Google has launched a brand new Pinterest-like platform! It combines elements of social media but without the randomness factor. It’s called Keen! Keen seems to be all about intentionality – sharing what we’re passionate about, with those we care about.  Google Keen is where you curate your projects, see relevant more content, and connect with others interested in your topics. 

On Keen […] you say what you want to spend more time on, and then curate content from the web and people you trust to help make that happen.

CJ Adams, Co-Founder, Keen, on Google’s The Keyword blog

Adams tells the story that we’re all familiar with. Sitting on the couch one night with a loved one, blearily looking up from one’s phone like a mole into the light, asking each other ‘what are we doing‘?

“It was powerful to tell each other what we wanted to spend more time on”, he writes. And I can relate to this. We’ve all been down those rabbit holes on [insert social media platform of your choice here].

Keen draws on Google’s vast machine-learning algorithms to curate the best content. Working with Google’s PAIR team, the Keen experiment uses human-centered machine learning systems to enhance the experience.

Of course, the antidote to “mindless” screen-time, some would argue, is less screen-time. Think more: getting out into the real world and less: Pinterest board with better AI.

Curious to take advantage of Google’s other latest features? Check out my article on getting found on Google Discover linked below!

READ MORE  Optimizing for Google Discover as a small business owner (with case study)

Google’s new AI-powered social platform

Nevertheless, another new social media product from Google? My interest is officially piqued. I was struck by the low-key roll-out of the new platform. Come on, I mean, the founder’s cross post on Medium only has a few claps as of the time of writing. Honestly, I only found out about Keen because that Verge article popping up on my Google Discover (ironically).

A review of Google Keen as an early adopter - can Google Keen help your small business?

So in this article, I’m going to set this up right now in real time, and review Google Keen for my small business. View (and follow) my Keen by clicking the snazzy button below!

Google Keen screenshot - connect your favorite things, Google's AI-powered Pinterest alternative is here!
Screenshot of Google Keen’s landing page

Setting up my Keen

I really shouldn’t be this dang excited but I am so intrigued to see just how this platform looks and feels (oh, and what it can do of course). I’m an avid Pinterest for business power-user, and really want to see how Keen differs, falls short and even excels.

So, without further ado, I’m going to set up my Keen account and see if I can low-key create something wedding photography related, to go alongside my wedding photography business. I know this isn’t really how it’s intended but I really don’t use social media for personal use, so deal with it. : )

OK! Let’s see if I can figure this out. Managed to log in. I’m using the account that’s linked to 3 of my web properties (I use it for my Google Analytics), so let’s see if it pulls any of those interests out.

Now I’m presented with some boards that Keen thinks I may find interesting.

Screenshot of the first screen from Google Keen after connecting my Google account. A few popular interests are suggested.
Keen makes a few suggestions for popular interests of other users

None of these matches my interests, or anything I write about, but let’s dig around a little here! There’s a ‘more’ button, which suggests interests such as ‘Echo, Reverb and Delay’, ‘Visit Ometepe’, and ‘Play the best PC games of all time’. So far, no signs of using AI to tailor to my interests, but this is a different account from the one I’m logged into when browsing Google, so it’s inconclusive.

Checking to see if my topic of interest is covered

Next I searched my topic see if there’s anything related to wedding photography. The ‘search’ icon is pretty small (at least on my giant monitor) and off to the very right hand corner.

Example of a board on Google Keen - wedding photography boards
I clicked on the first relevant Keen that came up in the search results

Whaddya know! There are already a few wedding photography Keens there. Should I join them, or make my own? I take it these are other photography business owners who are showcasing their own work? Or is it more like a group board on Pinterest? Unsure of the etiquette here.

Well, I clicked on the first result and it seems to be one guy’s work. And it’s great work, but doesn’t seem (?) like something I should join as it’s clearly self-promotional. Side note: I guess I should start my own?

Review of Google Keen - a new social networking platform from Google in 2020
One user’s Keens from around the web

Now, you’ll see two tabs here – ‘Gems’ and ‘Explore’. The ‘gems’ seem to be this own user’s content, pinned from around the web. Under ‘Explore’, there are Keens from other wedding photographers as well as WeddingWire, The Knot, Elle, Hitched, as well as of course Pinterest.

Review of Google Keen by a small business owner using Keen for business
Under ‘Gems’ you’ll find other users’ content related to the topic

Creating my own Keen for my desired topic

OK, I’m not sure what to do next, so I’m going to get back to creating my own Keen! I went back to the homescreen and created a Keen called ‘San Francisco wedding photography’, so it’s relevant to my local market. It then came up with web search suggestions that users who googled my keyword, also googled. The suggestions are pretty spot on, but very specific, getting more zoomed-in to the topic rather than broader.

A screenshot from Google Keen's suggestions list from my review of Keen the new AI social media

I then added a description to my Keen, made it public and searchable, changed the image which was a generic one, and clicked around a little. I can add from a link/ text, or from search. It looks like I can save to the ‘Gems’, as well. Here goes!

I added my local business website’s homepage to the ‘Gems’ section, and immediately it pulled out three items and added them to the ‘Explore’ section. These were my homepage, my contact page (that’s very odd) and my Pinterest profile!

Google Keen review- what happens when you add a Gem to your Keen
When you add something to your Keen, you get new suggestions on the Explore tab

Now, the images aren’t looking so crisp and beautiful as on Pinterest, which uses custom-made pins someone has created especially to promote their content. Keen uses the featured image or sharing image from any webpage. So straight off the bat it isn’t quite as appealing to the very visually-oriented like myself as a photographer by trade and a low-key design obsessive.

