BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

It's really what you pin ...

I believe that I reached out to the good folks at McGraw Hill to get a copy of this one … I'd recently reviewed a similar book on the Pinterest platform and figured, hey … the more the merrier. One of the challenges in putting out books about very new web entities is the speed at which they change, and one has to figure, if one is venturing into writing one, that it won't have a long useful life, unless you are able to convince your publisher to produce regular new versions. The book I reviewed last Fall came out within weeks of a major change to Pinterest (I believe it was the switch away to the “by invitation” model), so it was inaccurate to that extent from the get-go. While Jason Miles and Karen Lacey's Pinterest Power: Market Your Business, Sell Your Product, and Build Your Brand on the World's Hottest Social Network has been out for while (about half a year), I'm looking at reviewing it within weeks (I'm guessing) of Pinterest implementing a new format across the entire user base (I'm not happy about that, frankly), so much of this is a “snapshot” of how the platform was at a given point in time.

Pinterest is a strange bird in the social media sphere … it grew at a big-bang-like rate, with seemingly every scrapbooker with a computer jumping in to create virtual versions of her pasted-up visions of clothes, food, hairstyles, shoes, accessories, vacation spots, more shoes, more hairstyles, crafts, kids activities, etc., etc., .etc. … with a gender mix that's about 85% female. However, unlike almost every other “social media platform”, Pinterest appears to be able to sell product. One of the top “trainers” for Pinterest is Melanie Duncan, and she claims to have fallen into that role almost by accident when she discovered that her clothing business was getting most of its traffic and conversions from the pins she'd put up “just to be there”. Oddly, the “pin” metaphor comes from its founder, Ben Silbermann's childhood hobby of collecting insects and pinning them onto boards … a visual that I'm sure would be unpopular with most of the site's users!

Anyway, this is to preface the fact that I didn't particularly “connect” with Pinterest Power, as its focus is in the “clothing small business” niche … no doubt a strong area for Pinterest demographically, but not something that's much on my radar. This is also a book where one author is the “expert” and the other is the “writer”, with Jason Miles being the content person, having developed his wife's “Liberty Jane Clothing” company into a six-figure online business with strong social penetration, and Karen Lacey apparently the hired word-slinger. The foreword for this is by Susan Gregg Koger of ModCloth, and the model of their fashion focus carries through here, often quite specifically.

Pinterest, of course, is remarkable for its growth, going from nearly no users to being a monster in just two years:
“Four months from its launch, Pinterest had only 200 users … For the first couple of years, Pinterest experienced the same steady growth rate – 40 to 50 percent or more per month. Those 200 users in the first quarter of 2010 quickly grew to over 11 million unique visitors in January 2011. In March 2012, Pinterest became the third largest socal media website in the world and is still growing fast.
While most of the thrust of the book is to the Esty/handcrafted market, there certainly are elements that are more targeted to a general business audience … one example of this is the “Eight Keys to Becoming a Trusted Resource”:
  1. Pin your Passion.

  2. The Devil's In The Details.

  3. Impress, Inspire, Startle.

  4. Let Yourself Shine.

  5. Integrity.

  6. Social Proof.

  7. Guarantees and Testimonials.

  8. Get Personal
One of the bad and good things in the book are the plethora of lists like these, as, while they break down the concepts into easily acted-on plans, there is no unifying structure to them. There are also sets of “Three P's” ... Principle, Practice, and Profit … scattered through the book, which add commentary about the lists and/or material with which they're associated..

I have been a Pinterest user for a while now, but I'm certainly not a typical Pinterest user, and this may explain why I was constantly having “disconnects” with the information being doled out in the book. I end up pinning something several times a week, either things I've generated (these book reviews, interview videos, etc.) or stuff I've come across on Facebook, et al, that I think would fit on one of my “boards”. I was very surprised to read here that “approximately 80 percent of Pinterest images are actually repins”, as I very rarely will outright re-pin somebody else's pin, and it's even a rarer occasion when somebody else re-pins something of mine onto their boards. From my experience, I would have guessed that number to be more in the 5% range!

Most of the massive success stories I've seen for Pinterest tend to cluster into two zones, small businesses in the style/fashion niche, and large corporations with products popular with the “mommy blogger” contingent. I was somewhat incredulous when I read the author report:
“In the first four months of our company's presence on Pinterest, we received just over 2,000 repins with referral links back to the website. We also received over 7,000 actual visitors to our website from Pinterest. This means a 3:1 ratio of website visits per repin is reasonable and even conservative. For every repin, we can now estimate we'll receive at least three website visits.”
Now, I've had Pinterest in the mix on a lot of projects, from literary to media to non-profit, etc., and the numbers that Miles reports here are at least a hundred times more robust than anything I've seen … although, I must admit, the general thrust of what he's saying is in line with what Duncan said she saw for her fashion business.

This makes me think that Pinterest Power is a book arising from a particular niche in the Pinterest landscape, and is operating within a “reality tunnel” specific to that niche, and that the material in the book, while having general applicability in terms of methodology, is likely to NOT be particularly predictive for success for any venture outside the realm in which Liberty Jane, ModCloth, DIY/Esty, and others operate. I seriously doubt that the rules of the universe of “darling suede pumps” would be applicable in one trending more to “efficient fuel pumps”. The book does venture into other areas than clothing, however, dipping into discussions of non-profits, churches and colleges, but I doubt that these are seeing the same results as the folks selling “cute stuff”.

While there are generally useful strategies, tricks, and tips here, it exists in a reality which is limited to, I believe, a certain market which is highly attractive to the particular Pinterest demographic, and I really wish the book was being more specifically presented with that in mind. Again, I'm not in that demographic, and have virtually no contact with that niche, so my main reaction through the book was “in what universe?”, but if you ARE in those distinctive orbits, this could very well be a great book for you to “Market Your Business, Sell Your Product, and Build Your Brand”.

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Tags: book review
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