Thank You For Your Pinterest, But I Don't Know What To Post


This is an open letter to my 72 followers on Pinterest, including my friend, Sue, who stood next to me in line on the high school cheerleading squad; my sorority Big Sister; Mobile Marketing Association CEO Greg Stuart, fellow Social Media Insider David Berkowitz, and that guy I worked with way, way long ago at Ogilvy & Mather.

Here’s what I want to tell you: I’m sorry that my pinning is so sporadic, and so, well, lame.  Three weeks in, I have no earthly idea what I should do with this thing, so I’m throwing it out to all of you. What should a personage like me pin?

I know! I’ll start a board consisting completely of pictures of question marks, because that’s what comes to mind every time I think about what I might do on Pinterest.

And this whole, weird, cart-before-the-horse relationship on Pinterest between followers and my (in)ability to produce meaningful content is only making my case of pinner’s block worse. If you’re wondering exactly what I mean, in all the years I’ve been playing on social platforms, I’ve never seen a platform in which the early adapters that I hang out with professionally, and the aforementioned people from high school, all discover a platform at roughly the same time.



(Well, except for Berkowitz, who is prescient enough that I think he joined some platforms before they even existed.)

When I joined Facebook, back in February 5, 2007 (thank you, Timeline), I felt like a soccer mom turned stalker, the kind of 40something evildoer who ends up being the centerpiece of a bad movie on Lifetime. The whole experience was unsettling. I was writing a story about social networks for Adweek, and slowly came to the realization that the only way I was going to make sense of Facebook was to join Facebook.

Joining Facebook to write about Facebook? What a concept! But back then, joining Facebook felt like going undercover. I spent a few minutes scrolling through other Facebook members from Westchester County, New York, only to find that virtually everyone else was a high school or college student, several decades my junior. Facebook was not a place for women with two kids, dust bunnies for pets, a (then) four-year-old mini-van and a coupon habit. It was several years before people like me were there in any number.

As for Twitter, the advancement of the so-called “normal” people in my life onto Twitter has never happened. It’s as though high school and college friends who do follow me only do so because they had a sudden spasm in their index finger one night and started following me by accident.

But not so with Pinterest. Sure, its integration with Facebook has helped boost its traffic, but similar integration between Facebook and Twitter never resulted in the same random accumulation of followers that I’ve racked up on Pinterest in only a few short weeks, and all without posting anything.

While one can only be impressed with Pinterest’s growth -- the site has reached the 10 million unique monthly visitor mark faster than any site in history -- as I said above, that doesn’t mean I have any clue as to what to do with it.

So far I’ve posted a picture of that woman we used to call Madge on my board “Aging Pop Stars.” My second one is of “Social Media Cheat Sheets.” Its only visual is a poster that synopsizes the whats and wherefores of different social platforms (though not Pinterest).

Lame. Where do I go from here? Should I post pictures of my cat? Nah, too obsessive. Jeremy Lin? Too trendy. My myriad attempts at making better weekday meals? No, that would only expose my unnatural fixation with making soup. My favorite baseball mascot, Mr. Met? Pitiful, on several levels.

Help me out here. This case of pinner’s block is about to drive me crazy. Leave your ideas below.


20 comments about "Thank You For Your Pinterest, But I Don't Know What To Post".
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  1. Glenn Laudenslager from Reed Medical Education, a divsion of Reed Exhibitions and Reed Elsevier, February 16, 2012 at 11:16 a.m.

    I don't think I've ever had anyone telepathically communicate my thoughts as effectively as this article does. WTF do I do on there, lol!?!?!

  2. Peter Leviten from Bose, February 16, 2012 at 11:20 a.m.

    Hilarious column because it's so true! And I love your description of the middle-aged person's FB experience.

  3. Michele Souder from Trendline Interactive, February 16, 2012 at 11:23 a.m.

    You just wrote everything I have been thinking about Pinterest! So glad I'm not alone. It is bizarre to me how many of my mom friends who are never on the cutting edge of this kind of stuff have jumped on this bandwagon and are actively using it - more than they use Facebook.

  4. Anne Mullins from The Agency Inside Harte-Hanks, February 16, 2012 at 11:28 a.m.

    I had the same FB and Pinterest experiences as you. Feels good to know I'm not alone. And now FB is being taken over by my mother and her friends in their 60's!

  5. Daniel Fell from ND&P, February 16, 2012 at 11:41 a.m.

    Nice article and welcome to the support group. Given the large number of food images (wonder what percentage are food or fashion) is that a default safe option for most people? Also interesting to see that unlike the low quality, user-generated content we've been told is so important on other social networks, Pinterest appears to be all about high quality, professionally shot images. Is this a sign of UGC fatigue?

