Is Pinterest Killing Creativity?


As we pointed out in Why Pinterest Reminds Me of the Stock Market, Pinterest was one of the fastest growing social networks ever – an online bulletin board that allowed you to “pin” your own pictures and online bookmarks and share them with friends.

It has become the go-to site for everyday creativity – things like cooking, styling, or DIY project ideas. And therein lies the issue.

The Pig Cake Conundrum

A partner here needed to make a pig cake for her daughter’s birthday. Her first step was to search for “pig cake” on Pinterest, which returned hundreds of options, from Peppa Pig to Miss Piggy. The options seemed endless and each image linked to step-by-step instructions of how to make the masterpiece.

Good news: She duplicated a cake and it was a hit at the party.

Bad news: The experience sucked.

It wasn’t because the cake didn’t look and taste fantastic. It was because she couldn’t take credit for it. It wasn’t hers. It belonged to Pinterest.

What this means for clients

One of our CPG clients, a household marker brand, promotes its products as expressions of everyday creativity. They began using Pinterest shortly after the site launched. It has been a great traffic driver to the client’s website. Its had synergies with other social networks and has improved positive social mentions.

Would we recommend that our client that not posting crafts because people should be creative on their own? Of course not.

But brands that enable people to be “creative” should encourage engagement that does not rely on step-by-step instruction.

Define a creative task, but leave it loose. A sample engagement invite for our marker client: Using only a blue, green & yellow marker, draw a picture of your favorite summer activity.

Encourage fans to share their own creations. Calls to action around UGC should  reward participation with positive comments and appreciation.

Redefine creativity through your brand. Food and beverage brands have contests for  consumers to volunteer new recipes. Home improvement brands love it when people use their products in new and unexpected ways. Even the act of authoring a review is creative – and should be acknowledged as such. Converse, back in 2005, started down a path of consumer-authored creative and look where its taken them.


Feeling like your consumer outreach could use a little creativity? Discuss it with us over a beverage. Contact us.

Listen up: Time for website audio to make a comeback


The argument against websites that autoplay sound is well-known.

It’s annoying.

It’s invasive.

It’s a dead giveaway at work that you’re not really working. And those cheesy speakers with no midrange aren’t helping matters any.

But when we turn off the sound, we’re saying goodbye to a sensory experience that can do a lot for the site experience. We think it’s time clients listen to the case for how sound can support the target experience.

5 reasons why audio should be reconsidered.

1. People work with headphones on. Thanks to tablets and smart phones, more and more people work with in-your-ear audio as a way of getting through the day.

2. YouTube changed everything. The ascendancy of YouTube as a research and learning platform has meant that it’s acceptable to include audio + video content as a core part of everyday life, even in the workplace.

3. Stories are told with sound. Branded content often has an agenda of cultivating a narrative around the product – anecdotes, stories from everyday consumers, and other forms of allegory. Categorically eliminating sound ties one hand behind the back of the website as it seeks engagement. See how this funky Berlin hotel uses audio to create an other-worldly experience

4. It can be subtle. Audio can be atmospheric and textural. It can be simple sound effects that set a tone or mood. Check out how audio works within this scrolling site for a story the Guardian built about a wild fire in Tasmania.

5. It can be elective. Website visitors can be empowered to decide if they want to listen to the audio – just make it clear to them that they’re going to a sound file with a “Hear the full experience” activation button for listeners who want to go deeper.

Sound off – or on? Let us know what you think.

There’s no definitive, yes-or-no answer regarding audio usage on websites. It’s all a question of whether it works for what you’re trying to accomplish. So let us hear your opinion, online or in person.