Stop Ruining Pinterest for Everyone Who Loves It

by Marian Schembari on February 14, 2012

You know that obnoxious habit when you mention something new to a friend and they respond with “yeah, I heard about that ages ago” and you want to punch them in the mouth for being such a know-it-all? Well, everyone who’s been using Pinterest is starting to feel that way (re: we are the annoying know-it-all) now all the big marketing blogs are talking about it like they’ve discovered the Americas. (p.s. I’m not going to explain what Pinterest is. Go here if you want the details.)

Even though I work in marketing, I’m getting increasing frustrated at the industry’s new perspective of Pintrest…

  • Like this article that tells us “everything we need to know” but only actually tells us how to pimp your content to increase traffic.
  • Or this TechCrunch post that says Pinterest hasn’t yet reached its full potential because the audience is mostly women. (I wish I were kidding.)

And I’m not the only one. Pinterest lovers are annoyed because they’re all addicts. We’re all addicts. And I’m getting increasingly worried about sponsored pins, spam and generic crap being regurgitated into the webisphere.

That said, a) there’s nothing you nor I can do about it and b) there is opportunity because Pintrest is the best thing to happen to the internet since The Evolution of Dance. So I’m hoping with this post I can help the world use Pintrest for good instead of evil.

Here are some examples of companies on Pinterest, including what they do perfectly and who could use some work:


If Modcloth were a woman these boards would be everything she’d pin, making it as personal and personable as possible. It’s easily the best example of a brand on Pinterest.

Favorite Board: Behind the Stylebooks

Everyone loves a little behind-the-scenes, but Modcloth stands apart by showing what inspired their stylebooks, including typography, copy and vintage advertisements.


A SparkNotes version of their website with awesome projects, design and food inspiration. While I’d usually consider this much HGTV content spammy, skimming through their projects in Pinterest-format is easier to digest.

Favorite Board: Mint Green: Color of the Month

This board gives you design ideas they might never have thought of under the umbrella of creative color.

The Travel Channel

What’s more inspirational than travel photos? The Travel Channel have organized their boards into different locations, with a few behind-the-scenes from their shows.

Favorite Board: Travel Finds

Travel Finds is a mash-up of inspirational travel quotes and nifty gadgets. It’s not too refined or particularly extensive, but that’s what I like about it.

Serious Eats

While the Serious Eats account is filled with gorgeous photos and dish ideas, they could do an even better job if they created other food-related boards like kitchen gadgets, restaurants, reviews and products they love.

Favorite Board: Booze-free drinks

Serious Eats organizes their boards  just like a cookbook! They have boards like Pasta and Noodles, Mexican, and Cocktails, as well as boards for events like Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s.


Again, too product heavy, but stationery company Kikki.k does a decent job showing products in action. Their board featuring gorgeous workspaces makes me want to run right out and buy all their products. Nicely played, Kikki.k. Mission accomplished.

Favorite Board: Journal Prompts

Based off Kikki.k’s popular journals, this board features writing prompts. I love the concept, but the photos aren’t sexy enough to get much traction. If they really wanted to get some attention, they should use a kick ass graphic designer to mock up the prompts with some simple and unique typography.

So how do you use Pinterest without ruining it for those who adore it?

First of all, don’t jump on the bandwagon just because Mashable tells you to.

The one thing keeping me sane about the Pinterest explosion is that if you start spamming people or your content isn’t pretty enough, you’ll never getting your stuff repinned. Meaning right now (for now) its hard to game the system.

So since the site is mostly used for inspiration, if you have a blog about blogging you might be shit out luck. While I might create a board for my travels or the books I’ve read just to test it out, if you ever catch me trying to pimp my content you have my full permission to take me out back and shoot me.

What do you think, are your panties in a knot over brands finally discovering Pinterest? Have you ever even heard of it before? Could you care less?


6 Website “Tricks” Readers Hate

by Marian Schembari on February 23, 2011

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), certain “internet marketing” techniques that worked last year are the bane of our collective existence this year. A few of these so-called tricks the experts say are absolutely necessary will actually have readers running for the hills.

For your own sake, stop acting like a marketing-guru-ninja and maybe we’ll all hate you less:

Pop-up “opt ins” are still pop-ups…

Pop-ups telling us to subscribe to your blog, sign up to your newsletter, buy your product and/or wash your car drive me and everyone I know completely insane. Don’t do it.

There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of a post when sales copy is shoved in your face. Sure, studies show this can grow your list, but I guarantee it annoys the crap out of the majority of readers, leaving you with a less loyal (and long-term) following.

I came across Popup Domination during my research (not going to link out of respect to you) and when I tried to click out of the sales letter I got this…

OH. MY. GOD. Is there anyone in the world that doesn’t find this disastrous?

Extra stuff: Read this post on arguments for and against popup forms on Kikolani.

We know $497 is just a number you made up

Please stop creating offers that are a “$497 value.” We know you created this specifically to give it away so we’d subscribe to your blog, sign up to your newsletter, buy your product, wash your car…

I was even given a business card the other day telling me to Ask Them About Their Low, Low Rates And Sign Up To Receive Their Free Gift Valued At $497.

