Nov 162012
Tips for the Pinterest beginner

Have you discovered Pinterest yet?  Pinterest is a virtual image-based pin-board that lets you organize and share things you find on the web. The items are shared via pins, an image added to Pinterest. Much like tacking a photograph or note to an old fashioned cork board.

I’m relatively new to Pinterest and loving it. I’ve found useful and fun stuff. When I search for information online, I now use Pinterest almost as much as I use Google.

A new user may find Pinterest overwhelming, with its seemingly random barrage of images. I am no expert and still learning myself, but I have a few tips that may help.  This is not a how-to guide and I encourage you to read Pinterest Help Center available by clicking on About Pinterest in the Pinterest bottom menu bar.


You can browse Pinterest without setting up an account. However, to be able to save and organize information to find later or share with others, you need an account. You create a profile associated with that account.

  • Consider adding a picture to your profile. If you don’t, the generic pin will be used. Post a picture of your dog or cat or favourite view if you are uncomfortable including a photograph of yourself.
  • Add a brief description. It can be about you, what you’re looking for on Pinterest, your life philosophy, or a favourite quote. Although it is not mandatory to post a picture or add a description, it personalizes your profile and provides information to someone who may be interested in what you choose to share.
  • In the Social Networks section of your profile, set Publish Activity to Facebook timeline to Off, unless you really really want every thing you pin to also appear on Facebook, which is already overloaded in my opinion. The option to publish individual pins to Facebook exists and allows you to be more selective in what goes to your Facebook timeline.

After you’ve created an account and sign in , you are directed to your Following page. This page shows recent posts made by pinners you’ve chosen to follow.

  • When you first create your account, Pinterest asks you to select a number of images you like. Based on your choice, it adds people to your following list. Many of us make this selection quickly without a lot of thought. This results in a large number of pins showing up on the Following page that we aren’t particularly interested in. To remedy this, review your Following list and Unfollow everyone Pinterest has automatically assigned. When I did this, I thought the unfollow button was disabled because it appears in light grey, but that is not the case. You may wish to review the boards of the people on the list before deciding to unfollow. You may find that you do want to continue to follow some of the boards. To find your Following list, click on your name on the menu bar and select Boards. When your boards are displayed, click on Following from the menu bar above the boards.
  •  When someone re-pins or likes one of your pins, check out that person’s boards to see if you are interested in following them.
  • You don’t need to follow every board of a pinner. If you are interested in only one or two of their boards, just follow just those boards.
Browsing and Searching

The menu bar allows browsing options by categories, everything, popular pins and gifts. The search box allows you to look more specifically for items. The search returns a list of pins associated with your search word(s).  You can change that to search board names or pinner names by clicking on Boards or Pinners. You can search for your friends on Pinterest and follow what they pin.

  • Pinterest creates one board when you set up your account. Create other boards to organize your pins into categories that make it easier for you to find later.
  • View friend’s boards to determine what categories you might like.
  • You do not need to create all your boards right away. You can create new categories as you browse and discover items of interest.
  • Pinterest recently added Secret Boards. Each user can create up to 3 secret boards. Only you and whichever pinners you grant access can view the items pinned on these boards. Use to store gift ideas you don’t want another pinner, perhaps the lucky recipient of that gift, to see, or to plan surprise parties, or pin something you want to be able to get back to but aren’t sure yet if you want to keep and share.

When you find something of interest, you can repin, like, or comment. Your liked items can be viewed as a list, but you don’t have the flexibility to organize them into categories the same way you do with items you repin. Here are a few tips for repinning:

    • Verify the original source of the pin by clicking on the image until you get to the original web page. Don’t repin items with a suspicious or non-found source.
    • Update the description to be relevant to you, not what was relevant to the previous pinner. Include a basic, not lengthy, description of the pin. Use keywords that will be meaningful for searching.
    • Use the @ sign to mention a pin to a specific user. See Getting Started in Pinterest Help.

When you repin, you will see a Facebook check box on the bottom right hand corner of the Repin box. If you want the pin to appear on your Facebook timeline, check the box. Remember to verify the status of that check box on your next repin. You may need to uncheck it.

Pin It

You can pin information from other web sites onto your Pinterest boards. To do this, install the Pin It button onto your browser bar. Go to the Goodies section in Pinterest Help and follow the instructions. When you find something on the Internet you’d like to pin and share in Pinterest, click the Pin It button. Select which image from the web page you wish to share, add a description and pin.

A word of caution: If you find a blog entry you wish to share, pin from the post page, not the home page. You can get to the post page by either clicking on the title or the read more/continue link. That way, once the entry rolls off the current post list on the home page, people will still be able to get directly to the information you wanted to share.

There is a lot of information on using Pinterest available on Pinterest boards and on the Internet in general. However, much of what I’ve found is geared to marketing and promotion. Here are links to a few useful items I’ve found relevant to an ordinary consumer.

Happy Pinning

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