Since I’m going to be helping to moderate a discussion of social media for authors for the Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers Group this weekend, I decided to give pinterest a try. There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding pinterest recently, no doubt spurred on by the ‘country club’ waiting period while they go through some rapid growth. Some people have waited for a week just to get a login. I had mine the next day, but this waiting period should decrease as they tack on some more server power.
Setting up a new account on the latest social media buzz site made me feel this way:
- 2006 – Hey! Check out MySpace! It’s Cool!
- 2007 – Myspace sucks! You should check out Twitter!
- 2008 -Twitter’s cool, but Facebook is better!
- 2009 -Facebook sucks! Check out Google Buzz… Nope. That aint it. Go back to Facebook.
- 2010 -Facebook sucks! Check out Google Wave… Oh screw that! Sorry! Back to Facebook!
- 2011 -Facebook sucks! You should check out Google Plus! Wait a minute… OK, Google Plus is good. No wait… ummmm, OK! Google Plus is good. For now. Just keep that Facebook account in case of emergency.
- 2012 – Google Plus sucks! You need to check out Pinterest!
Welcome to 2012 – No flying cars, but we have pinterest!
For those who don’t know what Pinterest is all about, it’s really quite simple. Sign up at pinterest.com, add the “Pin It” button to your browser toolbar and when you see a picture you like… bam. Pin it to your online albums. Group your pix into categories, like my “Shiny Gothic” page group, shown at the right.
Seriously? That’s it? Now, why the hell would an author – someone who makes their living selling words – want to join the illiterate version of Twitter? Especially since many social media sites already handle pictures and do so much more?
Well, I’ll tell you.
The Secret Is Simple
After using pinterest for a couple weeks I can tell you that it’s like my ex in many ways. It’s easy. It’s fun. There’s not much to it, really.
I can understand why people who are interested in scrapbooking, stamping and the like would be interested in pinterest. The fact that it handles images (and videos too…) with ease and a clean, bulletproof interface… it really makes Facebook look messy and cluttered. Probably because Facebook IS messy and cluttered. There’s no damned games here on pinterest. No farmville. No angry birds. Well, there’s probably pictures of angry birds, but no stupid pokes (wtf is a ‘poke’?) no messaging, no events. Just pix, arranged in categories. Simple, clean and elegant.
So it’s simple. Big deal. Why would authors want to sign up for yet-another-time-sucking-social-networking site?
You’re probably expecting me to say something like “A picture is worth a thousand words” or some-such. But somebody smarter than me already did. So instead, I’ll tell you that I’m a very visual person, and a page full of pictures of what I think a character or place looks like gets the idea across faster than a page full of text.
Every now and then I will trip across a picture of a person who looks very much like one of the characters in my head, or a character I suddenly WISH was in my head. Or a location I’d love to use in a story. My current method is to copy those pix and save them into location and character dossiers in Evernote for future reference. But now I may be tempted to save them in pinterest as well, if for no other reason than pinterest is so flipping easy to use.
Pinterest makes it really simple to share pictures and graphics with others. In fact, there is no Private setting. Everything you pin, like, group, or comment on pinterest is shared, and there’s no way you can hide it. This means you won’t be pinning up pix of your last private session with Mistress Jean, but then again, there are none of those pesky privacy settings to complicate things either. Simple.
Because of the social component, pinterest can be used as yet-another-funnel to guide people toward your product/e-mail list/whathaveyou, and I have every faith in the American ability to twist this new platform into a money-grubbing, graphical, spam-fest. I also guarantee you that the only way to make money using pinterest is as follows:
How To Make Money Using Pinterest!
Easy – write a book called “How to make money using Pinterest!”
Your Author Image
Another way to use pinterest is in your “image” or visual expression of yourself as an author or your work as part of your overall brand. Pin up a bunch of sunny, rainbow, happy unicorn pix… and people who enjoy those things may also be interested in what you’re writing about. Pin up a pix of dead animals left over from the Nine Inch Nails Downward Spiral photo shoot….and people who enjoy those things may also be interested in what you’re writing about. This used your image (literally) to filter your target market out of the users on pinterest.
Just make sure to keep your image accurate. Give people a false impression and they may not be forgiving about it.
At the very least, you’ll want to have pix of your awesome book covers up.
Pinterest is a guaranteed time-suck if there ever was one, but is there a social networking site that isn’t? Nuff said. But you have to admit trolling through pinterest for inspiration is faster and more efficient than reading random articles on Wikipedia. If you wanted to find some cool visual inspiration for characters, places, weapons, fashion or food (LOTS of food and fashion on pinterest) then pinterest is one place to do it.
Just thinking out loud here, but Google Image Search might be better for graphical inspiration only because it has a larger resource pool to draw from. But pinterest adds in the ability to view current and trending images, if that makes a difference to you. And I’m sure their database will grow larger at a preposterous rate, but there is already plenty there to look at.
Pinterest – More Than Just Twitter’s Illiterate Younger Brother
Expect big things from this site. Once you see how easy and intuitive it is, you’ll agree that Pinterest is not a fad. It’s not next year’s Google Wave, and it has much to offer. If you’re already on facebook or twitter, you can log into pinterest through those services, so you really should give it a try.
By the way, there is no official app for pinterest just yet, so watch out for scams claiming to have pinterest apps available. If it ain’t coming from the pinterest website, it ain’t the real deal.
Happy Pinning! And friend me up on pinterest here: http://pinterest.com/conradzero