By Louis Duffy and Terri-Anne Whitehouse, Passionate Media social media apprentices.
Is there a corner of the internet where you won't currently find someone extolling the virtues of Pinterest? Apparently people spend more time here than on Twitter, Linkedin and Google+ put together.
Debates about copyright and well, what the point is, have sprung up very quickly, just as the site tops 11 million users. Pinterest looks cute and it seems like fun, there's no doubt about that. Most of the users are women. From a personal point of view, it could be pretty addictive. It's all about 'pinning up' images you love - say home interiors, food, art, design, you name it...
Pinterest is being touted as an excellent place to sell stuff - and better than Facebook:
Jeff Bercovici of Forbes reports:
Just as retailers are losing faith in Facebook as platform for e-commerce, it seems, they’re warming up to Pinterest, another social site that’s much smaller than Mark Zuckerberg‘s $100 billion behemoth but faster-growing and more targeted.
“There was a lot of anticipation that Facebook would turn into a new destination, a store, a place where people would shop. But it was like trying to sell stuff to people while they’re hanging out with their friends at the bar.” But Pinterest isn’t a bar. It’s more like a craft fair where people go to exhibit their wares, check out other vendors’ offerings, or do a bit of both.
What is Pinterest?
It's described as a virtual pin board which lets you organise and share photos or images.
While browsing other Pinterest-ers' pin boards you can 're-pin' to share other content you have found and like the look of.
For now, a large percentage, of the mainly female audience, are pinning images of fabrics, designs, toys, fashions and gifts they love.
Here at Passionate Media, working closely with businesses and not for profit customers on social media, we wanted to look past the hype and see what Pinterest, means for users, in particular, business users.
We're most interested in how Pinterest can boost a business, strengthening engagement and interactivity with customers. Too often, when we encounter businesses who are sceptical about social media, all they want to know is what's in it for them - and how quickly they can earn money from it, either with someone else looking after it or with the least effort possible.
Like any other form of social media, it's a long game. Like anything set up with personal use rather than business use in mind, spam won't be tolerated by your fellow users and anyone seeking to purely broadcast rather than sharing or listening, is likely to be branded a fool.
To us, there's no point diving in and using a newly discovered social media phenomenon in a business sense unless it has been proven as worthwhile.
How to use Pinterest
The BBC's Rory Cellan Jones says:
Much of the content on Pinterest is about products - furniture, clothes, books - and in many ways it is more like browsing through a very attractive catalogue than having a social experience. It is not hard to see how this could be attractive to advertisers, and already some pinboards are beginning to contain links to retailers such as Amazon.
Pinterest is really straightforward. It's simple to use. Check out the instructions on Pinterest itself. For companies showcasing their work, they can also research what else is out there, find out about people they may want to collaborate with - designers, photographers, crafters say, and ask for feedback on their pins. For anyone selling online, it can become another shop front.
Useful articles about Pinterest for business
Here's a post from last December(when Pinterest users numbered around 3.3 million) offering nine tips on how to use Pinterest for business:
The following comprehensive post urges readers to use Pinterest to hold competitions, raise awareness, inspire customers and more:
Pinterest: A good fit for your business?
So far, researching the comment and guidance about Pinterest available online, sure-fire benefits of Pinterest include:
- Images of any products for sale online can be shared, adding price details
- It reportedly has real power in driving traffic to your website
- Your SEO gets a helping hand with every homegrown link you post
- Its audience has something to say and is described as 'highly engaged' - imagine these active followers helping spread word of mouth about your pins
- It fits well with other social media and you can post your pins direct to facebook
Like any other social media platform we need to help our clients understand that what matters is interactivity, enagement and listening - not just showing off about what you and your clients are doing and expecting people to care. We also need to help clients see that Pinterest may work better for some types of businesses. Retail clients with images of latest fashions from their stores for example, would be great on Pinterest. Other clients, whose products and services aren't quite so visual, at first glance, may not be so easily enthused, but could still find it worthwhile.
Two stings in the tail
Last Thursday I began experimenting with Pinterest, setting up a BBJ Newsroom account and creating a couple of pinboards for the kinds of content we handle that have a visual appeal. I picked architects' renderings and startup workplaces.
On Friday, I pulled the BBJ pinboards down. Here's why: Believe it or not, Pinterest's service agreement gives it the right to sell images that users upload.
(Full post here: How your business could be sued for using Pinterest.)
A hazy approach to copyright
...you represent and warrant that: (i) you either are the sole and exclusive owner of all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services or you have all rights, licenses, consents and releases that are necessary to grant to Cold Brew Labs the rights in such Member Content, as contemplated under these Terms.
Sounds clear, doesn't it? You should own copyright or have permission to pin all the content you highlight. But that's not happening. People are happily and regularly sharing content from around the internet and from Pinterest itself. In fact, most of the people already using Pinterest are ignoring this part. That sounds a mess.
This afternoon the BBC reported that anyone not wanting to have their images shared on Pinterest could opt out.
We have to urge caution in this respect. The last thing you want to do with any social media network is become embroiled in a row about what you can and can't post.
Why not take baby steps with your own images and see where they can take you? We'll be working with clients to follow debates as they unfold and offer guidance through the Pinterest maze.