The Dos and Don’ts of Pinterest


Everyone loves Pinterest. OK, well, not everyone, but a lot of folks sure do — myself included. The appeal varies from person to person. Some may like the photos, others may like the user-friendly interface, and for some it could simply be the ability to share. For everything we love about Pinterest, there are a few things we can do to make it better.
Recently, some co-workers and I hosted a baby shower for a colleague. The shower went great; there was too much food and plenty of laughter — just what a baby shower is supposed to have, right? Right. It was great and went off without a hitch, including the diaper tree I made for the shower. (Yay me!)
Before the shower ever started (think weeks in advance) I was searching Pinterest for baby shower ideas, themes, and décor. There was one irritating thing that kept popping up: the links from pins weren’t working. UGH! That got me thinking what other issues are out there? So I complied a list of Dos and Don’ts for Pinterest.
We will start with the fun stuff.
DO: Create specific boards. Trust me on this one. If you create a generic “Food” board as I did, you will quickly find out it’s too general and crowded. If you are searching through your one food board for a dessert it may take longer than you thought to find it, if at all. But if you have a “Dessert” board it will be — in theory — much easier to find. Get detailed with it if you want! If your food board is covered up in chicken recipes, create a new board – call it Chicken Recipes – and move all these recipes into one board. These are your boards. Do what makes sense to you so that you can quickly reference any pin.
DO: Create visually appealing photos. If you are into this kind of thing keep reading. (If not, skip this one and move to the next.) The attraction to Pinterest, for me and many others, is the photos. I hate dill pickles, but create a great visually appealing photo of pickles (as seen here) and I’ll pin it! Seriously. Keep the photo clean. Don’t clutter it up with stuff. Make it your own. This is your Pinterest board; it should be a reflection of your personality.
DO: Give credit where credit is due. If you didn’t create the art (photo, drawing, illustration) for your pin, please give credit to the person who did. If it’s a recipe you tried from someone else, create a link to the original recipe in your blog post (here is an example). If you are simply re-pinning, make sure the link works and create a pin from the URL directly. You can also give credit in the description.
DO: Interact. Comment. Like. Pin. If it’s worth re-pinning, you can like it too. Commenting helps others determine if it’s worth a pin. I found an exercise that works the inner thighs (I checked to make sure the linked worked first) pinned it and tried the move a few nights later. I commented on how difficult the moves were, but that over time I could see where the benefits would outweigh the pain. Comments like that help others determine if it’s worth trying. It also shows activity which usually means it’s a good link.
DO: Follow. Following boards are the whole point of Pinterest. Following moves and inspires others. If you find you are re-pinning a lot of stuff from one person or company click on the profile and see what else they are up to. If you find a fashionista that’s a great cook, but aren’t too crazy about her (or his) fashion choices you can simply follow the food boards. You are not obligated to follow one person or company’s entire profile. There are several food companies in which I only follow a few of their boards. But if you love all of the ideas and pins from your bestie, please by all means follow all! There are options within Pinterest. (I’ve also found, especially on company profiles, that if you follow them, they will follow you!)
DO: Pin from the URL (the address in the toolbar on the top of your page). If you happen to run across a handy-dandy blog post on a DIY fruit and veggie cleaner (here) make sure that the entire URL is inside the pin. Otherwise you may lose the link to the post. I discovered this very error in my own blog and Pinterest pages while I was cleaning things up prior to this post. Some blogs offer a Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, and, etc. button(s). Watch those buttons! All it does (as I discovered) is provide a link to the site and not the actual content (like a post or particular photo). See the difference in the these two links? This is just a link to the blog in general. This is a specific link to a post from April about my favorite movies. See the difference?
Now on to the not so fun stuff.
DON’T: Take credit for artwork you didn’t do. Really. It’s not cool and could get you kicked off Pinterest. This applies to anything on the Internet. If you didn’t create it, generate it, or write it, it’s not yours. Period. (There’s also something called copyright laws and if you disregard them and get Pinterest in trouble, guess what? You are liable for Pinterest’s legal fees as well as your own. Seriously. It’s in the terms and conditions.)
DON’T: Repin a broken link! One extra step or click will tell you very quickly if that link will work or not. There’s nothing more annoying than clicking on “How to make a diaper tree” photo (for the fifth time) only to find the link is broken or it’s just a photo with no instructions. Or worse: clicking on a Pinterest link titled “How to keep your Pinterest page up to date” and having an error message pop up on you that the link is no longer available. (Yes, that really happened!)
DON’T: Only hock products. Huh? I’m mainly speaking to businesses on Pinterest, but it applies to everyone. It’s really annoying to search for “baby shower games” only to be taken directly to an Amazon page to purchase a baby shower game book. If I wanted to purchase a baby shower game book, I’d go to Amazon myself. Trust me, if your product is worthy of purchasing it will sell itself with gentle and subtle blog posts and re-pins within Pinterest. That’s not to say that I’m totally against selling stuff. I’m not. I’m saying if you want me to purchase your baby shower game book create a blog providing me with ideas and some décor suggestions that match the games and then give me the link to the Amazon page (or etsy or the web site directly) somewhere within the blog. Pinterest is about presentation as much as anything. Present your product to me or show me how it can make me better. I will determine if your product is worthy of purchase. Don’t force it on it me with a link. You will lose if you do that. (Just this week Pinterest update its site specifically for businesses that intend to sell on the site. Check out their blog for more details.)
DON’T: Be rude or lewd. Pinterest is meant to be fun. It’s not a place to spew hatred, vulgarity, or toxicity. Don’t do it. It’s not cool.
DON’T: Post every pin or re-pin to other social media sites. Notice a keyword in that sentence: every. I’m a big fan of Pinterest, but I don’t want to see everything you pin in my Facebook news feed. That’s a good way to get unfriended, my friend. If you want to share a pin from a recipe you tried on Facebook, cool! I’ll take a look at it. If you want to share an epic fail from Pinterest, go for it! I do not want to see everything you pinned in your “Get my Healthy On” board over the course of a Monday night. The same thing applies to your tweets in my Facebook news feed. I don’t want to know your opinion on how well Jacoby Jones performed on Dancing with the Stars last night. Ask yourself “is this something I’d want to see in my news feed?” before you start updating your status and pinning simultaneously.
These are just suggestions. Most people follow these guidelines on a regular basis. It’s those few people (those annoying few) who tend to muck it up for everyone else.  If you have your suggestions that I’ve left please feel free to let me know. Happy pinning!

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