Is this not yet blatantly obvious? Completely overdone? Insincere?

Automated messages still count as spam

Stop sending auto DMs saying “thanks for following” or “find me on Facebook.” How many posts/blogs/tweets have you read telling you not to do this? They’re impersonal, intrusive, overly self-promotional, and I bet your bottom dollar you lose followers every time you send out one of these bad boys.

Note: I know for a fact some of my readers use this tactic. Please – step out of the shadows! Defend yourselves! Or at least explain why my inbox is full of your spam.

“Connecting” is not another word for “send me crap”

Stop connecting with me on LinkedIn only to send obvious cut and paste messages. Check out two I’ve received this week:

“We would like to thank you for the connection here on LinkedIn and we look forward to knowing more about you. If there is anything we can do to contribute to your success, please let us know.”


“Now what might we do together that would be interesting, eh?”

Are you actually a trained ninja?

We’ve established now that “gurus” use the word “ninja” as a way to appear less like spammy guru-ninjas. We also now have pirates, goddesses and bad asses. Regardless of the transition, it’s still not funny, unique or even remotely descriptive of what it is you actually do. How about, instead, you tell us a little about yourself?

There’s a reason grammar exists. It’s not so you can capitalize random Letters.

Did Constant Capitalization really help sales at one point? I haven’t done my research because I don’t care if this tactic works – unless it’s a headline, capitalizing every letter is inappropriate and grammatically incorrect. It’s not natural, looks spammy and makes your copy hard to read.

Example: I came across this page from a crazy successful blogger. Look at this for a second… Really?! REALLY?!?! How is this an appealing paragraph?

Once upon a time, these might have made you special…

Listen, I KNOW having catchy headlines makes people more likely to read/share your content. In theory, auto-DMs can up traffic. If you’re doing this stuff and it’s working, I’m happy for you. But don’t you get tired of seeing the same ish over and over? Isn’t it time someone did it a little differently?

What are your least favorite website tricks? Leave your rants in the comments – you know how much I love those…

{Photo credit}


I was recently hired to do some social media work for an author who is already set up on Facebook and Twitter. Before agreeing to take on the project I took a look at her profiles and saw almost 2,000 Twitter followers and 400 Facebook fans (sounds better than “likers”). My job would be to maintain and grow the fan base as well as engage the already established community.

However, once I logged onto her homepage I was bombarded with spam, which was when I realized whoever she had originally hired to take care of her marketing had completely screwed her over.

How is following spam useful AT ALL? Really. Answer me! I honestly don’t understand.

First of all, the author was following 2,000 people, all of whom promise their followers they’d “get rich quick,” “lose

Ugh. *Shudder*

20lbs overnight!” or “meet a special lady tonight.” Honestly, people.

Apparently, the other company she had hired were late jumping on the social media bandwagon. They assumed the most important thing was numbers, completely disregarding that those numbers would never buy her book because they’re too busy shouting over one another. Didn’t matter that those numbers consisted of spammers and porn. Add to that the fact that many authors don’t know the first thing about Twitter, this asshole company banked on her never knowing about their little spam attack. Unfortunately for them, I took over. Muahahahahahaaa!

Seriously though, I know there are sites out there that can get you thousands of followers for a “modest sum”, but I didn’t know that legit marketing companies use these services and then charge their clients an arm and a leg.

It’s more than just annoying though. What if someone checked out this author’s followers only to find porn? Not only does that not help her marketing plan but could actually ruin her reputation. It’s disgusting and I’m angry and going to write a very angry letter to this company on behalf of (now) my author.

Then there are my issues with auto-following…

As long as I’ve been on Twitter I’ve been under the impression that it’s just good manners to follow anyone who follows you back. But that’s how spam gets in your feed and spam is (obviously – see above) one of my biggest pet peeves.

Guy Kawasaki has this to say about it: “Ignore people who tell you that it’s the quality of your followers not the quantity.” In another article he writes this charming piece of logic:

Follow everyone who follows you. When I first started on Twitter, Robert Scoble told me to follow everyone who followed me. “But why, Robert, would I follow everyone like that?” The answer is that it’s courteous to do so and because when you do, some people will respond to you and everyone who follows them will see this—which is more exposure for you.”

Sorry Pumpkin, but I disrespectfully disagree. Mostly because your tweets are crap. You tweet way too often and I honestly can’t be bothered to weed through your crap when I’m trying to find out what significantly more interesting (and yes, seriously “less important”) people are saying.

That being said, when I taught my mom how to use the ol’ Twitter, she whined for ages saying, “What!? I have to see what other people have to say every day? Can’t I just skip over the home page?”

As rockin’ as my mommy is, she had a slow time of learning the social part of social media. I get it though; she’s a busy lady and isn’t used to this newfangled promoting-yourself-by-connecting-with-people thing…

I’m really curious what you guys think though. Does my author deserve to get her money back? Should companies that use these methods be called out on their complete and utter lack of social media know-how? What about auto-following?