Part One: Report and Analysis
Description and Instructions
Description: What is Pinterest?
Pinterest is a virtual pin boarding site which allows users to ‘pin’ photos and pictures, both their own and those from other websites, to boards on an online profile, saving them for later viewing and inspiration. Since its launch in 2010, Pinterest has gained over 10 million users (Crook, 2012). More than 100 million visits to the site every month have made it the third largest social network (Wasserman, 2012) on the web after only two years of being online. The site has become a powerful marketing tool and currently drives almost as much referral traffic on the web as Google (Aronica, 2012). However, while marketers and creative industry types are discovering the sites potential, it is still a largely untapped resource in journalism, though Pinterest’s largely female user base (Crook, 2012) means the site has been embraced by media professionals and organisations wishing to promote stories on fashion, food, design and travel.
Suggestions for ways to use Pinterest from journalism resource sites such as journalism.co.uk and The Nonprofit Journalism Hub focus on visual content presentation (Marshall, 2012) and community engagement (Weiss, 2012). Other suggested uses include picture sourcing but concerns have recently arisen about whether ‘pinning’ photos from other websites to Pinterest violates copyright laws (Poletti, 2012). Fortunately, it is possible to use the site without violating copyright laws and content owner rights by following some basic guidelines (Eder, 2012).
Instructions: How to use Pinterest
Acquiring a Pinterest account is as simple as connecting to the site via your Facebook, Twitter or email address (see Figure 1).
Once you have an account, you will be able to see millions of pictures pinned to the site by other users which you can then ‘pin’ to your own ‘boards’ on your page with a caption underneath (see Figures 2 and 3). There is no character limit to the caption.
You can also upload your own pictures to the site and download a ‘pin it’ button to your task bar with which you can then ‘pin’ pictures straight from other websites to Pinterest (see Figure 4). Pinterest automatically credits all images to their original source.
Pictures are sorted into categories for ease of searching or you can simply view all recent or popular pins (see Figure 5). Like other social networks, you can follow fellow Pinterest users and their pins (or individual boards) and they can follow you.
Analysis 1: Pinterest in Principle
How is Pinterest relevant to media professionals?
In today’s changing media industry, one of the challenges facing media professionals is finding ways to attract and serve an audience that has a multitude of online sources available when it comes to news. As Alfred Hermida from Reportr.net suggests, media professionals must be ‘open to new ways of engaging with their audience and sharing stories’ (2011) in order reach and connect with online news consumers. Social network sites are emerging as a powerful way to engage audiences as users find, share and comment on links to news stories, even challenging search engines as a primary way of finding news (Hermida, 2012). Pinterest, with an older and more female user base than other social network sites (Crook, 2012), has the potential to reach a different audience than perhaps Twitter and Facebook.
Nguyen lists ‘being able to go directly to news of interest’ and ‘having interests reflected on news sites’ as two of the primary reasons audiences are increasingly consuming news online (2010). How, though, can media professionals determine what sort of news stories are of interest to audiences and how can they make it easily accessible as well as sharable so as to engage with a broader audience? Pinterest is one social network through which they can easily achieve this.
What can Pinterest achieve?
Being able to see what Pinterest users are most interested in is one of the sites technical affordances, or actions enabled by Pinterest’s user interface (Rintel, 2012). By clicking on the ‘popular’ tab at the top of the page, the displayed pins will change to those that are currently being re-pinned the most by Pinterest users, along with how many repins, comments and pins each pin has (see Figure 6 for an example). A scroll down will usually reveal pins related to fashion, technology, celebrities, travel, health and more. A pro of this for media professionals is that the popular interests revealed could lead to story ideas for journalists and media outlets, story ideas which reflect the interests of the audience.
Pinterest can then be used to share and/or present these stories. Another of Pinterest’s technical affordances is that it links content back to its original source (see Figure 6). A purposive affordance, or socially suggested action (Rintel, 2012), of this is that media professionals can publish stories on their own sites, then pin a visually enticing picture from that story to Pinterest. Pinterest users who are interested by the picture can then follow the link back to the site to the story, going ‘directly to news of interest’ (Nguyen, 2010) to them. The ability to install a ‘pin it’ button to published content is a technical affordance which also enables the sharing and interaction with content, effectively encouraging audiences to do the work of promoting the material for media professionals.
Alternatively, Pinterest offers the purposive affordance of presenting stories in a very visual way. The technical affordance of having no limit to the number of characters one can use to describe a pin leads to a pro for media professionals who can give pins explanatory captions and repurpose ‘boards’ as stories. A technical constraint to using the site in this way though is that Pinterest does not automatically date stamp pins or comments.
