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Polite pinning: Understanding Pinterest etiquette

SALT LAKE CITY — Pinterest has broken through to
the top of social media sites, what with
its 104 million users as of April. With so many users
generating content on the site, a look at acceptable use
and etiquette may be in order.

  1. Use descriptive and searchable captions
  2. A pitfall of giving so many users permission to
    create content is that it is entirely up to them to
    determine how searchable an image is. Many times, users
    simply put a period or something along the lines of, “I
    love this!” in the description box of a pin.

    What is helpful to other users — especially those
    using the search function on the Pinterest website —
    is to use descriptive words, or keywords. The description
    only needs to have three to five words at the least, but
    feel free to use more.

    One way to do this may be by using hashtags, or words with
    the number sign placed before them. For example: “I love
    these curtains. #purple #velvet.” When people search
    “purple” or “velvet,” or either of those hashtags, your
    pin will appear.

    Crediting artists or photographers is also a good way to
    create a searchable description.

    If you are creating original pins, adding descriptions
    with the “pin it” browser extension button is a breeze.
    Highlight the text on the page you want to use as your
    description, and then hit the button. The text you
    highlight will automatically appear in the description box
    after you select a photo. ou can select which board to pin
    it to and then pin.

    Bonus: using key words will get you more repins and likes,
    and possibly followers. For businesses and brands, this is
    not only polite, but crucial.

  3. Don’t give it all away
  4. While captions are
    great and useful, some pinners tend to go overboard.
    Pinning an entire recipe or tutorial from a site is not
    appropriate, and doesn’t leave future pinners any
    incentive to click through to the creator’s site. This
    robs sites of traffic and subsequently, revenue. A simple
    description of the recipe encourage people to click
    through, instead of reading an entire recipe on Pinterest.

  5. Link to original image sources, when possible
  6. Similar to the previous point, the purpose of this
    point is to get people clicking through to the originator
    of an image. This is not likely to happen, however, if
    your pin links to a site that reused the image, and
    especially if that site does not credit the original.

    One way to ensure that your pin credits the creator is to
    click through before you pin. If the image does not appear
    to be from the site originally, (fairly easy to spot on a
    blog, but much more obvious if it takes you to a tumblr
    site) do a reverse Google image search.

    To do so, save the image to your desktop, go to, click the camera
    icon in the search bar and click search. If the site with
    the original image pulls up in your first search, click on
    that page, and recreate a pin from that page. If it
    doesn’t, try putting a few key words in describing the
    image and search again.

    If you can’t find where the image was created, it never
    hurts to crowdsource; in your pin description, you can ask
    if anybody knows who the designer/photographer/painter is
    and edit if anyone guides you to it.

  7. Don’t be an addict
  8. As a courtesy to those
    who follow you, don’t repin everything you see. Be
    selective. As Anna Post, spokeswoman for the Emily Post
    Institute, put
    : “only repin as much as you would be comfortable
    having repined from you.”

    Some people may follow hundreds of other pinners, but
    others may only follow a handful. If you are pinning
    dozens of pins over the course of a few hours, you may be
    the only person filling that homepage, moving others’
    content to the bottom. On Facebook, this can get someone
    hidden from a news feed, and on Pinterest, it may get you
    unfollowed. If you pin many things and then never look at
    them again (or ever use them), maybe it’s time to take a
    break and limit your time on the site, and how much you