She said / She said: Are you interested in Pinterest?

This is my November She Said / She Said post that I'm doing with Lara Wellman. Lara and I will pick a topic each month and present our different perspectives. This month's topic is the tool Pinterest!


If you aren't already on Pinterest, then you may not know if you're interested or not. But if you've heard of it, you're likely either a woman or know a woman who's using it since that's the vast majority of the user base...for the moment. (Mark my words: That gender gap will shift.) So, imagine this - a virtual pinboard, if you will. (Okay, that's actually what they call it.) A place to:
"...organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.

Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests."

And what's the purpose or mission of said virtual pinboard service?
"Our goal is to connect everyone in the world through the 'things' they find interesting. We think that a favorite book, toy, or recipe can reveal a common link between two people. With millions of new pins added every week, Pinterest is connecting people all over the world based on shared tastes and interests."

Pinterest and other niche networks like Twitter first and later Tumblr, Instagram and others have revolutionized the way we use the Web to consume content. The emphasis on search has eroded to make way for us to discover things that interest us and then save or share them within our networks.

When Lara and I started talking about our She Said / She Said post for this month and she suggested Pinterest, I let out the biggest mental groan. I remember seeing a friend rave about it back in the spring, so I requested an invite. None was forthcoming, but more and more friends were getting in, so I got one of them to send me an invite. I jumped in and saw all the pretty pictures and fun little sayings and had great fun for about 10 minutes. Once I had my fill I closed the app and it didn't enter my mind for about another month. I think what prompted me to look at it again was seeing someone post about a pin. So, I fired it up and enjoyed 10 minutes of browsing and then shut 'er down and forgot about Pinterest again for another few months until Lara decided to torture me by suggesting we write about it.

This isn't a network that grabbed me at all. I kept hearing for months about how people just loved it and how fun it is and wondered what the allure was. Then Lara decided to make me write about it and I knew I was going to have to immerse myself in it to give it a fair shot. So, of course I forgot all about it until the last week.

I was reminded of my need to get moving on immersion when Robert Scoble - of all people - posted on Google+ his prediction(?) that Pinterest was on his list of possible "next big things" (paraphrase). And get this: he wasn't even using it yet! My comment is in there amongst the 90 other people who had some view of Pinterest's scalability and chances of long-term success where I say: "I have no interest in the tool. I've tried to get into it, but so far it's not my thing at all. I can see it going big, though."

After reading Scoble's prediction, I started doing my research, studying away about this tool that I really don't "get". And I was convinced of how my post was going to go. I was going to tell all of you how it's great for people who are visually stimulated by really cool stuff, but that it doesn't seem to be the right social network for me. (I truly believe that not every social network is going to work for everyone and no person needs to be on every network.) Pinterest is niche, boutique-y, an accessory network - more technically known around The Media Mesh as a secondary network. The kind that is useful in a few minutes every now and then. Unless you're me.

But something happened that I didn't expect. I was up ridiculously late one night with insomnia and decided to get immersed. I figured five or ten minutes would get me nice and sleepy. Forty-five minutes later, I forced myself to turn it off and I'm officially hooked.

I'll say it again - Lara's evil masterful plan worked: I get Pinterest and I think you should too.

So, what changed my mind about Pinterest?

It was more of a mindset change. I originally went in looking at pretty things, admiring pretty things and that feels so artificial and boring after a while. It's just not me at all. But this time I had my friends' uses ringing in my head, namely something to the effect of: I use it as a bookmarking tool to remember recipes and crafts I want to do. It's a visual way to save these things. To have visual cues of what you were thinking about when you saved it. And that is perfect for me because I am a visual person, despite the fears and doubts I started to have when Pinterest didn't catch my interest. Why did I want to save that recipe for slow cooker sweet potatoes? Because at 1:15am, they looked really delicious.

Oddly enough, the timing of our Pinterest exploration seems to be coinciding with the tool taking off. With the exception of Facebook, no other tool - not even Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ - has been mentioned as much in the social media news scene this week. Here's a sampling of the stories I've seen, so you don't have to listen to me tell you Pinterest is going to be huge - I've assembled evidence for you:

  1. Pinterest Is Now Pulling In More Pageviews Than Etsy; Grew 2,000% Since June | TechCrunch

  2. Niche Social Networks Deliver Big Results for Brands | Mashable

  3. Pinterest May Become a Social Networking Takeover Target | Wall Street Cheat Sheet

  4. Pinterest Appeals to Online Collectors | The New York Times

  5. Why Image-Sharing Network Pinterest Is Hot | Bloomberg Businessweek

  6. How to Make Your Startup Go Viral The Pinterest Way | TechCrunch

I'm not one to be seduced by popularity - I can assure you I found all of these stories after my abrupt turnaround. I can also say that I have long felt that Pinterest was going to grow to be a pretty important secondary network that would be very popular before I finally understood why. Now that I get why Pinterest is going to be big and know a few practical ways to use it, I just have to make sure I go back to those pinboards and do those crafts and make those foods I found that were interesting enough to pin.

Are you on Pinterest? How do you use it? Any creative ways I haven't mentioned here?

Be sure to go check out Lara's post to see what she has to say!

Buzz and Brilliance - Week of September 26

Last week included a veritable avalanche of news about Facebook last week, so I thought this week things would have calmed down a bit. The actual news stopped, but speculation about oversharing and privacy concerns, the effect on businesses and marketing as well as other networks was rampant. Far and away the biggest concern I've seen over Facebook's changes is privacy and oversharing. Changes haven't come yet to pages, other than not having to "like" a page to comment/like posts on it. There will be changes eventually, so it's important to think about how the changes will impact your Facebook page now.

As for individuals, timeline will feel like an invasion of your privacy - it isn't. I've been using it for almost a week now. The switch to the new timeline has prompted many to threaten leaving and, like Mashable, I think that's mostly just talk and no action. But keep in mind that every piece of information was shared with your audience before timeline and the way it was shared hasn't changed. Access to it has changed only in that it's easier to see everything. Ultimately, it's important to remember that each person using any tool on the Web is responsible for protecting their own privacy. Learn how Facebook is implementing frictionless sharing and take steps to avoid sharing what you don't want others to see. And if you want to see comprehensive coverage of privacy concerns, be sure to look at ReadWriteWeb's Facebook coverage.

Have you ever used SlideShare? It's a really great tool for sharing presentations, but it's greatest limitation has been Flash and the effect that has on mobile users. But that's not a problem anymore! They're overhauling the tool with HTML5 and making it much more mobile-friendly. As an iPhone user, I'm excited about HTML5 and what it means for my mobile experience. If you're not familiar with HTML5, that's okay. You'll hear more and more about it as more sites adopt its use to make sites more accessible on all platforms - desktop and mobile. It's about delivering content everywhere in the same way and HTML5 can help if it ever becomes a standard.

Delicious was recently saved and the site got a radical overhaul. I haven't had a chance to check it out yet, but reports about the changes aren't terribly positive. Have you looked yet? Let me know what you think!

A few other snippets of news:

Google+ users can now share circles with followers. I have yet to use this function and I don't know if I will. But for power users, who have key industry people in their circles it could be a great way to put others in touch with those people...maybe. I'm a little on the fence about the value of this since it has potential to open all users up to more spam which is rampant on all social media sites lately.

In other Google news, I'm excited to share that they've finally added real-time updates to the Web version (my iPhone/iPad app has had real-time availability all along), but this is huge news for Webmasters who want to see the robust stats that Analytics provide in real-time.

Quora users are a devoted bunch and now they can use the Q&A tool wherever they are with the new Quora iPhone app. Reviews at this time are mixed, but that's not any big surprise. First versions of apps are rarely packed with the functions users really want/need. I'm sure updates will solve many of the issues it currently has. The important thing is that this is a step in the right direction for them.

There is so much more - I think everyone was trying to get noticed after Facebook overshadowed everything last week. But I don't want this to go too long, so these are the highlights I've picked for this week. Are there any other news tidbits you heard that were interesting?
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What is it and why should I care : Quora

What is Quora?

From their site:

Quora is a continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it. The most important thing is to have each question page become the best possible resource for someone who wants to know about the question

Here’s how I see it.

People ask questions, then people answer said questions.  People can then vote up or down the answers, making certain answers more credible.

What has jumped out at me the most when using Quora is that big companies are clearly monitoring it.  If someone has asked a question about an app, someone from that company (often the founder) is answering the question.  The answers that I see are well thought out and often written by thought leaders, making it an excellent place to get not only good and correct answers, but insightful and thought provoking ones. (I also believe Quora recruited high level people to take part and answer questions, lending even more credibility and quality to their site).

When you are on Quora you can follow specific people - whether they be friends or just people you are interested in or who you respect.  You can also follow specific topics.  Answers and topics from those categories will show up in your feed when you arrive on Quora’s site.  You can also search by keywords for topics.

Why should people use Quora?

It’s a great place to find the answers to questions about everything from business advice to fun facts about a movie you might like.

Here are a few random questions/topics to look at:

Pirates of the Carribean

What’s the best launch strategy for a web startup

What are great and easy gluten-free recipes?

What are the best restaurants in Ottawa?

But more than just a place to find the answer to interesting questions, it’s a place to :

- find interesting questions and learn from them.  Sometimes just reading through my feed on the main Quora page can keep me entertained and learning for quite a long time!

-  find inspiration for blog posts - they even have a functionality that you can set up that easily lets you turn the topics into blog posts.

- You can position yourself as an expert.  By answering questions, people who wouldn’t necessarily come to your blog or see you speak somewhere are made aware of you and your style.  The more people vote up your answers the more respect you gain.

- It is yet another way to engage with people with like interests.

How could a business use this to their advantage?

I should be answering social media related questions.  Someone who sells eco friendly products can answer questions about the dangers of bpa to babies/children. If you teach belly dancing, maybe you could be the first to answer why it would be of benefit as a prenatal class. If you developed blackberry apps, I’d follow that blackberry app topic and answer any questions that might come up that fit in line with what you do.

The possibilities are endless really. Answer questions as an expert, not in a marketing capacity. What you want are for people to think you are interesting enough to read your bio and then potentially take the next step.

So go check it out! Find me and follow me if you do. And I challenge you to either answer or ask a question!



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