Pinterest also carries the purposive affordance of enabling opportunities for engagement with an audience. After encouraging people to send/tweet/post photos to a media outlet, media professionals can pin those photos to a single Pinterest board to showcase them. Furthermore, Pinterest’s technical affordance of showing how many people have repinned or liked your pins (see Figure 6) could be useful when evaluating the popularity and engagement levels of particular pins and their related links, though a con of the user interface is that the repinning happens with a chain effect. Only those who repin directly from your page will be counted while those who pin from the repinners and so on are not visible.
Analysis 2: Pinterest in Use
Current media use of Pinterest
The Wall Street Journal is one media outlet using Pinterest effectively for different purposes, including several of the uses detailed in the previous section. Their Pinterest page has multiple boards centred on popular Pinterest categories such as design, technology, fashion, food and celebrities. The pictures on the boards are pinned from The Wall Street Journal‘s online site and link to the original story for which they were originally used. The pictures that are pinned are very visually appealing so as to appeal to Pinterest users, such as this pin, from the board ‘Tech and Gadgets’ which links to this article (Leckart, 2012).
The Wall Street Journal has also used Pinterest to publish their coverage of New York Fashion Week. The board consists of photos, video interviews and quotes with a short description accompanying each pin that links back to The Wall Street Journal‘s website. New York Fashion Week is a very visual event, which makes using Pinterest to publish a story covering it very appropriate. The multimedia aspect, share-ability and links make the story interactive and potentially able to engage a wider audience on Pinterest.
Another way in which The Wall Street Journal engages with their audience on Pinterest is through boards such as this one, which comprises of photos of a Manhattan sunrise from the journals readers. While it may not be a hard hitting news story, it does connect readers with the story and the media outlet in a very personal way.
My use of Pinterest
I used Pinterest in the production of my story in several ways. First, I looked at Pinterest for news story ideas. The image of the quote was particularly arresting and related to other popular pins which pictured money saving tips and DIY ideas. Browsing Pinterest can lead to dozens of story ideas related to lifestyle and similar interests, though a con is that it is unlikely to be hard or investigative news. A pro to using Pinterest was that it was relatively easy to find other images to use in my story and their original sources for crediting, my second use of the site. This was the extent of my use of the site, though for a broader story and engagement with a wider audience, I would have ‘pinned’ the images back to Pinterest (crediting them to their creators in the text box) so as to direct readers to my story via the link.
Evaluation: Recommendations and Pro vs Con Matrix Table
Pinterest: Yea or nay for media professionals?
Overall, I would recommend that media professionals use Pinterest with caution. While it can be very useful for inspiration and engaging with an audience, it needs to be used well to be effective otherwise it may just end up as another social media site added to the repertoire for the sake of it. As Pinterest grows and changes, no doubt the media will find new ways to use it for different purposes which is why media professionals should begin to explore ways to connect with their audience using it. Just think of it as a Twitter for the visual world and try not to get addicted to pinning pretty pictures.
Pros and Cons of Pinterest
|Selecting a Topic||Pros||Cons||N/A|
|Media Research||Unless researching blogs, Pinterest is not particularly relevant to this task.|
|Newsworthiness||Pinterest content does not fulfil newsworthiness factors.|
|Angle||Pinterest can be useful for finding an interesting angle on a story.||Pinterest is not, as yet, very useful for angles on hard or investigative news, unless one is very creative.|
|Defining Topic||Pinterest can be useful for finding a defining topic or news story idea that is of interest to the audience.||Again, Pinterest is as yet only minimally useful when looking for topics related to hard or investigative news.|
|Choosing Sources||The links that Pinterest provides to original content can be useful for finding sources.|
|Facts and Figures||Infographics which can provide facts, figure and their sources are often pinned to Pinterest.||Facts and figures not being a category on Pinterest, infographics can be hard to find.|
|Interviews||While Pinterest does not facilitate the interview process, it may be useful for finding sources to contact and interview for a story.|
|Anecdotes||Pinterest content often links to blogs, which may be useful for finding anecdecdotes.|
|Documents, photographs, video and audio information/content||As a visual pinboarding site, Pinterest can be very helpful in finding photos and videos as well as infographics for a story.|
|Checking Credibility||Pinterest does not check credibility of sources.|
|Selecting most important data||Pinterest does not assist with this task.|
|Pyramid Structure||Pinterest does not assist with any writing tasks.|
|Designing Layout||Pinterest does not allow users to design the layout of their boards beyond rearanging the pins, making it difficult to publish a story on the site.|
|Audience Reach||Pinterest can reach a wide audience of over 10 million users, giving photos and stories published there an enourmous potential audience reach.|
|Accessibility||Pinterest is accessible to anyone with an internet connection making photos and stories published there accessible to a huge audiece.|
|Criteria derived from Ricketson (2004) and Spencer (2006)|
Aronica, J. (2012). Pinterest Drives More Referral Traffic than Google Plus, YouTube and LinkedIn Combined. Retrieved from http://blog.shareaholic.com/2012/01/pinterest-referral-traffic/
Crook, J. (2012). This Is Everything You Need to Know About Pinterest. Retrieved from http://techcrunch.com/2012/03/14/this-is-everything-you-need-to-know-about-pinterest-infographic/
Dugan, L. (2012). Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest: The Users Of Social Media. Retrieved from http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/social-media-users_b22556
Eder, S. (2012). How to Use Pinterest Without Breaking the Law. Retrieved from http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2012/03/13/dont-get-stuck-by-pinterest-lawyers-warn/
Hermida, A. (2011). How to Choose the Best Social Media Tools for Journalism. http://www.reportr.net/2011/10/26/how-to-choose-the-best-social-media-tools-for-journalism/
Hermida, A. (2012). Social Media Grows in Importance for Finding the News. Retrieved from http://www.reportr.net/2012/07/09/social-media-grows-in-importance-for-finding-the-news/
Leckart, S. The Facebook-Free Baby. The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, 12 May, 2012. Web. 14 October 2012.
