When I announced my engagement, there were three main responses…
1) “OMG CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
2) “OMG when is the wedding?”
3) “OMG I can’t wait to see your Pinterest boards!!!!!!!”
I expected the first two (it doesn’t matter if the proposal has happened that day, people will near enough demand a date, colour theme and dress ideas from the second you Instagram your ring) but all the Pinterest questions surprised me. I didn’t just hear it a few times either, people continuously asked me to “unlock my secret wedding boards” (ERM……WHAT?!) and share all my table decoration inspo and honeymoon plans with perfect pinnable precision.
But I wasn’t on Pinterest and I wasn’t about to sign up just because of the ring on my finger.
Why? Because I hated Pinterest. It was a platform I had pigeon-holed away as something “Poppy doesn’t like”. I’d tried it, sure, but the rainbow layer cakes and TV-less living rooms weren’t really my thing.
This year though, post-wedding, I’ve found myself using Pinterest quite a bit. So I thought I’d blog about what made me eat my I HATE PINTEREST words.
I first joined Pinterest in January 2012, with my ‘I run a fashion start-up’ hat on. Like most people who run their own business, I was interested in any new social media platform that I thought could drive traffic. I would upload my favourite outfits from WIWT users, as well as shopping picks for men and women. I didn’t feel like there was any immediate pay-off though (especially compared to other faves at the time: Facebook and Twitter) so after a few weeks of low interaction, I let my account dwindle into idleness.
I’d still log-in occasionally to see other people’s boards or to get a rough idea of what was popular, but it always seemed to be the type of stuff I wasn’t interested in: inspirational quotes set against seascapes, aspirational but incredibly impractical interior ideas, dishes that I would never even attempt to recreate and oh so many cutesy hipster pastels and white/marble/white/white/white/MORE WHITE images.
I’m not into the aesthetic that I’d deemed in my head as “pinnable”, so I couldn’t be bothered to invest in the platform as I felt my type of content simply wouldn’t be popular. Throw in the fact that I’m a word-led blogger not an image-led blogger, and I couldn’t see how I’d use it to drive traffic to my site either. I’m “good at Twitter” (in relative terms) because I’m good at writing, but I struggle to create a decent image. I couldn’t exactly start pinning sentences to Pinterest in the hope that someone would click through to read more.
Basically, I was approaching the platform as a content creator who wanted to gain followers and traffic. And I didn’t like it.
This year though, as I started to make plans to decorate our new home, I suddenly found myself struggling to save all the links I’d stumble across. I wanted something like an image based del.icio.us (who remembers del.icio.us?!) so that I could look at all my ideas quickly and easily.
That’s when I remembered Pinterest.
I made a new account and started to pin the products I was interested in buying and, just like that, I was hooked.
So why did I like the site all of a sudden? I was approaching Pinterest as a user, rather than as a content creator. I wasn’t trying to game it for maximum engagement and clicks, I was simply using it “for me”. I’d bookmark recipes that I was genuinely going to try, rather than worry about pinning the type of OTT ice cream sundaes that I hoped people would re-pin. I pinned artwork that I wanted to buy for the home, rather than random pictures of beaches for no reason because I thought “I should”.
And It has been so unbelievably useful.
I realise now that Pinterest is so much more than mason jars, you just have to use it like a search engine to find what you want. I’ve gathered all my favourite film posters in one place and my fave antique bird illustrations in another. I have a board of recipes that I’ve actually successfully made and a board of TV shows I want to remember to watch.
I’ve installed the Pin It button and downloaded the iPhone app, so I can easily pin from any website whether I am on my laptop or on my phone. And now if I see a cushion I like on some random blog, I don’t have to make a mental note to remember it, I pin it to the relevant board for the room I imagine it being in.
I keep my decor boards quite practical, they’re mostly product-led rather than swoonsome interior images or DIY ideas for things I’ll never ever make. I keep some boards private too, because I’ve realised I don’t *actually* have to share everything.
The best thing has been the recommendation side of things, I’ve pinned a vase (for example) then been led into a rabbit-warren of other things people who also pinned that vase have pinned….before I’ve known it I’ve discovered indie designers and retailers I’d never heard of who just so happen to create my dream pieces. I don’t think I’d have ever found these brands if it wasn’t for Pinterest.
Once I’d chosen the paint for one of our guest bedrooms, I typed the colour name into Pinterest and found hundreds of room ideas from people who’d also used the *exact* same colour. There was an aspirational edge, sure, but it was mostly just genuinely practical. It opened up so much potential and now the finished room looks GREAT. (But I’ll blog about that separately this week, it’s literally “the room that Pinterest decorated”).
I like that I can see a clear image overview of my ideas too. Before my SIL’s wedding I pinned a load of dresses to a private board and then showed them to close friends to help me choose one to wear. Sending tonnes of links would be irritating, saying “here’s 30 on a board, which is your fave?” takes all of two minutes.
From a few months of using it ‘properly’, I now realise that Pinterest is not a social network. It’s a bookmarking tool. A gorgeous and brilliantly easy to use bookmarking tool. Now that I pin for me, rather than for an audience or because I want to get re-pinned, I realise how powerful it really is.
I get that it’s a fun and aspirational mood board site for millions of users, but for me it’s a superbly practical platform which I am using to do everything from plan holidays to buy lightbulbs to make dinner.
If you’ve also been someone who’s always assumed you “hate Pinterest”, then I feel the need to warn you that you may be missing out. It’s not all pastels and hipster weddings, it’s what you make it.
I may only have 111 followers on there, but it’s quickly becoming a website that I can’t live without.
And who knows? Maybe I will make a rainbow layer cake one day.
You can follow me on Pinterest here 🙂