Pinterest is a fun way to create and share a visual, digital collection of the things you like, want to try or find appealing. Images that link to webpages – a mouthwatering picture of a pie takes you to the recipe, or an image of a scarf takes you to a blog post with a DIY tutorial.
You can pin anything you find on the web, your own images, or re-pin something another Pinterest user has posted. Follow pinners with similar interests and as you share cool stuff other users will start to follow you. If you want to make the most of what Pinterest has to offer, though, there are some common mistakes to try to avoid. Here are the twelve top things that anyone who has used Pinterest has probably done at least once.
Re-pinning without verifying that the weblink is legit
I know how it goes. You’re cruising your Pinterest feed, see something cool and just click repin and move on. The unfortunate truth is that spammers and not-so-nice people have begun using Pinterest to drive traffic to websites that are infected with malware or are nefarious in some way. In many cases they will spot a popular pin that’s popping up frequently or getting repined a lot and change the URL of the legitimate pin so that it now points to a spam or malware-infected site.
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Before you repin, take a second to follow the pin to its destination. In many cases, your browser will pop up a warning if the website you’re trying to navigate to has been flagged as potentially dangerous. Steer clear if the weblink takes you somewhere to which you wouldn’t want to have yourself associated. If don’t confirm that the pin points to a legitimate website, you could be inadvertently aiding in the spread of spam or malware.
Forgetting to update the pin description when you re-pin
I’m terrible about this. I see a pin that I want to save on my own board, click the little “Pin It” button, select a category, and before I realize it I’ve clicked enter without even proof-reading the description of the original pinner. Make sure that the description is clear, uses proper grammar, and doesn’t reference someone else’s children (this has happened to me at least twice).
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Neglecting to pin original content
Re-pinning stuff you see on Pinterest is quick and easy, but pinning links to cool images, stories, crafts or recipes you find while surfing the net is what’s going to make your boards fresh and unique. And frankly, the point of Pinterest is to compile a digital scrapbook of the things that inspire YOU, not the things other pinners have decided are cool.
Step off Pinterest every now and again and use that handy “Pin it” button while you’re surfing the net. If you haven’t installed it on your browser yet, here’s a tutorial from Pinterest. When you stumble upon something awesome while you’re cruising online, click the “Pin It” button on your browser toolbar and you’ll get a handy pop-up window that lets you select among the images on the page, chose the board to post it to and add your description.
Not including searchable terms in your pin description
Have you ever tried to track down a pin that you know you saw a few days ago but forgot to re-pin? If so, you’ve discovered how important it is to use good search terms in your pin descriptions.
If you describe a recipe for pumpkin cheesecake muffins as “Yummy! Can’t wait to try these!” you will officially never find it again short of scrolling through all the pins you’ve posted recently to your recipe board. And no one else will ever find it either.
The same rule applies to the names you select for your boards. If you want to make it easy for other Pinterest users to find things you pin using Pinterest’s search function, use accurate search terms in your pin descriptions and board names.
Remember that a pin is only as good as the webpage that it links to, and webpages on the net aren’t forever. It’s frustrating to stumble upon a pin that looks amazing only to click it and discover that the page no longer exists. Periodically, check through your content to see that your pins still link to the intended content and purge those pins that send you to dead pages.
Forgetting to save the stuff you REALLY want to more than one place
Speaking of dead links, if there’s a recipe you’ve grown to love, a craft you’re excited to make for your daughter’s next birthday, or a story that really touches you, pretty please don’t depend on Pinterest to preserve that information for you on a long term basis.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve planned to try something that I pinned a while ago, gotten my supplies together and then clicked the pin to discover that the page it originally linked to no longer contains the content that it used to. Argh! If it’s really important, save it (not just the web-link) somewhere else like Dropbox so that you can have a copy even if the original content moves or gets taken down.
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Using #hashtags in your description
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Not picking the right images
Pinterest is all about the visual stimulation. People are inclined to scan through their Pinterest home screen, quickly flicking through images until something catches their eye.
If you want your pins to stand out, they have to include engaging, beautiful or adorable images. Make sure you choose an image that isn’t too small, blurry, or low quality.
While this is easy if you’re pinning an image for the sake of the image (adorable baby porcupines, perhaps?), it can be more challenging with you’re looking to pin a link to an interesting story or a great recipe and the web page doesn’t have a “pinnable” image on it.
If you decide to attach an image from a different webpage to the link you want to direct your pin to, just make sure to source the image in your description so you don’t step on the image-creator’s copyright. Whenever you pin (or re-pin) an image but don’t link directly to the webpage where the image originated, make sure to give credit where credit’s due.
Going on a pinning bender
Trust me, I know how easy it is to get caught up in the Pinterest rabbit hole. “I’ll just browse for ten minutes” finds you three hours later, bleary eyed and so burnt out on crafts and cute animals that you vow you’ll never surf the net again. Decide on a reasonable time limit before you launch the Pinterest site and stick to it. The pins will be there tomorrow, I promise.
On a similar vein, it can be really annoying to anyone who is following you to have their homepage flooded with 82 pins of vacation spots you want to visit someday. Take pity on your followers and cut yourself off after, say, eight pins on the same subject in under an hour.
Following someone just because they follow you
Every time someone follows you on Pinterest, the site send you a “Follow them back?” prompt. Spammers take advantage of our propensity to assume that someone that likes what we like is probably a source of good pins. Always cruise the account you’re considering following before you click “follow.” Make sure they aren’t too prolific. If they’re pinning 50 things a day they are going to be the ONLY person you see in your feed from now on. And of course, make sure that they aren’t just posting ads and spam.
Lack of organization
One massive board of pins spanning everything that’s struck your fancy over the last few months is overwhelming. Not to mention, you’ll never find that pin again if it’s buried on page 13, so what’s the point of collecting it? Divide your pins onto separate boards so you know just where to go to find that Christmas craft you pinned last season.
One caveat: too many boards can be just as overwhelming. If you find yourself with a bunch of boards that have just one or two pins on them, it may be time to consolidate.
Pinning gift ideas to public pages
Your sister isn’t going to be surprised by that amazing scarf you found for her if you post “Great gift for Jill!” to a board she’s following. Not to mention, one of the great parts about Pinterest is that you can find all sorts of great ideas that let you look like you’ve got your act totally together. Why give away the secret? Keep a few ideas to yourself by pinning them to a board you’ve made private if you want to take credit for being amazing.
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