If you’re not already using it, you’ve probably at least heard of Pinterest. It is one of the fastest-growing social media networks in the world. Pinterest’s purpose is to provide a primarily visual online platform for people to share everything they like—in images and links. Think of it as a very large community bulletin board—and you have a small corner of it. Before you venture into this dynamic online community, learn the basics about how to use Pinterest so you can make the most of your experience.
#1: Leam the terminology.
There are four essential terms you need to know in order to use Pinterest: “board,” “pin,” “repin” and “follow.” Every user has personal boards, which function much like community bulletin boards. They are spaces to post everything you want to share with the Pinterest community. A “pin” is something you post on one of your boards, such as a recipe from your favorite blog. The pin shows one image of the recipe and contains a link to the original website it was taken from. A “repin” is a pin that you copy from someone else’s Pinterest account and post to your own. To “follow” another Pinterest user means you have access to all of his boards and receive updates about what he is pinning.
#2: Get an invitation to join.
You’ll notice when you first visit the Pinterest website that you can’t click a “join” button to become a member. You have to receive an invitation. The fastest way to get one is to ask one of your friends already on Pinterest to send you one. Your friend can send you an invitation via Facebook, Twitter or your email address. Once you receive the official invitation, follow the instructions to activate your Pinterest membership. In the unlikely scenario that you don’t have a single friend on Pinterest, click “Request an Invitation” on Pinterest’s homepage.
#3: Customize your boards.
As you’re creating your Pinterest account, you’ll notice that Pinterest will automatically give you some boards to get you started. You’ll most likely want to change them or at least add to them. Start with some of your basic interests, such as “food” or “fashion.” Then, as you grow more comfortable with Pinterest, you may want to reorganize your boards and make them more specific. For example, you could split “food” into “dinner recipes” and “dessert recipes,” and you could split fashion into “fall fashion” and “winter fashion.”
#4: Follow users with similar interests.
One of the reasons that people love Pinterest is because it can be a very practical tool. Instead of doing a Google search for the latest trends in wedding fashion, you can narrow down your search significantly by looking at what people with similar tastes are posting on Pinterest. When you follow other users, you see their latest pins on your Pinterest homepage. You have the option to automatically follow all of your Facebook friend son Pinterest, although you might not want to. You can also follow users you don’t know personally such as celebrities organizations and companies.
#5: Repin what you like from other Pinterest users.
When you’re first getting started with Pinterest, the best way to jump in is to repin what you like from other users onto your own boards. It’s easy; just click “repin” on the posts you like and choose which of your boards to put them on. When you repin an item, you can change its description so that it reflects your personal thoughts instead of the original pinner’s thoughts.
#6: Use the ‘like” button for stuff you don’t know how to categorize.
On your account you’ll see a separate category for other pins that you ‘like” but don’t necessarily want to repin. You can’t change the descriptions on these items unless you repin them.
#7: Pin original items from your favorite websites.
Many websites have “Pin It” buttons that make it easy to pin their content directly on your Pinterest boards. Another way to pin original content is to install the “Pin It” button on your browser. You’ll find this application under the “About” tab on your Pinterest account.
#8: Use the Pinterest “Search” field.
Think of this tool as a small search engine within the Pinterest community. For example, if you type “dresses,” you’ll find all of the currently most popular dresses that users are pinning and repinning.
#9: Start conversations.
Pinterest becomes a lot more fun and interactive when you’re talking with other users about your interests. Write comments when you pin or repin items, and mention your friends so they can see what you’re saying. To mention someone, type “@” followed by her Pinterst user name.
#10: Promote what’s important to you.
Not only is Pinterest a great tool for shopping and sharing interests, it’s also a platform to promote causes. One way to do this is to make collaborative boards, which multiple users can pin on. Another way is to write very clear and descriptive pin descriptions so that other users can easily find your pins using searches. Use the hash tag (#) to designate keywords on pins such as “#charity” or “#children.”
Once you master these basics about how to use Pinterest, you are well on your way to making your participation in this online community a fun and meaningful experience.