You’ve probably heard about Pinterest by now. If not, I’d describe Pinterest as a virtual pin board platform where users can save and share visual material discovered on the web.
News sources such as Mashable, TechCrunch, TNW and RWW have exploded with stories about this runaway social media hit of early 2012. A huge part of the social media marketing experts now focus on the social commerce possibilities on Pinterest, whether companies should engage in brand presence on the platform and which companies to follow and perhaps benchmark against.
Even though I’m curious to see what companies may do on/with this platform, this is not the topic of this article. Instead I want to take a look at what authors and other artists may be able to do, using the core functionalities of Pinterest. This does not include planning your wedding.
In its nature, Pinterest has many possible uses. Especially if you put on your creative glasses. It is after all, a highly visual platform that enables us to collect bits and pieces from the web and categorize them according to our personal mental maps.
Designers, I believe, have been the first movers on this platform. They’ve been leveraging Pinterest to create inspirational boards, like these amazing color references by Russian Interior designer Yulia Sisoeva:
By organizing and cataloging like the above example, a designer can keep order of her thoughts. Then add the extra plus that Pinterest also enables a designer to visualize the concepts she’s working on to her clients. Now the platform becomes a powerful work tool.
My point is, there’s a huge potential for authors utilizing Pinterest in a similar way.
Use Pinterest to create characters, places, even worlds
Why not make Pinterest boards to create the characters for your next book? When creating a person, we look at both the inner and outer characteristics, and in my opinion using pictures lets you quickly remember the details you’ve planned weeks before. You might also pin pictures that inspire you, to create your fictional worlds, scenes and places. And what about creating your characters home. Just search pins under the topic Architecture and you’ll be amazed to see some unique real life homes out there. Pinterest may be both a new step in your writing process and your memory bank for characteristic details.
I’m not the only one with this idea. Author Nicole Miller, wrote a great post about the potential of Pinterest. She has a strong point in stating, that you as an author can “get readers involved by sharing the creative process and how you visualize your book.”
It is, a she writes, another way to share who you are and what kind of author you are.
To test my ideas, I’ve started an experimental board, named “Building Derya As a Character”.
“Her name was Derya. With her stringy brown hair, freckles and shy green eyes, she isn’t the first person you notice when you step into a room. But if you take a closer look, you’ll discover, she is like sunlight catching a glint in a wave. Sudden sparkles when she smiles to you.”
What would you have written with the same pictures chosen for the board?
Do you think such boards would help you in your writing process?
But won’t a Pinterest board give away to much of the storyline?
A single board doesn’t give away your story. A couple of them? I don’t think so. Of course you shouldn’t map out your entire story on Pinterest, if you wish to keep the plot to yourself. But even so – it’s not a book yet. As director Jean-Luc Godard said; “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.” And I seriously doubt people will be able to connect all your dots.
But why Pinterest? Can’t I just do that exercise anywhere else? E.g. with Evernote.
The answer is yes. But for me the clean user interface of the boards, and the usability of the pin functionality has won me over. Also just as the designers, you’d be able to quickly share your ideas with your agent and publisher.
Even more interesting, Pinterest has a collaborative functionality where you can invite others to contribute to your boards. Imagine the possibility to invite friends, colleagues or even fans to help you crowd-source ideas.
Back to the branding part again
On a final note, authors can leverage Pinterest as a new engagement- and thus branding platform. Encourage your fans to get creative. Any author with an established audience can start different activities, and here are 3 quick ideas to use:
1. Ask your fans for inspirational help. E.g. If you’re a romance writer, ask for wedding details or romantic places. If you write crime stories, ask for interesting places a new murder may happen.
2. Ask your audience to build their own fan boards around topics related to your writings. Imagine if J.K. Rowling asked Harry Potter fans to create boards dedicated to candy described in the books? And perhaps even make their own IRL versions of it?
3. Ask your fans to help create the cover for your next book coming out soon. Tell them what to name the board and then give them a teaser of the new book to help start pinning.
For all of the above ideas, you should of course encourage your fans to share their boards on your Facebook page or via a dedicated hashtag on Twitter or Google+.
I’m sure that would create both buzz and loyal fans.
Are you an author using Pinterest? Please share your thoughts and experiences. Are you perhaps using other tools, platforms or communities?
- This article has also been published on Media Tapper.