About two months ago, I opened a Pinterest account. At first, I really didn’t get it. However with all of the recent buzz about the site, I decided to give it another go about 3 weeks ago. This time, I created some of my own boards and started following some of my friends from Facebook and Gmail. All of a sudden, Pinterest seemed to come to life — with lots of visual eye-candy of things that my friends liked. I also started pinning away myself, hoarding all types of cool images from the web and categorizing them.
However it is hard for me to say that Pinterest is a key tool in my own personal social media arsenal. While some would argue that Pinterest is social simply because 80% of pins are repins of content posted by someone else, thus creating a sense of community & connection. However I do not see user pages on Pinterest to be personal enough to feel like I really know someone and can have an ongoing connection. It’s just a collection of web images that a person likes; like a digital scrapbook or wall of posters.
Since I’m not such a big “visual” person, I feel that Tumblr holds a lot of advantages over Pinterest; although the media is hyper-focused on the latter. Yet there is a demand and a place for Pinterest. I compare it to the magazine industry. You have those magazines that are very dense textually, with a lot of information included (like Linux Magazine), while you have others that are full of big, gorgeous photos and little text (like The Source). They all work because every magazine knows who their target demographic is (or should know), and then packages their presentation accordingly.
So do you need to be on Pinterest? Well that decision is something that needs to be made on a case-by-case basis. However, here’s my list of pros and cons — and hopefully, that will be helpful. 🙂
1. Quick and easy account set up. While you still need an invite to open an account (just request one, and you’ll probably get in shortly), once you are in, you simply import friends, and then start pinning. No need to complete a long and drawn out profile. Your account comes with default boards set up. So you can be set up and pinning in about 5 minutes.
2. Highly visual, so it is conducive to attracting interest for short attention spans. The online world is very competitive, and the surest way to get people’s attention online is to post a picture. Since that is exactly what Pinterest is focused on, there is a lot of opportunity out there to make a splash.
3. Easy exposure. I’m not sure about the how’s and why’s, but it seems ridiculously easy to get followers and people to repin and spread your content. Many of my pins are liked and repinned at least 3 times in the first hour of me posting them. This is far more engagement than I’ve seen on any other social media platform.
1. It’s limiting. For better or for worse, Pinterest publicizes images…and that’s pretty much it. It is sort of like one big page of advertisements; and has the potential to turn into something very annoying as it becomes more popular.
2. The bar can be set high for photographs. Maybe it is just me, but the de facto images on Pinterest seem to be very high quality. This causes me to pause before uploading any of my own personal photographs. Also my audience on Pinterest is not a personal one; so I wouldn’t feel that it is the right medium for personal pictures anyway.
3. Connections can be fleeting. Your Pinterest homepage is a big collage of images. While the original poster’s name and icon are there, but along with the comments, they are minimized in order to maximize the impact of the images. Also they are presented chronologically. So it’s hard to consistently connect certain images with particular posters. In addition, when you ‘follow’ someone on Pinterest, you are really following their likes. Outside of commenting and sharing content, it is tough to engage with other people on Pinterest. It is more like an exhibition than a conversation basically.
4. Demographics. 68% – 82% of Pinterest users are women (depending on who you talk to). This could be very good…or very bad. Overall though, I think it’s a challenge to go onto a site knowing that the vast majority of your traffic will be 35+ year-old females.
I know for sure that people will disagree with me. Feel free to offer your comments if you do! 🙂