I’ve really grown to enjoy Pinterest. It’s a low pressure way to engage with the items and brands that one finds compelling, using images to create vision boards of how we’d like our worlds to look. I like spending time on Pinterest because it’s one of the few places on the internet where I don’t suffer a relentless stream of messaging every time I engage, and am free from unsolicited status updates, inbox cluttering emails, or follow-up marketing tactics from the brands that I like. It’s a social space where my choices speak for me without forcibly invading anyone else’s digital space; I collect what I deem interesting, and others are free to repin, comment, or pass it by.
I wonder, though, how long this free-spirited sensibility will be able to last? Inevitably brands will find ways to hijack Pinterest in an attempt to push products, not recognizing that one of the simple joys of the site is the satisfaction gleaned from making independent discoveries while mapping one’s own happily circuitous route. I dread the day that Pinterest starts pressuring me to read my fellow pinners’ status updates, or respond to their latest comments, thus removing the personal, even self-reflective aspect of creating my own world within the site.
I recognize that the digital nature of our 21st century seems to require that brands continuously engage their consumers for fear of being overlooked amid today’s advertising cacophony. I think, however, that there is validity in contemplating Pinterest’s model of “build it and they will come.” After all, even as many brands seek ever more innovative ways of pushing out content, consumers often choose to disengage when that content becomes overwhelming or invasive. Pinterest is compelling for its demonstration that brands can get in front of consumers without managing every moment of the interaction. It’s a quiet moment in an otherwise harried digital world, and that differentiation may be what has propelled it so quickly to the heights of social media adoption.