Pinterest Best Practices

April 3, 2012

I think by now most of us understand the basics of Pinterest, right? If you’re not, here are a few “intro to Pinterest” posts you can look at.

“Pinterested

Pinterest Explained

But for those of us “advanced” users, here are a few “Pinterest best practices” based on my own personal pet peeves.

Please note: With the exception of my screen cap, the images I’ve used below are linked to their original sources instead of to the pins. I don’t want to hurt any feelings by calling people out but I do want to give credit to the image owners.

1) Proofread your Commentary – It’s really sad to see how many people just sloppily record their thoughts about a pin and move on. I know “it’s just the internet” but realize this is how you’re going to appear to everyone on Pinterest – not just your BFFs. Make sure to put your best foot forward instead of “you’re” best foot – especially if you’re someone using Pinterest as an extension of, or promotion for your brand!

Guess what? Everyone who repinned this has the same spelling mistake because they didn't bother to change the description.

2) If you re-pin something, leave your own comment on it – If you like something enough to repin it, take the time to write down a few of your own thoughts. Don’t just leave the previous pinner’s commentary as is. I suggest this for a few reasons. First of all, what if the previous pinner violated rule #1? Now you look like a bigger bananahead than they do. Second, your pin will be more helpful to you a few weeks or months from now if you’ve taken the time to add your thoughts. Third, as much as we all like to believe we’re unique special snowflakes, I see the same pins show up over and over again on the boards I follow and it gets downright boring to read the same exact “OMG SO CUTE!” over and over again. Which brings me to my final point – on no other website are we cool with using someone else’s words and not giving credit. Why would it be okay on Pinterest?

3) Make sure your comments are descriptive enough – You’re absolutely right, that picture looks delicious – but what the heck is it?? Am I looking at a recipe or something from a restaurant? I think it’s important to add your opinion, but make sure we all understand what we’re looking at. And I’m as guilty as the next person of using a period or a space instead of coming up with a caption for a picture but it’s time to stop. When I look back at old pins I’m having trouble figuring out why I pinned certain things because I didn’t leave myself any helpful notes.

4) Label your boards clearly and pin accordingly – I see issues with this a lot.  I’m not saying don’t be clever or have fun with your board names.  We all understand that by “Get in My Belly!” you’re referring to food you want to eat! Go ahead and add your own sass and personality – just don’t get obscure.  And make sure you pin to the right place – shoes don’t go on your recipe board…or do they? Every now and then go through your boards and make sure everything is where it belongs. Mistakes are easy to make, but just as easy to correct.

Well, that's embarrassing! I won't link to this girl's board, and I can't find the original image source because it wasn't linked properly.

5) Be careful what you re-pin – I hope by now we all understand that you need to pin from the original source – go to the specific blog post or website to pin content instead of just letting your pins point to an entire blog or image search results list. The point, after all, is that your pins should be like visual bookmarks, right? But are you checking this before you re-pin images? There’s nothing quite as disappointing as trying to reference a pin and discovering the link is broken or doesn’t point to the original source.

No source for this one either - sorry.

6) If you’re not improving the community, keep it yourself – Just like Facebook, no one wants to see a steady stream of negative thoughts or pins that promote self-harm or  false information. All of those pins about dropping 10 pounds in 2 days or how to get free Starbucks cards are just untrue. Really, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Do us all a favor and don’t re-pin those things! If you do come across pins that contain seriously negative content, you can report them (but you do have to click on the pin to enlarge it and access the full toolbar where the “report pin” button is located).

My goal here is not to suck the fun out of Pinterest. I think it’s a great tool – and I do call it a tool to make myself feel better about the number of hours I lose after I get sucked in – with a lot of potential that will likely only get more more awesome when it gets easier to track user engagement (incidentally, the Pinerly dashboard will be a big help in that area). But most importantly I think it’s more fun and useful for everyone when we’re all using it intentionally and thoughtfully.

Some Other Great Resources:

Pinterest’s Etiquette Guidlines (notice they’ve taken down the rules about self-promotion – I don’t think that means to spam us with your own work though!)

How to Make a Pinterest App for your Facebook Page

How to Make your Images Stand out on Pinterest

How to Find out if You’ve been Pinned on Pinterest

PinterestFail – a submission-based site devoted to those things found on Pinterest that did not work in real life.

What are your Pinterest Pet Peeves? Are you a Pinterest addict like me?