The Inevitable Pinterest Post

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Sigh. If you are a social media pundit, you had better be posting about Pinterest these days or as Ike says, you’ll have your expert card pulled (the horror). So here it is, my inevitable Pinterest post.

What Pinterest has done right is significantly change the way we interface with social media. By making posts picture-centric, we see ideas and concepts rather than have to read about them. In a mobile, portable media world dominated by tactile input methods (touch screens), this is an undeniable future.

This movement towards visualizing information is also typified by Instagram and Tumblr. You can point to the popularity of Facebook pics, Facebook’s new timeline interface, and Twitpics as further evidence. Finally the infographic movement towards visualizing data as opposed to blogging or writing about a topic is yet another bellwether towards pics instead of words.

Pinterest has value. In particular, for my client Razoo, which has a very strong female customer base. Of that I am sure, and so I participate on it because its my job to understand its strengths, good and bad.

BUT…

Pinterest is so painful to participate on. It’s hard watching the stream of puppies dancing in the grass, wedding gear, and yes, shoes. Really, it is.

DOLPHIN

I am sorry, I’m a man. It’s true [in spite of this horrible dolphin kissing me photo]. I really don’t belong on Pinterest. And I don’t believe in painting metaphorical unicorns to fit in.

That does not mean I should play on Gentlemint. What a pathetic copycat experience that is. Next thing you know, we’ll have a Daddy blogger revival. BlogHim! Thanks, but no thanks, fellas. I’ll keep my testosterone networking for the gym and ESPN.

Beyond personal suffering, Pinterest has a lot of questions that need to be resolved, too. For example…

  • How will monetization via affiliate marketing impact content quality?
  • Does Pinterest actually produce ROI for participating brands? Is that ROI primarily consumer and young, and female oriented or it will it become horizontal?
  • Does it have staying power or is this the shiny object of the winter?

Regardless of Pinterest’s long-term success, it’s clear the visualization revolution is upon us. Every online marketing team needs to look at how to make content more visual. Also the movement raises some issues: Is the visual movement hurting information retention, education, and general discourse?

On a personal level, am I the only one struggling with Pinterest? What’s your take?

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  • Dlmaue

    I’m with you. I don’t get it. I understand its appeal for people who are really into design (which I’m not), but I don’t get the appeal for everyone else. I know that you can create a board for virtually any interest, but why would you want to? I’m really into cooking, and it’s great to see the photos of food, but I need the recipe. And getting to it is cumbersome. I’ve been wrong before, but I predict that it’s a fad. People will quickly lose interest when the novelty wears off.

    • http://twitter.com/geoffliving Geoff Livingston

      I think you are right, at least for a good portion of the wave.  But, hype is high and the media re picking up on it. It may go. Who knows?  It will just go without me…

  • Anonymous

    “What Pinterest has done right is significantly changed the way we interface with social media. By making posts picture centric, we see ideas and concepts rather than have to read about them.”

    I think we give Pinterest too much credit because it’s the flavor of the month right now. As you rightfully point out, Instagram and Tumblr (as well as apps like Flipboard, Pulse, and Google Currents) were doing this before Pinterest came along. Pinterest hasn’t revolutionized social media or web design, it’s just one of many sites/initiatives moving toward more visual components.

    • http://twitter.com/geoffliving Geoff Livingston

      Great point on Flipboard.  I think it is really the first example of this…

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  • http://www.adamsrosenberg.com/ Adam

    Pinterest is fantastic for me to know what my girlfriend wants me to buy her. Otherwise, I use it as a “Read Later” clone.

    • http://twitter.com/geoffliving Geoff Livingston

       LOL, yet another bookmarking service!

  • http://www.theharteofmarketing.com bethharte

    The problem with all of these so-called social media expert posts on Pinterest is that none of them actually understand how the Average Jane or Joe uses a pin board (either off- or on-line). One only needs to look at the “Everything” section of Pinterest to get a sense of what’s being pinned. Shoes (a ton), fashion, health & beauty, vacation spots, recipes, etc. If they were, they’d understand why their posts are so off-base. 

    Pinterest is a simple concept. It’s a digital version of pin boards that have been around forever. Why do people use pin boards? Do they use them to sell stuff or monetize stuff? Are they social? No, of course not. Why? Because they are hanging in someone’s office or kitchen or laundry room. They are use to tack up reminders, mementos, wishful ideas, recipes, photos, etc. The only difference is that Pinterest gives someone a way to share their pins and pin boards. 

