Social media has become a major part of our culture in a surprisingly short amount of time; the world’s largest social media platform, Facebook, has been open to the general public for less than eight years. New platforms arise. Some survive, some don’t, and a few thrive. Only a small handful rise anywhere near the level of Facebook; Pinterest is one of those elite few. This article will help the novice Pinterest user to get off on the right foot with this exciting service.
What is Pinterest?
Pinterest is most often described as a bulletin board, or pinboard. At first glance, the Pinterest main site and individual user pages suggest another photo-sharing site (e.g. Flickr), and it can be. Pinterest is more than that; it is a way for people to share their interests via images they either find online or upload themselves.
Pinterest is an invitation-only platform; a friend with an account can invite you, or you can request an invitation. Once invited, sign up using either your Facebook or Twitter account. As with other social media platforms, the first thing you should do is set up your profile. For your profile image, choose something that stands out–something that visually communicates your interests and passions. Pinterest is all about visuals, so get off on the right foot with a strong visual representation of yourself. This and all your account settings can be changed at any time by clicking on the “Settings” link at the top right of the browser window.
Your Pinterest content consists of pins that are organized into boards. Right now, think of a pin as a photo and a board as a photo album, but don’t get attached to that definition. Click “Add +” at the top of your browser; this brings up a window giving you the option to:
- Add a Pin, by entering a webpage address (URL), then selecting an image from that page to create a pin.
- Upload a Pin from images on your computer.
- Create a Board to organize your pins.
You can also put pins in your boards by re-pinning pins from other users’ boards. First things first, though:
Create a Board
A board can be based around any interest, topic, or concept you think up. When creating your first board, keep in mind that the pins you add to that board can include images from websites, your computer, and/or other users. Are you showcasing your own artistic talents? Are you sharing your picks for the year’s best fashions? Do you do a lot of online window shopping for cars, guitars, or vintage Pez dispensers? Select names for your board that help others instantly understand what the board is about. Don’t get too caught up on what you are offering from your overall Pinterest account–each board can represent an entirely different interest or concept. When you add pins, you can select which pin’s image will serve as the “cover” image for the board.
There are a number of ways to add pins to a board. From the Pinterest website, click “Add +” to enter a URL or upload an image, or click the “Repin” button on another user’s pin. To add a pin from any website, install the Pinterest bookmarklet to your Web browser. Clicking the bookmarklet brings up a list of usable images on the current page. Select one as your pin, pick an existing board or create a new one, and pin that sucker.
Everything you’ve done so far–with the exception of re-pinning other users’ pins–has been within your own Pinterest space. Once you’ve set up your account and maybe started a board or three, get out there and socialize: Follow other users, click “Like” on pins you like, re-pin, share pins (yours and others’) via Twitter and Facebook, and above all: Discover. So many worlds intersect via Pinterest, and its visual nature allows you to experience so much in a glance, and as you dig in, the experience gets richer.