Example of what you would see on your main Pinterest page (stream).

Pinterest explained, and how to use it.

I am doing a week of blog posts about Pinterest. If you are already a user, this particular introductory post may not be relevent, but I will be publishing six posts total on Pinterest:

Please visit again or subscribe to be alerted about future posts in the series.

Pinterest is a bit like Twitter was a couple years ago. You may have heard about it, and understand the basic concept, but here is a quick overview.

Pinterest is about viewing, organizing and sharing images (they offer video too, but that hasn’t taken off).

The two key parts of Pinterest are pins and boards.

Example pin of a glass bowl.


A pin is any image that you want to post. You can also add a text caption to any image as part of the pin. Pinterest offers a bookmarklet that you can add to your browser to quickly pin images you see on most websites.


You have to then put the pin on one of your boards. Boards can be labeled anything you want, but people usually use them to organize images around themes. Pinterest will automatically add some boards in the signup process if you approve it. You can always delete or rename boards later. It is helpful to have the default boards as a place to start.


Example of what you would see on your main Pinterest page (stream).

Your pins show up in the stream of pins that your followers see, and likewise, you see the pins of people you follow on the default Pinterest page.

You can follow all of a person’s boards, or choose to only follow the one’s you are interested in.

Pinterest uses an algorithm to place some pins at the top of your stream largely based on “re-pins” and “likes” from other users.


You can re-pin other peoples pins to your own boards and have the option of changing the text caption when you re-pin. Unless the caption is highly personalized, most users make very few changes to captions.


You can “Like” a pin, and that will show up in a separate stream that others can access from your profile. Likes are often used when a person literally likes a pin but doesn’t want to re-pin it. This could be because they don’t have an appropriate board or don’t want to make their interest as public as re-pin would make it.

Example board from my personal account.

Ways to use Pinterest

Like most social networks, you often don’t know how best to use it until you try it out. I personally started on Pinterest because my wife uses it, and I am interested in social networks. I use Pinterest to collect images of different art I like in addition to other random collections of images that interest me.

Popular board categories include:

  • Places
  • Food
  • Decor
  • Humor
  • Organization
  • DIY

The list can go on and on. Essentially any topic you could think of could be a board. And you can make it as broad or specific as you want. Most people start out creating broad catagories and over time make them more specific. But like most social networks, there are many ways to do it right. Pinterest’s search function is excellent, and when you find and image you particuarlly like, you can then explore all the images that are on that board.

Pinterest heavily leans to female users, but I believe the human impulse to collect and organize things, will make Pinterest of use and genuinely fun for most people who give it a try. Whether Pinterest can make the experience relavent to people outside of core female demographics remains to be seen. But being able to follow individuals by board (essential interests) and not just by person, naturally lends itself to more an individualized and relevant experience.

I have only used Pinterest for two months, so I welcome your ideas, thoughts and suggestions on the service. Comments are appreciated.

If you need an invite to Pinterest, just email me at jd12345@gmail.com with Pinterest in the subject line, and I will send you an invitation.


2 thoughts on “Pinterest explained, and how to use it.

  1. James Byrd

    Thanks for that explanation; it was illuminating. After seeing endless annoying posts on Facebook from Pinterest, I started wondering what it was about. Apparently, the annoying posts worked!

  2. Barbara

    The most objectionable thing about Pinterest is that you are required to have a Facebook page before you can use it. I don’t, and I won’t, because I detest FB and their lack of privacy. Why? From Infoworld, I quote:

    “risk comes from the likes of Facebook, which uses its service to learn about its users, their friends, their family members, and their colleagues, then sells that information to advertisers. Facebook has apologized multiple times for such activities, but hasn’t put a stop to them. It claims it protects user identities, so vendors don’t know specifically who their ads are targeting, just that they are the appropriate audience. Most media companies do this as well, but Facebook’s deep access to personal information and its pattern of exploiting that data rightfully causes concern. I’m amazed that people let themselves be farmed by Facebook; they should at least get paid to be used this way. Just this week, it agreed to pay huge fines for its latest privacy invasions and to be monitored for 20 years by the feds for future misbehavior — which you just know will occur.

    But the worst risk is what people aren’t talking about: Big Brother-type technology used to monitor specific individuals and shape their behavior through penalties and rewards. If the government were doing this, we’d have people in the streets, but in the hands of private companies, these seductive methods convince people to naively agree to being controlled.

    Take, for example, Progressive Insurance’s program of offering tracking devices to monitor how you drive. If you drive safely, as determined by Progressive, you get an discount. If you’re determined to be unsafe, you pay the “normal” rate.

    Given insurance companies’ business model — pay out as little as possible, take in as much as possible — the long-term result is obvious: “Unsafe” drivers will pay more, or they won’t be eligible for insurance. The insurance industry is notorious for redlining neighborhoods and denying coverage to people’s existing health issues, determined by a mix of publicly available data (for redlining) and personal information (for coverage exclusion). Many of these practices have been banned or curtailed, but they persist in the guise of “discounts” that make individuals feel OK about being controlled.”


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