In 2007, there was an emerging social media site that had a modest but growing userbase. It was designed to let users tell their friends and followers what they were doing at that moment regardless of how mundane or personal. The posts on it were comprised of over 90% unlinked statements or questions. It wasn’t very common for people to post links unless it was to an image that helped encapsulate the moment in which they were living.
The mainstream explosion of Twitter in 2008 changed the site tremendously. People started flocking in. Celebrities started flocking in. Marketing zombies started flocking in. Today, one would have to have a very carefully-groomed list of people they were following to not get bombarded by 80%+ links.
Fast forward to 2011. Another emerging social media site is picking up interest from a very tight niche of people. With over 85% of the users being women and with the majority of the pins having something to do with style, cooking, do-it-yourself, wedding, fashion, hair ideas, and “dream” items, the site held a purity of form that kept its users more passionate about it than any other social media site.
In the first quarter of 2012, the site has exploded and is in the early stages of being engulfed by the marketing zombies.
There’s nothing wrong with marketing. It’s a necessary component of running many businesses and social media is a strong venue for this to happen. We’re not worried about “good” marketing. It’s the spammers. The fakes. The trolls. These are the problems that Pinterest will be faced with in the coming months. In many ways, they’re already taking over.
The marketing zombies are not your standard marketers. They aren’t saying, “Hi, we’re Ford Motor Company and we’re posting our cars here.” That sort of transparent marketing is perfectly fine in social media because users have the choice to follow them or not. The zombies are the ones named “Shelley Kellerman” who look like average, everyday Pinterest users posting and reposting content that is good. They build up a following by acting normal, then BAM, they sneak in a post with a funny image that compels us to click to enlarge it. Once on the Forex or Teeth Whitening (or even worse, malware) site, we’re suddenly having a hard time making the back button work as one of those popups that ask you if you’re sure you want to leave blocks your exit.
Pinterest offers an interesting venue for zombie marketing because it’s very easy to get the bad messages spread by attaching them to interesting pictures. Users will often repin an image based upon its quality without clicking through to the source. They enable the zombies to push out their vile messages through others who are unsuspecting of the nefarious nature of that funny kitten picture they just posted.
As with every social network, be mindful of who you follow and what you post. Nobody wants to be a pawn, especially for a zombie.
This graphic exemplifies the growth of traditional marketing within Pinterest and its use as a brand promotional tool. Dig a little deeper and you’ll see the gateways through which the zombies will emerge. Pin with caution and have a chainsaw at the ready.
Hat Tip: Connecticut Fiat