Monthly Archives: January 2012

Clipboard and alternative to Pinterest for private boards

Pinterest resources and useful alternatives.

Pinterest Alternatives

After I published six blog post about Pinterest, you might think I don’t see any flaws with Pinterest. While I do think it is an amazing web site and social tool, one of the biggest issues is the lack of privacy. If you like the organizational functions of Pinterest, but want the ability to have private boards, here are some alternatives.

Private Boards

clip board is an excellent alternative to Pinterest for private boards. They actually default all clips to private.  You can clip an image or text with a link automatically created to the original source


Another alternative is Trello. It isn’t really the same as Pinterest, but it does allow for a similar organization structure except it revolves around typing text on virtual note cards. I plan to blog about this service more in the future, but it is so easy to use, I recommend checking it out now.

If you are a writer, Scrivener is a powerful tool for organizing your writing from ideas to end product.  It is low priced, with a free trial, and the reviews are truly glowing. I have briefly tried it, but it may be more than I need. But if you are a writer, this is a good organization alternative, that is also private.

“For manly men”

As I mentioned previously, Pinterest users tend to be women (different research puts this number between 80 and 95 percent). A site called Gentlemint, created in my home town of Lawrence, KS, is trying to bring the Pinterest concept to men with a completely different site. Whether it will take off is of course a question, but the site is receiving considerable national press. You can watch a video interview with the Gentlemint creators on the Social IRL blog.

Pinterest Resources

My favorite article on Pinterest is composed of 15 interviews with active Pinterest users. If you are going to read one additional story, I recommend checking this one out.

If you want to keep up on the latest news about Pinterest check out this curated collection of Pinterest stories on Scoop.It.

Success cases

Kate Bryan is a blogger who has had amazing success using Pinterest.

Pinterest is now driving more traffic to the Real Simple web site than Facebook. 

Actionable ideas to market you business

Seven creative ways your brand can use Pinterest.

See how nine different businesses are using Pinterest.

Warby Parker Pinterest follower numbers show how new Pinterest is

Pinterest for Businesses and Brands

This is the fifth post in a six part series on Pinterest.

What businesses should use Pinterest?

In order to determine if you business is a good fit for Pinterest, it is best to understand why Pinterest is so popular, and then try it out for yourself once you understand the basics.

Most businesses should be able to find a use for this network, but certain industries are a perfect fit for Pinterest based on the visual nature of their offering and what is already popular on the network. These industries include:

  • Art
  • Photography
  • Restaurants (anything related to food)
  • Weddings
  • Vacation Destinations
  • Tourism
  • Clothing
  • Home Decor

This list is far from comprehesive. After a few days on Pinterest you will likely see other popular pins as well as better evaluate if there is a way to incorporate your business into what is being pinned.

Business benefits of using Pinterest


But how will social media result in profit…

This is a common question in social media, and thankfully as more case studies are published, we are actually getting more definitive proof that social media can clearly increase profits with less expensive and more effective branding, advertising, customer service and by using social media for other business operations. That said, traditional social media networks (we have reached the point where Facebook and Twitter are traditional) are not known for leading to direct sales, especially in the case of first exposure to a product. I have made purchases after seeing just one tweet, but generally, like most consumers, I need to see references to a product multiple times, and then only when I have a significant need, do I make a purchase. Pinterest can accelerate that process.

Path to purchase

For retailers, the path to purchase from a social networks is no more direct than on Pinterest. “See it, like it, buy it” happens frequently (I once again cite the in-depth case study of my wife 😉 ). Even in cases where the path to purchase is not as direct, rarely do you have social network were linking to a for-sale items is done so frequently, you have clear social proof of the desire for the item, you see a picture of it, and where you are only one or two clicks away from being on an e-commerce site.

Perhaps the best gift idea solution ever.

Empathy is a big part of giving gifts. Some of us can put ourselves in the place of the recipient, and come up with something that they would uniquely like to receive. If you are giving a gift to a Pinterest user, you should never again be at a loss for gift ideas. I predict that in 2012, the use of Pinterest to come up with gift ideas will become a massive phenomenon, and this will naturally lead to Pinterest being THE social network that really drives consumer sales.

