Take An Interest In Pinterest

USA Today calls social media tool Pinterest "the latest Web addiction for millions." Is it for your meeting attendees, too? If so, it's time you got involved.

In case you haven't heard of it, Pinterest is a relatively new -- but rapidly growing -- social media tool. It's an online visual bulletin board where users post collections of images of their favorite food, clothes and places (including meetings). Businesses are using it to post pictures of products and build communities. Pinterest lets you create and share collections of things you like in any category you choose.

Time magazine said it was one of the five best social media sites of 2011 -- right up there with Google-Plus and Klout.

What's the attraction? You don't have to be a writer or figure out how to describe something in a certain amount of characters. The basic attraction is visual. I read in a recent USA Today Tech piece that the founder, 29-year-old Ben Silbermann, believes Pinterest fills a need on the Internet for people to express themselves.

I'm always thinking how the latest developments on the social media scene can affect meetings management. I think there's two sides to Pinterest that meeting managers should consider:

- The tool could be a great way to build interest in events -- by posting pictures of destinations,
hotels, speakers, and products to be featured at a show.

- But Pinterest also deserves some serious oversight on your part. If your employees are using Pinterest, are they posting pictures of images you don't want up on the web and connected to your corporate name and brand? By posting pictures, are they tipping off your competition to an upcoming internal sales event, or worse, spilling the beans in advance about a new product or service?

Social media is good, as I've said many times in this blog, and the uses are ingenious -- such as
reviewing hotel sleeping and meeting rooms. But you also need to set rules around usage of the tools. In this age of super-fast and universal communication, the greater oversight, the better.

Kevin Iwamoto is vice president of enterprise strategy at StarCite. This post is excerpted with permission from his blog, Strategic Meetings Management.