Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Beyond Cute Kittens: Pinterest's Best Uses

Pinterest has been around a couple of years now, but it's just been in the last few months that Pinterest has really started to explode on the social media market. At the same time, I think it's getting a bit of a bad reputation—not too dissimilar from the original criticisms of Twitter. The same nay-sayers who complained that no one wants to read a tweet about what they ate for lunch are missing the mark now on Pinterest when they complain that no one wants to see them pin photos of cute kittens.

I probably should have written this post last summer, a few months after I started using Pinterest. Like many social media options, it took a little while to get used to it and figure out how and whether or not it was worth investing my precious time in. (And precious my time is! As you can see from my sad, pathetic lack of posting recently...) I must say that in the end Pinterest won me over big time and a friend's recent post got me inspired to write about it.

Pinterest's first major use for me was as a collaborative design board for a few other art directors at the agency and myself as we brainstormed a facelift for the interior of our offices. Our lobby was screaming for a makeover. However, getting even a few people on the same page was difficult—add in that we were sharing visual ideas with each other whenever we had a spare moment between other projects and you got disorganized mess of emails with jpg attachments no one could ever locate later when needed. Pinterest offered us the perfect platform to start collecting all our finds and visual brainstorms. It also offered us a centralized place to send our interior designer to share our vision for the space.

Since that first use for Pinterest, my faith in it as a platform grew and it is now my primary bookmarking platform. For someone who mostly wants to bookmark visual things or ideas, it's perfect. And no, I don't find it at all important to bookmark a cute kitten with a quote under it. It's just clutter. Pinterest is full of those types of pins, but it's also full of actually useful pins.  I think Pinterest can be quite a game changer if the wide variety of uses it offers really start to catch on. Here are the best uses I've found for Pinterest:

Online Recipe File All your recipes in one place, accessible with one click and organized by photo and easy to access from my phone = a working woman's recipe heaven.

Visual Inspiration Database I've used it countless times when I'm stuck on a design problem. I keep boards for typography design, infographic design and illustrators that I like so they're easy to access if I want to hire them for a future project.

Brainstorming Tool Multiple people can pin to a board if you invite them. They can comment, like and tag others. It allows for tons of collaboration around visual ideas in a simple way that all stays in one place. We've used it in particular for brainstorming ideas for events.

Shopping Tool
Pinterest's built in price snipe makes for easy price comparisons and the click through allows for quick and easy purchasing. If you shop online and especially if you’re shopping for something based mostly on look and price (like a couch), it’s fantastic. It's not too far off from Amazon's universal wish list idea.

Reference Tool One of the most popular ways to use Pinterest is as reference, mostly for household tips, tricks and organization (most Pinterest users are female). There's a fair amount of DIY and craft ideas, it just depends on what your interests are.

As you can see, Pinterest can offer uses far beyond cute or funny photos. Its organization and sharing structure offer many different ways to share and brainstorm visually. I never would have guessed that I was in need of a service like Pinterest, but now that its here, I think I'd have trouble going without it. And that is the marking of a future internet success.


Jamey Stegmaier said...

I wish I had read this before I wrote my post. :) Well said.

Christine said...

That would have been a challenge, seeing as writing a comment on your post is what inspired me to write this post :)

Jamey Stegmaier said...

True; it's a bit of a paradox. Based on your comments on my post (very illuminating comments at that), I have a feeling you read my post and thought, "I must tell the world that Pinterest is about more than cute kittens!!"

Which is perfectly fine, of course, as long as you're not someone who spends about 35% of their time thinking about cute kittens. (Although I must admit that I'm slightly tiring of cute animal photos on Pinterest. I don't need 100 cute animal photos every day. I need maybe 2 or 3.)