  6. Lou Kerner from The Second Internet Fund, February 16, 2012 at 11:43 a.m.

    Cathy - Great article. Sites that are scaling, like Pinterest, sclae for a reason. There is obviously something three, and if you don't get it, it's because your not using it right. So I starting using Pinterest. ALOT! And I must say, I still don't get it. I've learned how to drive engagement. But so what? I'll keep trying to figure it out. Let me know if you figure it out first. Some suggested its an online home for hoarders.

  7. Karrie Mueller from Webhead Interactive, February 16, 2012 at 11:52 a.m.

    Love your article. My employees and friends have been chatting about this a bunch. I started using it to plan several showers & parties this Spring that I am heading up - I make boards that are my inspiration boards for decor, cakes, invitations, table settings, etc... Then I started getting into it for recipes - and I have actually made 3 things off Pinterest to date - recipes I may have not found on my own as it gets me to blogs I would never have read. Then I started venturing into the fashion & hair pins - I actually did a hair do from a how to I found off Pinterest! Its also given me really great ideas for gifts - unique gifts - I would have never found on my own. Its become a great tool for me and past time.

  8. Perry Allison from BiddingForGood, February 16, 2012 at 11:56 a.m.

    Ok. I'm going to represent the crowd who are crazy in love with Pinterest- who are obsessed. Here's a simple first step- how about sharing pictures of things that you find beautiful and amazing. Here are two examples from my profile- I have been trying to explain to people for years why I love going to Burning Man. Expressing that in pictures is way easier than in words. And on a completely different topic- I raise chickens. Yes, that's right, I do and I love my girls. I can post about Chickens on Facebook but on Pinterest, I can share fabulous pictures of beautiful birds, and fanciful coops and perfect blue eggs. Oh and since I'm in marketing, I'm collecting compelling infographics which is pretty sweet too. :-) I really do think that a picture is worth a thousand words.. So keep trying.. there's bound to be something that will captivate you and your followers.

  9. Denise Dorman from WriteBrain Media, February 16, 2012 at 12:22 p.m.

    Thank you for stating what so many are reluctant to admit. As with QR Codes, Pinterest is another medium where everyone is busy justifying why it's cool. I could care less to see images of what people are making for dinner (with the exception of 2 friends, who are amazingly inventive). I've been pinning "Steampunk" items I think are cool, because that's my interest, and since I do GEEK PR, I've been pinning the comic book art and illustration of various artists I follow. It's another StumbleUpon as far as I'm concerned.

  10. Steve Schildwachter from, February 16, 2012 at 12:25 p.m.

    My answer is to work with someone on my Pinterest boards. Namely, my 13-year-old daughter!

  11. Heidi Claunch from Blue Sparrow Designs, February 16, 2012 at 12:43 p.m.

    I was skeptical on Pinterest at first as well, but now I love it. I like to use my Pinterest boards sort of like a bookmark for things that I like or inspire me and I would want to reference again. For example, I have a board for crafts/DIY stuff where I can collect project ideas for handmade gifts or decor that I want to try out.

    Pinterest is also great to use as a moodboard for projects or events you are trying to plan such as weddings, room makeovers, nursery ideas, etc. I have a board for collecting ideas for redesigning my home office. The best part is that it is all visual, which makes it so much easier to come back and scan through your thumbnails of goodies than a bookmarked list of links.

    I think of it more as a place to store, share, and discuss ideas and random tidbits, rather than a place interact with others directly such as you would on Facebook and Twitter. I wouldn't wish someone happy birthday on Pinterest and I wouldn't post a dozen photos of office decor ideas to Facebook and clutter up my Timeline. They have different purposes to me and I quite like it that way. Hope that helps! =)

  12. Nina Lentini from MediaPost Communications, February 16, 2012 at 1:26 p.m.

    Support group! Thanks, Daniel Fell. I heard it could boost a dormant blog so I hopped on board last weekend. Pinned my blog and, voila, followers up the wazoo! My 21 year old daughter told me on FB that she LOVED Pinterest so I asked her, um, why? She said it's a visual Twitter. Sounds about right. But, still, I'm with you, Catharine.

  13. Alex Luken from Humana, February 16, 2012 at 2:39 p.m.

    Perhaps it's a left brain-right brain thing?

