The rage in social networks right now is Pinterest, partly because it’s probably the first social network that has a much higher adoption rate by females than males, and partly because it’s an interesting concept: somewhere between visual social bookmarking and scrapbooking. What also might not be immediately obvious is that it’s just “easier” to interact there. In that way, Pinterest has something in common with Instagram, which is community around photos.
What I’m interested in, though, is Gentlemint, which I keep calling “Pinterest for dudes.” (Again, because Pinterest has a very high level of female users, the content that flows by my screen there, most often, is female-focused.) I’m not at all interested in the technology. Frankly, Pinterest works much better. I’m not interested in the longevity. Pinterest has millions and millions of users. Gentlemint is still cozy. Here’s why I think it’s interesting: because it’s very targeted content curation where the network effect isn’t the goal.
The Next Social Networks
Who cares that Facebook has 850 million users? Investors might care. Advertisers might care. But do you, really and honestly, want to sift through 850 million people? Of course not. Seth Godin said Small is the New Big eons ago. He said Tribes was the way to be. Are you feeling it yet? You will.
Pinterest points to something interesting: absolutely bite-sized curation is a trend to consider. Gentlemint points to the next trend: targeted use of curation technology to build interesting content in a group setting is hot.
Squint just a little. What if you set up a “Pinterest for Guitarists?” Not, “Hey, you can use Pinterest and build guitar boards,” but “Here’s a very targeted site of like-minded people all sharing interesting stuff.
Now, blur your eyes a little. See how it’s much more interesting to build an environment where people with similar passions can curate and share together? Look at Gentlemint again, and realize that this is kind of like Esquire magazine without the meaty articles. By the way, you could just as easily have the articles. It just requires people to write them and tack them to ‘Mint.
Growing a Channel Might Be a Team Sport
In the work I do for Human Business Works, advising mid- to larger-sized companies on customer acquisition strategies around the digital channel, I’m most certainly going to look at niche-curation content platforms as a powerful way to encourage a meaningful interaction with prospects and buyers. If I were working for Hendricks Gin right now, I’d help them build an even narrower-band Gentlemint. And in cases where I want the broader band, I’d work on showing how to integrate marketing into these curation channels in a non-jerky way.
There’s a lot to consider in this trend. Right now, you might just see yourself or your significant other pinning the heck out of recipes and great vacation destinations. Tomorrow, you’ll see a lot of permutations on the mix of tight niche curation plays.
What would you design, if you were building your own “Pinterest for _____?” Who would you target? What would that “magazine” look like? And who would be the likely sponsors of such a play?