Saturday, February 18, 2012

What’s All The Interest in Pinterest?

UPDATE - March 24, 2012
There's an important update to Terms of Service from Pinterest at the end of this article.

The minute you say the word “Pinterest” amongst a group of people, no matter what their profession, you get a resounding chorus of “Oh, I love that site!” The site calls itself “…a virtual pinboard to organize and share things you love.”

When asked what people love about it, the answers range from just liking to look at pretty things, browsing to get ideas for a craft, cooking, sewing, or home decorating project, and just needing something different to do with spare time. Delving deeper and asking when people “pin” or browse on the site, it’s usually when they’re sitting around, often in the evening, after dinner, while watching TV. It’s become a new form of flipping through magazines to look at pictures to get ideas.

It’s also seems to be a form of socializing, but in a very solitary way; you search for ideas via pictures and find others with similar interests. You follow them and they can follow you, and a social group gets built, but without the necessary conversations that take place on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

You can share and “like” other peoples’ images, and this is an excellent way to build your boards.

When you find something online that you want to share, you can “pin it” and a link to that site will be automatically included in the image.

Adding your comments to each image adds your personality to your page and is encouraged. Others can also comment on your pins and comments, and a dialogue is developed if you so choose.

Like any exclusive club, to join Pinterest you have to be invited. It’s a very compelling marketing strategy that seems to be working extremely well for them as their stats for new members are enviable for any start-up. If you want to be invited, click HERE to be taken to their page where you can request your own invitation.

Joining Pinterest requires an invitation.

Once a member, you can use your Facebook or Twitter account to sign in, and on your settings page can choose whether you want your pins to be seen on either or both of these sites. But it's not necessary to login this way; you can have your own login name and password if you prefer.

Logging in to Pinterest is easy.

Some controversy is building around how people follow you and how you get new followers that you haven’t specifically chosen; it seems that in addition to your choosing your followers, Pinterest is choosing them for you. To read a more detailed article about this, please click HERE.

There are rules and etiquette to be a better participant. An excellent article with lots of great information for the beginning, intermediate, and advanced user has been published and, rather that reiterating its 56 points, here’s a link to help you be a better “Pinterest-ist” (my own word) or “pinner,” as they call you. The title is a bit mis-leading; it's a good read for anyone interested in Pinterest. To read the article, please click HERE

All the “boards” you create are available for anyone else to see, so being appropriate is one of the most basic rules of this road.

You can create as many boards on as many topics as you like. Some people are using them as inspiration boards for their clients’ projects, but my single objection to the site is that you can’t select which boards you’d like to keep private. My “work in progress” process isn’t something that I necessarily want the whole world to see. I’ve voiced this concern to the company and hopefully, in a future update Pinterest will make this an option.

Additionally, now companies with products and services to sell are jumping on the Pinterest bandwagon to find their audience. Naturally, there are rules to follow here, but they’re pretty basic and self-evident. They are:
  1. It’s not just about pretty pictures; develop a strategy so you don’t waste time putting up random images,
  2.   Draw your prospective clients to you by making yourself irresistible,
  3.   Leverage Pinterest for SEO to drive more traffic to your site.

Again, some controversy is developing around Pinterest’s use of affiliate link-swapping and commissions, so if you’re pinning products for your business, be sure to read their policy statement very carefully. For a link to an article about this, please click HERE.

UPDATE: Want to learn more about how Pinterest is driving consumer traffic to brick and mortar stores? Here's a case history with a flow chart as evidence. Click HERE to read it.

UPDATE: Pinterest is not just for looking at pretty pictures and finding places to buy stuff. Non-profits have discovered the benefits of sharing information here as well. To read more about how they're using the site for social good, click HERE.

UPDATE: For strategies and tips on how non-profits can use Pinterest and be effective in their efforts, click HERE.

UPDATE: Even home schoolers are benefitting from Pinterest by using it as a social, connectivity tool. To read more, click HERE.

UPDATE: Watch an excellent video and read great tips about how to be a better pinned by clicking HERE.

UPDATE: Big brand names are finding that "brand squatters" are using the company name, so when you go to the "Dell computer" site, it has nothing to do with the real Dell computers. IMHO: perhaps the squatters are hoping for a financial windfall like they got for owning big brand corporate names. Read more HERE.

As I've pinned images, I wondered about copyright issues, and I've chosen not to pin some of my own photographs because I don't want them out there without my own controls on them. To read my post on how to track usage of your images, please click HERE.

The question of copyright abuse has been raised as it relates to one's posting of photographs on the site. To read an excellent article about it, please click HERE.

UPDATE: If you want to read another article about how to use Pinterest without violating copyright laws, click HERE. But the way the article describes it, I seriously doubt if anyone will use the site this way as it basically refutes what Pinterest is all about. 

UPDATE: And if you want to read an article about why a lawyer who is also a photographer deleted all her Pinterest boards after investigating the copyright issues and its potential impact on her, click HERE.

UPDATE: If you're representing a brand, this article, written by a lawyer to the advertising business, says that if you don't own the rights to the image, you shouldn't be pinning it. But it also discusses how you can pin legally. Read the article HERE.

Of course, where there's traffic, there are scammers. To read an article about what these scams look like and how to avoid them, please click HERE.

There's another player in this field; it's called Clipix and does much the same thing that Pinterest does but with one outstanding difference - on Clipix you can keep some of your boards private. To me that's a big deal.

Clipix is a site similar to Pinterest.

Now that you’ve been set on the Pinterest path, don’t blame me if you get sucked into its black hole of time and don’t come out for hours. It can be quite addictive, or at least, so I’m told.

P.S. If you want to see what I'm pinning, including some interesting tech stuff, click HERE.

UPDATE: If you want to read what Forbes Magazine says about Pinterest's success and why it's so appealing to users, click HERE.

UPDATE: If you like keeping your Klout score, then here's a site you may like for keeping your Pinterest clout score:

UPDATE: If you want to read about the psychology behind Pinterest's success, click HERE. Hint: it has to do with our instinct to forage and collect. 


Bowing to pressure from the public and the media, Pinterest just informed users of an important update to its Terms of Service agreement.

These updates include the following changes and will take effect on April 6, 2012:
  • Our original Terms stated that by posting content to Pinterest you grant Pinterest the right for to sell your content. Selling content was never our intention and we removed this from our updated Terms.
  • We updated our Acceptable Use Policy and we will not allow pins that explicitly encourage self-harm or self-abuse.
  • “We released simpler tools for anyone to report alleged copyright or trademark infringements.
  • “Finally, we added language that will pave the way for new features such as a Pinterest API and Private Pinboards.

“We think these changes are important and we encourage you to review the new documents here.”

Information contained herein is for guideline purposes only, is not intended as an endorsement of any product, and is no guarantee of the results.

Images courtesy of Pinterest.

Copyright © The B. Hammil Company 2012


  1. Thanks for clarifying all this can you just send someone to read it to me?!!
    Best, Cameron

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Beryn, I attended the Pinterest + west elm Bay Area meet-up in August of last year at their Emeryville location. All the XYZ'ers were there, excited about Beta testing their website. Alas, I have not caught the on-line scrap-booking bug!

  4. Great blog post Beryn! Do you know if there's a 12-step program for hopeless pinners like me?! If they ever took the site down, I truly would go through withdrawl.

    1. LOL! There should be from what I'm hearing from people who are addicted to Pinterest!

  5. Great post Beryn.... This is a great 180 look at Pinterest and the insights to its madness.


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