In the past two years, Pinterest has grown to be the third-most popular social networking site behind Facebook and Twitter. With millions of users, even more images and an almost fanatical following, Pinterest is the place to find ideas, recipes and about anything else you could want.
But for a new user, Pinterest can be overwhelming. By keeping a few simple tips in mind, the experience can be fun, fulfilling and inspiring — even if you suddenly find yourself losing hours each day to pinning beautiful images to your boards.
Make Your Boards Specific
When you’re starting out on Pinterest, you may only have a few dozen pins. But as time goes on, some of your boards may have a few hundred pins — meaning when you want to find that delicious recipe you pinned a few months ago, you have to scroll through everything on the board to find it.
Organizeyour boards by creating specific boards in categories. For example, instead of making a board called “recipes,” make individual boards for different courses, cooking methods or ingredients. Create boards for specific holidays or types of crafts. You’ll save your sanity and make it easier on yourself to find what you want.
Create a Board for Completed Pins
Did you whip up a batch of sangria that wowed your friends, all thanks to a pin? Was your holiday light display the best in the neighborhood? Create a board for your completed pins. Again, you’ll easily find the pins you loved so you can do them again — and other pinners who follow your board will know that the idea actually works.
Check Before You Repin
Repinning ideas is one of the best parts of Pinterest. Seeing what other people are pinning and sharing ideas is what puts the “social” in this social media site. But not every pin is what it claims to be. Some pins look great but lead to a photo on a photo site without any instructions, something completely unrelated or even a spam site. Before you repin, click on the link to ensure that it goes where it claims to go. If the link doesn’t go to the original source, Pinterest etiquette dictates you should find that source and create your own pin so that the original creator gets credit for the idea.
Use Secret Boards
Secret boards are boards only you — and people you specifically invite — can see. Planning a surprise party for your best friend? Pin ideas to your secret board and keep your plans under wraps. Not ready to announce your pregnancy but want to start collecting nursery ideas? A secret board lets you do your research without inadvertently sharing your news. Keep in mind you only get three secret boards for now, so use them wisely.
So it’s Saturday night and you have nothing else to do, so you spend a few hours pinning everything and anything on Pinterest. But while you may love all the pictures of baby animals, your followers may not appreciate having to scroll through 80 pictures of adorable kittens the next time they log on. Only pin things you absolutely love. If you’re going to be pinning unrelated things, use a secret board so you don’t “pin-bomb” your followers with the ideas you found for your daughter’s princess-themed birthday party.
Follow Lots of People
The best way to get lots of pins to look at is by following plenty of interesting people. You want to follow your friends, but look beyond your circle to find people who are pinning interesting things and ideas. It’s not creepy to follow people you don’t know on Pinterest; it’s encouraged. And remember, you don’t have to follow all of someone’s boards. If you love a few of their boards, you can follow those individual boards instead.
Use the Description Space
Each pin has a description space — use it! Many times, the space will include the title of the project or blog post. If the description is vague, or personalized (“Perfect for Mary’s shower!” when you don’t know Mary) write an accurate description before you share a pin with your followers.
Report Questionable Content
As anyone who has used Pinterest for a while will attest, the site will steal your time if you let it, but it will also open your eyes to new possibilities. Organize your boards and follow proper pinning etiquette, and it won’t be long before you’re a Pinterest pro.
About the Author: Amy Fogg was an early adopter of Pinterest and now has more than 5,000 pins on close to 50 boards. A blogger and social media maven, she uses MyLife.com to keep track of her online presence.