You’ve probably heard a lot about Pinterest over the last few months. Not only has the company received $27 million in venture funds, but the site’s popularity has exploded from 1.2 million users in August to over 4 million today.
SEE ALSO: Study Shows Pinterest Will Compete with Top 10 Social Networks [VIDEO]But like any new social site, there’s always the question, “How does it work?” Have no fear, soon-to-be-Pintrest fan, we’ll show you the ropes.
1. What is Pinterest?
Pinterest is a place to organize and share online images that you find interesting or inspiring. Once uploaded or shared on Pinterest, these images become known as Pins, which the user can place on customized, themed Boards. You can create Boards for any topic imaginable, from cats to classic cars to cats driving classic cars. The possibilities are endless.
If you want to check out Pinterest, though, you have to be invited. You can sign up for invites on the site (prepare for a wait), or chances are you already know a Pinner who will gladly send you an invite.
2. What is Pinterest For?
While there’s nothing wrong with just pinning pictures of cool stuff all day, Pinterest can be a really valuable tool for people with a specific purpose in mind. For example, many brides-to-be have replaced bulky three-ring binder wedding planners with the simplicity and portability of a Pinterest account. Some people create a Board for each room in the house and then pin decorating ideas for that room. Artists use it to organize inspiring images for their work. Cooks keep an online recipe box. College students might create a shopping list of things they need to buy for school. DIY-ers can bookmark tutorials for those rainy day projects. Boards can have multiple contributors, so collaborating with co-workers on a project is easy with everyone’s ideas and inspiration in one place.
3. How Do I Pin Stuff?
Pinning is easy with the official Pin It Button, a simple drag-and-drop browser extension. When you come across an image you like, just click the button and select the corresponding picture. Assign the pin to a Board, add accompanying text, and you’re done. If the Pin is something you want to buy, include the price in the description and it will attach to the Pin for easy reference. If you find inspiration on the go, take a picture with your iPhone and add it to your Boards with the mobile app. (Sorry, no Android support at this time.) You can also Repin posts from other people.
4. What’s the Social Angle?
Pinning’s more fun when you do it together. To find other Pinners, access the Everything drop-down menu and filter Boards by category. When you see a good Pin, leave a comment, Like it, or Repin to one of your own Boards. If you find a Board that’s especially interesting, follow its updates, or head to the Pinner’s profile and follow all of her Boards. Like Twitter, it’s an open network, so follows don’t require permission, and you don’t have to follow anyone back.
You can tweet or share pins on Facebook to help expand your network across all three services.
Check out the Popular button to see what pins are trending at the moment. It’s a great way to find new content and to find Pinners who share your interests.
Your birthday’s coming up and you really like that necklace on Etsy, right? Hint, hint by sharing a Pin with another Pinner: Use an @mention in the description, just like you do on other social sites. They’ll get an email to let them know they’ve been mentioned.
5. Anything Else I Should Know?
Most Pins are photos, but you can pin videos, too. Hit the Videos button at the top of the page to see everything from movie trailers to sewing tutorials to the latest viral videos.
If you’re looking to buy a gift for someone, check out the Gifts menu to find Pins that have a price associated. With dollar values ranging from $1 to $500+, you can find something to fit any budget. And because Pins usually link back to the source website, buying something you like is easy.
Pinterest might seem like a natural place to promote your small business, but do so with caution. It’s frowned upon to spam your Boards with nothing but your own products or projects. That doesn’t mean it’s outright banned, but you need to contribute more to the community if you want to stay in its good graces. Use this opportunity to build your brand by linking and connecting to people who share the same style, or by pinning images that inspire your company’s work. You can use Pinterest for self-promotion, just do so creatively.