Is Pinterest worth your time and attention? The short answer—it depends.
A client recently asked me about Pinterest; someone had suggested she should use it to build her business and she didn't know anything about it. Now, if you're in technology, consulting, marketing or something related, you may be shocked she'd never heard of the latest online success story. But, if like me, you're used to dealing with small business owners, or professionals who exist almost entirely outside of these fields or who don't have a lot of free time to surf the web, then hopefully this won't surprise you in the least.
As for my client, she's got her hands full servicing her own clients and managing her existing business development and marketing avenues. So I don't blame her one bit for not keeping current with the latest "greatest" whiz-bang online I'm-not-sure-what-it's-for-but-everybody-should-be-using-it tool in the hopes that maybe it'll pull eyeballs to her website or blog or Facebook page or motivate enough of the right kinds of people to engage with her in some form of social media so that, fingers crossed, at some point, when they trust her, they'll feel safe enough to want to meet her in person and then, perhaps, buy something from her.
Hey, I barely had the patience to write that paragraph, so, no, I don't blame my client at all—it's why I skipped Pinterest myself, and a whole host of other "fad" media channels, when it first began to register all those many months ago. But, my client's business is lifestyle-related and one that could actually benefit from putting her design aesthetic, personal style and personality on display in a social media forum; so Pinterest is a good option for her.
Because of my client's interest I set up an account so that I could understand how Pinterest works and evaluate how well it suits different types of business needs.
I started by selecting a pre-set category--Books Worth Reading—for which I figured it would be fairly easy for me to add a few pins. It wasn't hard to accumulate a handful of covers of books from my favorite poets and all time favorite novels I'd read and would recommend to just about anyone. Okay, but that's an easy category for someone with an MFA in Writing. And truth be told, I'd already spent more time on Pinterest than I'd planned and only had one board with a handful of pins—this is something I like to call "the rabbit hole effect," which you may know better as "the time suck" of many social sites.
The next thing I did was create my own category, one related to my business, which I called Customer Experience. Here I must confess I ran into what I consider a bigger dark side of Pinterest from a business perspective. I entered a series of search terms, including "customer experience," "customer strategy," and "customer education." What I felt in response to what appeared on my laptop screen each time, well, I'm not sure there's a word for it—or, more precisely, one word for it. I was left glassy-eyed, dizzy and with a kind of gnawing sense of despair. One thing was for sure; I wasn't going to put any of those search terms into Pinterest again. Now, of course, I can add wonderful visuals that I find online to my board to represent any and all of those terms and to augment the dearth that exists currently on Pinterest, but I don't usually find a lot of those, which is probably why there aren't any (or many) on Pinterest either.
And there’s the rub. The stuff that I would love to find on Pinterest isn’t there, like great visuals expressing or explaining the customer experience, which I know exist because I’ve seen them.
So, is Pinterest worth your time and attention? The short answer—it depends. If, like my client, your business or career is highly dependent on your sense of style or design, or it's easy to transmit your message through pictures, then, yes, check it out and start showcasing who you are. If, like me, it's kind of tough to represent your value in visuals, then you may want to pass it by in favor of more useful communication tools.
If you're using Pinterest as a business development tool and experiencing success, I'd love to hear about it—feel free to contact me.
Make sure your little break is just that and not a nasty habit or bad cycle you’ve fallen into to cope with a lack of organization, faulty systems or a bad business model.
Don’t know if you noticed but I gave myself a little holiday from the pressure of weekly posts this month. In fairness, my posts go live on Wednesdays and last week the Fourth of July fell on Wednesday, so it was an actual holiday. But, to be completely honest, I put up the “gone fishin’” sign the week before—not by choice, but by resignation—I simply had something else that took precedence, and I just couldn’t get everything done in time. So, I gave myself a break before I had no choice and I just broke down. I took last week off as it seemed like a good idea to make it an official two-week holiday and come back fresh and refreshed.
Now, when I didn’t make my deadline that first week I thought I would just do it the next day—no big deal posting a day late. Who would really care, after all—only me, I reasoned. But, that next day I was equally busy and also pretty wiped out. So, the blog post got booted another day. It wasn’t really until some time on Friday when I knew the blog post wasn’t going to get written let alone go live that I had a startling realization—I am my own boss! Not only that, but I’m the president of my own company. As a result, I’m allowed to set and reset the priorities that govern my to-do list and, as long as it doesn’t cause havoc with my business, I’m free to do this whenever I please—who’s to stop me?
Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s important to be consistent and put systems in place to enable you to maintain that consistency. However, you’re also entitled to give yourself a vacation from one role or another when things hit a wall, so you don’t entirely crash and burn. After all, when you run the show and also sweep the floors, man the concessions, book the talent, light the marquee and everything else that needs doing, allowing yourself to carry a lighter load in one area for a week or two can be extremely helpful in meeting the responsibilities of your other roles.
Just be careful. Make sure your little break is just that and not a nasty habit or bad cycle you’ve fallen into to cope with a lack of organization, faulty systems or a bad business model. If you find yourself falling behind in the critical tasks required to keep your business organized or growing, you’ve got a real problem, and the way you’re working isn’t actually working for you.
And as someone who’s never been a particularly good sleeper I’ll toss this in here as well. One of the many fascinating nuggets gleaned from the The Pew Research Center's Internet and the American Life:
“It's difficult to separate many Americans from their cell phones, even when they're asleep. Among those who own a cell phone, 65% of adults say that they have slept with their phone on or right next to their bed. Nearly all young adults (ages 18-29) make sure their phones are never too far away at night; fully 90% sleep with their cell phone on or right next to their bed. By comparison, 70% of 30-to-49 year olds with phones sleep with their phones close, as do 50% of 50-to-64 year olds.”
Now I realize that for many people their cell phone may be the only phone they possess. So, sure, you have it close by in case some one calls in the middle of the night with an emergency—oh come on! How often does that happen? That’s not why 90% of 18-to-29 year olds and 70% of 30-to-49 year olds are sleeping with or near their phones. And, I’d venture it’s not why you are either. Give your phone a break, too. Get into the habit of turning your phone off at least an hour before bedtime so you’re truly disconnected and ready for your dreams to carry you away...that's the only way they come true, after all.
Please feel free to contact me; I’m always happy to hear from you.
24 hours is a really long time when you have no idea where the day will take you.
Sunday marked the beginning of Walmart’s holiday layaway plan, a whole month earlier than last year, officially kicking off the holiday season before summer has even officially ended. I believe that may just be a record—not counting those “Christmas in July” campaigns.
But, seriously, for many September is a bittersweet month. It’s the end of those long, hot summer days—of late quite humid, too—but also a kind of happy return to getting down to business. Chalk it up to that old “back-to-school” mentality, ingrained in so many of us, kicking in as kids actually go back to school. Or, the beginning of that last quarter of the year bearing down on us and the experience to know how quickly time will fly before we so much as work out our get-it-done-by-year-end lists. So, do we really need the added pressure of Christmas in September, too?
When I worked in higher education I quite literally measured out my life in accordance with the academic calendar and those six years flew by so fast I hardly remember what else happened in my life outside of work; in my memories everything still seems tethered to convocation, midterms, finals, graduation or winter or summer break. I left that job to spend six months in the Pacific Rim. My time included serving as a volunteer teacher in Thailand and in a cultural exchange program working for the Melbourne Film Office as well as traveling through several countries by myself.
My first day found me, after about 24 hours straight of travel from New York City, in Taipei, Taiwan absolutely exhausted, but unable to sleep; I spent all day sightseeing and even bought a ticket to the evening performance at the National Theater, which I watched with half-closed eyes. The next morning after not much sleep either, I sat writing in my journal of all I had done and experienced the day before. It occurred to me I’d already learned one of the greatest lessons of my life: 24 hours is a really long time when you have no idea where the day will take you.
When I returned from my travels and reentered the workforce it was a real challenge not to get caught up in living in the future tense. You know what I mean? “I can wait till next weekend/my vacation/the holiday.” Or, even worse was living days ahead at work, envisioning what needed to get done and making lists for each day of the week; such endless planning ahead was like slow death by post-it notes and reminder emails to self.
So how do we navigate what is for so many of us the pressure cooker time of year when our lives accelerate on almost all fronts, demand for our attention increases exponentially, and we have even less time to spare than usual? Here’s what I have found helpful: