A Pinterest search for Thanksgiving squash recipes.
When looking for a squash recipe for this Thanksgiving, I turned to Pinterest instead of Google.
“Why?” you might ask.
I turned to Pinterest because it is part of the curated web. When I search for squash recipes on Pinterest, I know there is a real person behind each “pin”; a real person who decided the idea, image, and content worth calling out and saving for later. That person selected an image that best represents an “idea worth saving” and often will annotate the pin with some useful information.
I chose Pinterest instead of Google because I find it is more trustworthy. Google gives me viable and untrustworthy results alike, gnarled and intertwined. I have to dig through the results to find the gold. Google’s search results are generated based off a search algorithm—a fancy equation used to determine which of the billions of websites and web pages on the Internet match your search terms. This equation then orders the results based off the factors Google determines to be “relevant” to your search terms. Pinterest, conversely, uses the power of its users, real human beings who have done the heavy lifting by hand, to serve you “the best of the web.”
Google’s display of search results is also much less…. provocative. There are no images to entice me to click. If I switch to a Google image search, the results won’t reliably give images that link to a recipe. Often, I find Google image search results link to nowhere, and it is difficult to discern which images are safe and trustworthy versus phishy. Pinterest curates the web and brings order to the chaos. The content in Pinterest goes through an additional level of filtering, by human hand.
With an ever-growing web, the idea of curation increases in importance. We need trustworthy experts to guide us, to review content and find only the most venerable and viable to share. Pinterest embraces this concept, but it can extend far beyond the platform, to include so much more.
As a Millennial, I’ll openly admit that I am likely to trust the opinion of an anonymous stranger on the web when it comes to consuming. Product reviews, restaurant recommendations, professional testimonials, product “pins” and recipe bloggers are all examples of stranger opinion I am likely to trust. Of course, if a product has just one rave review, I can smell the fishiness. A quick scan of review content is also a way to check for authenticity—overly sycophantic content is an obvious red flag, whereas critical content that discusses both the good and the bad, seems more authentic. For the most part, these anonymous strangers have no monetary or personal motivation to curate the web and share their experiences; they share with the intent to help others and because they expect others to do the same in return. This is the new web. Research backs up this notion that Internet consumers, particularly Millennials, place trust in the opinions of anonymous strangers (see Nielson 2009 report, Kelton 2011 report, Cone Communications 2011 report).
So, how does this relate to real estate? How can real estate professionals leverage the curated web to garner more business and network more effectively?
Pinterest is not the best platform for sharing real estate listings. Pinterest “pins” demonstrate a more permanent feel, and real estate listings, by nature, are not permanent. However, Pinterest can be a way to establish oneself as a guru of style and good taste. For real estate professionals, one could create home décor or design boards that reflect seasonal color palettes. Or, one could create a board for a type of home—such as a Craftsman, Dutch Colonial, or Victorian—that highlights features and “the best of” or details DIY restoration. Using the annotations, one could link back to his or her website “for more information” on the topic.
The notion of the curated web can extend to one’s business website, blog, or social media accounts. Real estate listings are valuable because they include data that is thoughtfully collected by handwhich includes detailed annotations, provocative images and sometimes even video.
Of course, one should proceed with caution when using social media for business. There are a number of legal issues to consider, such as copyright and intellectual property, privacy and security, and anti-discrimination laws. Pinterest, for example, still displays an image in a pin long after a web page with the original image is taken off the web: what if a client wants an image of his/her home taken off the web entirely? Additionally, an empty or inactive social media profile is worse than no social media profile at all. Those who wish to pursue the curated web need to proceed with sincere effort and dedication.