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.