    The biggest thing I have ever had re-pinned was a photo of cable knit socks at 381 repins! SOCKS! Women love socks… (http://pinterest.com/pin/204773114276831688/) Here’s the thing, the photo was from Fleabags. Do you really think the folks at Pinterest are going to scramble to set up an affiliate partnership (if even available) with Fleabags because a photo of something they don’t even sell got re-pinned a ton? Doubtful. 

    Does Pinterest need to make money? Of course. How else will they pay for all of their servers and bound-to-happen copyright lawsuits?! 

    The conclusion I have come to is this… Either Pinterest is a non-sustainable, non-realistic business model or they totally get people who use pin boards and they’ll settle for a nominal income off of affiliate links. My bet is on the former. 

    While I love Pinterest, it is for visual hoarders. Not sure how that’s a sustainable business model. 

    If you made it this far… I’ll pin some of your Flickr shots to give you some traffic. Heh. ;-)

    • http://twitter.com/geoffliving Geoff Livingston

      LOL.  I love Instagram, do I get points for that?

      Really good assessment of the actual content in Pinterest.  My posts that get real traction are books, and things like that. Not much else. It’s really a consumer pin board as you said.

      • http://www.theharteofmarketing.com bethharte

        Like Liz said… I wish people would let it evolve. But more importantly, I wish they would stop turning everything “social media” into something to be blogged, slogged and hogged (I dunno, they rhymed). 

        Personally, I think it shows the real decline in social media that people are jumping on the next thing since sliced bread and trying to force fit it into some social media model they can make money off of. 

        I bought two things from Etsy because I saw them posted by someone else (non-Etsy sellers) on Pinterest. I have never bought anything from Etsy before then. That’s a natural evolution… And I don’t care if Pinterest swapped the links and got $1. 

        Yes, you get points for Instagram. Nerd. ;-)

    • http://twitter.com/skypulsemedia Howie at Sky Pulse Media

      Beth I will make a blanket statement here most Social Media Experts have no idea how Joe and Jane use social media. Most Advertising Experts have no idea about how Joe and Jane consume and act on Advertising.

      I ask Joe and Jane questions so often and get different answers than what the experts sell to brands to make money I feel like I work in a dirty industry. Porn is more honest I think.

      • http://www.theharteofmarketing.com bethharte

        Ha! I can’t disagree with your point. Nothing can really be taken at face value, can it? Darn people! They make our jobs so difficult with their emotions and politics and trends… ;-) 

  • Dan

    Copyright issues are no joke, either.

    • http://twitter.com/geoffliving Geoff Livingston

      Oh no, SOPA!

  • http://twitter.com/lizscherer Liz Scherer

    I wish that everyone would stop trying to conquer Pinterest and just allow it to evolve. It’s appropriate for some businesses (Tonia Ries had a great piece yesterday on how a pediatric staff recruiting biz is using it) and inappropriate for others. As early adaptors for Cabot, we created a fan board and saw a surge in web traffic. What I like about it personally is that it’s visual and a nice place to play in. I don’t want to see endless infographics or social media pimpsters. I want to  dream about places to travel, discover new recipes and get inspiration for design. It’s not nasty, contentious or competitive. At least it hasn’t been until now. Maybe that’s what is so appealing to so many women. In any case, to be honest, I have been really turned off by what I’m seeing as it becomes diluted by ego and power snatchers. 

    • http://twitter.com/geoffliving Geoff Livingston

      The experts strike again!  Kill the network, kill the network!

  • http://jameshavingfun.com/ James Young

    I think Pinterest has the potential to be a very different kind of online marketing, by creating narratives about the products instead of simply have a catalog of images with dimensions, etc. Customers can actually create storyboards of how they use the products in real life. That’s hard to do in other places.

    • http://twitter.com/geoffliving Geoff Livingston

      An interesting possibility, though I am not sure why people would voluntarily discuss how they use products in real life. Again, why would people engage in marketing for a brand without incentive? What I can see is that people pin what they want, or desire, so it turns into a big massive wishlist. 

      • http://jameshavingfun.com/ James Young

        Yep, people pin what they want, but they also pin what they have and love. For brands to make it work, they have to be looking for people using their products, probably in combination with other products, and make a connection there.

        Of course, incentive for the best pictorial emphasizing how product XYZ makes life more ABC would be easy enough for brands to provide. The thing is, people are already making those pictorials in a slightly less organized way.

  • http://twitter.com/maddiegrant Maddie Grant

    Just wondering if you have tried it as a photographer.  Have you pinned your own photographs?  Followed other photogs?

    http://farbspiel-photo.com/connect/pinterest-photographers 

    one I like – (not a photog, I don’t think) – http://pinterest.com/sumlisa36/photography/

    You may already be doing this, but you need to use social sites as a real user before you can ever hope to use it as a marketer.

