On Pinterest

Tonight I attended a talk on Pinterest given by John LeMasney. Pinterest does one thing and does that one thing very well – it’s an image sharing/bookmarking tool.

Social Visual Bookmarking Precedents

John started by showing us sites that came before Pinterest that had/have a similar purpose :

  • Delicious
    The idea of social bookmarking became popular with Delicious, but has lost a lot of users because of Yahoo!’s poor management of the news that they were no longer going to support it.
  • Diigo
    Diigo sort of picked up the pieces when it looked like Delicious was going away. They took the model of Delicious and then built more features on to it.
    This tool allows a limited set of users who were found to be digital content curators to share their images with others. The limit to users means that you probably can’t get an account, but it also means that you’re going to find many amazing images. This site is geared more toward the visual designer versus the average user.
  • We♥It
    Another visual sharing site, but is much less exclusive than FFFFOUND is.
  • Vi.sualize.us
    Another visual sharing site.
  • Piccsy
    Yet another visual sharing site.

Pinning, repinning, following and liking

Which brings us to Pinterest. John gave us a brief tour of the features of Pinterest including: Searching, Pinning, and Pinboards

Pinning is how you share images on Pinterest. Like on Delicious where you would ‘bookmark’ a page, on Pinterest you ‘pin’ it. You then organize your ‘pins’ by putting them on Pinboards. You can also create group managed Pinboards like my ‘Picture for Presentations‘ board. What you can’t do yet is create a private board – all boards that you create a public at this time (this is one of the suggestions John has on his Pinterest Suggestions board).

We’re going to come back to this, but if, when you pin something, you take the time to enter a citation in the description box, you will avoid some of the potential trouble with Pinterest’s terms of service.

Another thing we found while asking questions and poking around was that people can add you to groups without your approval, you can remove yourself from groups. If you’re seeing things on your Pinterest list of ‘Pinners you follow’ from people you don’t know it might be that you were added to a group, so click on the image and see if you can track down why you’re seeing it and remove yourself from the group if you’re not really interested in that topic.

Lots of people are using Pinterest to try and sell things – but we’re not trying to sell – we’re just trying to get people in the library. Free is so much easier than selling, we just have to be in people’s faces and right now those faces are in front of Pinterest.

You can also ‘Repin’ items. This is when you find an image that someone else shared and you re-share it. One example is if you have a cooking program. You can find the board owned by the chef showing pics of his/her recipes and repin them to the library board to promote the event.

Branding best practices

Some obvious best practicees – participate! So many people and organizations sign up and then don’t use the tool. This looks very bad for you and for your brand. I have found several companies on Pinterest that have never shared a thing! Don’t do this. And along with that participation is to do something regularly.

Obviously you want to respect copyright and ownership. Add citations to descriptions and educate others how to do this.

Include links! You want to add a link to the description or by editing the image you have posted and adding in a link. You want to make sure you link back to your library site or ILS or whatever page at your library you’re posting content from.

Make sure you remember your brand! If you’re sharing content on your library site on Pinterest you want to make sure you stick to your brand. Make sure you use language that you’d use in a press release or on your website in your descriptions. That said, don’t only pin your own stuff. Make sure you share things from other boards that have to do with your events, your philosophy, your mission, etc. This makes you a member of the community on Pinterest.

Use group boards. Collaborate with colleagues and patrons so that you can benefit from their participation and extend your community even more. A group you could share with your patrons is to say ‘What I Like About Libraries’ and have your patrons share things they like about libraries – it gives you ideas and promotes libraries in general. Always remember to add keywords and hashtags to add metadata to a system where there is no other great method for metadata (yet).

More tips: http://bloggingwithamy.com/pinterest-tips.

Copyright and fair use

What do Facebook, Pinterest and a scholarly article all have in common?

It could be peer review, it could be respecting copyright, it could be proper citations – you just have to make it that way!

Why does Pinterest say they own all of your pins?

Because they’re trying to cover their behinds. In Pinterest’s terms of service they say that they own everything you post on Pinterest. In reality what they’re trying to say is that they’re not responsible if someone illegally shares your work on their site. They don’t want to be sued because they provided a platform for copyright infringement.

Copyright is not given – so in the end Pinterest cannot say that they “own” your content, they’re just trying to protect themselves.

Filtering and search

Basically you can search for images, boards and people. Nothing much else to say here.


Going to your settings in Pinterest will allow you to turn off sharing on Facebook and other social networks. So if you use Pinterest for personal reasons and Facebook for professional or vice versa you might not want to share content from Pinterest on Facebook automatically. You can also limit emails that you receive and other general settings.

Suggested improvements

  • Improved searching. It would be great to search by color, camera, etc etc etc.
  • Metadata. Adding tags and tag clouds would help you find information and see what type of things certain people are pinning.
  • Tagging people and places. It would nice to geotag and tag faces like you can in Facebook and Flickr.
  • Android App. There is only an iPhone app right now.
  • Licensing options. I should be able to say that this is not mine, or is mine, or put a creative commons license on it – again this is something that Flickr does already.
  • Threaded discussion. There is no way to reply to a specific comment – it’s a flat discussion format.
  • See John’s Pinterest Suggestions


John will be posting his slides and a video online and I’ll add that when it’s available, but I didn’t want to wait to share all I learned with you all!!

[update] Slides and video are now online on John’s site [/update]

1 Comment

  1. I was also at the talk last night; thanks for these notes!

    Another important point for those of us who love metadata and improving information access is that Pinterest does enable you to assign subject categories to boards. there is a controlled list of 30+ subject categories that are then used as a means of browsing support. What’s more, Pinterest also encourages users to add subject categories to the uncategorized boards of other users (they are notified and can remove the category if they wish).

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