a big story to your readers by directing them toward Pinterest, sadly you aren’t. I have been directing friends and clients in feminine businesses to get into Pinterest since last fall, and most other tech savvy consultants have been doing so as well. For example my friend Jason Ramsey runs an online wig store, and given the target demographic (then and now) I felt that Pinterest would be a good place to target consumers for him. He even mentioned it in a LinkedIn recommendation he did for me.
I wasn’t the one who realized Pinterest was going to be big; I heard it from someone else. I wasn’t the only one who knew, several friends (Kevin Henney being one, go follow him on Twitter right now if you don’t do so yet. I bet he’ll have a line on the next big network before it goes viral next time as well. He also has a very high level of quality in his Twitter shares.) had come to the same conclusions as me independently. Other jewelers, makeup salesman, and photographers jumped on the bandwagon too. I would actually be ashamed to write about Pinterest being the next great Social Network in January 2012; it’s already here, and you’re about 4 months too late to get the benefit of early adoption. Even I was probably late to the reception, but if you’re breaking the news as Pinterest being the next big thing in February 2012, you’re saying that the couple with kids in college just got married.
Some people are starting to get a handle on it. I would say that the most important thing to do starting out is get in on the ground floor, produce high quality content and lots of it. You can’t build one of the massive followings that make these virgin networks pay off if you don’t go viral. If you’re just starting on Pinterest, it’s probably too late (I’ve gotten 200 followers on my blank Pin board because my Facebook friends automatically added me when they set up their account. 120 of those people will never follow anyone again). The only marketing advice I’m hearing however is things like “You can link pictures back to your blog”. You’d think people had never seen a hyperlink before.
Even without diving deep into the Pinterest pool, I can give you a few things to think about. They may or may not help your Pinterest campaign, but for those who put thought into social media, you’ll find this list extremely helpful.
Facebook made Pinterest
Even though Pinterest was a burgeoning social platform several months ago, no one was calling it the new Twitter. So what had made Pinterest explode in popularity so abruptly? If you haven’t noticed, Pinterest is now integrated with Facebook. You can get invites through Facebook, you can sign up through Facebook, and you can import an invite list from your Facebook friends. Without this connection, Pinterest wouldn’t be nearly as viral as it is today. Being part of the Facebook stable of premiere applications gives a level of trust and community that a startup social network wouldn’t otherwise have. Let’s not confuse the success of Pinterest with the popularity of Facebook. It’s really not fair to Zuckerberg to give them ALL of the credit.
Don’t Discount the Demographic
I mentioned earlier that I recommended everyone with a female target end user to pick up a Pinterest account. Something like 84 percent of active Pinterest users are female, so there really is nothing genius there. However, I am not naïve or stupid enough to discount the value for other products in this arena. In the last 50 years advertisers routinely keep the fairer sex in mind when pitching everything from men’s deodorant and jockstraps to my little pony and Nerf guns. I know what you’re thinking; what would a woman do with a Nerf gun and a jock strap? Nothing, but they are just as likely as a man to buy them.
Women still do most of the shopping in America, and it is a power not lost on people who are truly hip to advertising. If your ads do something to turn Mrs. Butterworth off, you better believe that Mr. Butterworth will not be eating your pancakes. On the other hand, you can keep the Pillsbury Dough boy in Hanes knit t-shirts if you come across as appealing to the Pillsbury Dough girl in your marketing campaign.
It’s a Visual Campaign
Why do chefs and photographers do so well on Instagram? Because their products are insanely visual, and easy on the eyes. Certain niches are made for photo sharing, and it’s almost mandatory for networkers in those areas to explore networks that allow them to shine. You only get one shot to make an impression with a photo, so stage everything as perfectly as possible. The first thing I noticed about Pinterest is that the most popular boards look like a home decorating magazine. These women are creative and have an eye for color. You know what the good thing about this setup is though? Only one person has to re-pin a picture to make it go viral. Odds are that person only re-pins photos that are as attractive as the other top photos.
