If you’re just now hearing about the latest social media craze, chances are you are in the intended second wave. It seems to have been unleashed first to the Mommyblogs and is just now filtering out into the other streams of social interaction.
It’s called Pinterest and it is the simplest yet most entertaining idea to hit social media in awhile. By combining the concepts of Vision Boards and Idea Files, Pinterest lets the user track useful, fun or interesting ideas from around the web. Stumble across a recipe while surfing? Just add it to your Recipes pinboard. It’s there to remind you later when you want to know what to make for dinner, but the genius of it is that everyone who follows you on Pinterest can also see it and make it for their dinner if it sounds good.
In other words, the Internet now has customers performing Affinity Diagrams for FUN. More on that in a minute.
When I first came to Pinterest a few weeks ago the best description for it was Stepford Home Ec. Most of the ideas that had been pinned were frilly, fussy, fancy things that almost every woman dreams of doing, few actually implement and the rest feel guilty about. You know what I mean–taking an old shutter from an antique mall, painting it with stencils and using it to sort your mail. The types of things which look great in a magazine but just don’t ever get done what with all the laundry and carpooling and working 50 hours a week to stay ahead of the forever recession. Now, however, Pinterest is moving beyond its initial niches and the boards are multiplying, turning corners and painting more and more interesting pictures of what captures the eye of these tech-savvy generations. My initial skepticism has been thawing, and I’m finding more and more ways in which I can express myself and my style with Pinterest. I’m also finding more and more ways I can learn from my friends to expand my horizons.
Pinterest is a COMMUNITY.
At this point, with the rapid growth and initial success, the usual suspects are already wondering how Pinterest can be monetized. Because nothing is just for fun, and the Pinterest people have to pay their bills like the rest of us. In his #pinchat last night on Twitter, Social Media Consultant Dave Delaney asked the question I’ve been dreading for two weeks now.
“I’m curious how you feel about brands using @pinterest. Are they welcomed or are they out of place?”
And that’s the crux of it. What can a brand do with Pinterest?
The temptation (and the probable advice from the usual social media gurus) is to turn Pinterest into another ad space and to let the weeds of pitchmen choke out the organic information. “Make sure your brand has a presence!” is the usual rallying cry, and I fear the day that we start seeing pinbombs when companies encourage users to “repin this for 15% off in our online marketplace!”
Brands who do that are stupid. Because they have at their disposal a no-cost, customer-driven, 100% open marketing research database at their fingertips. Customers are taking their own time to sort through the mountains of noise to tell anyone who will listen what they like, what they want and what they dream about. If you can get your brand on Pinterest the best thing you can do is listen to the conversation instead of trying to dominate it.
Let your customers tell you what they want to buy instead of just screaming at them to buy from you. The Internet has just handed you a brilliant piece of market research and if you corrupt that pool you have just scrambled the golden egg and kicked the goose in the ass.
*If you end up on Pinterest, feel free to follow me. I post pictures of Hot Abe Lincoln and other goodies I find along the way.