The Shopping Site that Didn’t Know How to Make Money

Ladies, let’s face it: we do the majority of our online shopping, even if it’s just ‘window shopping’ or browsing, via Pinterest. We discover new clothes we might not have come across if we were simply looking at the store’s website, and more importantly, we discover new online shops and boutiques that we definitely would have never found by simply browsing – come on, we all know how hard it is to find a new shop online.

Okay, so we use Pinterest to shop. And, well, most of us use Pinterest everyday. So how does the social media site generate any profit? Think about it: it’s not like we’re pinning or buying products created by Pinterest. The things we pin all come either from an individual user or, in most cases, from an external site (like the aforementioned little boutique or shop). Apparently, shortly after the site’s inception, Pinterest claimed that “they weren’t sure about how they make money” but that they wold eventually get to it. Hmm… does this sound extremely fishy to anyone else?

So, in typical Paige fashion, I did a little digging.

According to Forbes, the social media site is valued at a staggering $7.7 billion. Let’s compare that to the other social media juggernauts for a second, shall we? Facebook is valued at $1.26 billion, Twitter claims it is worth $8 billion, and, as the recent news of Facebook purchasing Instagram tells us, Facebook values Instagram at $1 billion.

But, seriously, how is this possible?

From a marketing perspective, it actually might be easy to see how Pinterest is valued at so much and how it generates a profit. Essentially, Pinterest is a gigantic hub for product advertising without pinners really realizing it. Well, that is, as long as its users pin your company’s products. So, one way that Pinterest potentially generates profit is through partnerships with other companies trying to advertise their product. In doing this, Pinterest would then promote the pins of said company to initially get the ball rolling and get the company’s pin travelling through the site at warped speed. Once the first pin is promoted, then users re-pin the product and promote it to their friends, who then, in turn, promote it to their friends, and the beat goes on…

Another way Pinterest could potentially generate profit through partnerships with companies is through promoting a company’s pins in the category sections on the site. This way, the first thing users would see when they click on a specific category would be the promoted pin (without them realizing that it is being promoted, of course).

Additionally, I did some more research and found out that Pinterest generating profit by modifying user-submitted pins by altering the links. I find this extremely interesting because this is something, that, if I would have never researched, I would have had absolutely no clue was being done. Who am I to care that Pinterest is generating money from what I pin from my favorite online boutique? It’s not affecting me in any way, so, personally, it doesn’t really matter to me (in terms of my usability with the site). But, as the article also states, it is a little fishy now that I know about it.

So, there you have it. Even though you probably never thought about it, Pinterest must be generating some sort of profit in order to be running at the high capacity that it does. Even though it technically doesn’t really affect us all that much, it’s still something to think about.

Lawd Jesus! Somebody Got Time Fo’ Dat!

We all have bad days. For me, I believed that today was going to rank at an unfortunate ‘2’ on a scale of 1-10. Not only was I not granted the luxury of sleep last night, but as I was being the ever-so-gracious friend that I am and chauffeuring my roommate to her 8 am exam, the PDjeep decided that today would be the day she would just stop running all-together. After watching her get towed away at 8:30 in the morning and walking home through downtown in my tie-dye sweatshirt and sweatpants (hottie alert!), I had pretty much given up all hope that today would be a good day.

That’s when I checked twitter. Scrolling through my timeline per usual, something caught my eye that just NEEDED to be addressed as soon as possible. Being the avid internet nerd that I am, I was ecstatic to find out that the face of one of my favorite viral videos and corresponding favorite gifs was now communicating with her fans. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Sweet Brown is now on twitter. I took action immediately, and the following event made me more giddy than I probably should admit.

ain't nobody got time for that

And if you really want one more reason to be in love with Sweet Brown, the autotone remix of her viral video is one of the most inspirational clips of our generation. I mean, come on, Joe Jonas in a leotard and a gospel choir mashed up with the sweet, sweet sounds of one Miss Sweet Brown.

Carry on.

