How to microblog in high heels

A geek girl's guide to social media and online engagement

Pinterest: Why the new social network is gaining so much interest

Pinterest

'Me boards'

Forget Linsanity, based on how my social media streams and blog readers have been clogged with mentions of Pinterest in the last week, I’m beginning to go a bit pinsane.

I’ve been interested Tumblr’s cooler younger sibling for a while – I signed up back when the branding wasn’t as retro and watched tentatively until US tech blogs began the murmur last Autumn. By the new year , it was all the US social media crowd could talk about and UK users were growing – then more and more mainstream media articles began to appear. I was asked to write a piece on Pinterest for the Guardian on Friday – but on researching the article I received such a wealth of response from self-confessed ‘Pin-addicts’ that I thought it would be good to publish some of these in full here – as some of the comments are incredibly insightful and, well, pinteresting.

Here’s the piece in full – and Cardiff-based photographer Pippa Bennett, who I quoted, has written this blogpost outlining in full how she got on Pinterest, her favourite things about it and the best boards to follow. Here’s an extract:

Its potential for creative professionals is definitely one of the most exciting things about it. All my other sites and networks have to be divided into personal and professional but you dont need that with Pinterest. I just have one account and it benefits my profile as a photographer without having to be aggressive in my promotional approach.

As a photographer I have created boards of my images on there. I tag them as accurately as possible and make sure my website link is on each pin. That then means that they can come up in other people’s streams and searches. It gets my photography recognised and seen without me having to shove it down anyone’s throat. Pinterest is especially perfect for me as I am a wedding photographer and wedding blogging and planning makes up a huge proportion of Pinterest usage.

I can also interact with my potential clients in a totally novel way. If they like what they see of my photos or they see other things I’ve pinned, they can go look at my other boards and see what, beyond my own photographs, I enjoy.

Here’s Mashable’s community coordinator Meghan Peters responding to some of my questions:

When did Mashable get on pinterest and what’s its plan for using it? We started our Pinterest account in early December 2011. We’re using it to build community around our most appealing visuals andresourceful content — everything from photo galleries of well-designed gadgets to how-to guides about Pinterest itself. We post several times a day and also repin other users’ posts. 
Why do you personally think Pinterest is seeing such a huge growth spike? Do you think people thought the social networking market was already saturated?  It’s true: Most new social sites have had trouble taking off because people feel overwhelmed with what seems like endless statuses to update on the numerous networks already out there. The advantage Pinterest has is simple: pictures. Its photo-centric design appeals to even the most casual social media user. The site has mastered the concept of photo aggregation, allowing users to easily navigate the best of the web with visuals.
Do you have any views on he userbase being mostly female & how this compares to other networks? It’s not uncommon for women to be more active on social media than men. According to U.S. media and technology firm OhMyGov, both Facebook and Twitter have a 55 to 45 female/male ratio (http://ohmygov.com/blogs/general_news/archive/2011/10/13/US-Social-Media-Audience-in-2011.aspx). What sets Pinterest apart is its overwhelming success with women. The site’s audience is 68 percent female, according to recent reports. Some of the topics that have taken off there are typically associated with women, including wedding planning and cooking — both of which lend to striking visual content.
What kind of feedback have you had for your activity on pinterest on the mashable account?
Some of our most popular boards are Web Humor and Infographics. We’ve also seen topical posts do well when timed right. For example, we created a Super Bowl Ads board where we posted YouTube video versions of ads as well as articles about them. It really took off the day after the Super Bowl when people were online talking about their favorite ads.
Where do you see Pinterest going in the future? I believe Pinterest is here to stay. The site has quickly struck a chord with a mainstream audience — a difficult feat for a new social network. It’s novel design allows users to experience the web in a way that makes them feel productive and inspired. In addition, there’s plenty of monetization opportunities with brands (retailers in particular) jumping on the band wagon.
Who are your favourite pinners and what are your boards? Whole Foods and Real Simple are doing a fantastic job from a brand perspective. Both their content and approach to Pinterest work exceptionally well for the community there. My favorite board is by a friend of mine from high school who is getting married this summer. Instead of registering for gifts at various department stores, she has created a pin board to house her wish list.

Work, play, Pinterest

A friend of mine from Birmingham, Hannah Gourevitch, who is now working in advertising in Canada had some interesting things to say about how she is using Pinterest in her work – here she explains how she uses it:

I started using Pinterest in oct 2011 when I moved to Toronto – at the start it very much seemed to be a tool for creative industry’s; designers at our agency would create mood boards for concept inspiration, and it was a simple way of seeing the clients vision too.

In the last month or so Pinterest has just exploded! It think its popularity has grown for a number of reasons:

– it works seamlessly with other social media tools, but does not compete in any way

– it is extremely easy to use

– it attracts people who like the idea of a blog, but don’t necessarily have confidence in their technical or creative skills to keep one

But mainly, I think they have tapped into a great insight that goes back to collecting stickers in the playground – people (and girls especially) love to collect things, and in a world where the tangible object is becoming scarce, Pinterest is the greatest scrapbook of all time. It is also quite inspirational- allowing uses to compile items for a lifestyle they wish they had. And lastly, I think that everyone wishes they were creative, and Pinterest fulfils this dream if only in the shallowest of ways – you can’t steal a pin, only share one…

I like Pinterest for all these reasons – its a fab way of keeping all those great sites and references together in one place, and it allows me to pretend I’m a great creative, sourcing inspiration for my next project. It also fuels my obsession of blog spotting, giving me permission to procrastinate….

I do think that Pinterest is here to stay, and in the next few weeks you’ll see more and more brands jumping on the bandwagon- its another way to get your consumers to connect with your brands lifestyle, and then seamlessly share your content for the ultimate recommendation.

And another friend John Crozier, who works in PR, said this:

I think it also offers a really nice opportunity to visualise a brands history. You could have a nostalgia board for say Coca-Cola and then have all the different ads from the past to promote a feeling of nostalgia amongst fans.
You could actually use it as a way of disseminating images exclusively to your Pinterest followers. So if you were at a secret event and wanted to share the images in a new way you could upload them there and then to your Pintrest board.

Home decor, nail art, cupckaes and fashion = women?

And finally, Katie Lee – who co-founded Shiny Media, had some more thoughts on the female/male split.

I think this gender thing is a little bit disingenuous. There would be NO articles about why a social bookmarking site was mainly populated by males…
However, there’s no doubt that the design of the site is geared to be female-friendly, unlike more masculine-looking social curation sites like Digg or Metafilter. The “about” page is also very female-focused (although I’m sure there are plenty of men who quite fancy sharing all the “beautiful things” they find on the web while they “plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes”).
But I would argue that most of the social curation and social bookmarking sites started out as sites created by men for men. I doubt it was a conscious decision for many, of course. But, since so many of them were created to serve particular communities, it often worked out that way.
If the population really is more female than male, it is because Pinterest has been picked up by the craft, design and cookery communities online and because it was in closed Beta for long enough to get a very focused set of communities. But it won’t be long before there are just as many virtual pinboards filled with cars, technology and whatever other stereotypical things men are supposed to be interested in. And if that doesn’t happen, so what? It doesn’t make Pinterest freakish if it attracts the other 50%.
 Thanks to everyone who I spoke to or who sent their ideas and thoughts over to me. Again here’s the article in full and some other good things I’ve read about Pinterest lately:

Oh and follow me on Pinterest here!

Written by hrwaldram

February 27, 2012 at 8:45 pm

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