Pinterest is Racking Up Dollars On Your Boards

News outlets, influential bloggers, and the general consumer have all been singing the praises of the social network that is Pinterest. Aside from the ease in usability, allowing for faster and more widespread adoption, and the general attractiveness in design, the greatest success of this infant (and still invite-only) social network is the feeling elicited when participating in this social space. From the copy that gives the impression you’re working closely alongside the Pinterest staff, to the accomplishment one feels when creating a new board, there is so much positive sentiment towards this network that there seems to be no slowing down the momentum of pinning – that is, until recently.

Pinterest boards

I wonder how much money I've helped Pinterest make.

In between the constant reminders that Pinterest is becoming a powerful referral source online, and the fact that every woman I know seems to be infatuated with creating boards of their favorite recipes*, there has been a recent outcry against the network. It seems that the innocent gesture of the Pinterest team creating a network for those with a desire to create visual representations of their wants whilst connecting with those they know does in fact have an ulterior motive, and unsurprisingly it’s to make money off your pins.

So, how are they doing this? It’s actually pretty simple. With the assistance of Skimlinks, Pinterest takes a look at the pins you have published and, if relevant, add affiliate links to them. Should the trail from your pin lead to a purchase of some sort, both Skimlinks and Pinterest receive a portion of the sale.

Though the news of the clean-looking, approachable social network finding a way to monetize off your hours of wedding planning on boards and collections of cat GIFs, what many find most surprising is the social network has done so without explicit disclosure.

Personally, my surprise is only that this hasn’t been reported on until now. The site is right at the 2-year mark, but the popularity didn’t seem to surge until the latter of 2011. It could be the drummed up interest in Pinterest has also brought about the skeptics, true – I just think it’s about time we got to know Pinterest a little better.

Now that the cat’s out of the bag, it wouldn’t be out of the question that users would protest their works of JPEG art representing anything other than their ideas having come to visual fruition, but this does not seem to be the case. In fact, business seems to be carrying on as usual. And why not? A representative from Skimlinks responded to the recent inquiries with a statement that essentially informs the online audience that monetization of user-generated content has been going on for some time, and it’s perfectly fine, whether speaking legally or morally.

I find it fascinating that we’re finally cracking the code that is this wildly-popular niche network, sure, but I am in no way offended. Pinterest using Skimlinks is smart business, and the additions to my boards in no way jeopardizes the fun I’m having online.

I’ve discovered the truth that was hiding in plain sight, and I feel more than comfortable saying that I fully intend on continuing pinning. Maybe when an actual dirty secret comes about I’ll reconsider creating that next board.

Down with the Auto- Era

Back in September of last year I wrote a post explaining how people use Twitter in the worst ways possible. I normal prefer to provide constructive criticism to those seeking guidance in online media, but these 7 items are some that I consider rookie mistakes. My hopes were that once many had learned that each was a social media faux pas, they would learn from the mistakes and change their Twitter approaches for the better.

Twitter

These "no-nos" are a Twitter FAIL.

As one might expect, there are still many more people “doing Twitter” all wrong, and these individuals outnumber those who have really grasped the platform. Hey, I guess that’s why there are consultants like myself available to help train people in the social space for the better, right?*

At the time I wrote my “rant” post if you will, I figured that would be that, and I would continue blogging about better business and social media approaches. As I look through blogs, fan pages, and Twitter profiles all day long, I come up with inspiration for new posts and the time (I have the jam-packed moleskine to prove it), but there is one aspect of my Twitter post that I’ve been dying to revisit in order to elaborate on. Care to humor me with this?

Here’s the one point that still greatly irks me:

the obsession with the auto (insert Twitter verb here)

Why must we automate such actions as direct messages and follow-backs on Twitter? How does this make sense for anyone to do? When you allow for a computer or some automated service to take the reigns of your Twitter account, do you not see how you are devaluing your reputation on the web? Your professional reputation? If you can’t even take on the task of deciding which individuals you would like to follow, why do you even bother creating your own tweets? Why not just sign up for a service that creates what they deem “relevant tweets to your following” and believe me, those services exist.

Don't check that box - just don't.

I haven’t even gotten started on the auto-DM. I’m honestly afraid to go in full rant mode for this one, so I will keep this part brief: if you can’t tailor a direct message that is personal to the given Twitter user, don’t bother sending one at all. The whole point of taking the conversation from the public space on the newsfeed to the privacy between you and the other individual is to have a one-on-one conversation. When you opt to send  someone a generic message, it essentially tells this person, whether new friend, client, or other, that you don’t care.