Cowbird: the Lovechild of Twitter and Traditional Blogging

If you have never heard of Cowbird, do not fret; you are not the only one. I was introduced to Cowbird in my Emerging Technologies class at Clemson University and I can honestly say that I am so very thankful. In essence, “Cowbird is a community of storytellers.” Like the title of this blog post states, it is very much the lovechild of Twitter and traditional blogging. Cowbird is a social network for stories. Unlike Twitter, users can go way over 140 characters to tell their stories, as well as use video and audio to enhance their stories. And unlike traditional blogging, the user interface is much more heavily based on interaction with the other users, making it much more social than traditional blogging. According to the Cowbird, this is how they describe the site:

We build the world’s simplest and most beautiful storytelling tools, and we offer them for free to anyone who wishes to use them. When you tell stories on Cowbird, we automatically find connections between your life and the lives of others, forming a vast, interconnected ecosystem, in which we all take part. Our goal is to build a public library of human experience, so the knowledge and wisdom we accumulate as individuals may live on as part of the commons, available for this and future generations to look to for guidance.

I recently posted my first story to Cowbird called ‘The Color Orange’ and it is about my journey through college. For those of you that know me well, you know this story all too well. For those of you that don’t know my college story in detail, it’s something I’ve been meaning to blog about for a long time now, but for some reason, the setting of Cowbird made it much easier to express and put out in the open. Besides the basic idea that Cowbird is much more social than traditional blogging, the site gives off a much simpler vibe than most blogging platforms, allowing the author to focus on what’s important: the content. This being said, Cowbird users need to be dedicated to their storytelling and to engaging with other storytellers; if they want to have an audience for their work, they need to actively seek other authors and ‘join their audiences,’ so that they’re story can be read. Users most also know how to use all of the functions of the site, including the topic tags, location tags, etc., otherwise, their story will not be heard.

As much as I enjoyed my experience sharing my story on Cowbird, I am having trouble deciding whether or not I want to become an avid “citizen,” as they call it, of the online community. Whereas a blog can serve as a platform for individuals who want to get their voice heard by all netizens, Cowbird gives off the vibe that your voice will only be heard by citizens of the Cowbird community. In that same sense, even though there are multiple traditional blogging platforms that have different user interfaces, all blogs are mostly straightforward and easy to navigate, even for non-blog users. In contrast, Cowbird, while simple, uses a very different interface that might be striking to people unfamiliar with the site. Nonetheless, I really do enjoy the artistry and seriousness of the content that is posted on the site. It reminds me of why I am so passionate about writing. Like the creator of the site, Jonathon Harris says in this NYTimes article, “It’s soul food, not fast food,” and that is why I truly do appreciate the all-encompassing goal of cowbird.

In all honesty, however, I do not see how Harris is generating any sort of substantial profit from Cowbird. There aren’t any advertisements on the site, so that source of income is not being utilized. I suppose the site could be used for companies to find new artists, copy-writers, etc. for employment purposes, but do companies really actively go searching for things like that? I do not see the site as having any real business value, but simply as another outlet for today’s artists to get their voices heard. I feel like a majority of Cowbird users already have careers in their line of work and simply use Cowbird as another creative outlet. Not that any of this is bad, though. Even though there might not be any business value in Cowbird, as a creative individual, I truly do enjoy the site and it’s purpose. Whether or not this will take off, though, will be interesting to find out.

The Gender of Pinterest

If you are female and are reading this blog post, that means that you are somewhat linked in on the internet. If you are somewhat linked in on the internet, then more likely than not, you have a Pinterest account. Think about why have a Pinterest account for a moment: to get new ideas from people whose opinions’ you trust, whether it be DIY, fashion, recipes, interior design, inspirational quotes, fun products you’d like to purchase, etc. When do you go on Pinterest? Most likely, it is when you are bored, procrastinating, or have nothing else to do. Don’t get me wrong. Pinterest is great, but its usability is pretty self-explanatory: to find a bunch of great things on the internet and put them all in one easy place. Guys love finding stuff on the internet, too, right? So why is it that most of the people that follow you on Pinterest female? I have a couple of opinions on the issue.