Learn some photography techniques and ways to get the most out of available light. If you have the opportunity to set a scene, take it. If you’re working candidly, research other photographers who get good results. Like everything worth doing, Pinterest is only worth doing well. Believe me when I say that taking a one hour photography class is worth 100x more than reading 6 articles about how great Pinterest is and how many users it has lured in the last two months.
A lot of people will never use it
We can all agree that Facebook and Twitter are great investments for business. The reach is global, massive, targeted and free. Even though Pinterest is the hottest thing since touch screen smart phones, yours truly will likely never be heavily involved with it. The number of men who share that opinion is higher than you might think. Women say that we don’t understand the concept, or that it just isn’t for us, but I’ll let you in on a secret: we don’t like the crowd it draws. Don’t get me wrong, I love women. What I don’t like is the pushy stay at home soccer mom who argues on the Internet for 4 hours every day. When I lived in Michigan, a poll showed that soccer moms were more hated than burglars, auditors, traffic cops, lawyers, and even telemarketers. When I started writing for Yahoo!, I tried to help out new writers and people with less experience in technology matters on their forums (They even commended me for trying when I was awarded the Rising Star Award), but the nastiness of the middle aged ‘momprenuers’ who either thought that I was moving in on their roles, or have some sort of inferiority complex they can’t overcome made sure that I didn’t hang around long (that community will never grow because of it).
I like everyone I meet online with very few exceptions, and I am proud to say that in my online circles people are welcoming, nice, and help each other. There is more than enough business for people who want to work, and it has never made me feel better about myself putting down others. I do however avoid a certain sect of women that give all liberal mothers a bad name.
I know so many great mothers that run businesses online and do so without stepping on other people’s toes that it makes me especially dislike the ones who are basically trolls. I know that Pinterest has had a good reputation so far, but I’ve also heard some horror stories. It is this group that can keep Pinterest from truly going mainstream. The reason I believe this is because the female freelancers I know who are happy, well-adjusted and not intimidated by new talent aren’t currently using Pinterest heavily. I hope you remember to treat every person as an individual, and not stereotype. There’s no person in the world nicer than a good mother, and that’s why I feel so sorry for the children of a woman who feels the need to watch others like a hawk on forums, and never chimes in until they get a chance to try and discredit someone. That personality is toxic in any environment.
Let’s sum up today’s lesson:
- Facebook affiliation = Good Thing
- Women make a lot of purchasing decisions. Pinterest may be the best place to sell men’s hair gel.
- Pinterest is run on captivating visuals. Improved photography = improved Pinterest Campaign.
- Pinterest has kept the community stable because the topics haven’t trended into territory that brings out the pretentious conceited assholes that are lurking in their midst. It’s a ticking time bomb, but as long as Pinterest doesn’t tackle certain subjects, they may slay that dragon.
Bloggers who Blogged about Pinterest in the Last 2 weeks
I’ve given you a few things to consider, but I want you to know that you made the right move. Even if you didn’t know about Pinterest before three weeks ago, or you’ve known for some time but never wrote about it, last week was a great time to chime in. Pinterest is the hot topic, and you couldn’t be more relevant. Tips on how to network there, lists of the top users, features that are important but hardly ever used, all these are things that make a good blog post today, and good search engine fodder a year from now. I may have spent the last 1600 words (a long winded post, even by my standards) ragging on it, but it’s the right idea. I sincerely hope you got to this part before you raged all over the comments .
You spent your time well if you wrote about Pinterest last week, and even though I didn’t read your post (remember -not because I am prejudice against Pinterest or because I don’t see potential for business, but because I don’t care lol) doesn’t mean that average people didn’t read it either. With all the usual suspects in blogging though, some facts get overlooked, and I felt like the best way to spend my blogging hour this week was to address the ignored, and let everyone else worry about the obvious. What do you think about Pinterest? Do you have ideas about a Pinterest marketing campaign that includes more than “linking your blog through pictures”? If so….. I have a job for you haha!