Pinterest is a virtual pin board that allows you to collect images and links to things you like on the web. If you've ever seen someone pull out a scrapbook filled with recipe clippings or a binder full of wedding or home remodel ideas, you've got the general idea. The difference with Pinterest is the fact that it all takes place online in an environment where you can share your collection with your friends and vice versa. To put it in the simplest of terms, Pinterest is an image based version of bookmarks.

Pinterest is Growing Rapidly

A few months ago, I would have forgiven you if you hadn't heard of Pinterest. It was like a sneaky, lovable cat. The kind that curls up in your lap and gives you the warm fuzzies while you pet it, but that remains quietly invisible to anyone not already in the know. The past month or so though, it's all begun to change. Pinterest has finally reached it's tipping point and the masses are starting to pour into the site to explore what it has to offer. If you are a marketer, a blogger, or a business owner, it's time to invest some effort into learning whether or not Pinterest needs to be part of your marketing strategy.

I first heard Pinterest mentioned last summer by a friend who is a professional photographer. She mentioned it as a great place to stash your collection of ideas and inspiration. It sounded intriguing, but not enough so to actually visit the site. (Since I was sort of busy with an out of state move and planning a wedding of my own.) I found my way back to the site last fall while hunting for some Christmas ideas online. Every other crafting site I ran across had a "Pin it" button showing up s part of the blog post. Within ten minutes of finally visiting the site, I was hooked.

Since then, I've been a daily Pinterest addict. It's my new time killer when I'm waiting in line or killing a few minutes of boredom. It's my source (and storage) for inspiration on food, my home, and a huge portion of the things I do in my every day life.

Intrigued yet? You should be.

Let me give you a tour.

When you head over to Pinterest, you're going to see a bunch of random picture with commentary and some numbered tallies underneath them.

pinterest2.pngThere's no rhyme or reason to it because when you first log in, you're just going to see the current most popular posts. At this point, if you click on an image, you're going to get a notice to sign up for an account.


When you fill out the request for an invite, don't fret. Most folks seem to get their invite within 12-48 hours these days. You'll be up and running in no time. Of course if you have a friend using the service already, they can send you an invite which you'll receive almost immediately.

Once you get your invite, click the link in the email to get started. It will take you to this page.

pinterest4.pngYou'll have the choice to link your account to either Twitter or Facebook. It's a personal preference that doesn't hold a LOT of weight because Pinterest will only share your pins via those networks if you ask it to. For the purpose of this article, we'll go with Facebook. Clicking on it will take you to your Facebook sign-in page.


Once you're signed in, you'll need to approve the app to work in Facebook.


To note, if you haven't already upgraded to Facebook Timeline, you'll need to do it to get Pinterest synched up. Consider whether you want to leave things set to display to all your friends or if you want narrow the friend group, then click through to move along. From there, it's onto finally setting up your Pinterest account.


Once you've finished this step, Pinterest will try to get you started with some people to follow.


My suggestion? Refrain from picking categories you like unless you want Pinterest to fill up your boards with people you don't know. For the sake of this article, I set up an account for my husband and it set him up with a dozen people to follow. I had to then go unfollow them all. It will also look to see which of your Facebook friends are on Pinterest and will follow them as well, so plan to edit people out accordingly.

Your next step in the process is to create some boards. Boards are Pinterest's version of visual filing cabinets. They are usually topical and give you a chance to categorize your pins for easy access. Take a minute to set one or two up, but realize you can add more at any time.


Once you've set up your starter categories, you're ready to get going. At this point, you'll be able to view your Pinterest stream. In this case, that stream looks like this:


Of course chances are high you'll see a lot of things you aren't interested in. Just because you're friends with someone on Facebook doesn't mean you're interested in every little thing they want to save in their scrapbooks. There are two different ways to work around this. The first is to delete people totally. To do this, click on the username that shows up under the photo. This will take you to their Pinterest page where you can find the greyed out "unfollow" button under their avatar. Click this button and you'll remove them from your stream.


Now, let's say you've got someone in your stream that you want to follow, but who posts WAY more content than you are interested in, or things you simply don't care about. Say, for instance you have a friend who has great taste in food, but also has a love for polymer clay and crafting that is flooding your stream. Find one of their posts, click the username and go to their page the same way you did when you planned to unfollow someone. Click the unfollow button again. At this point, each of the "boards" (categories) the Pinterest user has created will have a follow button associated with them. Scan through their list and follow any of the boards you think you might be interested in. This will segment their feed and serve up only a portion for you. (One of Pinterest's strongest features, in my opinion.)

Once you've done this, you'll find your feed has cleared out a bit and feature more post you are interested in.


Now that you've gotten everything set up, you can begin using Pinterest. There are three primary ways to do this. You can browse the overall database of pins you can browse your individual feed or you can go looking for new things to add to Pinterest.

We'll explore those options coming up in part two of this series on Pinterest.

Want to learn even more about Pinterest and how to use it to market your business or drive traffic to your web site? Join Jennifer Cario for a FREE Market Motive workshop on Pinterest next Thursday, February 9th at 12:30pm EST. Registration is required.

February 1, 2012

Jennifer Cario is the Editor in Chief of Search Engine Guide and the President of SugarSpun Marketing, a boutique social media agency specializing in social media strategy for small to mid size businesses. She is also a well respected trainer and serves as the Social Media Faculty chair for MarketMotive and as an Adjunct Professor for Rutgers University's Mini MBA program. She's based near Pittsburgh, PA but serves clients across the United States and Canada.


Pinterest has definitely gained a lot of momentum in the last few months. Previously the user base was dominated by women, but more men are beginning to show interest. It's a social network on the rise and any smart marketer will take note.

Probably no one has ever heard of Pinterest over here in Holland but me, so when I saw this blog post I had to read it to satisfy my curiosity. Thanks for your "beginner's guide", this looks pretty interesting so I'll give it a try for sure!

Thanks for the great post on how to use Pinterest. My wife has started her account and I just haven't got around to it. Thanks for going through the steps, this will save me tons of time :)

Thank you for outlining what to expect in creating an account and getting started. You had me at "Pinterest is like image based bookmarks!"

Hi Jennifer,

I just recently signed up to Pinterest so this was a very useful introduction.

It'll be interesting to see how much of the bookmarking market share this takes from the likes of Stumbleupon and Delicious. If Pinterest continues to acquire subscribers at this rate, it must surely have a big impact on other sites that may have different offerings but with which there is some overlap. There are only so many networking sites that any one individual can maintain so some choices are forced upon us.

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Search Engine Guide > Jennifer Cario > The Super Simple Guide to Using and Marketing Through Pinterest - Part One