The original ‘pinboard’ was something attributed to women, not men.
Before the creation of Pinterest, it was very commonplace for women to have pinboards in their room or their desk areas in their homes where they would collect magazine clips, paint chips, photos, recipes, postcards, and other trinkets that either served as inspiration for their daily lives, things they were hoping to eventually getting around to completing, and just fun and creative pieces of art. Not only did women have pinboards, they had (and many still have) idea books and journals which serve a similar purpose as a pinboard. Additionally, women have long been known to tab pages in magazines that had interesting content that they wanted to come back to, so much so that some magazines began to include ready-made stickers in their publication for readers to use to tab pages throughout the magazine. Yes, there are magazines for men, but let’s be honest here, men weren’t cutting pages out of their magazines and posting them up on a board to look back at later. Men don’t typically have get-togethers where they exchange their favorite recipes or craft projects; that is something that tends to be left to the women.

Men are scared of Pinterest.
Since the inception of the social media site, it has been predominantly marketed to women. This Forbes article points out that even Pinterest’s ‘About’ page uses language and descriptions that are definitely more likely to attract women than men:

Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.

The article also points out a couple more intriguing insights as to why the site is used by more women than men. Pinterest’s logo uses a more feminine typeface, and the site itself is very simplistic and basic, as opposed to text-heavy or content-heavy. In addition, women tend to engage in “predominantly female circles,” so when women see how many other women are on the site, they want to be involved as well. At Pinterest’s basic level, its users re-pin things that their ‘followers’ (most likely their Facebook friends) have pinned, as opposed to perusing the internet and pinning things that they come across from various sites. The basic usability of the site is what has propelled the site to remain so female-dominated; because women keep re-pinning things from other women, there leaves little room for men to feel comfortable entering that sort of arena where they will be surrounded by pins of wedding dresses, sangria recipes, and DIY face masks.

Male-oriented companies know that men aren’t on Pinterest.
While female-oriented companies and brands recognize that Pinterest is a female-dominated social network, companies with a dominantly male audience also recognize that men don’t typically use the site. This being said, it is the female companies that utilize Pinterest to engage with their customers. These companies have created profiles and multiple pin-boards to create further engagement with their customers because they know they are on the site. Many have used Pinterest for more than just posting products; contests, giveaways, and actual engagement with its users are popular marketing techniques that Pinterest has created for brands using the site. companies with predominantly male customers know not to try these marketing techniques, or even create Pinterest accounts at all, because statistics have shown that large numbers of men just aren’t using the site. The fact that these companies are not using the site to engage with their customers even furthers the lack of male users because there isn’t that additional incentive for men to create profiles and connect with their favorite brands because they just aren’t present there.

The internet has created its own demographics for social media sites.
Just like Pinterest is generally known to be more female-dominated, there are plenty of other social media sites that are used more by men than by women, and the reason for this is the general type of content that is posted on these sites. According to the infographic above, it is clear to see that there is a divide among genders for certain websites. For example, sites like reddit and digg  are used predominantly by men, and that is based on the type of content found on these sites. Where Pinterest generally  has interior design and wedding ideas, reddit generally has content that varies from video game jokes to photos of hot girls. Before you attack me for making internet stereotypes, know that I am an avid fan and user of imgur and theCHIVE, both websites that most people would say are typically used by men. I’m just saying that while there are exceptions (myself included), these demographics for social media sites are pretty typical. I am the only female I know that uses imgur and theCHIVE, and that’s because of that very reason: there isn’t a large amount of women on these sites, so women won’t typically be attracted to the sites.

All of this being said, guys, Pinterest is NOT scary. I do know a couple of men that use Pinterest. Not nearly as aggressively as my female followers, but every once in a while, I’ll see a new pin pop up on my homepage. However, in terms of generating data and marketing to a male crowd, Pinterest is just not the place to do it. So, ladies, keep pinning those dream wedding dresses and kitchen spaces, because, most likely, your dream man won’t be seeing it.

