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Pinterest: Top 9 Ways to Be a Responsible Pinner

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In this article, you'll learn...

  • Why proper attribution, clear images, and collaboration are key to success on Pinterest
  • Pinterest pitfalls and best-practices

If you aren't one of the millions using Pinterest, it's high time you got on board. Pinterest's steady growth over the last two quarters has proven the image-driven social network to be a substantial source of otherwise untapped Internet traffic.

For those of you not in the know, Pinterest provides a platform for uploading "pins," which are images or videos, from blog posts or websites. Those pins can (and should) be linked back to their original source.

The social media marketing potential of such bookmarking sites is unlimited. You get the opportunity to sell your products, brand your business, increase your customer base, and generate traffic to your website. If the history of online marketing has shown us anything, it's that easy street is a very short one. Now is the time to add Pinterest to your traffic-generating toolbox before it reaches saturation and becomes as competitive as anything else.

An important part of using Pinterest is being responsible about what you pin and how you pin it. Right now, the site is rife with images that provide no information. If a picture alone is worth a thousand words, a picture with a little code is worth millions.

Now, let's get cracking! Here are nine ways to be a responsible pinner.


1. Add contributors

Bring everyone to the party! Part of using Pinterest is organizing your pins into boards by topic. When you collaborate with other pinners, use the "add contributors" option to give them credit. Under the board edit options, click the radio button for "Me + Contributors." Enter their name to give them credit.

Think about companies that have several brands that support one another. Adding those other brands as contributors can incrementally bring them traffic, too. Hopefully, the traffic will consist of the same demographic.

2. Upload clear images

Please, if you follow only one piece of advice, it's this: Don't upload blurry images, small images, or obviously watermarked images. They're ugly and bring zero value to the table. Poor-quality images are less likely to be clicked on and re-pinned to other boards. Images must be at least 80x80 pixels to upload to Pinterest.

This tip is good for anyone, but especially for those pinning images of food and drink. Go ahead and spend the extra cash to get high-quality photographs. Your site traffic will love you for it.

3. Provide attribution

Always cite the original source when you pin content from the Internet. Use the caption box to give attribution to the source—and credit to where it is due. Use mentions. When you want to reference another person to give credit or alert her, use the @ sign before her Pinterest name, which will alert her of the mention.

4. Check your links

Before re-pinning content, always click through to the website of a pin. Make sure the content goes to the page that the image references and is not a spam link. Be responsible with your recommendations by checking your links before you re-pin them.

Nor is anything gained by a broken link. So, if you're in the process of a site overhaul, make sure that your Pinterest links still work.

5. Organize your boards

You can organize your pins into subjects via boards. People can choose to follow individual boards of yours instead of all of your content. That is a great way to gain followers who are interested only in specific topics. Be consistent in the way you organize your pins.

Do a little research; look for popular boards that are of a similar topic to yours. Do their titles use keywords that you could benefit from?

6. Don't pin off of an image search

Please, for the love of all that is beautiful in the world, don't pin content off an image search in Google. Tons of people on Pinterest unfortunately do so. Even if the image isn't on your site and you're merely using it for community-building, go out and find an image from an actual site.

Pinning off an image search won't give credit back to the original website. Always follow the image back to the website, and pin the original URL of the image to give traffic to the site.

Doing so won't drive traffic to your site, but let's not forget the golden rule.

7. Pin from the blog post (not the homepage of the website)

Make sure you are linking to specific blog posts and website pages where the content can be found. Don't link a fabulous picture, and then send your fellow pinners to the website homepage. Deep-link the content to make sure users find what you thought was so fabulous.

8. Avoid self-promotion

Pinterest works wonders for marketing, but you need to be genuine when using it. Don't just spam the pin boards with crap content to get a link to your website. Re-pin other content. Participate in the community. Add links to relevant, interesting content.

Just as with any form of social media, engage in a dialogue rather than a monologue.

9. Report spam and objectionable content

Be a member of the community. When you come across a dead link or a spam link, report the content to Pinterest. That'll help make sure your fellow pinners don't waste their time and energy going to a bad website. Also, report offensive or tasteless images to Pinterest.

* * *

Pinterest is a fabulous, growing social site that enables you to interact with other people. Always be respectful and polite to your fellow pinners in the comments and captions. After all, as with other social media networks, the people who use it make Pinterest what it is!


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Jared Reed is owner and chief digital strategist of Pan Galactic Digital, a St. Louis-based SEO and social media agency.

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  • by Kimberly Rotter Tue Jun 12, 2012 via web

    Great tips, except #3. It's Pinterest's responsibility and challenge to maintain the integrity of the source, both the original pinner for the purpose of networking, and the original website where the image appeared for the purpose of intellectual property rights. If they botch that, I imagine copyright violations will flourish and lawsuits will ensue.

  • by biztag Tue Jun 12, 2012 via web

    Sounds like a lot of work! :)

  • by biztag Tue Jun 12, 2012 via web

    #6 is a really great point for internet pin'ers - The fact that the same image on google, that you loved so much on a blog or news feed will not give credit to the blog. Great Point - It's always so much easier to just come back and google something, click images and when you see it, pin it, not even knowing if it's from the source or actual origin where you first discovered. Good Point! Pin from the source!

  • by Hilary Thu Jun 14, 2012 via web

    Re #6 ... I use Images a lot to find things, but I always click through to the website that holds the image and pin from there.

    I finally got into Pinterest when a friend on a Facebook group posted that it was like crack. LOL Just what I needed, another addicting social site! And now there is "Pinerly" that has analytical tools for tracking pins made from their utility.

  • by Bfowler@chiefoutsiders.com Sun Jun 17, 2012 via web

    I appreciate your comments. I didn't realize how I should add contributors and this was very helpful. I have made some mistakes and pinned things without explanation. I am barbfow50 on pinterest and love it. Barbara

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