Welcome to Pinterest: What it is, How to Use it, and 5 Tips on Getting the Most Out of it.

Written by Nelson Hernandez

Chances are you’re up on social media if you are reading this article. You have grasped the basic concepts enough to know how to search blogs, and visit websites for news and information. It’s even possible that you know how to work a Facebook page, have a Twitter profile, and partake in social media on a whole. Good for you.

I consider myself somewhat of a social media gentlewoman, as I have partaken in numerous sites, fads, and I am generally in the know when it comes to the newest social sharing platforms. So when mention of a random thing called “Pinterest” (Rhymes with interest) began circling my social networks, I was baffled why I had not heard of it sooner.

It turns out it wasn’t just me; several of my technology and internet friends have also questioned what this website was, how it worked, and how on earth did it sneak by us all? Pinterest is comprised of visual bulletin boards, where you can find photos and blogs of things you like and “pin” them to your board, or find “pinners” who have already made boards and browse their finds instead. It’s essentially a social media network made up of photos, kind of like a profile of only Twit Pics. The photos represent anything from articles, how-to’s, tricks and tips, advice, recipes, do it yourself projects, crafts, and geek comics and humour. There is literally everything under the sun available, all shared by people just like you in an easy and visually organized format.

Time Magazine rated it one of the “50 Best websites of 2011” article, and in December 2011 it was rated one of the Top 10 Social Networks and it has only been around for a little less than 2 years. So how did I not know about it!


Signing Up

The first time I decided to try Pinterest I went to its website at www.Pinterest.com where I proceeded to make an account so I can start. Apparently the website is invite only, and there is a waiting list of one day to 1 week long to get your account. I then learned that current Pinterest users could send an invitation to my e-mail so I could sign up immediately, eliminating the hassle of waiting on the list. I got my invitation and started my account.

Getting Started

You are asked to log in with Facebook before you get started, this is super easy and makes registration a snap, you also have the option to disconnect from Facebook and alter any options through the Settings link in your account drop down menu. Once you’re set with an account, you’re ask to select boxes representing different topics you like: clothing, humour, animals, technology, geek culture, etc. You can pick as many or as few as you like, which will let Pinterest know what things you find the most interesting, so they can pick Pinners for you to follow based on your interests. You can unfollow these Pinners if you want at anytime as well, this gives you the option to browse the most recent things your followers have pinned.

You will then be asked to create your boards. It gives you 5 pre-named boards with a list of popular named boards on the right hand side. This can seem overwhelming; I recommend starting with as few boards as possible so you can get the hang of it without being bombarded with confusing boards. I started with 3 boards called: Funny, Clothing & Hair, and Tech & Geek. Don’t worry, you can edit the names of your boards as well as add and delete boards as you see fit.

You will see a screen with a “Pin it” button on it, this can be dragged into your bookmark bar or favourites so you can pin things while you browse your favourite websites. This allows you to pin photos, videos, and links to articles right from your browser into your Pinterest account!

How to Find Pins

You have 5 main areas of searching: Pinners You Follow, Everything, Videos, Popular, and Gifts.

Pinners You Follow – This is your default page. These showcase all the pinners Pinterest added to your account based on your interests when you first started.  Under each Pin (the photo) you can see who pinned it, what board of theirs they pinned it to, and the description or comment. You can also see who on your Facebook page has a Pinterest account, and follow them as well. You can do this by going to the right hand side of the screen and click on your profile photo, Find Friends, and you will see two options: Invite Friends (this allows you to invite people on your Facebook friends list to Pinterest) and Friends on Pinterest. Clicking Follow will put these friends into your Pinners You Follow feed so you can see what things they like!

Everything – You can click on this link to open up every individual category Pinterest has, anywhere from Home Décor to Kids and Technology. Doing this will filter all the pins to that category only, so if you’re really looking for some cool recipe ideas, you can search the Food and Drink boards of other pinners!

Videos – These are popular videos that people have posted. There is no search feature right now, but you can browse by looking at the descriptions underneath.

Popular – This is the unofficial best way to start pinning. The Popular board is where I suggest new pinners start; this is a page that holds the most popular and re-pinned items from everyone on Pinterest. New pins appear by the second, so refresh the page once you get to the bottom to see more brand new pins!

Gifts – These are pins that feature things you can buy; either by stores, or pinned by consumers who have found products they love. If you love to shop online, you can search by dollar amounts and leaf through all the cool gift ideas.


Each Pin gives you three options: Repin, Like, and Comment.

Like and Comment work the same as Facebook, while Repin lets you pin this image to your own board. Anything you like and want to add to your own collection you would repin. Once you click repin, a window appears and lets you select a board you have created, or make a new board. It also gives you the option to fill in a description, and add it to your Facebook wall or Twitter Timeline, if you have these hooked up through Settings in your profile. Click Pin and the image will automatically be put into the board you chose. You can view your boards anytime by clicking on your account photo on the top right hand side.


How to Take Full Advantage of the Wonders Inside Pinterest


1. Make multiple boards

I told you earlier I started with 3 boards; those 3 boards blossomed into 6 then 9 then my current 12 board spread. I started with broad boards; each board featured several different categories which I quickly found very confusing. I began to separate the categories, making one per board, using specific names so other pinners could tell what was inside. The more specific the board the easier it is to classify and find pins you may have forgotten about, plus the more general the board the more cluttered it becomes very fast.


2. Search  Every Category

I quickly noticed the Popular link was overrun with the same 3 or 4 topics, and with dozens to choose from it’s easy to forget they exist. I make a habit of searching the Popular page first, then going to the Everything link and clicking each category to let me see the most popular pins in that area which may not ever appear on the Popular page. You will find some awesome pins in these categories that may cater to your interests, as well as pins you might not otherwise have discovered or known you liked.

3. Click the Pins

Each Pin isn’t just a photo or image; some are links to a blog or webpage with more or similar information and fun stuff. Most of the time the photo is taken from a website that offers instructions, photos, videos, or more of the same thing you may like. If you see something cool, click the image and it may show you how to make it, or how to do it. Who knows, the webpage may be something that you explore yourself!


4. Edit the Category of Your Board

While each of your boards may have a name, you have to assign a category to each individual board, so that other pinners can easily search to find your cool finds. You can do this by clicking your profile photo and clicking Edit on each board, and selecting a category from the drop down menu to assign one to that board. This makes it easier for others to find, and keeps things organized!


5. Link Your Social Media Accounts

The best part about Pinterest as a social media site, is sharing your pins and boards with others. I recommend following your Facebook friends on Pinterest, but did you know you can actually post your finds directly to your Facebook wall or Twitter feed? If you go to Settings and click Link to Twitter and Link to Facebook, you will then have the option to post to your social sites when you repin. This lets those who may not have an account know about the pin, as well as directing traffic to your account so they can check it out. You also have the option of hiding your profile from search engines, adding a personal website to your profile

About the author

Nelson Hernandez

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