Drives significant traffic

In the sixth part of this series, I am going to provide further links and resources for exploring Pinterest, but I want to share a few now that stand out.

  • Pinterest is now driving more traffic to the Real Simple web site than Facebook . (Link)
  • Warbly Parker, the hip but inexpensive eye glass retailer, reports that 11% of their social traffic is coming from Pinterest. 18% from Twitter. (Link)
  • Like many early bloggers, Kate Bryan ran a blog that was based around her interests, but it never generated many readers.  She blogged about her professions of hair styling and jewelry making, and also her craft projects. Hair styles are extremely popular pins on Pinterest. Kate started pinning her own work  and rapidly started getting traffic. In five months she achieve over 14,000 new subscribers to her site as well as getting over one million page views from Pinterest. (Link)

These stories are obviously atypical (especially the last one), but they do point to the amazing upside that exists with Pinterest to drive traffic when original content aligns with viewer interest.

Natural audience segmentation

An honest assessment of my own personal network and @free readers who have signed up with Pinterest, shows that women dominate this network. @free followers on Pinterest are 95% women (compared to 58% on Twitter). And while age is difficult to determine, at least 80% of readers look to be under 30. If that age range is your demographic and what you offer has a visual appeal, you need to at least try Pinterest. As a 30ish male, I think Pinterest has long term potential in almost every demographic (most of us have some desire to collect things and ideas), but right now, this age range and gender is dominating.

Aspirational audience research

@free doesn’t follow back everyone who follows us on Twitter. It would be truly monumental task, but I made the decision to try to follow back @free readers who follow us on Pinterest. While reading thousands of tweets an hour would be difficult, quickly looking through pictures is much easier and also points to the aspirations of what part of the @free audience is interested in and what their goals are. If Twitter is what you are interested in or doing right now, Pinterest is a view into what you want to do with your life. Goals, dreams & fascinations are all on display here. As I shared at a recent Lawrence Social Media Club meeting, I have actually learned a couple things about my wife’s interests that I never would have known without Pinterest (and that is after being together for five years).

How should you use Pinterest for your business?


Compelling Images

At a minimum, businesses of all types should put an emphasis of having at least one visually compelling image on any piece of content they produce. This allows you and others to pin the image with a link to your content.

Adapt to the medium

@free is about providing the best of what is free, but it is also about curation in general. In the case of Pinterest, I started by pinning the best permanently free offers. I was working up a list in Trello to create a page on the @free web page to list permanently free offers, but I thought it would also be helpful to put this informaiton on Pinterest. While I will continue adding these free offers over time, I quickly became aware that it wouldn’t be enough content to keep @free active on Pinterest. Because of that, I experimented by re-pinning other useful, fun and interesting pins our readers shared. While the free offers do get repinned, I have found that the highly curated content (we post around 1 pin for every 100 we see) that doesn’t revolve around free gets the most repins and likes. There is certainly the danger of confusing your branding by doing this, but at the same time, you have to adapt to the networks and what makes it so powerful. AMD is active on Pinterest, but not surprisingly is it is difficult for them to compete with normal pin topics that are going to be much more popular and of interest in comparison to pictures of new computer chips.


What resonates with your followers can be unexpected. Once you exstablish a tone for your account, consider experimenting with a few types of pin ideas to see what resonates. With @free, a DIY cinder block bench was our most repinned pin, and I didn’t expect to get more than a few re-pins.

Make it a process

Consistentcy is a key component of any social media plan. Whether you are one person running a small business or have a larger organization, you need to make sure new services  allign with your goals and fit into your work flow. This could be as simple as planning to use Pinterest a certain number of times a week or committing some of your free time to pin. In terms of staffing, Pinterest is one of the more enjoyable social networks, so you are likely to find a few people in your organization willing to pitch into the effort.

