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!
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).
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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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