Pinterest – should you be using it or is it just another social media fad?

It’s pretty likely by now that you’ve at least heard of Pinterest, if not already signed up. It’s certainly the very latest social media golden child, with latest statistics touting it as growing faster than Facebook in terms of new sign-ups per day. Of course, this likely has a lot to do with the fact Facebook is practically reaching saturation point in most Western nations (in terms of internet users)… but don’t let that get in the way of a good story.

Just quickly – What is Pinterest?

I won’t dwell on this because I have a hunch you already know. Basically it is a pinboard-style social network that is heavily visual. You create your own pinboards and pin images to them – for example under ‘travel’, ‘recipes’, ‘clothes’ or even more abstract concepts like ‘things I like’. To date it has been very female-dominated and big in the fashion and food arena. Like every other social network you can create a profile and connect (follow) others on the site. Rev.ol.ution.ary.

Right. So should I be using it?

That’s a good question, and one I asked myself recently.  Like any good question, the answer depends on a few different things. First up I’ll say that I didn’t really want to sign up. There is a point of time where you begin to suffer from socialmediasoverwhelmas, particularly if you have a job, pets and even moderately healthy social life (offline). I don’t really have that last one, but even between my job, cats and extracurricular projects (eg. this blog, freelance clients etc.) I find it hard to be across one billion social networks. Or even five. So, you can imagine my reluctance when some prissy network based on fluffy pictures (mostly stolen) of handbags, travel scenes and cupcakes comes along. No thanks.

So why did I sign up? It’s simple

I’m meant to be some sort of social expert (or something). Which these days – in all fairness – means next to nothing, considering everyone seems to enjoy calling themselves this even though they are in fact not one at all. AT ALL. I figured I should at least attempt to look interested in this network, lest I be outed as an imposter, which most other ‘social media experts’ should be. But not me. Never me.

I added a ‘pin it’ button to my website and wanted to see what the user experience was like and how my posts would be ‘pinned’ within the site. I also saw it as an opportunity to introduce my content to the network in the hope of others sharing it. Incidentally I’m a bit annoyed that using this button directs people away from your website, which is seriously a crap UX that Pinterest has not thought out properly. At least, I’m blaming them for it.

I like to stay on the early adoption side of the adoption lifecycle, so there was some fear of being labeled a luddite and consequently being shunned by some invisible group of exciting/successful innovators. …

That’s about it. Did I join because I thought it would enrich my life? No. Did I spent much time looking around in the site? No. Do I think I’ll spend much time in the future on Pinterest? No. Honestly I barely have time to read/look at what people are sharing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and RedTube (oops, I mean YouTube…) as it is. Looking at a bunch of pictures that I could see if I typed in ‘recipes’ to google image search is not what I classify as productive.

I will however, be using it from a ‘business’ perspective – I’ll pin my website stuff up in the vain hope someone somewhere will care. I might just pin this story, but then again the picture will just show as a big fat Pinterest logo, which would appear a bit strange on a Pinterest board and probably be ignored. If, however, you have a business that sells lots of products that are somehow interesting, quirky, girly or aesthetically pleasing, you SHOULD have Pinterest. Yes you should. You should get it RIGHT NOW.

Everyone else, I probably wouldn’t be too concerned…

HOWEVER I’m not saying Pinterest is a fad. It’s hard to know what a ‘fad’ really is, but honestly I believe Pinterest will continue to be popular within certain demographics/topics. I’m also not saying you shouldn’t sign up. You might like pretty pictures, or you might be into cooking recipes, or stalking people who are already into Pinterest. You might like to collect pictures of all the places you want to go one day and have them in one spot for some reason or another. I don’t know who you are or what you’re into, but all I can say is that if you already have Facebook and you aren’t super into recipes, fashion items or Google image results, I wouldn’t be rushing to the Pinterest site to sign up just yet.