Very ‘pinteresting’: let social media users do the work

In Chapter 7 of Socialnomics, “Winners and Losers in a 140-Character World,” Erik Qualman discusses characteristics companies must now abide by if they plan to break even in a social-media driven world.  He provides the reader with examples of companies who have embraced social media and used it to grow and develop their companies.  Qualman also shares examples of companies who have the what’s-mine-is-mine mindset and have actually lost business due to their ignorance of social media, or their pure selfishness.  I was surprised when I read that Qualman thinks it’s acceptable to let others run your business for you, but his explanation makes sense: “Take advantage of what others who have already done the legwork to help you position your brand throughout the social media space” (p. 171).


A comparison of Words with Friends and traditional Scrabble. Source:

The example of Hasbro suing the makers of an application called Scrabulous helped Qualman prove his point.  If the company would have accepted the application or attempted to purchase it, they would have probably increased the number of customers instead of irritating people who already liked the application Scrabulous.  Reading this part of the chapter made me think of a similar application that is now popular: Words with Friends.  After doing some research, I found out that a company called Zynga developed the Words with Friends application that users can operate on smartphones, iPads, the computer, and other devices.  However, in 2012 a traditional version of the game was released.  Can anyone guess who was involved?  Yes, Hasbro.  I guess the company finally learned its lesson.  Although the traditional version of Words with Friends is basically the same as Scrabble, users who like the application (and younger users who may not even have ever played Scrabble) may prefer Words with Friends.


A snapshot of Old Navy’s “Wear Us Out” board on Pinterest.  Source:

This lead to me think of how I have seen companies allow their customers to own the brand.  I am an avid Pinterest user.  On Pinterest, users can “pin” images they like to their virtual [bulletin] “boards.”  Users can see what their friends post and can “repin” something that a friend has already posted.  Users can also “tag” their followers in a post.  When I was off work over the summer, I used the application daily to look at fashion ideas and cookout recipes.  In June, I started following one of my favorite clothing brands – Old Navy.  Old Navy posts images of models wearing their latest trends, but the company also has a “board” dedicated to real people wearing their clothing called Wear Us Out.  Users can “tag” the company in an image, and it will show up on the “board.”  Old Navy representatives can also sort through tagged images, and then post the ones they like on the “board” too.  I think this is a brilliant idea to attract customers.  Of course, the models look good in Old Navy clothing.  However, their strategy makes me, as a customer, think that if these real people can put an outfit together with Old Navy clothing, I can too.  Old Navy is a great example of a company using social media to their benefit and letting customers do the work.

Posted on October 19, 2013, in Social Media and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. evelynmartens13


    Love your title! I knew of Pinterest but had not joined until I read your post. I need to spend a little more time exploring. I’d like to find a place to buy clothes completely online because I hate to shop.

    I think Qualman’s most persuasive arguments have to do with letting consumers “own” the brand and getting companies to understand what that means. I had a little trouble following all the intricacies of his John Deere example, but I followed it enough to understand the importance of what he said.

    Let me know if you have have other insights about Pinterest, so I can be on the lookout as I explore. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for sharing the Old Navy board! I love looking up outfit ideas and I shop at Old Navy quite a bit, so this will definitely be a favorite site for me going forward.

    I think Pinterest is a great example of letting your customers do the work for you. Or just letting others in general do the work for you. I realized this recently as I noticed a couple of strangers started following one of my boards. I thought that was odd. Kinda neat, but odd. I realize now what a smart move this is. Instead of them searching for the specific topic of interest, they are going to let me do all the work and just see what I pin. Or, at the very least, following my board helps them see some pins they might not have seen otherwise.

  3. Your Old Navy & Pinterest example is a perfect one. I only dabble in Pinterest but your post had made me want to go check out Old Navy and maybe some other brands I like to wear and see what they are showing as well!

  4. They say that imitation is the ultimate form of flattery.

    I remember Scrabulous and that it went away, but I didn’t realize why it went away. I expected Words with Friends to be shut down in a similar way, but I was glad to see that Hasbro made a better choice this time around. The part that surprised me was that Scrabble didn’t have an app. Now there are many board game companies that coordinate a mobile app before someone has the opportunity to create a knock off.

  1. Pingback: Aaaa Haaa Moment | Communication Strategies for Emerging Media

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.