Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest: What are the differences?

This is not a which platform is the best. Rather, I’m interested in two things how one would use them differently, either as an individual or as an organization (for this post I can only talk from a personal level).

Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest function differently for me. Facebook is good for goofing off and for seeing what actual real life friends are up to–the same vibe that would be there if I was out at a dinner party or watching a game at a sports bar with intimate friends. I try to keep it to real life friends–no padding of the friends list (are people still doing that?). I also follow pages from interests.

Pinterest, I use it as a visual dream and inspiration book. Basically visual representations of whatever I’m interested in, whatever inspires me, etc etc. I don’t even use it to connect or network, it’s just me stuck in my head with my daydreams.

Twitter, now this is the interesting one. I’m on there to follow my academic interests–social media and also international politics but I find it the most problematic to use coherently. Several reasons for that:

  • Many accounts push out update after update of nothing but links. And I’m not talking spam, but actual organizations, just posting links, often to their own site.
  • Some public personalities and authorities in some of the areas, post a lot of intimate and personal stream-of-consciousness style, and sometimes at a rate of 10 posts an hour which crowds out the feed a little.
  • I am also interested in sports, and other things that I wouldn’t mind following on Twitter like events on my favorite series and what have you. Is Twitter necessarily only for following one area or one niche?
  • I do chat some political stuff. Nothing childish, and no flame wars, but political nonetheless. This is even though I only follow one political personality, but I have a list (maybe I should discontinue it?)

What I’m grappling with is how to resolve all of the above issues as far as my Twitter use. Even the political stuff which I initially was about to say is self-inflicted is a tough one, as politics is very much relevant to studying social media. Message diffusion, hashtags, agenda setting, media narratives, etc. are all interesting topics.  Any ideas?

The fourth platform, Google+ I’m completely stumped. Perhaps i can migrate the fan pages from Facebook to there, especially now that Google Reader has been retired. It may be relatively painless as I’m already in the Google ecosystem.

There’s of course Linkedn and Tumblr, but by now I think one would be getting over stretched.


Is Pinterest pointless?

The photo is a humorous take, but there’s some truth to it. At this time, Pinterest is dominated by wedding photos, womens fashion clippings, and sweet deserts. The improvements suggested here could improve it.

Is Pinterest pointless?  Not necessarily, although it certainly seems like that right now.  Right now for me it appears to be an aimless collection of photos, with a poor noise-to-signal ratio.  It could be more useful with some added functionality by Pinterest.  First of all they needed an app, but they just rolled one out yesterday so that’s good start.  The other two things I’d like them to do is to sort out the difference between likes and shares, to add private boards, and to enable a slideshow function.

Likes vs. Shares

What is the practical difference between a like and a share? I’ve seen explanations that likes are for storing photos that you don’t really have a board for.  But then why not just have a random board? And also, this means posters are notified twice, when you like their image, and then when you repin it.  If likes are seen as a draft board of sorts, then they should be no notifications attached to them (although they can be counted towards the photos stats) and also no need for them to be visible to the public.  Confusion is no good, you always want something as simple and straightforward as possible.

Private Boards

Come on Pinterest. Do it! I know platforms have to differentiate themselves and all, but there’s a big opportunity being missed here.   What if a company wants to tailor a board to a specific client list? Or one may be putting together a scrapbook for a babyshower, etc.  A good compromise might be to perhaps limit users to one or two private boards to test this out.  This way, Pinterests entire catalogue will not be hidden, and at the same time users can get some privacy.  Win-win.

Slideshow/Flipbook view

Again this is something that would also benefit businesses.  You can roll out a series of images instead of having to do a PowerPoint presentation for example.  For normal use, if one has a tablet they could do it such that you can maximize the photos and run through a board as if it’s your own custom made magazine, or scrapbook—they could even add the animated page turn.   Or these days HDTVs are starting to get apps.  Imagine a Pinterest app on your HDTV in which you can set images to flash on the screen in brilliant high-resolution.  This would be wonderful for boards based on travel places, architecture, etc.   Right now it’s a Web 2.0 software geared towards Web 1.0 devices and hardware.  Interactivity and syncing is a must in 2012.

There are other suggestions I have though I haven’t quite articulated them yet.  For example I think maybe something like mandatory descriptions and/or crediting of sources is something to look into. Also perhaps pinning an image through an image search galleries like ‘google images’ should be banned, as it increases the random/noise factor of Pinterest.  Let people pin from actual websites that they’re browsing—this will also help with some of the copyright worries that have come up.

What are your thoughts on the utility of Pinterest, and also on ways to improve it?

Is Pinterest for girls?

Interesting comment on Pinterest, by Social Media specialist Tish Grier on the usage of PInterest. She had a recent blog post on “Why Women Prefer PInterest” in which she wonders:

Yes, a girl.  Pinterest has the odd effect of bringing out the girly girl in me, and Ibet that it does for a lot of women.

Maybe that’s a reason, too, that we like it: Pinterest is a diversion from the workaday adult world into a world of fantasy and inspiration.  Depictions of the possible and the impossible that fuel our daydreams and night dreams too.  Pictures of stuff that we want to remember, for whatever reasons.  It isn’t about winning, or losing, or gathering important information for our professional enrichment (maybe that’s why infographics don’t get repinned as much as shirtless hunks.)

It’s just plain fun.

I really hadn’t thought of that, but just by eyeballing my PInterst I can see that she’s on to something.   But why wouldn’t what she describes also pull in men by pinning super models, or sports cars or our favorite athletes?

Personally I like PInterest. I see it as a nice visual scrapbook that gives you insight into the types of thoughts that fill someones mind, I’d describe Pinterest as “public daydreaming”. It might take a while for the general public though, I mean between Facebook and Twitter there’s only so much attention to go around.  I’m studying Social Media, and Ms. Grier is a Social Media specialist, so people like us have an incentive to stretch ourselves.  I’ve observed that my Facebook that are most the most active on PInterest are relatively inactive on Facebook itself.

It will be interesting to see whether Pinterest will continue to grow.  Will it get taken over by corporations (MySpace) or irrelevant (Hi5, Friendster) or top out at being just steady but simmering under the surface (Google+)?  Lastly, in ending her post, Ms. Grier asks whether Pinterst has any value as a social media marketing tool.  I’d add to that and ask whether in addition to commercial issues, there is potential for socio-cultural or political change via Pinterst. For example, if in fact Pinterest is women-centric, that might affect how Presidential campaigns utilize the platform.  Can Pinterest change the dynamic of International Relations like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook have?