I tried ‘adding by search’, clicking on one of the auto-suggested searches, but nothing came up. The icon just goes round and round forever. Never mind – I’ll just add a few more links!

Setting up my ‘Gems’ (feed)

This part was fun! It was very easy to add links to my heart’s content. These show up in the ‘Gems’ section. I added mostly blog post links, along with some hyper-relevant Pinterest boards and wedding blogs that have published my work.

Screenshot from Keen - I tried out Keen for my small business so you don't have to!
An example Keen I created – the links became ‘Gems’

Had to make that screenshot super tiny so you can get a good sense of what the feed looks like, that’s all the stuff I’ve added myself.

As I’ve mentioned, it doesn’t have the visual appeal that Pinterest does, but it’s early days. I’m a Pinterest addict and very much enjoy creating pins for that platform (I even love writing the 500-character alt text and 100-character headline… yeah, I know, I should get out more). Pinterest requires lots of time investment to understand how it all works, but Keen seems very intuitive which will be a plus to many. What I’m saying is you don’t need to create any content specifically for the platform to consume. It’s all just links.

Now this part is pretty interesting (haha, is my nerd showing?). Under the ‘Explore’ tab, you’ll see the AI does an awesome job of bringing in highly relevant keens. This is not dissimilar to Pinterest’s own ‘suggested pins’ but the beauty of Keen is that it’s harnessing the power of Google. It’s suggesting content from all around the web, not just other content that happens to have been pinned aka already brought into the Pinterest ecosystem.

Adding a section to my ‘Gems’

Jeriel from Google Keen’s team told me a neat trick, so I’m editing this post to give you this information. I totally missed this functionality at the time I originally played around with Keen!

screenshot showing how to add sections to your 'Gems' on Google Keen - review of Keen , Google's newest AI powered social media platform!
Adding sections to your ‘Gems’ on Google Keen

Under the ‘Gems’ tab, you can add sections that give more tailored content under each. This is similar to Pinterest’s sections on a Pinterest board.

Click on the ‘Add’ button, then you can add the relevant sections under ‘New section’. Just make it relevant to the Keen. For example, my Keen is ‘San Francisco wedding photography’ and the sections that the Gems are subdivided into are:

  • San Francisco photo locations for wedding (or engagement) 📷
  • Modern + RAD wedding venues, San Francisco; and
  • SF City Hall

You can then click through to each Section to see all the pins on that Keen. Or you can scroll through on the main page, and the sections will appear.

Check out my Keen at the link below!

Conclusion… and questions!

Google Keen review for small local businesses - I tried out Google's Keen to see what it does! - zoelarkin.com

OK is that it? I’ve been clicking away and copying links from here, there and everywhere. I’m not sure if I’m really ‘done’ or what to expect from here:

  • Should I expect people ‘following’ or ‘collaborating’ with me?
  • How would I know if someone wanted to do so?
  • Am I meant to follow people I know, only?
  • If someone’s interested in my work, what would be the path for them?
  • Does it have a browser extension for easy ‘Keening’, so you can pin something from your webpage without having to go to your Keen profile and ‘add a link or text’?
  • What is the recommended ‘pinning’ (or the Keen equivalent) schedule? With Pinterest, it’s 30 pins/ day.
  • Am I looking at this tool ALL WRONG?

I know this tool wasn’t really meant for business, but let’s be honest, that’s how people will use it. And if it takes off, Keen for Business will definitely be a thing.

And well, that’s it really. It was fun to get to grips with something new and I feel like I need to follow up this post with an update when something happens. For the moment though, I hope this was helpful in some small way if you’re wondering what Keen actually looks like before you sign up yourself. Leave me a comment if you’re learning Keen, too! : )

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Further reading

Google Has Released a New, Pinterest-Style App called ‘Keen’ (Social Media Today)

Google quietly launches an AI-powered Pinterest rival named Keen (The Verge)

Google launches Keen, a new personalized search-discovery-social mashup (Search Engine Land)

Pin your choice of graphic to your Pinterest board and be sure to follow @zoelarkinphoto on Pinterest!

Have YOU heard of Google Keen, and could it help you small business? Google Keen is Google's attempt at harnessing its massive machine-learning and AI power to create a social media platform free from distractions and hyper-relevant to the user's topics. In this article I tried out Google Keen to ask the question: Is Keen useful for small businesses that serves a local community? The product is still in its early stages, so get the inside scoop. #socialmedia #googlekeen #keen | zoelarkin.com
Review of Keen – Google’s latest AI powered social media platform | zoelarkin.com
Google Keen is here! It's the latest attempt from the search giant into social media, using powerful AI to curate user's feeds, making them hyper-relevant to their topics of interest. But is Google Keen here to stay? Is it useful for small service businesses, trying to be found in their local markets? I tried out Google Keen in my small business to see how useful and easy it was, and what all the fuss is really about! #socialmedia #googlekeen #keen | zoelarkin.com
A review of Google Keen for my small business (EARLY ADOPTER) | zoelarkin.com
Zoe Larkin
Zoe Larkin

I’m Zoe, a wedding photographer based in San Francisco! I also help fellow wedding photographers attract their dream clients with actionable SEO & digital marketing strategies. When I’m not shooting weddings, creating content is my passion! Follow along the blog, Insta and my new YouTube channel for photographers! 

A review of Google Keen - new AI-powered app

Review of Google Keen for small business owners

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