Marshall, S. (2012). Ten ideas for news outlets using Pinterest. Retrieved from http://www.journalism.co.uk/news-features/pinterest-social-media-wall-street-journal-huffington-post-tips-for-journalists/s5/a548622/
Nguyen, A. (2010). Harnessing the potential of online news: Suggestions from a study on the relationship between online news advantages and its post-adoption consequences. Journalism, 11(2), 223-241.
Poletti, T. (2012). Is Pinterest the Next Napster? Retrieved from http://www.npjhub.org/beyond-the-pin-in-pinterest-tips-for-news-organizations-and-journalists
Ricketson, M. (2004). Writing Feature Stories: How to Research and Write Newspaper and Magazine Articles. Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin.
Rintel, S. (2012). Framework for Describing the Affordances and Constraints of Online Social Media Tools. Retrieved from
Spencer, L. M. (2006). News Writing: The Gathering, Handling and Writing of News Stories. Boston: D.C. Heath & Co.
Wasserman, T. (2012). Pinterest is Now the No. 3 Social Network in the U.S. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2012/04/06/pinterest-number-3-social-network/
Weiss, A. S. (2012). Beyond the Pin in Pinterest: Tips for News Organisations and Journalists. Retrieved from http://www.npjhub.org/beyond-the-pin-in-pinterest-tips-for-news-organizations-and-journalists
Part Two: Story Produced Using Pinterest
What Australian’s Want May Not Be What They Need
It seems Australians may have learned a thing or two from the recent Global Financial Crisis. While the average household debt to income ratio remains staggeringly high at 150 per cent, where it has been for the last five years, figures show that we are saving around 12 cents out of every dollar earned. This is opposite to a decade ago when we were spending more than we had. But is it enough?
Apparently, the average household spends almost $2000 a week on expenses. $2000. That’s about four times the minimum wage (and my weekly income). Sure, housing, transport and utility costs are through the roof but are they really all that is to blame? Perhaps the real problem is that we have become a society in which ‘need’ is synonymous with ‘want.’
A society of people who apparently ‘need’ SUV’s despite the rising costs of fuel. One would think that economical and environmentally friendly small cars would be more popular in tight times but no, SUV purchases have made up 30 per cent of all car sales over the last financial year. Neither, also, is the rising cost of electricity reflected by the current trend in large screen television purchases with televisions predicted to soon out number people, because we ‘need’ a television in every room of our house, along with all the other electrical powered devices that go with it. Higher percentages of energy consumption are also reportedly going towards keeping our homes cool and warm and energy hungry clothes dryers, rather than the good old Aussie invention, the Hills Hoist, are becoming a ‘necessity.’
We are also eating out more and buying lunches instead of taking home-cooked food to work, choosing not to think about how much we are actually spending. I will tell you how much you are spending: at least $1000 more that could be better spent paying that enormous electricity bill or mortgage repayment.
The Australian government is, pro-actively, putting an effort into trying to change some of these habits with advertising and school programs. Citizens themselves also seem to be trying to help each other, with blogs and social media sites like Pinterest filled with money saving household tips and budget food ideas. Will that be enough, though, to prevent catastrophe if we are hit by another global financial crisis as is being predicted?
Australia managed to narrowly avoid the last GFC with more than a little luck thanks to a booming mining industry, limited housing and close proximity to Asia, an area with a high demand for energy and resources which Australia was in a position to supply. Without these factors, our high levels of national and household debt, as well as an inflated housing market could very well have led us into a recession with the US.
But an extra 12 cents in the bank is not going to help us avoid another global crisis if Australians persist in living beyond their means and driving the household debt levels even higher. Perhaps we need to realise that what we ‘want’ is not always what we ‘need.’