“Pinterest really seems like the next big thing.”“I’m not sure how we can use [Pinterest], but I’m on it because it seems like we should be.” “I don’t know how it will add value to our marketing, but we’re getting on Pinterest because everyone else is.”

The above are REAL statements I have come across online or have heard in conversation relating to brands on Pinterest.

Let me be the first to say: Ick. Ick. And ick.

We’ve recently had a bit of casual BOF banter about whether Pinterest is a good forum for brand participation. The reviews have been mixed to say the least. Upon floating the question to the Twittersphere, feedback (mostly from kindred spirits in the marketing world) has been surprisingly split. Some feel it’s a great space for self-promotion, while others expressed that they feel it is a sacred space and marketers shouldn’t muddy the water.

As an early adopter of Pinterest, I appreciated that, until recently, it was a relatively marketing-free space. It felt pure and untainted. For me there was a rare sense of communal credibility in knowing the things people pinned were shared because they truly enjoyed and believed in them. NOT because they were trying to convince me to buy a $500 pair of leggings or a $70,000 car.

With the influx of brands racing to get on board now that Pinterest has gone mainstream, it has changed the Pinterest game a bit. I have seen fashion brands regurgitate and pin images from every page of their catalogs. I have seen advertisements pinned as though Pinterest is nothing more than a free marketing forum. And as a result, I have started to see the spirit of Pinterest shift from “Look at how great THIS is” to “Look at how great WE are.“

While I recognize it is within a brand’s right to play in the space, it leaves me with the same “ugh” feeling I experienced the first time I came across a T.G.I. Fridays in Europe. Sure, you can be there, but should you be?

THE GOOD It’s not all doom and gloom for brands on Pinterest. I recently spoke with our friend Ryan Morgan, Director of Marketing at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, and he redeemed my faith in brands on Pinterest a bit. Jeni’s is using Pinterest to give their fans and advocates VIP access to the brand.. Pinterest feels like a natural space for Jeni’s in my opinion. They’re not forcing their way into their fans’ lives, they’re inviting them behind the scenes and into their test kitchen. And that, if you’ll pardon the pun, is pretty cool.

So. What say you? Do brands belong on Pinterest? Is it an appropriate space to self-promote or should brands trust their fans to advocate for them in an organic, authentic way? Does it bother you to see brands working their way onto the pinboards you follow? And do you know of any brands that are doing Pinterest really well? Or no so well?

Step up and share your thoughts. We’ll be on pins and needles waiting to hear your thoughts…