    • http://twitter.com/geoffliving Geoff Livingston

      Yes, I use it as a user and not a marketer, and I have posted as a photographer.  From a  photog standpoint, I find that Instagram and Flickr are both stronger.

  • http://www.pamelagrow.com/ Pamela Grow

    I’ve dabbled a bit in Pinterest.  It is definitely Chick Social Media Lite.  What I have found rather interesting is finding friends and family members with no other social media involvement whatsoever (Wow!  I didn’t know cousin Lynnette had a COMPUTER!) pinning like mad!  Recipes, home stuff, yes, shoes.  

    • http://twitter.com/geoffliving Geoff Livingston

      Even my wife, the technophobe, has heard of Pinterest. It has a unique appeal, and maybe social media light is what was needed.

      • http://www.pamelagrow.com/ Pamela Grow

        Your wife is a technophobe?  I don’t believe it!

  • http://briancarteryeah.com/ briancarter

    To me, this is part of a bigger movement that started with Digg, StumbleUpon tried to do it but their platform was weird, and it runs through Facebook- one where content is primary, not conversation. Conversation can happen around content, but content comes first. Twitter is primarily conversation, and the content is never as sexy as it is on Facebook where you can see it better.

    Content marketing, IMO has much bigger potential than conversational social media. And that’s going to be the big shift in social media marketing in 2012. We see it in B2B with whitepapers, webinars, etc.  And pinterest the phenom is telling us people prefer spreading (repinning) content to talking about it. 

    I wrote some more stuff about it here: http://briancarteryeah.com/blog/pinterest/10-reasons-pinterest-is-more-important-than-google-plus/

    • http://twitter.com/geoffliving Geoff Livingston

      Interesting insights, Brian.  Thanks for sharing them. I wonder if it is whether people are interested in sharing content, or pics.  Or pics of content and products. 

  • http://GettingAttention.org Nancy Schwartz

    Believe it or not, Geoff, I don’t think it’s a gender issue as I just read a study (I’ll dig it out) that men are the biggest users in the U.K. Maybe it’s related to tea drinking culture?

    Anyway, I think the greatest value we can get from Pinterest is recognizing the emergence of the visual revolution you refer to. That’s what’s striking, and shapes the effective response communications wise.

    • http://twitter.com/geoffliving Geoff Livingston

      Hmm, you may be right, but based on what I am seeing, wow!  Seems to be highly female oriented (and young, too).

  • http://www.womenwhotech.com WomenWhoTech

    Pineterest is being run over by infographics mania. I love instagram and still find the community incredibly creative.

    • http://twitter.com/geoffliving Geoff Livingston

      Instagram is a superior product, IMO!  Love it.  So much better, and a simpler content purpose has a lot to do with it.

  • http://dempseymarketing.com/journal/media/ Robert Dempsey

    I like to check out the boards and see what people have pinned. I’ve pinned a few things. However when I see an image I don’t think to pin it.

    And it’s yet another social media site that marketers are rushing onto due to demographics (as you mentioned) and the inevitable SEO and what have you.

    I’ll stick to the big 4 and building products.

  • http://www.b2bbloggers.com Jeremy Victor

    My take is that Pinterest will be acquired by FB or Google. From their perspective (FB and Google), it is time being spent by their users on another network. 

    I spent just a few minutes last night on it for the first time, using my wife’s account. I was able to find some quick healthy recipes and fitness tips that I wouldn’t have otherwise ever come across. I liked it from that perspective. I have to get an account and really use it for awhile before making any other judgements though.

    It will be interesting to see what happens this summer. When the days are longer, will people still be sitting on their couches pinning?

    • http://twitter.com/geoffliving Geoff Livingston

      Lots of rumors on the Google front. We’ll see what happens.  I agree, it has lots of homey stuff on there.  Good entertainment is surfacing with more dudes online, too.

  • http://twitter.com/jonmikelbailey Jon-Mikel Bailey

    I am taking the same approach that I take with other social media, I separate things into categories… 1. useful shit (or shit that I found useful and thought I would share) 2. interesting shit 3. My shit and 4. Personal shit. Any way you look at it, these channels become bloated with tons of crap that is completely meaningless to the world at large. So, I think the rule of thumb is, if you find value, use it and try to provide value to others.

    • http://twitter.com/geoffliving Geoff Livingston

      Well shit, god damn! LOL.  

  • http://richardrbecker.com/ Rich Becker

    I agree with much of what you have to say Geoff. I kind of like Pinterest, but not as much as some other places. 

    However, I don’t pin communication stuff there in some mad grab to become an social media expert (cough), unless it ties in with something else that fits the site (e.g. space, education, art, etc). What it does do is give me a place to focus more on my non-communciation projects. I also use it for spotting things for potential review because of the art focus. 

