Pre-Story, Full Disclosure
Let’s start with this – in complete transparency, I currently pay Pinterest a small amount each month to have my pins “promoted”, meaning they show up better on feed based on keyword searches. For example - if someone searches for "Barcelona", my Travel Guide to Barcelona pin may show up higher on the results feed. It’s the only form of advertising I do, mainly because it’s honestly the only one I can afford… if you remember, I don’t get paid to be a blogger (few do). I’m just a girl who loves to travel and plan, so I share my information with people and actually end up spending a lot of my own money from working a full time job to do it – having a website costs money and editing photos and writing content can take me an additional 20-30 hours a week after coming home from my normal job (not to mention the amount I spend to travel to the places I talk about). It’s also very hard to break into the travel blogging world – there are estimated to be over 700,000 travel bloggers today and it’s dominated by a handful of major players with huge budgets and millions of followers. So when I started my site last year, I knew it was going to be an uphill battle to get people to see all the hard work I was putting into my site, but it was a passion that I wanted to pursue despite the odds.
Ok, by now you’re probably wondering what this has to do with a social media battle? Well, this morning I received an angry comment on one of my latest pins about the best foodie spots in San Francisco. In the last few months since I started doing promoted pins, I’ve received 3 negative comments – all claiming that my pin is spam because it’s promoted. So far I’ve ignored them all, but this time I couldn’t.
Here’s how it started
Now, I realize that I could have easily ignored it or deleted it, but for some reason I just couldn’t let this one go. Maybe it’s because I didn’t realize that all pins that did not represent the average citizen were considered spam or that a pin relating to San Francisco restaurants should only be for the rich and elite who travel or just maybe I was feeling like I wasn't going to be pushed around this fine morning. Whatever the reason, the battle had begun…
My goal was not to be hurtful or rude (even though I did get a bit passive aggressive there at the end, which you'll see later in the "conversation"), but to take some time to explain that:
- We don’t own our own feed, Pinterest does since it’s their service that we freely use.
- There are real people behind many of these pins and they have feelings. Would he have said that to my face if he knew who I was?
- For the at home bloggers out there like me, we really can’t compete with the big guys and Pinterest helps me to get my website in front of people searching for similar content. My site doesn’t sell anything, nor does it even advertise, my blog really does just provide information to likeminded travelers. And to be honest, most of them would probably never get to my site if it weren’t for Pinterest.
Those were my reasonings, but as you'll see, I don't think he got the message.
and then we went into hand to hand combat (on the keyboard)
The final attack - the petulant child vs. passive aggressive jabber
I must admit, I don’t love how much advertising goes on within Social Media today, so I get Jason's frustration. It can be distracting and I constantly feel like I’m being sold. With that said, it’s the main source of revenue for these businesses since they are otherwise free for users and I have to respect that in order to keep the lights on and pay their staff - making money is something they have to do.
I’m also truly thankful that I have a venue to get my blog posts and travel guides out there that I can actually afford. Without Pinterest, there is no way that people would see my work – outside of my mom, husband, some very loyal friends and co-workers (Ana & Iliana) and Grandma Hook (thanks for always reading Grandma!). My intention in using promoted pins is not to blow up anyone’s feed or to put my info in front of people who don’t want it, but there are going to be people who end up on the angry end of that effort no matter what my intentions may be. So maybe that’s just a reality that I have to learn to live with and simply accept the occasional angry comment. Luckily for me, behind every negative comment are dozens of kind, thoughtful, encouraging and appreciative emails and comments from total strangers who read my work. Thank you for that, they are truly what keep me going every week. In the end, I realize that this is just one battle in the war on random angry strangers out there but I'm pretty sure it's worth the fight - I type a lot so I've got big guns, be afraid!