Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Pinterest revelation (or how the light bulb turned on)

I've recently discovered Pinterest. Some of you may have noticed I added another new button that reflects this. I know Pinterest has been around for some time, so I'm really rather late in jumping on this particular bandwagon. The truth is, it took me a long time to "get it". The Pinterest community is largely comprised of women and since that's my demographic, I always felt like there was something I should know, and yet didn't; like a big secret. For me, Pinterest is the ball-change of social media, and like the ball-change I have since defeated it. Here's the story. Some time ago, I opened an account to check it out and found it completely overwhelming. But it seemed like everyone I knew (okay, really just the women...) was talking about all this great stuff they'd found on Pinterest, ideas and recipes and on and on. "Pinterest closet" or "Pinspiration", even "Pintrosity" which I presume is a bad thing. So if everyone could find these things, why couldn't I? Where was all this stuff people were raving about? I was wading through stuff I was in no way interested in. Such as, planting an herb garden or planing a trip to Thailand. Or how about what's "in" for spring weddings? I don't garden. While I do enjoy Thai food, I'm not big on overseas travel. I'm also already married so I don't need to know about trendy gowns and flowers. I just did not know how to navigate it properly. I suppose I could have read the help section except for that back then, I didn't know how to find that either. Everyone I knew who used Pinterest (again, all women) just seemed to have an instinctive knowledge already.

I'll admit, that I don't always understand things that are aimed at women as a demographic. Odd I know since that's me, but there it is. A good example is a recent car ad where there was a couple dancing around on the roads. It caught my eye because of dancing, (duh) but for the life of me, I couldn't understand why they were doing what they were doing. As it turns out, the man is supposed to represent the car (wait, what?) and he's protecting her because he keeps dancing her out of the way of obstacles (sure, why not?). And the message here is: the car safe. Even as I use this as an example, I still don't fully understand it, I'm more or less repeating what was explained to me. About the same time, another car ad came out for some other make/model where the couple in the car was touring Italy and wound up in the middle of an Indy car race because of a faulty GPS. This ad I get. The message is: the car is fast. I think the second one was directed more towards men. Most guys would like a fast car and if it's also safe then hey, bonus. Women, I think, want a safe car and don't necessarily value speed in the same way, and that much I do understand. I want a safe car too, I drive my kids around in that thing! To be clear about my first example, the message is good, the format in which it was presented is what I struggled with. And so it was with Pinterest! Trying to navigate the pins and boards and so forth felt like a lot of work and anything I was looking at was more like Pin-uninterest. So I gave up after a week and deactivated my account.

Recently I was inspired (Pinspired?) to give it another try. My friend Tay, who lives in Toronto (love you girl), posted something interesting about Starbucks to her Facebook. Starbucks eh? I like Starbucks... According to the article though, most people -don't- like what Starbucks has done with their Pinterest page and boards. Aren't all those Pinterest pages basically the same? What's to like or dislike? So I read on to find out and what I learned from reading this went way beyond Starbucks and their Pinterest problem. I began to understand what the big deal about Pinterest was in the first place. The article was originally from a site called Tailwind which, I learned from further reading, largely deals with marketing. However, they have -a lot- of posts that contain advice on how to use Pinterest in different ways. So I read a couple more of these aaannndd... Cue those mental bells and whistles. Got it. The Tailwind people know how to write a straightforward how-to, or a comprehensive list of do's and don't's. Basically, what I was reading on Tailwind was like the car ad with the couple stuck in the Indy race. I've got to figure that Tailwind probably has a lot of male readers. Sigh. Bry teases me about my thought pathways leaning a lot more towards "guy thinking" and this is just one more thing that proves his theory. But I don't mind, because what he says actually does have some basis in fact. I'll be completely honest, I'd rather watch Bruce Willis blow some stuff up, or watch Jason Statham beat down some villain (dude is the Baryshnikov of martial arts), than watch Hugh Grant go to four different weddings...and one funeral...(gag); no offense if you like that movie.

So I reactivated my account and took a good look at it using my new-found knowledge and realized that I was "following" a bunch of people I didn't know, and had no interest in. How I wound up following a gardener-lady and her herb-growing, I have no idea. So I sorted through the stuff that was useless to me and hit a bunch of "unfollow" buttons and what I was left with was friends. I have Pinterest friends? Apparently so if you connect to Pinterest with Facebook. These are people I actually care about and am interested in. So I decided to find out what they're interested in. This was a -much- better Pinterest experience for me. When you're friends with someone, it stands to reason that you'll have at least a couple of common interests, so reading their boards and pins! Looking at what they had pinned, I saw that the majority of it had come from other places and that following the pins to those places lead me to more interesting things, which lead to still more interesting things. Astounding. Aah, that's where the "interest" in Pinterest comes from... Here's where all the good stuff was hiding. This is what people had been talking about all along. Ways to organize your home using stuff from the dollar store? Heck yeah, I need that!

Bry (pulling open a kitchen drawer): Ack! What happened to this drawer?
Me: I bought little bins and organized it.
Bry: How am I supposed to find anything now?

So as long as I'm discovering this brave new world, I figured I may as well create a few boards of my own. So I started looking for specific stuff. What are the Zumbamommy's two biggest interests? Stuff about family and being a mom, and stuff about Zumba.

Bry (wandering by me as I scroll): Uh oh, she's been absorbed into Pinterest.
Me (looking up): No, I'm looking for specific things. I'm not building a board full of shoes I'd like to own.
Bry: That's because shoes aren't your thing. What if it were handbags? I'll bet you already have a board full of Zumba clothes you'd like to own.
Me: No...I don't. But that's a great idea Babe!
Bry: Oh boy...

In the process of hunting for stuff I thought would fit me and my personality, I learned that Zumba actually has an official Pinterest page. Ooh goody. There are also soooo many fun pins out there about Zumba too. For example:
I know right? How me is this? Well, maybe not quite, I do own regular clothes it's just that my Zumba wardrobe is at least the size of either my warm weather or cold weather wardrobes. Oh, and I totally made that board full of Zumbawear that I want to buy too. Frivolous of me? Maybe, but it's fun. When Pinterest wasn't fun for me, I deactivated my account. Now I'm enjoying it quite thoroughly. And isn't that what social media is really all about? Having fun with it? Otherwise, why bother?

Best advice: Follow me on Pinterest! Just kidding, but thank you if you do. For real this time: Bry jokes about me being absorbed, but that actually does happen to people. Pinterest and it's compatriots are fun but no substitute for real life activities. I'm definitely not going to (as in never ever) forgo my Zumba class in lieu of pinning up stuff about Zumba. Enjoy your online time in whatever form that takes, but, as they say, everything in moderation. Except Zumba. I'm sure whoever "they" are, they didn't mean to include Zumba.

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