First mover advantage

Despite millions of users on Pinterest, very few brands and businesses have signed up, and of those, very few are active. Remember when I mentioned the traffic Warby Parker was getting from Pinterest? You might have thought they had a massive number of followers. As you can see to the right, as I write this, they only have 211 followers. The newness of businesses on Pinterest presents a unique circumstance were your business can be one of the first to actively use this already established social network.

If you are a business using Pinterest, feel free to post a link to your page in comments. I would also appreciate it if you also put at least a line or two about your experience so far.


What Twitter can learn from Pinterest

I am not one of those people who is always calling for the addition of new features to Twitter. I like how it is now. I like that you only get 140 characters. I like the follow/unfollow model. That said, the more I use Pinterest, the more I think about how Twitter could make small changes to improve the experience without ruining the wonder of short updates.

The life of tweets could be extended by allowing for classification and collecting.  Yes, we have hashtags, but I personally don’t find them that elegent. And if I tweet using a hashtag regularly, I still don’t have an easy way to find all the tweets I made using those hashtags.  If I am not going to find my own group of hashtagged tweets, no one else is going to bother to try to find all the tweets I made on one topic.  Twylah has attempted to do this to some degree, but they are using strictly automation. Twitter could avoid buying Twylah (I will miss you Summify), and actually make a better product in the process.

My suggestion to Twitter is give people the option to put Tweets into user created categories (like Pinterest boards).  You could even bury the option so as not to confuse new users, but at least make it an option. Bookmarking sites have shown the popularity of services like this, and with just one selection from a drop down menu, it would create a lot of value for Twitter and users by allowing Twitter to be a destination to find curated “boards” that revolve around specific subject areas.

I mentioned how I like the strict follow/unfollow system Twitter uses, but over time, a small move like this, would position them to better be able to adapt and compete with the Google Plus model of circles. Letting the users decide what to follow on Twitter, makes more sense then having the creator, create circles to share with from existing followers.  Twitter has set itself up as a fairly open networks, and Pinterest’s model of following specific interests would be a nice addition without changing the core Twitter experience.



Pinterest Why do people love it.

Why Pinterest is so popular.

I will freely admit that this blog post doesn’t have many actionable suggestions. I am skeptical of most new social networks, because I can’t see how they will fit into most people’s already busy lives. In the case of Pinterest, I am sold on it being a major player in the future. This blog post provides some of the reasons I view Pinterest as uniquely special among newer social networks.

We all need diversions. TV has been popular for so long because it allows for a break from everyday life and literally engages our brain in a different way than how most of us live the majority of our lives whether it be work or play.

Pinterest fits well into the social network sphere because it is different. It is visual, contained, fun, aspirational and can work in a variety of ways. Any website this popular is going to have multiple factors that contribute to the success. Pinterest captures so many of the factors that motivate use, that I believe it will be one of the most popular social networks going forward both in number of users, but even more so, in terms of time spent on the site.

Below is a quote by Sasha Westin from an interview series on frequent Pinterest users that I believe captures must of the appeal of the site.

It’s a quiet place – no ads, no tickers, no auto refreshes. It’s easy to get lost looking at other people’s pins or browsing through the categories. And did I mention the visual hook? From nail colors to amazing shoes to yummy food photography, it is a beautiful place to be.

Why Pinterest is so popular


As an example, once you get past the ads in a magazine, you have “front of the book” content.

I learned this term from the magazine industry. It references the short, often picuture heavy content that goes in the front of most magazines. It is easily digestible and generally is the most consumed magazine content with the majority of audiences. Pinterest offers easily consumable, picture focused content that is similar to the most popular parts of magazines, irregardless of gender.

With Pinterest, you don’t have to cut out the parts of magazines you like and put them someplace very few people will see. With just a couple clicks you have both archived, curated and shared what you like.


There are very few places where women are comfortable planning their future weddings (some that may not become reality for more than a decade). While you might find someone asking for advice on Facebook and Twitter for wedding ideas, it is pretty rare to see someone in their late teens planning a future wedding without even being in a relationship. This is done so commonly on Pinterest that accounts that don’t have wedding ideas are actually the exception. It isn’t limited to weddings. If you have great taste, but a more reasonable budget, you can still pin pictures that represent your style in all manner of areas like clothing, art, furnishings and more, even if it is unlikey you will soon or ever be able to afford to live that lifestyle.

