Hey Brands, stop ruining my Pinterest.
A month or so ago I had the amazing pleasure to moderate a panel at Digital Summit in Atlanta, with a few awesome leaders in the field of digital marketing. We played a fun game on stage akin to “defending your life” where I asked the panelists to explain to me why it’s acceptable for brand marketers to ruin social media on the web and turn everything into a big commercial and make us hate things we once loved.
Well, at least the audience laughed. 🙂
So here’s the deal: I am a jaded consumer, an experienced brand builder, and a consultant to people marketing their products. I see people wanting to “engage” with customers all the time and it’s wonderful that they reach out to CoSupport to do that, since customer support is indeed a part of your marketing. But what I won’t do, and what I hate that other people do, is ever, ever, ever put a product or brand on a site like Pinterest.
When I asked the Digital Summit panelists, “Why are brands invading Pinterest” they unanimously voiced, “Because that’s where the people are!” Ok, I get it. We’re all sitting in a huge room repinning vintage chairs and low-cal pasta recipes and workout tips as if any of us really will ever stop pinning vintage chairs on the internet to ever workout or eat better. I get that we’re a huge group of consumers to be sold to, but I don’t want to be sold to. I want to be inspired.
Brands that understand the subtlety of inspiring and engaging versus selling will win the race. Brands that get that they don’t have to be on Pinterest just because there’s a huge group of people there already will ultimately be endeared to customers, instead of turning customers off. Think of it this way: My friends and I are hanging out in this room sharing pictures of things that inspire us, ideas for things we want to DIY the shit out of, food we love, places we’ve visited. And you come in banging a huge GONG GONG HERE’S MY BRAND HEY GUYS and start shoving pieces of paper in our hands that have your URL on them and you just stand their looking at us banging away.
So, you do that, and everyone in the room now hates you.
But imagine this instead: We’re at the same party in the same room and you’re invited by someone we know, and you’re introduced because we have similar interests. And without making a huge deal about it, you start a conversation with one of us about something you know we’re interested in already. You’re engaging and present without being overbearing and slimy, or creating Pinterest boards that are just pins of blog posts you wrote. And without really even trying, I’m now your customer, and I’m asking you questions, and I’m seeking you out. You’ve engaged me by not getting in the way of how I already use a product, or ruining it with your brand presence and misunderstanding of the tool.
As the jaded consumer and brand helper-though-customer-empowering-support person that I am, I’d like to give you an amazing tip from a person whose name I wish I remembered. After my panel, a woman came up to me and sheepishly confessed that she was using Pinterest for her brand. She wanted to tell me how she was using it, and ask if it was all right what she was doing. I braced myself for her to tell me she was a church, or a startup, or a blogger, or Taco Bell or something as equally NOT RIGHT for Pinterest.
Then she told me that she worked for Volkswagon, and on Pinterest she posts pictures of vintage VWs, and has a board of color schemes based on VWs colors, and another full of inspiring vintage designs that have the look and feel of their brand.
And right there I wanted to kiss that woman and give her a ticker-tape parade, because she was doing it so, so right.