It’s true that Pinterest is fun—designed to be a simple, beautiful way to pin all your favorite ideas, products and places on the Web—but it’s also true that it’s powerful. With a registered user base that includes over 10 million and grows every day, Pinterest represents great potential for influence. That’s why, to avoid serious copyright infringement or even just the simply bad manners that are possible on this popular social pinboard, it’s vitally important to practice good Pinterest etiquette.
So whether you pin for pleasure or pin for business, here are 5 key tips to make sure you’re doing it right!
- Always pin from the original source: This rule is first because it’s most important. Always, always, always pin from the original source. When you pin an image that doesn’t link to its original source, you are essentially stealing credit from the creator of that image. This kind of careless sourcing is no small matter—it’s drawn some of the biggest controversy Pinterest has ever seen. Any time you pin (or repin) anything, make sure it directs users to the original site where that image was posted—otherwise you risk infringing on copyrights, upsetting the original author and giving yourself a bad name.
- Write teaser descriptions: Every time you pin an item, you have the opportunity to write a short description about it that will appear on your board. Because clicks are the currency of Pinterest, it’s crucial you write teaser-type phrases that draw users in but also that you don’t write descriptions that give all the information away. If you pin a recipe for black bean brownies, for example, don’t copy and paste the entire recipe into the description—simple write the name of the recipe, maybe naming the person who created it, and then let users click through to learn more.
- Like and comment: Interaction is what makes a social network social—so participate in the Pinterest community by liking and commenting on pins that catch your attention, repining images that you find inspiring. This helps build connections with others as well as engender goodwill. Plus, it’s fun!
- Show respect to users: When it comes to interactions, Pinterest is no different than any other spot on the Web—when you comment or respond to comments, always show respect to other users. This means no harsh language, no name-calling, no rudeness. Treating others how you wish to be treated goes a long way, both online and off.
- Report violations: Part of the way Pinterest polices its site from inappropriate content is through the help of users. On its etiquette page, the network asks users to report any content that violates the site’s Terms of Service or Acceptable Use Policy—this includes nudity, as well as content that promotes harmful behavior—by pushing the “Report Content” link on a pin. So when you see something inappropriate being pinned, help the network out by reporting it.
Following these five etiquette tips will spare you the biggest and most common Pinterest problems—but is there anything I missed? What other Pinterest etiquette have you found to be important?
Shanna Mallon is a writer for Straight North, a Chicago Web development company with clients in diverse industries, from the makers of fire retardant clothing to providers of a leading merchant processing service. Check out the Straight North Blog, or follow @StraightNorth on Twitter!