    I am concerned that it won’t be as useful if it becomes a sales outpost for the affiliate marketer with no standards. But people don’t have to be an affiliate marketer to post a lot of unrelated junk. Non-affiliate marketers are pretty good about filling the world with useless stuff and are more inclined to one day add some stupid influence measure to it (which will cause me to punch my own head).I can’t bring myself to join Gentlemint. I have thought about joining to see how horrible it really is. But it is pretty low priority.

    Best,
    Rich

    • http://twitter.com/geoffliving Geoff Livingston

      I find a lot of social media has junk everywhere. This is the downside of being in the biz, my friend.  We cannot simply migrate to our tastes, instead having to take a professional interest!

      • http://richardrbecker.com/ Rich Becker

        Yeah, I knew I was doing something wrong! :)

  • http://twitter.com/skypulsemedia Howie at Sky Pulse Media

    I have mixed views on this Geoff. The one brand I champion online, know personally and wish they were a client Chobani has been having success using Pinterest. BUT what is success? If you get 500 fans to engage that is success. But if you sell 1 million cups of yogurt a day should you be focusing on 500 or 1000 or even 5000 people?

    I get the curation thing. But curation sucks on all platforms. Why? We slowly accumulate and smother everything. Diaspora who keeps being sadly late on all they do has a non-social curation App where you can right click any image and save it.

    Google Plus if you click on the photos from your circles has a really nice layout. But to your point while we might be migrating to using this technology what kind of impact will it really have on brands (i expect minimal) and on us personally (probably somewhat of a data curation improvement).

    BTW trying to get a law passed outlawing inforgraphics that have any false data giving 5 years for anyone who creates or distributes them. It is the SOPA of Infographics and winding it’s way through congress right now 8)

    • http://twitter.com/geoffliving Geoff Livingston

      See it makes sense to me that Chobani would have success given who is on Pinterest. Same for Razoo (or why Razoo should be a part of this community).

      But, I think the point is audience.  And naturally, I am not the audience. I would argue neither are you. And all of the SM wiz bang BS on the topic misses the point of the stakeholder. As in be where they are.  That’s my big, big issue with Pinterest hype.

      • http://twitter.com/skypulsemedia Howie at Sky Pulse Media

         One thing we always go back and forth via email with the reality folks is many people and even agencies big and small champion these new networks as a source of income promoting and speaking and writing about. By the time it fails to provide ROI or anything valuable they are on to the next one and everyone has forgotten the failure.

        Not saying Pinterest doesn’t have value for brands to reach certain demographics but reading blogs and the news it sounds like it is for everyone.

        I saw an Infographic showing time spent on social media and Facebook had the lions share some 55bil minutes a month total. Reality was that came out to only 11mins a day per user. Kind of shows how little we actually use Social vs say TV everyday. But tell someone 55bil minutes a month (WOW!) vs 11 mins a day (Yawn) works wonders as a call to action.

  • http://ItsDifferent4girls.com Linda Sherman

    My pin of your pinterest article: http://pinterest.com/pin/78320480989707565/

  • http://ItsDifferent4girls.com Linda Sherman

    There is a mistaken understanding running through this comment thread about when Pinterest started. Techies just heard about it in October 2011 (that’s when Mashable published their “Meet Pinterest”) but it has been much longer than that. Pinterest launched in March 2010. http://lindasherman.tumblr.com/post/16849074038/when-did-pinterest-get-started

    • http://twitter.com/geoffliving Geoff Livingston

      I can see you are a true Pinterest community member.  Thanks for coming by and shedding some light on this, Linda!

  • http://occamsrazr.com Ike Pigott

    Heh.

  • http://occamsrazr.com Ike Pigott

    Heh.

    • http://twitter.com/geoffliving Geoff Livingston

       Guru!

  • http://www.facebook.com/rachaeljanebutts Rachael J Butts

    I am a girl, and I love the puppies in the grass and the wedding dress, but I STILL struggle to catch onto it. Isn’t it enough I have to stay on top of twitter, fb, AND Google plus…whew, I’m worn out just thinking about it!

  • http://thesistown.com/ thesis

    The good enough article

  • Pingback: What’s the ROI of Pinterest? | Geoff Livingston's Blog

  • http://www.central-e-commerce.com/?s=Pinterest Michelle

    Mixed emotions here Geoff. But i guess that’s bacuse you have to see it from a business and personal capacity. I agree that Pinterest is mostly fun and roses, but I also agree that at the rate of it’s success, it could bring alot of clients for businesses. Especially females. Just look at the success women’s magazines are having on Pinterest.

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