I have until now tried to keep a lid on my addiction to social networking craze Pinterest. I mentioned it once back in December but have restrained myself since then. As time goes on, however, and I wile away more and more hours on the thing, it gets harder to stop myself from gabbling on about it. I was lucky enough this week to chat to Guarduan journalist Hannah Waldram about how Pinterest is great fun socially but also a significantly powerful professional tool too. Not just for brand building, but for offering a new way for clients to interact with you and your business – especially important for smaller creative businesses like mine.
Hannah’s article, ‘Pinterest piqued in UK for ‘creative, pretty and completist’ social network’ can be read in full here, or see it on page 8 of today’s Guardian newspaper!
Here is my full rundown on the pull of Pinterest:
I started using Pinterest about 6 months ago and was hooked instantly. I kept getting links to it when doing google image searches and it just looked so intriguing. Sadly I didn’t know anyone who was a member so I had to go on a waiting list before I could start my pinning but it was well worth the wait
What makes it different to other social networks is that it’s completely personalised. Like Twitter, you can control the level of interaction you have with fellow pinners. Boards can be private and you can just use them as personal virtual scrap books, or you can go for the full pinning experience and swap ideas, images, recipes by following other pinners and also browsing the immense collaborative streams of pins that are all categorised. Another aspect I feel is responsible for its speedy expansion is that it’s a medium and form of presentation so familiar to all creative types. It combines the visual ease and impact of mood and storyboards that all designers use in their jobs. Yet it combines this with the casual scrapbooking mentality. You never need to bookmark or rip anything out of a magazine, you just pin it and it’s there, nicely categorised for you to revisit whenever you want. It combines some of the most popular creative blogging tools – frequently the most popular or ‘repinned’ pins come from Tumblr blogs, Polyvore sites, and other easy to use, immediate and very visual blogging sources. You can use it if you are planning an event or your wedding (a very common use!) by browsing recipes, ideas for decorations, fashion… just about everything is covered.
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. what my artistic or aesthetic preferences are that perhaps show more of what I could do for them than my photos can do alone without them having to wade through lengthy mission statements and descriptions of ‘my art’.
Another photographer, Kerry Mitchell recently wrote a guest blog post for Rock and Roll Bride describing how she used Pinterest to design and perfect the aesthetic she wanted to develop for her website and ‘brand’. This really typifies how Pinterest can be used for so many purposes beyond simply social networking. Read her account here
As for the gender divide, I truly dont believe it is to do with the format or nature of Pinterest in itself. I think it has more to do with how it has evolved and been used in its early days: weddings, recipes and interior design are still very much subjects that women are going to be more interested in than men – especially casual internet browsers. I know from my pool of contacts and friends that steadily more and more men (well, actually men and women in general) have been signing up and getting excited about it. I think it just took a while for the content to be more relevant to the majority of male users – and also general female users not interested purely in these very narrow subject areas – rather than anything to do with the format of the site itself. i dont think there’s anything inherently female about moodboards and men definitely don’t shy away from Tumblr (which is in a way Pinterest’s closest relative) and so i think it definitely comes down to content. I know some of my male friends have had accounts for a while but didn’t really do much with them as there weren’t that many things happening on there that interested them. It’s a domino effect. Once more people are committed to Pinning the content becomes less gender specific and more general I think and so there is more to appeal to both genders which will obviously increase male usage.
I find it really exciting how each week it is being used in different ways. there is a lot on the internet about using it for branding and how companies want to learn to use it for marketing, which is brilliant, but less about how it is a collaborative tool on a smaller scale. it’s not just for personal projects, but shared ones too. As a photographer I have private boards that only I and clients can see that I use as moodboards with them for ideas for shoots. A recent example of this would be for an album cover shoot. Both I and the client would ‘pin’ images we felt were fitting to the brief the client had developed for the album cover and we could discuss them, add to them, say what we didnt like about them. I think it would be fascinating to know how else the private board system is used as well as analysing the public pinners.
*Nic Adler (Californian style from prolific Pinner)
*Mark Zuckerbergjust has a board iphone homescreens which is truly bizarre. Seeing his account offers a unique glance into the mind of possibly the richest man ever – a plain weird pinterest pinner
*Apartment Therapy (fantastic interior ideas)
*Somewhere great to start for finding Pinners to follow is this self explanatory website: pinnerstofollow.com