Everything You Need to Know About Pinterest

You probably fall into one of two categories: You’ve heard of Pinterest but haven’t signed up, or you’ve signed up for Pinterest and love it. Either way, I have a few things to help you understand Pinterest and use it more effectively.

Pinterest is a public online scrapbook for images you find on the internet. It’s 100% visual. The entire site consists of images that are displayed in an infinite scroll–no matter how far down on the page you scroll, there are always more images to see. You can view everyone’s pins or only the pins of people you’re following (who can be friends or complete strangers).

It’s one of the best time wasters on the internet, not just because of the fascinating images you can find on Pinterest, but also because you’re building something while you skim the images. You’re not creating the images, but you’re compiling pinboards of related images that interest you. Every time you pin or repin an image, you’re adding it to your virtual memory, a memory that you share with the world.

That’s pretty cool.

As of this second, Pinterest is the 113th most-visited website on the web. Lots of people are using it. You probably should too, even if it’s just for an occasional visit. Here are a few tips to get the most out of the site:

  1. Pin vs. Repin vs. Like:  When you find an image on the internet that you want to share on Pinterest, you “pin” it through one of a variety of ways (the best one is below in #2). If you’re skimming Pinterest and see an image that you want to add to your boards and share with people, you “repin” it. And if you want to remember an image but don’t want to add it to the infinite scroll, you can “like” it. For me, if I really love an image, I Repin it. If I just like it, I Like it.
  2. Right Click to Pin: Without what I’m about to tell you, pinning an image can be a little annoying. There are several ways to do this, but the best way is to get the Google Chrome Pinterest Right Click extension. If you don’t have Chrome, check your browser’s extension or plug-in list to find a similar tool. Once you add this extension, you can simply right-click on any image or video and select “Pin This Image.” It’s awesome.
  3. Hover to Enlarge: One of Pinterest’s few failings is that sometimes you can’t see an image well enough on the infinite scroll, so you have to click on it to see it better. I know, that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the beauty of Pinterest is the ease with which you can skim through images. So do yourself a favor and get the Pinzy extension too. If you hover over an image on Pinterest for a second, it’ll enlargen to full size.
  4. Don’t “Follow All” of Someone’s Boards: I learned this lesson the hard way. For over a year, whenever I followed someone new on Pinterest, I followed all of their boards instead of selecting individual boards to follow. A few weeks ago I found that I was hardly ever visiting Pinterest because the infinite scroll was clogged with images of wedding dresses, artsy furniture, makeup, shoes, and kid’s toys (well over 60% of Pinterest’s users are female. I love females, but I have absolutely no interest in the specific types of pins I mention above). So I’ve had to go through and unfollow individual boards while continuing to follow the stuff I’m interested in. Save yourself some time and do that up front instead of “following all.”
  5. Don’t “Follow All” Friends on Pinterest: This is both for the reason above and for another key reason. Once you become a Pinterest member, if you hover over your name in the upper right and select “Find Friends,” Pinterest will present a list of your Facebook friends who are on Pinterest. There will be tons of people in this list. Don’t touch it. At least, don’t follow all people (which Pinterest makes very easy). The reason is that you are probably “friends” with people on Facebook whose images you are not at all interested in. These are the people that you’ve deleted from your Facebook feed. Pick and choose the ones you’re actually interested in following.
  6. Don’t Auto-Share to Facebook: This is just annoying. At first I thought it was clever, but I’ve found that it just doesn’t work well, and it’s annoying to see the lists of people’s pins in my Facebook feed. If you want to share a specific image on Facebook, just do it manually.
  7. Don’t Pin Too Much at a Time: This is a weird one that you have to experience to truly understand. Basically, sometimes you’ll go to Pinterest and you’ll see a ton of cool images on the page. You might want to Repin or Like several of them. But then you realize that they’re all from the same person, and if you Repin or Like too many of them, they’re going to see that and might think it’s weird. Plus, the beauty of Pinterest is that it’s a hodgepodge of pins from all sorts of people. If you Pin or Repin a ton of images in a short amount of time, you’re monopolizing your friends’ feeds.
  8. Don’t Pin Off-Theme: I see this all the time now that I’m in the process of removing uninteresting boards from my feed. I’ll click through an image of high heels to unfollow a board labeled “Design,” and then I’ll see that there are actually some really fascinating examples of web design and architecture on that board. The high heels are off theme–they don’t belong on the Design board. Help your followers out by properly categorizing your pins.

I was going to recommend a few boards to follow, but the fun of Pinterest is discovering the boards that you connect with. Don’t be afraid to “follow” the boards of someone you don’t know. They’ll take it as a compliment that you appreciate their taste. And if you’re into cute animals and people, funny things, cool houses, beautiful locales, and impressive infographics, follow me on Pinterest.

Oh, and congrats to Charlotte for winning the Tournament of Cuteness Battle Royale 2012!