Hi. I'm Jen, and I'm addicted to Pinterest.
If you've also pinned the Kool-Aid, then you know Pinterest is a fun and easy way to visually catalog the things you love online. However, as the controversy over Pinterests's Terms of Service the other month showed, there actually are wrong ways to pin - ways that could even potentially get you in legal trouble. (And even if they don't, they're not very nice.) So whether you've been pinning for ages or are just getting started, here are a few tips to help you be a better pinner:
1) Pick The Right Picture
This sounds like a no-brainer, but sometimes - particularly with things like DIY tutorials or self-help articles - people tend to make some...well...odd choices:
If this isn't an article about hugging small appliances, I am gonna be SO MAD.
|Maybe it's a Toy Story couch?|
As a general rule, just look for a picture that's as self-explanatory as possible. If you're pinning a product, use a close-up. If you're pinning a recipe or DIY project, use a photo of the end result.
For example, I found this pin:
Right next to this pin.
Which would *you* click?
Articles can be a lot trickier, of course, since many don't have ANY pictures to pin, much less one that makes sense:
|I CAN FLY!!|
2) Pin From The Source
This is the most common mistake I see on Pinterest, probably because most pinners have no idea they're doing anything wrong.
The beauty of Pinterest is that, when used correctly, it directly rewards original content creators. However, when you pin from a third-party-site (meaning any place that is *not* the original source), you're robbing that content creator of page views and even business. Pinterest has become the #1 traffic driver for countless independent Etsy sellers, artists, bloggers, and more - so believe me, those clicks count.
At best, an incorrect source link is an annoyance. At worst, it might get you in trouble with the image's copyright holder - so try to err on the side of caution.
Even if the site you're on credits a source, that's not enough. Too often that credit is just another site crediting another site, and we all know how frustrating it can be to chase a link through half a dozen websites. Don't do that to your followers or the content creator - find the original source and pin from there.
So to recap, because this really is that important: If I post a jewelry roundup here on Epbot, don't pin your favorite necklace from my site. Instead, follow my link to the shop it's sold from and pin from there. By the same token, if you see my flip-flop hangers featured on a craft site somewhere, follow their link back to Epbot, and pin the image from here.
3) Link To Posts, Not Home Pages
Now that you've found the correct source of your pin, help your followers out by linking directly to the specific page or post on the site in question, not just the website's home page. I've accidentally made this mistake a few times myself; I'll go back to a pin a few weeks later and realize my link only leads to a website's front page, while the post I'm looking for is buried somewhere in the archives. This can be über frustrating. Don't do it.
4) Label It!
Pinterest encourages users to explain and describe pins by requiring a caption, but more and more people are just putting a period in the caption box to get around that requirement.
STOP DOING THAT.
I can't tell you how many caption-less pins I've seen of clear plastic bottles filled with colored liquid. What are they? Homemade dish soap? Perfume? Your baby's first wee? SOMEBODY PLEASE TELL ME WHAT'S IN ALL THESE FRICKIN' BOTTLES.
|What is it?!|
Adding a word or two of description not only helps people understand your pins, it also helps people find them. Think about it: if all you type is "WOW!" on your new bathroom makeover, then anyone searching for "bathroom makeovers" is never going to find it. Throw a few keywords in, though, and you'll not only be making Pinterest a more useful place for everyone, you'll also be reaching more potential followers. (I know I routinely follow people I've found while using the search function.)
5) Check Sources Before You Repin
I know this sounds like going above and beyond the call of duty - and it is! - but seriously, for every conscientious pinner out there, there are several more pinning willy-nilly from third-party scraper sites or the 75th Tumblr re-blog or some other uncredited source. At some point, someone needs to step in and remind the community that the originating source deserves a hat tip, don't you think?
Fortunately, it only takes a second to click a pin and check the source address:
If the address looks suspicious or leads to something like a Google image search (another popular mistake), then take a moment to find the original source before pinning it. And if you want an extra gold star, leave a comment on the incorrectly-sourced pin with the right link, too, so the original pinner can correct it.
6) Relax! You CAN edit your pins!
So you just realized you pinned something awesome from a third-party site instead of the original source. Don't worry; you don't have to delete it and start over again! Pinterest allows you to edit your pin source after the fact. Just hover over the image and click "edit."
7) A Little Thoughtfulness Goes a Long Way
Hey, no one can follow all the rules all the time, so if pinning is becoming a chore, cut yourself a little slack. So long as we all keep these general guidelines in mind, and remember that there are real people being affected by where our pins lead, I think we can continue making Pinterest a great place to lose all of our productivity. Who's with me?
- And Finally, A Quick Word on Copyright:
The brouhaha over Pinterest's Terms of Service a few months back led to a lot of pinners deleting their accounts in a panic, and probably scared off a lot of potential users as well. The problem stemmed from language in Pinterest's ToS that stated you had to own the copyright of every image you pinned, or else have express written permission from the image's copyright holder. Obviously, 99% of the pins on the site break this rule.
More worryingly, the Terms of Service also indicated that Pinterest could sell or license anything you pinned, leading people to fear their grandkids' photos might someday end up on a box of Lucky Charms.
Fortunately, Pinterest has since changed the language in their ToS to this:
"...you grant us a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sublicensable, worldwide license to use, display, reproduce, re-pin, modify (e.g., re-format), re-arrange, and distribute your User Content on Pinterest for the purposes of operating and providing the Service(s) to you and to our other Users." (emphasis mine)
As you can see, Pinterest is still laying claim to your content rights, but only insofar as to operate the site itself. And frankly, as far as CYA legalese goes, this isn't unusual or scary at all. Given the massive amounts of good Pinterest is doing for small companies and independent artists, I personally have no qualms with using the site or posting my images there - but of course you should read their complete Terms of Service and make that decision for yourself.
I hope some of you found this helpful! And feel free to look me up over on Pinterest and/ or recommend boards to follow there; I'm always looking for more ways to avoid actual work.
So tell me, fellow Pin-addicts, what'd I miss? List your pinning advice and pet peeves in the comments!
UPDATE: A few excellent additions from the comments:
- Categorize your pins on boards, and do it correctly
Recipes don't belong in the "geek" category. 'Nuff said.
- Take the time to flag spam and inappropriate content
Pro-anorexia and other self-harm pins *are* out there. Flag 'em (plus any other offensive content) by clicking the pin & selecting "report pin," so we can make Pinterest a safer place.
Scammers can be harder to spot, but here are a few tips from Mashable on how to do so.
- When repinning, change the caption if it includes something personal
You'd think this would be extra obvious, but it sounds like this happens to you guys a lot! So, if you see a personal note ("Hey, Mom, look what I made!") don't just repin that - change the caption.