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To follow or not to follow others on Pinterest

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The exploding community

Because AGBeat has led the conversation on Pinterest, we get a lot of questions in our email boxes about best practices and how to use the visual bookmarking tool. The first most common question we are asked is whether or not Pinterest should be used for business and we typically respond that it depends on the business, industry and person in charge of the Pinterest account. The second most common question we are asked is who you should follow Pinterest and what the proper etiquette is.

Follow everyone back?

Honestly, there is not a set culture yet or a common method for following people because the site is so young, but secondarily because it is not designed as a social network surrounding the importance of personal connections and conversation, rather it is a site that appeals to the sharing of information visually, regardless of who shares the information. Each user can benefit each other if they are there to learn and share, but we are seeing the social media gurus out telling you to not follow someone if they aren’t going to be of value to you or if they have no pins – we strictly disagree with this stance.

Because the level of followers is still manageable for most users, it is reasonable to follow everyone back not because it is polite, but because you don’t know what they have to offer until you’ve gotten a chance to witness their pinning activities. We are discovering many users have not yet pinned anything, but are being responsible by observing people before jumping in – that does not make them less valuable.

In fact, below are a few people that follow me that I chose to follow back regardless of their not having any pins, but some would tell you these users are not valuable to you and that you should not follow. While you may not know all of these people, I assure you they are all seen as thought leaders in their industries:

So follow everyone?

Each user has different goals, so there is no possible way to suggest how you should follow people, it is a personal choice and you may decide to be very selective or overly permissive.

That said, as a general rule of thumb, what we do is follow all people back until they give us a reason not to. When someone gets spammy, we unfollow. When someone posts a bunch of porn, we unfollow. When someone posts nothing but Bieber videos, we unfollow. Not because of who they are, but because of the content, which is our way of adhering to the idea that it is all about the information, not the person sharing the information. Saying you should only follow people with pins that look valuable sounds a lot like someone saying that you should only watch news from a station you agree with, which we all know prohibits intellectual growth. Additionally, no one is so personally important that they should be that picky on Pinterest, puh-lease.

Pinterest is not Twitter

Opting not to follow someone back because you don’t know them or because they haven’t pinned anything could really limit what you learn or see on Pinterest, and in truth, it is an old school thought that you must only follow people that benefit you, as all social networks have proven that there are hidden gems of followers out there that might just be your next brand evangelist.

Pinterest isn’t like Twitter wherein people focus on friend collecting, and no one cares that you just got 200 followers, so be a little less picky, especially if you’re a business, because if you ignore people without pins, you’re ignoring all of the people pictured above like the CEO of Trulia, the CEO of Better Homes and Gardens, the CMO of 44 Doors, the CEO of MRED, and the CEO of Intrepid Artist Management. Decide for yourself who is valuable and hand pick people, or follow everyone back until they give you a reason to unfollow; your strategy is up to you and the network is too young for anyone to have proven results one way or the other.

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25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Anne Weiskopf

    February 26, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    I, and my shoes. And the shoes that are not mine – yet – I yearn for. Thank you. Very much.

  2. Matthew Rathbun

    February 26, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Well… I'm in good company. It's a new service to me and I'll get around to it… As for the "Gurus", about a year ago I got over letting other people try to tell me how to enjoy my online experience and who I should be friends with. It's been a much, much better online experience ever since.

  3. Lucretia Pruitt

    February 26, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    What a great intro to it! I would add that following a lot of people often means you will see the same image repinned frequently – until they find a way to consolidate that (like Facebook did with reshares)it can be a bit frustrating to see the same image dozens of times blocking out the others.

  4. Charles Dunne

    February 27, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Thanks for the article Lani. Profound thinking when you suggest to follow until given a reason not to. I never looked at it that way always picking and choosing but understand and agree with your reasoning.

  5. Sherry chris

    February 29, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Lani, thank you for pushing me to begin pinning, I had no idea people would be following me as soon as I set up the account 🙂 Shame on me….

  6. Amy

    March 6, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    I read this today and thought to myself, I look and explore to my taste and interest. I do not know what other pinner’s do but I look at as many people who repin my pins. Since I read you article I went and follwed every single one of them. I wanted to find out if I was missing out. To follow? We shall see, boy do I have a lot of weeding out on my interests!

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Social Media

Zillow launches real estate brokerage after eons of swearing they wouldn’t

(MEDIA) We’ve warned of this for years, the industry funded it, and Zillow Homes brokerage has launched, and there are serious questions at hand.

