Pinterest for the Holidays!

I am not sure if you have checked out Pinterest, but it is a cool, new, and emerging social network. I love it and finding quite useful this holiday season. I have so many different wish lists on so many different websites. From Amazon.com, BandHPhoto.com, Apple.com, and on and on and on…I wanted to have one place to share Christmas list with my family. Pinterest just made sense.

I started checking out Pinterest about 8 months ago when Sarah was using it for Rose (our little girl). She was using it to store ideas for  the baby room, decorating ideas for showers, and also look through other people’s ideas when thinking of ways to get ready for a new baby. Pinterest is a place for Sarah to visually bookmark or “Pin” a link that she might want to refer to at a later date. Pinterest was also a place to look at other people’s “Pins”…to see their ideas.

You can organize “Pins” in categories or “Boards” grouping based on your idea of themes or content areas. So how does Pinterest define a “Pin”?

What is a pin? A pin is an image added to Pinterest. A pin can be added from a website using the Pin It button, or you can upload images from your computer. Each pin added using the Pin It button links back to the site it came from.

Does this make sense yet? Well this is how Pinterest describe their social network:

Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and share their favorite recipes.

So back to how I am using Pinterest this holiday season…to create a board of ideas and wants for Christmas. My “Christmas Gifts” board is a wishlist to share with everyone…everything in one spot. Then I have a link to share with my family and friends. I do not have to send them to four or five different online retailers to see my different ideas. I can just pin each idea here, each link here, a link directly to the item I would like…then share this board with others. I can even share this link on other social outlets like Facebook. Pretty cool?

People are using Pinterest in so many different ways…I would love to hear how you are using it!

Here are a few articles about Pinterest:

Mashable.com – http://mashable.com/2011/11/27/niche-social-marketing/

USAToday.com – http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/story/2011-10-28/pinterest-Ben-Silbermann/50979542/1

Google Plus: Working thru all the Hub-bub? WHY?

So I just received an invite and I working through Google Plus and checking it out. As I login, I have noticed a few things:

  1. It is just another social network, another place to interact with people online.
  2. As I am creating my profile, it is pulling a lot of my information from my Google Profile. So if you have an up-to-date Google Profile, it is going to populate your Google Plus profile based on this information.
  3. It is basing your network of connections from contacts in your Google Account. Google Plus uses the term “Circles” as a name for your networks, and can be based on how you set-up your Google Contacts.
  4. It has a stream similar to Facebook, allowing you to make an update and include a picture, video, link, or location.
  5. Reminds a bit like Google Wave as far as the interface design and fluid interactivity.
  6. I am thinking through the business application for enterprise level usage such as Facebook Pages.
  7. Wondering how and when I am going to use this social network and if it makes sense for me? I am active on Twitter for both personal and business, Facebook for both personal and business, LinkedIn for business…so wondering where this makes sense for me? If at all?
  8. The digital media interaction looks fluid, specifically people are posting animations and other interactive media with ease.
  9. Google Plus looks like another extension of my personal Google Account. Yes…it is pulling information from my Gmail, Contacts, YouTube, Picasa, and Profile Accounts from one single Google login.
  10. Since you have to have a Google profile to have a Google Plus account, a Google Business account cannot accept an invitation currently. Yes, BobbyRettew.com is self hosted and also uses Google products such as Mail from Google. So when I log into my BobbyRettew.com Google Account…I cannot create a Google Profile. Thus, the Google Plus invitation sent to my Bobby@BobbyRettew.com email account would allow me to accept the Google Plus invitation. My Google Plus account is via my BobbyRettew@gmail.com email/Google login.

So here ya go…my initial thoughts after playing with it for about 15 minutes. This is purely a surface level overview…nothing strategic yet. Still thinking through and wondering the if, how, and when about this social network. Bottomline…everyone is raving, but do I really give a dang about investing time in another place to interact with the same group of connections. Or…maybe this social network will open a whole new place for new relationships and new interactive experiences.

Bottomline…I think it is still another place for Google to try to make a play on Social Networking; leveraging all the other technologies that are already in place for an individual’s Google Account.

Take away for me (since I am a tech geek)…it is going to be fun for a while. But eventually it will have to bring value beyond the honeymoon for me to engage along with all the other social outlets.

So tomorrow…part two of three posts: “Google Plus: It is going to help your search results?”

Social Networks’ Digital Divide…Too Much Amplification?

When we reach out to our social networks, are we using them to reach out to our friends on these networks OR are we using these networks to market and share our information?

Looking through a purest lens, social networks should be used to build relationships, have original conversations, build connections just as we would with those “friends” in person.

As I look through lens as a marketer/digital media professional, we find ourselves not only reaching out to these communities…but pushing our information to these groups of people. This digital divide creates physical moat between us and our virtual friends. It allows us to sometimes forget these people on the other end of these devices are the ones who receive our updates, tweets, and emails. They are human.

I was sitting in a meeting the other day listening to a friend describing social networks, specifically Twitter. He described this social outlet as medium to amplify our message. The marketing, digital media persona inside me agreed with this observation; but the purest, socially driven human was a bit disturbed by this characteristic.

So many of us are not afraid to use social aggregators like TweetDeck, Hootsuite, and many others to schedule Tweets, posts, and updates. We turn into our own traffic department, setting up message distributions for the week. It is a bit addicting, we track results using our analytics, chart success, create metrics, and before we know it…we have social media marketing panic attacks.

I am not advocating for the extreme use of either lens…but I am more thinking through the audience’s experiences. Is the conversation starting to die out? So why did Facebook loose 5 Million U.S. users last month? I am not sure? Makes you wonder…too much amplification?

So, how is your usage of social networks changing? Is it purely business, monetary gain, creating traffic, etc? Are you using it to connect, build relationships, find connections, or even reinforce in-person relationships. Or, are you using it as a combination of all the above? Regardless…has your view point of social networks changed?