Using Pinterest: Everything AND the kitchen sink you’re dreaming about.

I’ve waited for awhile to write a detailed post about using Pinterest. Not because I don’t think the site is incredible (because it is!), but because it is so amazing I felt I needed to spend some real time and effort into the site before I wrote about it.

Attraction

Let’s start with the whole attraction to Pinterest. I think it stems back to childhood. Remember making ‘dream boards’ as a kid? Cutting pictures of cars, clothes, homes, quotes, etc, out of magazines and pinning them to a cork board in your room? It was your special place to imagine what could be, motivate you to stay focused or plan for the future. And it’s that concept which has made pinterest just so amazing – and why I think the majority of the users are still female (68.2%).  But, just because there are so many female users doesn’t mean the site can’t be successful for men, or a male dominated brand. Men are just as visual as women, but it takes a little more convincing to draw them into a site, which until early 2012, was more about dream weddings than dream man caves.

Time

One of the most important reasons Pinterest is succeeding is that they have been able to capture time. In a battle for attention, the sites that can keep their users engaged the longest are going to win. And the average time any user spends on Pinterest is 15.8 minutes, which is 3.7 minutes longer than people spend on Facebook! Facebook is absolutely still the powerhouse site (845+ million users…) but it’s no surprise “Pinterest is now the 3rd most popular social networking site behind Facebook and Twitter” – Experian Digital Report, 2012.

Scrutiny

Of course, with any social platform, it faces scrutiny. In Pinterest’s case, it’s over the copyright of images. When you pin an image to a board, it links back to where you pinned it from. But, many users simply do a search for images they want and pin it directly from the search. The problem is, then the link is back to google images (or whichever image search is used). This means that the original creator is not getting credit (or traffic) from the image and you’re breaking copyright regulations. While this can be a huge issue, it’s an easy one to avoid and make sure you are in copyright compliance. How? When you find an image that you like, find the original source! If you find the image through a search engine, or on someone’s blog, look for the original link (or a name of the original creator). It’s not always possible to find the exact creator, but as long as you’re linking to where you discovered the image (and it’s not a search engine url), you’re doing it right. Oh, and if you find an image and pin it without the original link but find the link/creator later, you can update an image to fix the link. To do so, go to the image you want to edit on your pin board, mouse over the image and then click ‘edit’. There, you can change the link, description and even which board the image sits on (without losing any repins, likes or comments).

Personal

As a personal user, Pinterest can be whatever you want it to be. You have the power to share however and whatever you want. One warning: Pinterest is a public site, and attached to your name. While you many not think it matters what you pin, I suggest not pinning anything you’d be worried if your boss, potential employer, or mom, saw. I have seen so many people pin images that were not only rude and inappropriate, but changed my perspective of them as individuals. While some things may seem funny at first, it’s important to really think before pinning something with derogatory commentary or profane language. Know the risks associated with connecting yourself to certain images or websites, and make your decision with the future in mind.

Brand

From the brand standpoint, pinterest is an incredible platform too, but the audience base is even more fickle and less accepting of advertising than on any other site. Use it wisely, creatively, and with the focus on driving interesting content. The most successful brands using the tools pin their own images, but also have a multitude of boards dedicated to other unique content that isn’t theirs but that their audience would appreciate. Collaborative boards can also be a great tool for large companies to really feature their team and individual personalities. The important thing to remember for brands, is that just like twitter or facebook, pinterest needs a unique strategy that fits with the ettiquite of the platform and makes users want to engage.

Get Started

For those who haven’t gotten onto the platform yet, here’s your 6 step quick start guide (for those who have, skip down to the final questions):

  1. Leave me a comment on this post with your email address and I will send you an invite (it’s still invite only, but users get unlimited invitations).
  2. Sign up, choose your user name, upload a profile image and biography (I recommend matching it to your other social profiles so you’re easy to find).
  3. Create your boards. You are given a few to start with. You can open the board and re-name the ones they give you, as well as create new ones. To change the name of a board, click on the name of the board, then click ‘edit board’ button under the name. You can also give the board a description and category so others will know what to expect from that board.
  4. Visit the Goodies section and grab the ‘pin it’ button to put on your bookmarks bar. This will allow you to easily ‘pin’ an image from almost anywhere on the web. It’s easy to install on all browswers, and the instructions are fully outlined on that page.
  5. Surf the web (I love using stumbleupon to find unique pages and images). Once you find an image you like, click the ‘pin it’ button you’ve already added to your browser bookmark. A small second window will open with the image, a drop down list of all your boards and a description box. Select the board you want to pin it on, add a brief description (140 characters is about the most I recommend), click pin and watch what happens.
  6. Of course, one of the big pieces is re-pinning interesting content others find too (that’s the ‘social’ part). All you have to do is find an image you like, mouse over it, and click the ‘repin’ button. Again, select the board you want it to go to, either leave the description from the original pinner or change it to something you prefer and click pin.

What are your thoughts on Pinterest?

  • Are you using it only on a personal level or as a brand (or both)?
  • Do you think it will continue the incredible growth rate or plateau?
  • What is the best/worst parts of Pinterest?
  • How do you think the platform could be improved?
  • http://twitter.com/chris_p_walker Christian Walker

    I still don’t get it, but am willing to give it a try to figure out it’s value to me. I’d appreciate an invite, pls.

  • Livin’ Lime

    Great post!  :)

  • http://twitter.com/MsAlisCakePops MsAli’s CakePops

    I love Pinterest and I won’t deny it. I have given up on my gigantic section of bookmarks because my brain kind of shuts down when I’m looking for stuff but with Pinterest, the visual aspect is perfect. I started using it personally but now use it professionally in a very small way – one board is dedicated to the cake pops I make. 

    The downside is I have slacked off in my Twitter sharing and that’s something I need to pick up again. 

    The greatest improvement would be to add the ability to make a board private, or visible to specific people.