I like to think that I’m an early adopter when it comes to innovation and technology in my field of communications. So it’s a hard pill to swallow that I’m THAT PERSON — the one who spent the last 10 months turning up her nose to the latest social media darling, Pinterest.
Introduced to me early on by different people as a site for sharing “hairstyle ideas” “arts and crafts” and “recipes,” I had myself convinced that it was not my scene before I ever used the tool. Months later, I broke down and created an account, only to have my prior belief reinforced. Why should I “pin” photos from outside websites to illustrate “My Style” to people I don’t know — or for that matter, to people I do know. After all, if they KNOW me they pretty much get my style; I wear it on my sleeve.
But, I AM a professional, so I persevered. I spent a weekend playing with the platform — replacing some of the template “boards” with my own topics:music, art, books, Flyers (!!!), movies, words, and yes, even “My Style” in a homage to vegan Doc Martins & Chucks.
And even though I connected with some friends on Pinterest, I lost interestpretty quickly. The writer and artist in me struggled to get my head around CURATING as opposed to CREATING content. I get the importance of content curation professionally, but the whole “me, me, me” aspect seemed a bit narcissistic (even for a compulsive Tweeter like me!).
A few weeks later at a professional communications conference, I worked the use of Pinterest into a conservation with my peers. The reactions varied from blank stares, to panic, to dismissal. None of them embraced the idea.
Yet, sites like Mashable are chock-full of articles about how some companies, like Whole Foods for example, are using Pinterest effectively — not only to promote their brands, but to engage in meaningful interactions with their customers.
And while I, at first, used my colleagues’ Pinterest reactions (or lack thereof) to validate my own opinions, I realized that the MILLIONS and growing number of Pinterest users must be on to something.
Determined to discover what that something is, I read everything I could find about Pinterest best practices for brands and created an account for my employer (a public higher ed institution). The key, it seems, is to strike a delicate balance between sharing relevant information and promoting one’s brand. When done correctly, the two are one in the same.
To my utter shock, in less than seven days, the account has an average of 50 followers on each of its 12 boards, and dozens of “re-pins” and “likes” — more interaction than we’ve seen on Google+ in close to a year.
In light of this success, it’s easy to say “mea culpa, Pinterest” without too much shame. In fact, it’s a humbling lesson I hope recall next time I start thinking I know best.