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zillow group

Zillow Homes was announced today, a Zillow licensed brokerage that will be fully operational in 2021 in Phoenix, Tucson, and Atlanta.

Whoa, big huge yawn-inducing shocker, y’all.

We’ve been warning for more than a decade that this was the end game, and the company blackballed us for our screams (and other criticisms, despite praise when merited here and there).

Blog posts were penned in fiery effigy calling naysayers like us stupid and paranoid.

Well color me unsurprised that the clarity of the gameplan was clear as day all along over here, and the paid talking heads sent out to astroturf, gaslight, and threaten us are now all quiet.

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We watched The Social Dilemma – here are some social media tips that stuck with us

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Here are some takeaways from watching Netflix’s The Social Dilemma that helped me to eliminate some social media burnout.

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Neon social media like heart with a 0

Last weekend, I made the risky decision to watch The Social Dilemma on Netflix. I knew it was an important thing to watch, but the risk was that I also knew it would wig me out a bit. As much as I’m someone who is active “online,” the concept of social media overwhelms me almost more than it entertains (or enlightens) me.

The constant sharing of information, the accessibility to information, and the endless barrage of notifications are just a few of the ways social media can cause overwhelm. The documentary went in deeper than this surface-level content and got into the nitty gritty of how people behind the scenes use your data and track your usage.

Former employees of high-profile platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, and Pinterest gave their two cents on the dangers of social media from a technological standpoint. Basically, our data isn’t just being tracked to be passed along for newsletters and the like. But rather, humans are seen as products that are manipulated to buy and click all day every day in order to make others money and perpetuate information that has astronomical effects. (I’m not nearly as intelligent as these people, so watch the documentary to get the in-depth look at how all of this operates.)

One of the major elements that stuck with me was the end credits of The Social Dilemma where they asked interviewees about the ways they are working to eliminate social media overwhelm in their own lives. Some of these I’ve implemented myself and can attest to. Here’s a short list of things you can do to keep from burning out online.

  1. Turn off notifications – unless there are things you need to know about immediately (texts, emails, etc.) turn it off. Getting 100 individual notifications within an hour from those who liked your Instagram post will do nothing but burn you (and your battery) out.
  2. Know how to use these technologies to change the conversation and not perpetuate things like “fake news” and clickbait.
  3. Uninstall apps that are wasting your time. If you feel yourself wasting hours per week mindlessly scrolling through Facebook but not actually using it, consider deleting the app and only checking the site from a desktop or Internet browser.
  4. Research and consider using other search tools instead of Google (one interviewee mentioned that Qwant specifically does not collect/store your information the way Google does).
  5. Don’t perpetuate by watching recommended videos on YouTube, those are tailored to try and sway or sell you things. Pick your own content.
  6. Research the many extensions that remove these recommendations and help stop the collection of your data.

At the end of the day, just be mindful of how you’re using social media and what you’re sharing – not just about yourself, but the information you’re passing along from and to others. Do your part to make sure what you are sharing is accurate and useful in this conversation.

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WeChat ban blocked by California judge, but for how long?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) WeChat is protected by First Amendment concerns for now, but it’s unclear how long the app will remain as pressure mounts.

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WeChat app icon on an iPhone screen

WeChat barely avoided a US ban after a Californian judge stepped in to temporarily block President Trump’s executive order. Judge Laurel Beeler cited the effects of the ban on US-based WeChat users and how it threatened the First Amendment rights of those users.

“The plaintiffs’ evidence reflects that WeChat is effectively the only means of communication for many in the community, not only because China bans other apps, but also because Chinese speakers with limited English proficiency have no options other than WeChat,” Beeler wrote.

WeChat is a Chinese instant messaging and social media/mobile transaction app with over 1 billion active monthly users. The WeChat Alliance, a group of users who filed the lawsuit in August, pointed out that the ban unfairly targets Chinese-Americans as it’s the primary app used by the demographic to communicate with loved ones, engage in political discussions, and receive news.

The app, along with TikTok, has come under fire as a means for China to collect data on its users. U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has stated, “At the President’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations.”

This example is yet another symptom of our ever-globalizing society where we are learning to navigate between connectivity and privacy. The plaintiffs also pointed out alternatives to an outright ban. One example cited was in Australia, where WeChat is now banned from government officials’ phones but not others.

Beeler has said that the range in alternatives to preserving national security affected her decision to strike down the ban. She also explained that in regards to dealing with national security, there is “scant little evidence that (the Commerce Department’s) effective ban of WeChat for all US users addresses those concerns.”

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