There is a great scene in an old Seinfeld episode where Jerry is complaining that his dentist has converted to Judaism, just for access to the jokes. And when asked if this offends him as a Jew, Jerry quickly responds “no, it offends me as a comedian”.
Pinterest similarly, doesn’t offend me as a user. It offends me as a strategist.
As Adam Kmiec said in his Digiday talk (and I’m paraphrasing slightly here…), have we all lost our minds?
Pinterest is growing like a weed, and apparently it also drives more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn, and Youtube combined. Which by the way, doesn’t strike me as much of a feat. When you compare a site like Pinterest (whose structure and design is meant to drive traffic) with two networks that are not at all about driving traffic (YouTube and LinkedIn), and one that’s barely off the ground (Google+), it doesn’t seem that impressive.
But hey, who am I to rain on the parade? We’re just trying to get some twitter clicks here, amirite? READING the article, or god forbid questioning the soundbite is for SUCKAS!
So Pinterest is awesome for users. It totally is, and I get that. As soon as I introduced her to Pinterest, my girlfriend was hooked. And she is one of millions that fell into the same level of instant love with the platform.
However, we digital strategy types are losing our minds. We are losing our minds because we want so badly to weasel our way in there with brand messaging and contests and engagement. We want so badly to crack the code, and figure out how to leverage this platform for our brands. We want to have something new to talk about and sell and be experts on. God damn it, we need it. It’s our lifeblood.
To this end, and rather unsurprisingly so, smart men and women…good and respected digital strategy types, are being reduced to starry-eyed school girls fawning over the latest pop star. They’re creating pages, haphazardly throwing up images, and wedging “Pin It” buttons next to any piece of website content they have, all while mumbling words like “engagement” and “re-pin”.
Demographics, user-behaviors, fit with the brand, and general sensibilities be-damned. There is a hot new social network in town, and we’re getting on it. Giddyup.
Now to be fair, this is not to say that there isn’t fantastic potential for those whose brand align well with the Pinterest freight-train. CustomMade, where I am an advisor has gotten great results from pushing content into the system. And for eCommerce, food, art, and other similar sites/brands, Pinterest can be killer.
My problem isn’t with Pinterest specifically. My problem is with what Pinterest has revealed to be a rather sad truth; that we’ve become desperate as strategists, and that this desperation has caused us to lose our minds somewhere along the way. We aren’t thinking anymore, we’re just doing. We’re chasing our tails and each other, jumping on whatever pops up in Mashable as the next big thing.
Sometimes being a good strategist means saying “no” to a new platform if it doesn’t fit your client’s path. But at the very least, being a good strategist always means asking “why?” (and answering), before diving in headlong.
And lastly, if you don’t believe that it’s a monkey-see, monkey-do world out there in the social space, just remember that this hot new platform called Pinterest, has been around since mid-2010.