The topic of social media...it's everywhere these days. And many of you readers being fellow bloggers probably think it's the responsible thing to do to extend your blog's reach to the popular social networks at your disposal. You probably have a Facebook Fan Page, a Twitter account, and maybe even find yourself on Google+ from time to time. The ultra ambitious may StumbleUpon, Digg, or find themselves having Klout.
At this point, you've probably heard of another one as well, Pinterest. But what to make of this Pinterest thing that is lurking on the edges and growing like wildfire, despite still being in "invitation only" mode? To find out for myself, I signed up to be on the Pinterest waiting list, and three days later I was in. This is what I discovered, and of course my opinion if you should really give a damn about giving it a try for yourself.
To start, the concept of Pinterest is pretty simple, it's a picture and video sharing network. You share interesting pictures with others, much like you would on Facebook or Twitter, perhaps also inserting a short comment about why you like or shared the photo.
|A screen shot of a bunch of pins...pictures & comments. Kind of like your Facebook Feed or Google+ Stream|
|The "Pinning" interface, I had to pin this great pic from Dry Files and Fat Tires|
|Creates something that looks like this...|
The social aspect of Pinterest is also like any of the other social networks, you follow or are followed by others, and you can like, comment on, or re-pin (share) anything you might find of interest. Nothing groundbreaking yet, right?
|The social life of Russell Schnitzer's photo|
I commented on it, a person liked it, and another person repinned (shared) it
What does makes Pinterest unique is that when you share/pin something, you put it on a Board. You know...a pinboard. Boards are usually set up by topic and help organize similar items, kind of like a Twitter hash tag (#) might, but in a much more visual format. I have boards set up for Tenkara, Fly Fishing, Great Blog Posts, Fly Tying, Pop Culture, etc...
What is really cool is that when you decide to "follow" someone, you can choose to only follow boards they've created that interest you, not necessarily everything from them. For example, you can choose to follow me (which then automatically sets you up to see pins from all of my boards), or you can just choose to follow my Fly Fishing pinboard, because you don't give a crap about Tenkara or Pop Culture.
|I'm only following 3 of Graham's 9 boards|
As far as a tool for self/blog promotion...Pinterest kinda frowns on that. If you plan to use social media as a place to just post links to your latest blog post, this isn't the outlet for you. Plus, since it's picture based, unless your blog post has a kiler picture in it, people will probably never click on it in the first place.
That said, if you are a fly tier or a outdoor photographer, this really could be a useful tool...not only to organize a portfolio of your work, but also to make it easy for others to find and re-share. Personally, I think I'll mostly use it as a holding tank for all the randomness that usually ends up in Wednesday Nibbles. If I see something cool, I'll just pin it for later consumption. If others enjoy looking at it too, that's just a cool side effect.
Some other things worth mentioning about Pinterest is that it is both Facebook and Twitter integrated out of the box (sorry Google+). So when you pin something cool, you can simultaneously post or tweet it on those two networks. The one drawback to that is that I haven't figured out how to make the Facebook posts go to my Troutrageous! Fan Page, rather than my personal Facebook page. Boo.
Pinterest also has a search box and a browse by category feature that allows you to explore and somewhat easily find and review other people's pins and pinboards, even if you do not follow them (yet).
|Go ahead and find some sother stuff...|
Finally, when you pin something, you can assign it a $ value, for example to call out that new fly rod you covet costs $700. The price then automatically gets indexed in the search engine as well.
|Adding a "price tag" to a pin. Notice the banner in the upper left?|
So as an outdoor blogger is Pinterest worth your social media time? Probably not. Well...at least as one of your primary forms of extending your reach right now. Unless of course you're also a Mommy Blogger or a Photographer on the side - I know many of you may maintain multiple blogs.
See, I hate to say this, but it seems like the main demographic present in the Pinterest universe at the moment is female. Normally, I'd have no problem with that (I mean I'm particularly fond of women), but there's a disproprtionately high amount of pinning of fancy food recipes and fashion "looks" - like shoes, dresses, and accessories - which doesn't exactly fit neatly alongside the babblings from the "hooks & bullets" crowd.
|Yes, let's have more evening dresses...|
That said, Pinterest is somewhat amusing to play around with and just different enough when compared to Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ to make it worth a look. I guess we'll never be able replace Crock Pot casserole recipes with Parachute Adams tying recipes if we don't at least try to play along...
If you want an invite, hit me up, I've got a couple to burn.