For the last year, I've been spending quite a bit of time on Pinterest finding inspiration, pinning, and learning a lot. And somewhere along the way I found myself with more than 4 million followers. (Oh honey that is a story best told over wine + cheese + really good music by our side.)
And in the last few months, this is what I've come to believe:
I really want to use Pinterest for good.
This principle guides me when it comes to the pins I share and the ways I use Pinterest in my day-to-day life. From trying recipes to getting inspiration for a new quilt to spreading love through quotes and other good things on my YES board, I'm seeing it as a place to remind myself and others of how I want to live...how I want to see joy even in the midst of the tough stuff...how I want to fill my life with beauty and make some real crazy, gorgeous memories with those I love.
With all that in mind, here are five things I share when someone who just wants to use Pinterest for fun says, "So give me some tips on using Pinterest."
1. Pin from the source. I know there has been a lot of talk about this (I especially appreciate Kal Barteski's Link with Love campaign), but I am still surprised daily by the number of pinners and independent artists and magazine editors and other well-known folks using Pinterest and they aren't pinning from the source.
This is what I mean: Before you repin, click the pin to make it bigger and then click again to go through to the website where the pin originates from. You should then see that image or at least be taken to a site that puts the pin in context. Otherwise you and the people following you won't be able to find the source for those boots you love or that recipe for quinoa bars or the DIY for that garland or where to by that piece of art made by someone who deserves credit for bravely putting her work in the world.
I know it takes some extra time, but really, it will make Pinterest a much more beautiful, friendly, supportive place to hang out. Here is a GREAT article about finding the source from Bonnie of Going Home to Roost.
(And if you don't have time to find the source, consider putting it on a private board so you can come back later to look up the source OR just click "like" so you can save it and then come back to it to find the source later.)
UPDATE: I've learned a super easy way to use Google images to find sources. This works with Google Chrome, let me know if it works in your browser of choice. You can open Google Images in a new window and then literally drag the image from Pinterest (or the Tumblr page etc it is on) onto the Google Images open window and drop it in the search box. Google will then search for possible sources. Try it!! Super easy.
2. Use the comments for actual real connection. This is one that a lot of "power pinners" and "using Pinterest to market your business" articles might roll their eyes at, but I still think it is possible to make actual connections with people on Pinterest. When you are touched by something someone shares, let them know. If you have an idea or another pin to share, do it! If you own the product shared and love it, let the person know it works or is comfortable. If you have an idea that might work better, share. For example, last year tutorials for ways to "write on a mug with Sharpie markers and put it in the oven to make it permanent" were everywhere. One day I came across a pin by someone who basically said, "this doesn't really stay permanent if you wash it a lot but it will if you do this" and linked to another tutorial. Super helpful!
And try to resist being snarky or sarcastic. Pinterest can feel "less connected" than other social media sites because it feels like you aren't commenting on someone's "wall" or "feed" but in reality, you are. And even if you don't "know" the person you follow on Pinterest like you "know" your friends on Facebook, when you write negative comments, it is a bit like walking into that pinner's kitchen and looking at what she has up on her fridge and giving your commentary.
If you don't like what someone is pinning, just unfollow them. This doesn't mean you shouldn't have an opinion or share helpful product advice like, "I bought this but it fell apart after two days," but take a few seconds to think before you comment. And remember that another person is on the other end of your words. An every day person who is pinning and repinning and trying to find inspiration and make recommendations just like you.
3. Use private boards. Private boards are a great place to gather ideas that you want to remember but you don't necessarily want others to see. You might literally not want others to see the pins, for example, if they are Christmas present ideas. And you also might not want to just fill your followers feeds with all the possible paint colors you are thinking about for the outside of your house. You can also have private group boards if you are planning a surprise party for someone. I have a private board for ideas for retreats that I'm still thinking about and another for gift ideas for my friends and family.
4. When you feel yourself falling into comparison-itis, step away from the computer. My hope for you is that Pinterest is a place to find inspiration, to look up a recipe to make for dinner, to get ideas for a bedroom makeover, to create a board of outfits to wear this fall, and so on. It shouldn't be a deep hole of despair and comparison. Limit your time if you need to. And maybe even brainstorm others ways to use it if you find yourself just mindlessly scrolling through wishing for stuff instead of actively creating the life you want.
5. Have fun. Like A LOT OF FUN! Create boards for things that make you happy from unicorns to Converse All-Stars to cameo pendants. Create boards for cookies you want to bake and words that make you happy and old album covers you remember. Pinterest is your place to dive into a visual world of goodness. It can really be whatever you want it to be.
More posts with ideas about ways to use Pinterest coming soon, but for a few suggestions today, check out these Pinned it. Did it. posts.
In the comments: Share how you are using Pinterest these days. I'd love to hear your thoughts, advice, or even your questions.