I am certainly not judging. I would love to fill my house with amazing art that I really like, but that isn’t a priority at the moment and certainly not in my budget. On Pinterest I can still get the satisfaction of expressing my taste for art, while still having no intention of purchasing even one piece in the near future.

Pinterest is a great place to organize what you would do, what you want to be, what you would buy if you could, and not feel bad about it.

Self Contained

Most of the value is self contained (i.e. you don’t have to leave the site). Very little reading is required, and you don’t have to constantly click on links to go other places to see content. Hence why it works so well as an app. The earlier quote from Sasha Westin illustrates this so well. You can literally get lost in the experience, and not is a confusing way.


You don’t have to look for things to pin. You can just re-pin what others have posted. While it is certainly possible that breaking news and related images may eventually enter the site to a greater degree, there is rarely a sense of urgency when using Pinterest.

Comments are relatively rare, making it easy for users to leave the site for days and not feel like they missing something or are letting someone down by not responding. In part because of this lack of pressure. Pinterest is where people choose to come back to every day and even to decompress.


Like the best social networks, Pinterest adapts to what you want to do. If you want to dream about your future life, you can do it. If you want to actually use Pinterest to improve your current life, you can do that is well. One of @free most popular boards posts DIY projects. We try to focus on projects that take minimal effort and money, but can actually create some value if implemented.

My wife Amanda in the last two months on Pinterest has used various pins to come up with some great ideas for organization and then has acted on them to improve how we organize our household.

Pinterest’s flexibility allows for all types of uses and works well with most goals and stages of life.

Where does the time to use Pinterest come from?

I started by talking about how TV makes for a great diversion, and I believe that Pinterest, like other social networks, will cut into TV watching time. Several people have told me, and I can say this is true for my wife and I, that they may still watch TV, but they find that they often on the computer or another digital device while the TV is on.  In our house, I frequently find I am not watching the actually TV show that is on, because I am more interested in what I am doing on a computer.  Pinterest can overlap with existing TV viewing.

While Pinterest is a very unique social network, I do feel that it will compete with existing social networks and “steal” time from them. There are memes on Pinterest about how people have left Facebook for Pinterest to avoid the drama. While I am concerned about a less social site taking time away from actual interactions, it seems inevatable that Pinterest will take time away from Facebook and Twitter, but also the visiting of stand alone website that previously provided content that can now more easily be consumed on Pinterest.

Each person is unique. Some will find Pinterest compelling, some will become obsessed and some will never appreciate it. On the whole, I believe Pinterest is a social network that will increasing take up more and more of our collective time online.



The guy who followed over 1,000,000 people on Pinterest in the past 24 hours.

Pinterest’s popularity might be starting to draw the interest of potential spammers and certainly those using bots.

Last night I got a new follower request to my Pinterest account. Like many users, I kept the default notification settings and get an email each time someone follows my account or specific pin boards.

In this case, the account in question had 6,000+ followers.  This isn’t that uncommon with Pinterest.  Many early adopters as well as those on Pinterest’s recommendation list have ten of thousands and in some case hundreds of thousands of followers.

But this Pinterest account was following over 500,000 accounts and only had one pin board. I checked the account an hour later and he was following close to 700,000 accounts.

Auto Follow Bot Exploits Pinterest

Those of you familiar with Twitter likely have to deal with automated accounts following you on an almost daily basis.  Twitter thankfully limits the number of follows any new account can request at 2,000. Pinterest apparently has no limits. In Pinterest’s case, their automatically generated emails allow you to follow back with one click, so this mass follow approach, as of this morning, had netted over 15,000 followers.  And the account is now following over one million Pinterest accounts.


The account, as of the time this is being posted, is still active and following accounts.

Pinterest has gone beyond its initial audience and needs to institute some type of limits. The fact that in one day, a new account could follow at least 600,000 accounts and most likely over 1 million, is a serious issue that needs to be addressed long term.