They infiltrated our forums, and then they came for our blogs. For a brief while, Facebook was just a place for awkward chatting with high school friends, and then it was taken over by contests. Twitter has nearly been swallowed whole. Google+ placed rules in an attempt to prevent it. And now? Pinterest. Poor, pretty little Pinterest is being flooded by self-promoters.
Look. I’ve been kicking around social media for a while now, starting with hanging out in public forums. I have watched this cycle countless times. No matter what the gathering of people online is, someone shows up with something to sell.
So honestly: why does this surprise anyone?
If you Google “marketing on Pinterest” you will get hundreds nay, THOUSANDS of helpful articles. With 3.2 million users, of course Pinterest has come to the attention of marketers. In fact, I’d say that of all the social networks I’ve seen develop over the last fourteen years, Pinterest is likely the MOST natural fit for marketers because it’s visually based and everyone on there is talking about their dream items, whether it’s kitchens or crafts or food. Those dream items all require things that need to be purchased in order to complete them. In other words: Pinterest lock, meet marketing key.
It’s not that I don’t understand the desire to hold precious something you value. I remember a beautifully quiet blogosphere, when the only social element happened on the blog itself. You didn’t promote your blog, because there was nowhere to do so no Facebook, no Twitter, no LinkedIn. There was nothing but you and the page, and you wrote and hoped people read. Those few comments you got were precious relationships with actual people, not a gauge of your influence or your engagement or your value as a blogger. I won’t lie. It was a beautiful time.
But guess what? I think now is a beautiful time in the blogosphere, too. It’s a fascinating space to watch, and it’s a glorious field to play in. I won’t lie I absolutely LOVE earning a living in this space. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been professionally, even if it does mean that I’m muddying up waters that used to be pure.
Pinterest is just going through the growing phase that happens to every social network. Remember, too, that you have the power when it comes to social engagement: if you feel someone is selling your something and you aren’t interested? UNFOLLOW. The power of social media, after all, lies in CURATION. You get to choose who is in your stream. You can’t just follow the universe and then complain when assholes show up.
This pattern goes back throughout human history. There’s a reason the market was in the village square, folks, and social media is just another village. We’ll get used to it. I promise Pinterest will still be pretty. Really.