    I'm a visual thinker, so collecting pictures of all sorts of things and classifying them is rather soothing and fun for me. I'm not worried about what others think about what I post; it's more like a collection of visual cues to spark conversations or memories. Pinterest is a journey, not a destination; no collection is ever complete, or fully formed. It's a way of replacing the stacks of saved magazines, photos torn out of magazines in the waiting room of the doctor's office, the collection of catalogs that I've saved because of one really great item in it, pictures from places that make me want to journey there, craft ideas... it's all about the dialogue that goes on in your head because of the imagery.

    I can think of several ways for Pinterest integrate into business social application.

  14. Hank Stewart from Green Team, February 16, 2012 at 2:57 p.m.

    Catherine, get out of my head! I just PINNED a photo I took on a recent business trip to Berlin, because, well...I had to PIN something! I mean, all those followers out there depending on me. It's a lot of pressure! I could see where this PIN block could keep me awake at night. PINSOMNIA!

  15. Tim Orr from Barnett Orr Marketing Group, Inc., February 16, 2012 at 3:40 p.m.

    I can't help thinking of the response: "Thanks very much, but I already have a life." Where do people find the time to participate in all this stuff? And what are they NOT doing so that they can?

  16. Christine (Kevan) Licata from pontiflex, February 16, 2012 at 4:35 p.m.

    I think the trick is to not become paralyzed by thought and to take advantage of the free flowing environment Pinterest has organically created. Such a different form of user-generated content; more like "user-generated visuals".

    It's grown so fast because people participate without hesitation. Why? Perhaps because we react more quickly to images? Maybe because it's easier to share something via images? or could it be our innate desire to gather things (with the demo being primarily women)?

    Make sure you add the Pinterest toolbar icon to your browser so you can pin things as you see them in your daily searches. It's a great way to visualize to-do lists or wish lists. Who doesn't LOVE making lists??

    It’s also a fantastic marketing tool for retailers, real estate companies, art galleries, etc…basically any company relying on visual representation of its’ products or services.

    I suggest jumping right in and approaching it with the mindset of joining the "sharing party" Remember, no one is judging your pins! In fact, you're more likely to get the warm-and- fuzzies when you see how many fellow Pinners are re-pinning your pins!

  17. Kurt Johansen from Johansen International, February 16, 2012 at 4:50 p.m.

    I was introduced to it, I am on it. I don't know why. But Perry Allison's post about chickens really makes sense. Maybe I have to go and buy some chooks now.

  18. George Parker from Parker Consultants, February 16, 2012 at 6:07 p.m.

    Cathy, Cathy, Cathy... Tell me you only did it so you could write about it. That was your excuse for joining Facebook, remember. Just yesterday, I wrote PINTEREST GETS PORN-NOZZLED! on AdScam... Because now there's "Snatchly!" and other porn focused pin-board social sites popping up all over the place. Still, it makes a change from the food, fashion and cats which seem to dominate Pinterest. Time for a cocktail.

  19. Ted Rubin from The Rubin Organization / Return on Relationship, February 17, 2012 at 3:19 p.m.

    There is a good reason you have accumulated those followers. A great deal of Pinterest growth is due to them auto following people for you implying you have followed them and therefore encouraging them to follow you back. So what you have posted is not of consequence and not what has drawn them. It is simply a courteous follow-back. I guess that may be good for brands, etc, because it greatly accelerates growth, but it is not transparent or genuine from a permission perspective.

    Also implies that people are interested in you when actually they may not be. Pinterest leverages that take implied interest to accelerate growth. Smart, but certainly under the radar... so to speak.

    Nothing wrong if totally upfront... "we will connect you to others who might be of interest, but tell them its our suggestion."

    I have received follows and inticements to follow back from people who removed their profiles months ago.

    I am sure this bothers some in the authentic/transparent camp (btw... a good camp to be in) but many are just happy to build a following fast, and others love the platform so are willing to look the other way (something we are all do a lot more). Pinterest should just be upfront about it... but then again exponential growth, and a "cool" valuable product, make up for a good amount of flaws and mistakes.

    I applaud another Pinterest decision being questioned... attaching affiliate links to what we are all posting. It demonstrates understanding power of monetizing their medium and the importance of doing it early and often instead of the "let's make it huge and then figure out how to make money." But again... being upfront about it would have been the way to go in my humble opinion.

  20. Cathy Taylor from MediaPost, February 17, 2012 at 4:03 p.m.

    Hi all,

    Thanks for the comments. More than I've seen in a long time. For the record, the people following me are not people I'm following. By and large they are good friends who have found that I'm on Pinterest -- almost certainly via Facebook -- and have decided to follow my big blob of nothing.


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