Millions of new followers in a short time span is great. Non-stop mainstream media coverage coupled with celebrities and big brands jumping on board is spectacular. But everyone knows that the indisputable, defining mark of a social network startup that has “arrived” is when people begin to use to the social startup’s name as a verb:
Google me. Tweet me. Facebook me.
The gods of social media are all verbs or, as I call them, “social verbs.” It is a very small, very exclusive club. Why do verbs rule?
Nouns sit passively waiting to be acknowledged by the world around it: “what a good book,” “my dog needs to be walked, “I’d like to visit Indiana some day.” Nouns are defined as:
“… the name of a person, place, thing, or idea. Whatever exists, we assume, can be named, and that name is a noun. A proper noun, which names a specific person, place, or thing (Carlos, Queen Marguerite, Middle East, Jerusalem, Malaysia, Presbyterianism, God, Spanish, Buddhism, the Republican Party), is almost always capitalized. “
Verbs, on the other hand, are all action baby – yeah! And action is sexy. Verbs are:
“The part of speech (or word class) that describes an action or occurrence or indicates a state of being.”
With the exception of the past-particle tense, a verb is constantly in the process of becoming or doing. A verb, like social media, is about there here and NOW!
Thanks to social media and portable devices like mobile phones, laptops and tablets, we are now more intimate with technology than ever before. When we truly merge with technology it becomes a part of our daily lives intimately. It becomes the air that we breathe and the wind beneath our wings. Technology isn’t just what we are, it’s what we do. This is all the more true with social media: Google her. Facebook me. Tweet it.
The most popular social networks so thoroughly infuse themselves into our lives that we begin to replace common verbs with the social network name. The social network is grammatically elevated in status from being a proper nouns to being a kick ass social verb. Social verbs define the act of connecting on that particular network or platform. When someone ask you to Facebook them, you know exactly what to do.
Which brings me to Pinterest. Pinterest is, without a doubt, the fiercest new social network to launch since Twitter. With the popularity of Pinterest torpedoing through the social stratosphere, with no signs of slowing down, is Pinterest on its way to being indoctrinated into the social verb club?
Yes and no.
Social verbs connect people to people. Google is the exception (it connects people to the world and to information and does it far more effectively than other search engines – which is why you’ve never heard someone say “Yahoo me.”). Facebook me, DM me, Tweet me are all social verbs that imply connecting to to another person through the network. That’s powerful. That’s social.
Unlike Twitter and Facebook, Pinterest is not a social network interested in connecting people. The primary purpose of Pinterest is to aggregate compelling images to share with the world at large. On Pinterest, human interaction is treated as an unintended consequence of posting beautiful photos. Sure, you can post comments on individual photos and “like” or “share” the photo, but the social interaction buck stops there.
It will take some time before the social ecosystem fully understands what Pinterest is (which is part of the fun of being the new kid on the block). But this much we do know, Pinterest is a media aggregation platform with social functionality built into it (or a media aggregation platform with a social media complex). Pinterest is great but, so far, it lacks the ability to foster true connection and relationships. Media sharing is what Pinterest does (and exceptionally well at that). Alas, media aggregation sites make awful verbs — which is why you’ve never heard anyone say, ”YouTube me later,” “I’ll Flickr you” or “Hulu you tomorrow”. These media sharing platforms have social capabilities built in (the ability to follow friends, message someone, bring in your friends from other networks, create profiles), but that’s not their primary function.
Facebook and Twitter, on the other hand, were created to be conversation platforms and social connectors. When someone asks you to Facebook or Tweet them, these social verbs imply the act of connecting with people and creating relationships. Because Pinterest is a media aggregation site, not a social network in the same way as Facebook and Twitter is, you won’t be hearing people say, “Pin me,” anytime soon.
The closest Pinterest can come to being a social verb would be in reference to the act of posting photos on the site : ”Pin this photo of a car!” or “I love that dress. Pin it!” That’s a perfectly legitate way to convert the name of the site to a verb and, in this day and age when ”content is king” is driving business business models on and offline, “pinning” something may trump “Googling” or “Facebooking” (stranger things have happened.
Chin-up Pinterest. There’s life, love and success outside of being a social verb.