My Top 5 Ways To Procrastinate

Congratulations, friend! You are already succeeding at procrastinating– you are reading this right now! Whatever it is that you are putting off, yes, you are right; it can definitely wait until later! Why do the things we don’t want to do when there are so many alternative ways to spend your time? As someone who excels in procrastinating, I know how perfectly enjoyable and miserable it is, so I empathize with you. I wouldn’t call myself a slacker, and I even wouldn’t say that I don’t have time management skills, I just choose to manage my time specifically so that I leave everything I need to do for the last minute. Hey, I’ve gotten this far, right? Well, if you find yourself reading this, then that probably means you are currently procrastinating so without further ado, here are the top five ways I put off doing things that I probably should be doing.

5. Writing Blog Posts Like This One
It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, but if you look at my track record, I either blog when I have either too much time on my hands or when I am utter and complete crunch-mode. In this instance, it’s most definitely the latter. If writing isn’t your thing, however, perusing through blogs is another great form of procrastination. If you’re female, then you probably already have at least two or three blogs that you tend to check out from time to time. If you’re male, then I sincerely hope the only time you look at blogs is to try and understand why your girlfriend is looking at blogs all the time. In fact, I should just say right now that all of my procrastination techniques are female-oriented. Men, by all means continue reading, but just know this.

4. Pinterest
One of the classic procrastination tools, Pinterest is where you should turn when you just can’t bear to look at your ten page essay any longer and need to be visually stimulated by something, ANYTHING. You can always do the classic Pinterest exploration and just scroll endlessly through recipes, DIYs and clothes that all of your friends have pinned throughout the day, or you can take my advice and click one of those category tabs at the top that you for some reason have never clicked. Trust me when I say that you will find some actually interesting pins that are more worth your time than that “Secret 5-Minute Flat Abs Exercise” all of your friends are re-pinning. When procrastinating, make sure to stay on Pinterest for a maximum amount of ten minutes at a time. Since it’s something that requires very little brain activity, ten minutes is the perfect amount of time for a study break, but if you are in the long haul of procrastination mode, it’s most definitely not embarassing to be caught on Pinterest for two+ hours…right?

3. Facebook
Think about it. There is actually very little to do on Facebook. Of course you check your Newsfeed and scroll until you physically cannot scroll anymore, and then you go through your tagged photos to make sure that you still look as good as you thought you did when you looked at them earlier, and then you go stalk your usual list of Facebook friends whose lives for some reason you are so entranced with, and then…well, that’s about it. That’s why this is the perfect procrastination tool. Similar to Pinterest, this requires very little brain activity, so Facebook breaks should last no more than ten minutes each, or else you know you’re getting a little too out of hand. Another way to use Facebook as a procrastination tool is when you find yourself just staring at your computer screen and not even thinking about what you are doing. Oh, you’re on photo #579 of your ex-boyfriend’s little brother’s best friend? Totally normal.

2. Call a Friend From High School
You heard me; STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER SCREEN. A much more productive way to procrastinate when you have many other things that need to get done is to pick up your phone and make a call. Since most of your friends at school probably have the same crazy workload that you’re putting off as you do, they will be less likely to want to chit-chat. How about one of your best friends you haven’t really talked to (texting doesn’t count) for about two months? Give her a ring and she’ll probably be so excited to see your name light up on her phone. In my experience, these procrastination/study break phone calls tend to last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes in length, but they are the best for giving your head that clean slate you might need in order to get your work done. Chances are, she’ll be procrastinating, too, so you two can go on and on about all of the things you should be doing instead of talking to eachother.

1. BuzzFeed
And here we have it. My #1 source for procrastination. BuzzFeed is without a doubt the best site to go to when you don’t feel like doing anything productive whatsoever. With endless ‘articles’ filled with photos, videos and GIFS, you can find yourself entertained for days. BuzzFeed is the new StumbleUpon. As soon as you’re done looking at the 26 things you miss about 90’s television shows, five more suggested posts appear as if from out of thin air, and your noggin is once again entertained. WARNING: do not go to BuzzFeed unless you are serious about procrastinating, because you WILL be sucked in and, trust me, it is very hard to get yourself to click the X on the BuzzFeed tab at the top of your screen. Proceed to this website with caution, and good luck in all of your procrastination endeavors, my friends.