June 10, 2011

Curating your interests: Scoop It and Pinterest

One of the reasons we come together as a group, as we do in our TAFA Team, for example, is that there is more potential for being found when you are part of something larger than yourself.  As Etsy sellers, we wear many hats:  we have to make or buy whatever we sell, photograph it, load it up to our shops, and then engage in the time consuming job of getting the word out, marketing in to the world in the hopes that it will sell.

Once it sells, we have to pack it, ship it, leave feedback, and keep records.  Some of it fun, some of it quite tedious.

Of these, the most daunting to many of us it the marketing angle.  Etsy has successfully built in several community stragies, Teams being one of them, but the most popular are the Treasuries, curated images by Etsy members.  Normally, one picks a theme and then fills it up with items that go with that theme.  It might be an activity, a place, a color or a mood.  

This treasury was made by one of our team members awhile ago, using red as the theme:

If the treasury is breathtakingly beautiful, it might make it to the front page on Etsy where there would be more chances of selling the items that are shown on the treasury.

This concept has become so well-liked that there are many websites now based solely on the idea of curating content that has already been published.  I'll give two examples here:  Scoop It and Pinterest, both which are still in beta.  You need to request access in order to set up an account.

Most of us have had a bulletin board where we pin ideas or things we want to keep track of.  This is the idea behind Pinterest.  Create boards of specific interests and pin content to the boards.  See something you like on someone else's board?  You can bring it over to your board and pin it there, too.  Visually dynamic, great images might get re-pinned (and seen with their links) over and over again.  

I did a test using the keyword textile to see what would pop up:

Screen Print of Pinterest

Do you see that stack of textiles, smack in the middle?  That is one of TAFA's members, The Loaded Trunk.  Pinned images and text are also tagged so that keywords can be searched.  Pinterest encourages people to pin things that are not necessarily self-promoting.  Potential uses might be inspiration for future projects, designers use it to keep track of looks they like or potential sources they may use in the future, etc.

The concept here is to let the site crawl the web for relevant information for your topic.  You can create as many as you want, and then enter key words and you can select what you like to add it to your topic.  It ends up looking like news articles.  I tested it with three topics, funding for creative entrepreneurs, folklore in Brazil, and TAFA Art Quilts.  All brought up interesting links.  Here is what the Art Quilt topic looks like:

Scoop It Screen Print

You can also add widgets of your topics on to your blogs and sites:

I did a search using TAFA quilt as the tag.  I thought it was interesting that members who have TAFA on their blogs, popped up as results.  All their posts would pop up and one could pick the best ones to include them in the selection.  And, Scoop It has a gadget that you can install on your search bar so that when you see something online, you can post it immediately to your topic of choice.  I couldn't get the gadget to work on my computer, but I found that if it was saved as a bookmark, it works from there.  I can see all kinds of applications for this.  Basically, it can be a bookmarker for one's interests that can also be shared with the public.  

Scoop It allows you to connect with others on the site.  You can sign in using facebook on both Scoop It and Pinterest, thus transferring the connections you have there over to your new hub.

There are many other sites like this, that use the curating model to build and share content in new ways.  They all have great potential.  For me, the issue is TIME.  Who has time to run around and really use any of these tools, along with all the other social media sites that already demand so much?  And, even remembering all of them and what they do can seem daunting at times.

Like anything else, I think that it helps to explore these sites, see how they operate and if you like it, spend some time on it.  Then, make a part of your day or week dedicated to keeping up on the ones that you think will really benefit your business.  I, for example, have chosen not to make Twitter a priority in my life.  I prefer facebook.  So, I am there with automatic posts that are synched to it, but do not invest in building it.  We each have to choose which tools work best for us.  But, within each of these hubs, look for the community you already have to make that time worthwhile for you.

If you are active in two or three places and do your networking there, your community will help make you more visible.  That is why we stick together.  That is why we have a TAFA Team.

Have you tried in curating sites?  What is your experience?  Share some of your thoughts on this so that we can all learn and benefit from your insights.

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