Pinterest, Kotex, influencer mythology and moments of joy

Posted on: April 12, 2012

A few weeks ago Kotex ran an interesting Pinterest campaign / activity. It was innovative and successful, by various measures.

It worked like this – Kotex found fifty of the most influential women on Pinterest, checked out what they had posted to their boards, made and sent them all a gift representing those images. The results:

  • Close to 100% of recipients posted about their gifts on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  • 2,284 interactions
  • 694,853 total impressions

Before I launch into the influencer mythology argument, aside from the impressive statistical results gleaned, I must mention being impressed by the innovation of this campaign. In many ways it was a great, unique idea, which cannot now be repeated without cries of copycat.

But this type of ‘influencer’ marketing smacks of elements of traditional communications which peer to peer Internet philosophy rather bites its thumb at

  • Really noisy, famous people are more important than all other people (or women who use sanitary products) – they deserve free gifts and lots of attention
  • A small group of really well-known people can influence everyone else, by dint of their massive profiles
  • The silent majority, or lurkers, are there to be talked to, not with, or for
But is the tantalising promise of the mythical influencer accurate on social media? A recent study by Buzzfeed and Stumbleupon found what those of us with an eye on the real world would probably be unsurprised at. People are most influenced by those closest.. and so-called ‘viral sharing’ happens via lots of shares within intimate social circles, not big shares from big people.
Even the largest stories on Facebook are the product of lots of intimate sharing — not one person sharing and hundreds of thousands of people clicking

And as for the silent masses, the numbers who quietly fitting in Pinterest between busy jobs and busy lives, liking the odd picture here and there, they need not be excluded from our technographics obsessed considerations… for we are not all at one place on the ladder all of the time, but rather hang off various rungs at various times.

Furthermore, Jon Hickman has argued for considering participation by lurkers as “hidden actions.” (As opposed to ‘inactives’, on Forrester’s ladder above) He writes that the extent of participation by lurkers shouldn’t be underestimated, citing a case from the recent Digital Transformations event which his research supports:

we heard about a woman who had never commented or liked anything on her participatory group’s Facebook page. In offline fora, the same woman was the strongest and loudest advocate for their work. Her practice as a lurker meant she was immersed in the detail of the group’s work and was able to speak for it in offline spaces

Jon Hickman

So what’s the point? No more influencer marketing? No more drive for active online participation?  An obsession with the silent, over those who have something to say? Not really. But when it comes to marketing on Pinterest there is another, longer game that might well be played.

To reach more people appropriately, in context, over time – than dishing out freebies to the Pinterati and patting ourselves on our massive corporate backs when they all spew predictably about their free gear, one might try:

So it’s not big, it’s maybe not wow, but it’s bread and butter community development -and it’s all about the race to the bottom (of our hearts). So let’s be honest about what connecting with people on a platform like Pinterest really means when we discuss with our clients and colleagues. It means being patient, useful and creative in a day-to-day, moments of joy kind of way. Not a ‘who’s the biggest name’ or ‘can I get a celebrity to front my Pinterest presence’ kind of way.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This blog is about utilizing and optimizing the social web for business, pleasure and social change

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Creative Commons License
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.

The views in this blog do not reflect that of my employer