Tailwind may not be for me. Perhaps I’m not using it right. So far, I’ve spent $120 for something that “schedules” pins for me–something I could totally do myself. The Tailwind Tribes have not done much for me as a small blogger. I have two followers now. Up from zero, but still. According to the Tailwind app’s analytics, nothing has been happening.
Who Tailwind Might Be Good For
There is a style of blog that Tailwind seems to attract: the advanced blogger with a self-hosted, slick magazine style blog that has fiercely commercialized its content. The content itself varies in quality,
When you’ve gone so far over the content marketing edge that you’re substituting gloss and glitter for strong content, then you might benefit from Tailwind.
These folks have drunk the content marketing Koolaid; every post is crafted to hype content that someone paid to put there. Find a suitable niche, SEO-it to hell-and-gone, sell, sell, sell. It’s a living, I guess. People can defend it credibly when they say that they’re only hyping things they recommend and use. I feel better about that when they point out things they don’t like, disadvantages and caveats. That’s what keeps it from becoming an info-mercial.
The Problem of Vanilla Content
Slick, highly commercialized vanilla content is the result. All the voices of these blogs sift down to a common, melodious tone designed to instill trust while picking pockets. This seems especially true of blogs for new bloggers. I saw this in the podcasting community as well: the front-runners are developing fan clubs in order to sell overpriced knowledge in a money-hungry economy.
We’re told people are making bank–and they do appear to making at least something! But I wonder if it’s like the Tupperware and Mary Kay and Avon schemes in the 1960s and 70s? My Mom went into Avon, selling makeup to friends and co-workers at her office. My grandmother was an Avon addict — she loved all the shiny little containers and figurines that came with a scent. She spent a small fortune on things Avon.
My friend’s Mom was all about Mary Kay. It was so groovy, as a 12 year old, to compare and contrast the leftover sample bottles and the tiny try-on lipsticks. But like most of these schemes, even the modern ones, these subsided. People get bored with these products, which converge to a same-samey vanilla. They begin to look over and wonder about pineapple cheesecake surprise and chocolate cherry.
Tupperware began to get competitors in stores, cheaper and much more convenient to buy — and without the amateur selling tactics from one’s friends. By the mid-1970s, it was pretty much over.
It’s About Networking
The magic of these phenomena is about “homophily.” (This is where that expensive doctorate in social science pays off.) Homophily means literally that similar [people in this case] attract similar [people]. In a social network, if you put out fluffy-bunny content, then your network will tend to attract and retain fluffy-bunny folks.
I’m just beginning to really grasp the ins and outs of those marketing goods and services to small blogs. There are many different threads in this community. The ones that are most visible are the hard-core SEO-grinding content marketers who would, in another day, own those pink MaryKay Cadillacs.
My mother did not do so well at Avon, because everyone was selling Avon. One was having to choose from among a limited pool of friends–and most of your friends knew all your other friends (at least after that first couple of Tupperware parties). After the initial enthusiasm, her marketing circle dwindled to just her best buds — who were doing her a favor. The people who made it big tended to have influential husbands, grand homes, huge networks with tons of friends because of, oh, say, a huge reputation at a large church. The rich would get richer, plain and simple. One had to already have a significant network — people were buying more than makeup. They were buying access.
I’ve seen this in the podcasting community, where the leadership gets ENORMOUS fees for their courses and entrance into their networking circles. Some of them shamelessly tout their particular brand of snake oil as the financial solution for everyone and demand fees that rack up into the thousand dollar range — mostly for access. They are catering to alpha-male hot-dogger types, people like themselves, with a sufficient capacity to pay for their brand. From the sidechat and emails I’ve read, these things do not pay off for most people–who are, in a way, the little fish that the sharks feed on. Not unlike other network marketing schemes.
I May Not Have Done Pinterest “Right”
The thing I have gotten from Tailwind are occasionally really good posts about marketing on Pinterest. This one was particularly helpful, though it was from the long-ago when you could use Tailwind for free–it’s what a Pin needs to be in order to be more “pinnable.” I’m about to start using those tips. But really, I didn’t go all in for this.
Where I May Have Failed:
Making high quality vertical pins is very time consuming. I didn’t make very many, though I did make a big effort to improve my featured images. Absolutely no one repinned them.
I didn’t buy the upgrade to “Power Up” Tribes. One hundred twenty dollars just gets you on the train track to having to buy more and more upgrades to compete. I recognize this as a Ponzi scheme, as a version of Tupperware marketing where you have to keep buying and buying for that next little increment of coolness. I distrust this tactic and now I distrust this company. I think you can easily spend five hundred dollars for very modest results.
Where I Think My Intuitions About This are Spot-On:
I want you to see something. These are my Pinterest analytics. They’re showing a nice spike, but it’s not from Tailwind.
Tailwind Analytics have been dismal.
My overall efforts — rich pins and repinning content from both Tailwind and from all over the Internet — seem to have given me a small rise in Pinterest audience. It’s tiny, yes, quite modest. I think it may have more to do with my creation of a start page, which has been a much bigger driver from what I can tell. I’ll be talking about that in my next post.
The Middle Path
Blogging is part of a total content marketing strategy that sells goods, services, or expertise. If my primary product is re-selling Amazon schlock (not knocking Amazon, hey, I’m an affiliate), then I better have an entertaining way of presenting the content. If I’m selling e-books or downloads or an Etsy store, then the blog itself has to help drive the traffic. Finding an audience in these days of a fiercely commercialized SEO industry is freaking hard.
We have to have a good idea of our customers and what they want and remaining true to that. We also have to have a distribution plan. Twitter works if you join Twitter communities — or develop them. Pinterest has potential but we need to go farther together and develop group boards. That’s my next research target.
The Impractical Advice Group Board
If you’d like to join me in creating a Group Board, I’m open. I’d like to create The Impractical Advice Group Board. I’m going to pin on it some of my better posts but I’ll also be looking for pins from my readers. Hit me up in the comments if you have something you want on the board or if you want to discuss further.
To create a Group Board, I’d need to define an editorial policy to avoid getting slathered over with posts from the aggressive marketeers. I’m looking for people who want to learn Pinterest, don’t have a bucks for some possible-waste-of-time-and-money course, but would like to get out there and try the “community pinning” strategy.
It’s just an idea at this point. I don’t have much to offer except a learning experience. 😀
I’m thinking about having sections on this Board that include:
Female Founders Over Forty – Cool posts from those of us over forty, dealing with the tough problems of career change, re-inventing ourselves, inspiration and advice.
Home Business – Posts about home businesses — hey, I have a relative with an aromatherapy business who inspires this one. I’m not sure what else would go here.
WordPress on a Budget – A place for interesting, useful pins about the WordPress platform that do NOT involve selling Tupperware, er, courses, hosting programs, or other heavily commercialized infomercials.
What do you think? More soon ~ Lola