Twitter interactions already take place with at least two devices standing between individuals in a conversation, so there is no need to add even more to this equation. If you really want to build a following, and build relationships via this platform, then start abiding by the definition of the prefix auto- and do it yourself. Take your Twitter account back and let the automated systems continue being used by those not in the know.

How do you feel about the “auto- era”?

*Shameless self-promotion. I admit, it might’ve been too easy.

The Best is Yet to Come in 2011

2011 is already well under way, and if the bright and shiny new developments in social media and technology that have come about thus far are any indication of what we’ll be seeing the rest of the year, I really can’t wait. Bring it, 2011!

Google CR-48

This device is going to be huge this year.

As far as technology goes, one might expect me to address the rumors of the 2nd generation iPad coming to stores this year (I definitely think this is going to happen), or the iPhone finally coming to Verizon; nope, this post will not be addressing anything Apple related. Instead, I think the Google CR-48 is going to be one of this year’s most talked about releases in terms of technology. Google has finally entered into the realm of the netbook, and it looks like a fierce competitor to all others out there. Devices created primarily for the purpose of content consumption are seen everywhere these days, but the sleek Apple-like design and fast speeds of the CR-48 will help it stand out against the rest. Having played with the Chrome OS powered vehicle myself I think this will definitely be a big hit when it hits shelves everywhere.

Now we discuss the next steps in the social media realm. What’s the next big thing? What big innovation in social media will have everyone talking about it throughout the year? I believe the platforms that will have everyone talking this year will be the ones that encourage users to ask questions. And not only will they be a place for customers to ask questions, but see real time answers to their inquiries. We all know Quora has been a big hit recently, and I think this site will continue to grow in popularity. Another really interesting site that helps businesses field questions from their customers in a timely manner is KISSInsights. Have you heard about this? Using KISSInsights allows for viewers of your website to give you feedback right then & there to help you make your site more user-friendly. There’s no one better to tell you how a customer will enjoy navigating through your site better than the customers themselves, and KISS can help you do just that.

I have a feeling I will be making updates later this year with even more trends that we’ll all be witnessing in 2011. Who knows, this field is so dynamic that I could come up with umpteen other ideas by the end of the week.

What trends do you see coming about in social media and technology this year?

7 Ways You’re Doing it Wrong – on Twitter that is.

twitterI will be the first to admit that I am no expert when it comes to social media. I think it’s hard for anyone to claim that title for themselves. This field is so dynamic that each day we are all learning something new.

I can, however, tell you that I know some people have just got it allwrong. There are tweeps I see each and every day on my feed that are sending tweets that just irk me. So in my passive-aggressive manner I have decided to create a little list of what I just LOVE to see on Twitter everyday (please tell me the sarcasm is easy to sense here):

  1. People telling me how much money I can make if I sign up for their services.
  2. Users that link everything back to their website(s).
  3. People claiming to be experts on engagement, yet never actually talk to anyone else.
  4. Those that call themselves a “guru.” Todd Schnick said it before me, but it never hurts to remind everyone of this faux pas.
  5. An entire tweet stream filled with inspirational quotes rather than ever saying anything original.
  6. Auto DM me as soon as I follow them back – as MarketerMikeE says, Don’t Auto DM me, bro!
  7. People that still have the default cloud background. Okay, now I’m just being petty.

This list could go on & on. Twitter is such a valuable tool for creating and supporting an online presence. If you misuse it in one of the ways listed above, there is a good chance you are eliminating possibilities everyday of creating connections, and engaging in meaningful conversation. And if you’re in this for business reasons, you can be sure you’re turning away potential customers each time you do it.

So, I’ve listed my 7. What would you add to this list?

Taking the Plunge Back Into Blogging

I am a blogger for a living. I create upwards of 40 original blog posts a week for clients all over the nation. I create unique content on a weekly basis, and in my 6 months having been employed in the social media marketing realm have written thousands of blog posts. On paper it would seem that I am well-versed when it comes to the idea generation, creation, and execution of a blog post; this, however, is not the reality of it all.

macbook

If you think it's as easy as tapping away on the keys, then you'd be wrong.

This is the first time in months that I have gone anywhere near my personal blog, and even as I am writing this there is some sort of anxiousness that’s there, nagging me, the same feeling that has built up over the past few months.

I’m calling this “blogging anxiety,” though I’m sure someone has already coined the term. Though I’ve created a voice for myself through various channels for others, I am still learning to find mine here on my own personal blog. The longer I stay away and throw myself into my work, the harder it gets to return to my own writing. And the vicious cycle continues!

So this is my own “welcome back” to the blogging medium. You can’t find your voice unless you start looking for it, right?

Keep an eye out for me!

I Tweet, You Tweet.

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