Why Are Pinterest & Instagram So Popular?

And why should you care?

Niche social networks Pinterest and Instagram have captured and maintained the attention of the tech elite and the mainstream far past the honeymoon, probationary period. And the numbers are compelling. A recent report from Experian shows that in the past year, Pinterest’s share of the social media market rose more than 5,000 percent in North America. It is a top 20 social network in North America, the United Kingdom and Singapore. Instagram’s share of the social market increased more than 17,000 percent in North America during that same period.

Why? It would be easy to point to the fact that Pinterest is full of food, design and products, which appeal to the pleasure zone for sure, but that would discount Instagram’s broader subject matter. The common feature is the image-centric nature of the content. People  respond to gorgeous images and layout. Simple design that doesn’t get in the way of the eye-candy. This is what the online world wants to see  – something pretty.

Pictures, still or moving, are the best means of engagement in an otherwise still, online world. This explains why YouTube is so popular – we would prefer to “see” than “read.” Reading is work – it leaves much to the imagination. Seeing is a more immediately gratifying experience. The image conveys information that the written word cannot.

So, why should you the lawyer, or online professional, care? Do you want to attract attention? Do you want to hold someone’s interest? Are you trying to connect online? If you have and do, then you owe it to your content to bring it alive with design and color. Pay attention to your site layout, your blog theme and your presence on visual networks. Add images, and good ones, to your blog posts. Maybe use video to give your presence some animated personality. With some creativity, you can build a presence on sites like Pinterest and Instagram for your professional interests. Pinterest boards dedicated to law firm design or courtroom illustrations. Instagram accounts with portraits of coworkers or your “shot of the day.”

The nameplate sites like Zerply, About.me, Flavors.me, and others, also understand this. That is why their templated profiles look great – they spend time on that aspect of the design because it will encourage others to spend time on the profiles hosted on the site. Why are infographics so popular? They are far more fun to look at than an encyclopedia page full of text and tables.

I will readily admit that I tend to spend more time on a site that is easier to “see” – crowded, text-heavy pages tend to turn me off. There is a reason why people are spending time on this image-centric sites. It’s worth considering them and taking a cue from their design sense while setting up your content.

LinkedIn Connection Timeline – Just For Fun

LinkedIn Labs, probably all jovial and such from the success of LinkedIn’s recent IPO, has a new fun tool you can use to visualize your career timeline in a very Memolane sort of way: LinkedIn Connection Timeline. Using semantic information contained with your Profile connections, this little hack creates a visual representation of your connections, your career points and the strength of those connections at a given point in time. Why do it? LinkedIn developer Gordon Koo explains the why of it:

A few months ago, I found myself thinking about my connections and the nature of my LinkedIn network. There was an “aha!” moment where I realized that LinkedIn has a unique characteristic which others lack — it is three-dimensional. The first dimension is the actual connection. The second is the implicit grouping of connections which tie the social graph together. Many social networks have these first two dimensions, but what makes LinkedIn’s network special is its third dimension: time.

Curious as to what your professional life in 3D looks? Check out the tool – it’s live on LinkedIn right now.

Qwiki Now On iPad, Where It Should Be

I have written about Qwiki, the visual wiki, in the Studio before. Qwiki, the web tool, offers a multi-media search engine with Wiki-like editability. Results yield a montage of videos, photographs, maps, links to related topics and a narration and scrolling text of the “answer” to your query running throughout the video / slideshow.

Fast forward to today and Qwiki, the ultimate modern reference consumption tool, finds its way to the iPad, the ultimate modern reference consumption device. The iPad version looks much like the web version, but takes full advantage of the touch interface. There is a location element – Qwiki’s from nearby are highlighted on the homepage, along with the most popular Qwikis.

This is a truly winning combination of application and device – get an engaging visual information experience, on the go, tied to your location via a tactile interface. In other words, take your Qwiki with you to the coffee shop, the airport, the gym and the courtroom. The developers promise that iPhone and Android applications and an internet television version are in the works.

SnappyWords Offers Visual Snap To Your Writing

Yet another cool writing tool, this one with a great deal of visual panache, SnappyWords (link here) is a free, online dictionary with a twist. Enter your desired word and get the word, and its synonyms and antonyms in a floating image. Hover over any of the  words and get the definition. A thesaurus and dictionary wrapped up into one graphic interface.

Once the words branch off the main query, you can double click a node to find other related words. Then, place the mouse cursor over a word to view the meaning, double click a node from the branch to view other related words, scroll the mouse wheel over words to zoom in or out. Click and drag a word or branch to move it around and explore other branches. Check it out – it’s a lot of fun. Plus it is a great resource to help you vary your written language in posts, articles, briefs, memos and papers.
Snappy Words queries the WordNet lexical database developed by Princeton University for students and language researchers. According to the site, “this dictionary groups synonyms into synsets through lexical relations between terms.” Uh huh. What it really means is that word meanings and semantic relationships are revealed graphically for your viewing pleasure. In a word: “cool.”