Pinterest Best Practices

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.


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?


  • Reply
    April 3, 2012 at 11:55 am

    OK, I love you – but I’m going to have to disagree with some of this.

    For me, Pinterest is FOR ME. If I could have private boards, I definitely would (at least some of them, and I don’t think we are too far off from that becoming a reality). I think of Pinterest as what I believe it was intended to be… a bulletin board (or many) to pin inspiration to. My bulletin board is for me, not for my followers or for random people who happen to stumble upon my stuff through searches. So if I don’t want to add captions to things or I don’t feel they need captions (for my purposes later) then I don’t do it. I’m not pinning things so that I can get re-pinned a million times or so someone can say, “Oh Courtney, look at your amazingly detailed boards”. It would not bother me if I had zero followers, since the boards are for me. I am not someone famous, or a big brand trying to promote products, designs or ideas. I’m not trying to promote myself or further my career through social media. I am pinning things because they’re all thoughts, products or projects I want to look back on or try some day. If it stands on it’s own (for me), if it’s something I would literally stick on my cubicle wall, bulletin board, or wedding inspiration binder and know what it is, than it gets the ol’ space bar for the description. Perhaps if I was some big time blogger with a huge following, I would feel compelled to be much more detailed and anal about what I was pinning/writing, but I’m not.

    Also, I don’t think it is up to me to necessarily write it all out on the pin. It really irks me to see pins and then this long line of comments that goes something like this, “What is this?” “I think it is a concept design of the new iPhone.” “No I think it might be an app.” CLICK THE PIN, idiots. You wasted more time deliberating than actually figuring it out. Is it my fault for not writing it out on MY pin, for MY purposes, or their own fault for being idiots? If you re-pin something and my description (or lack thereof) is not enough for you, you can gladly add to it.

    On the other hand, the re-using of others descriptions feels like it is getting old. I’d almost rather have nothing now, than “OMGGGGGGGGG! I DIEEEEEEE!” When I look back at stuff like that, it does not feel very “me” – because it’s not. So I need to work on that and either change it or leave it blank.

    Definitely agree on the rest. Some days I want to go around being the pin nazi on those ridiculously unhealthy pins I see and try to stop the train wreck via comments. I also wish people would stop using those waifs of a model as the background image on pins that have inspiring messages/quotes. Such a conflicting message. You could have nailed it, but no.

    • Reply
      April 3, 2012 at 12:23 pm

      Thanks for your perspective, Courtney. I guess my advice is mostly aimed at people who are using Pinterest for the social aspects of the site or, as you said, promoting their brands/products etc. Still, I definitely agree that there should be private boards for a lot of reasons and you’re right, it’s easy enough to click on a pin to figure out what it is IF people have pinned correctly in the first place (especially in the case of the example you gave here). But I’m really particular about the way I organize stuff and I think it’s just faster for my own reference purposes if I label a recipe with the name in the description instead of saying “yum” or “must make” since a lot of dishes aren’t always obvious as to what they are – but that’s clearly a personal preference. I’m also thinking of a year or two from now when I look back at my pins and wonder what I was thinking. I don’t mean you need to write your every precious thought on each pin but give yourself enough to remember why you pinned it.

      My biggest issues are that people will repin things with spelling/grammar errors and not even think twice about fixing it and then you get to see that same mistake over and over. It’s definitely hard not to turn into a pin nazi in those cases, or in the “thinspo” cases!!

  • Reply
    Sarah S.
    April 3, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Bwahaha, you’re so rite!

    Spelling on Pinterest makes my brain hurt.
    Sarah S. recently posted..Adventures in pumpingMy Profile

    • Reply
      April 3, 2012 at 12:23 pm


  • Reply
    Meg @ Moments Like This
    April 3, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    The only problem I have with Pinterest is the users who don’t link back properly and I’m taken to an entire blog or something completely unrelated.

    I DO NOT (notice the caps) like the Pinterest Fail blog. I think it discourages people from using an idea on Pinterest. So what if you couldn’t make the cookie recipe correctly? So because of someone’s personal error, it may deter other people from attempting the project. Not all, but some.
    Meg @ Moments Like This recently posted..Collection of | LemonsMy Profile

    • Reply
      April 3, 2012 at 12:37 pm

      I guess I didn’t read through the PinterestFail blog very well – I thought it was more about the people who followed the directions and weren’t able to duplicate the results. But you’re right, if you screwed up a perfectly good recipe it shouldn’t keep me from trying it.

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