I love early adopters. They’re like the American settlers who came West looking for gold. They ignore the warnings of friends and bravely forge into new territory with the hope of making a better life, all the while risking attack by unfriendly natives.
Some find empty streams. Some find gold in those streams. Actually, the vast majority find empty streams and very few find gold. But the few who find gold send word back to friends and family and soon throngs of new settlers are making their way to the new land to find their own fortune. They work hard, but in the wrong streams. They spend their time panning for fools gold. But they too send word back to their friends and family abou how exciting the search for gold is. They talk about how beautiful the country is and point to stories of others who found a nugget.
Last night I found myself thinking about this as I listened on Facebook to real estate agents tell their stories about Pinterest. The brave settlers were telling their friends that there was gold in that stream and they were sharing mining stories and showing off nuggets. Experienced minors can tell the difference between pyrite and gold. The excited settler is often fooled.
The Pinterest Stream And Fools Gold
One of the nuggets shared was from Pinterest, a social curation site that’s been around for a little more than a year. A few real estate agents were talking about it’s potential benefit in marketing and the illustration to the right was shared as an example.
Again, I love early adopters and I really do appreciate this effort. I have no desire to disparage. Someone has to be a settler and brave the arrows, but this is fools gold, in my opinion. Set aside the fact that it ignores the requirement to identify yourself as a Realtor in marketing a home (at the time of this writing there is no indication on the page or in the profile) and that it doesn’t link out to a place where someone who might find it could learn more about the home, or that it has no useful descriptions. All of that is secondary to the most common mistake real estate agents make when they begin trying to market in new social network. They don’t stop to understand the new territory first and begin mining in the wrong place. A simple read of the Pinterest etiquette will allow anyone to quickly find this:
Avoid Self Promotion
Pinterest is designed to curate and share things you love. If there is a photo or project you’re proud of, pin away! However, try not to use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion.
My advice here is going to be the same advice I give people in any new social network… go have some fun first. Be social. Get to know the community, the lay of the land. The rest will sort itself out. The first thing that happens when the real estate community “discovers” a new social media site is they focus on the media, not the social. This is a mistake. It leads to mining in the wrong streams.
The Pinterest Stream And Real Gold
Later in the conversation, Janet White shared this advice, “The coolest thing is as a buyers tool for visually capturing style,” Janet wrote. “Get your buyers building their dream home boards. Check out the plethora of architectural photography from across the globe – many will love this idea you can easily share as ‘oh, this is a cool tool…’ We know they are already searching online so help them organize a virtual style folder.”
The difference between the first example and the example Janet describes above, is that one of them focuses on adding value and being social and one of them doesn’t. It’s that simple. I see the second idea as being in keeping with the spirit of the Pinterest community, honoring the sites clearly posted etiquette and fully in line with its terms of service. That’s the right stream to be mining in.
I’ve stopped trying to predict what site will or won’t be the next gold mine. I don’t care whether it’s Pinterest or new sites that work off the same basic curation concept, like Bundlr(1). What I do care about, however, is this: If you’re going to spend your time on these sites, do it in a way that honors both the spirit of the community and the community guidelines. It’s the only way to insure you get the most out of the site. If I were pinning for gold, that’s the stream I’d pin in.
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(1) This is a referral link. If you click on it and sign up, I get one month of something I can’t imagine ever buying for free. But, its the only way I’m ever going to try their collaboration option, so hopefully one of you will and I’ll give it a try for a month.