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Tech Report – Pinterest

One of the strengths of social networking has always been the instant connection that people make with visual images. If you want to generate interest in your blog or Facebook page, then add a picture. Better still, add lots of pictures. Even Twitter, with its limit on the amount of text you can use, goes out of its way to encourage the upload of images.

So perhaps it’s no surprise to see a relative newcomer to the social networking scene take that concept one step further and present individual profiles based entirely on visual images that can be found on the Web. The newcomer is Pinterest and it has quickly built a large and enthusiastic following.

At the current time, you need an invitation to join Pinterest – either from Pinterest itself (after spending time on a wait list) or from an existing member via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. Once you are invited, it’s very straightforward to establish an account with the requisite username and password.

Once you are on board, you are asked to click on a few topics of interest so Pinterest can find people for you to follow. Categories include everything from cars and motorcycles to hair and beauty products. Interestingly, Pinterest doesn’t wait for you to select people to follow but instead starts you off with about 12 random individuals that match your chosen interests.

Next, you start creating your own pinboards. Again, Pinterest will offer some suggestions but you can ignore them and completely customize your own pinboard titles. I went for Tech Stuff I Love, Moments To Remember, Favorite Places and Just Because, but the choice of headers is entirely up to you and you can create as many boards as you want.

After that, you just pin away! While you can pin content that other Pinterest users have already posted, that’s a bit like re-tweeting or hitting the Like button on Facebook; after a while you want to pin some content of your own. To help with this, Pinterest provides a handy Pin It button which they refer to as a “bookmarklet” and which resides on the favorites bar of your browser. (Pinterest will walk you through the installation process. I used it in Internet Explorer but it also works on Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.)

If you are on a web page and want to pin one of the images, you can just click on the Pin It button and it will ask you which image you want to pin and where you want to pin it. You also get the opportunity to add a comment.

Pinterest has some guidelines for pinning, which it terms Pin Etiquette: Be respectful in your comments and conversations, report objectionable content, and “avoid self-promotion.” Pinterest is also particular about members crediting the original source of their material, with the Pin It button able to automatically grab source links to ensure appropriate recognition.

Once you have pinned an image, other people have the opportunity to re-pin or add their own comments. Some pinboards become works of art, some become a travelogue, and some just become a jumbled mosaic. Whatever the result, the hope is that millions of people get the opportunity to express themselves through their favorite web-based images.

Perhaps because of an early emphasis on fashion, food and home-making, Pinterest has developed a reputation as a site that caters mostly to women. Images of hairstyles, accessories, and cute animals are also plentiful. However, the categories clearly suggest that Pinterest is interested in a more unisex membership and it’s possible the bias towards female interests will diminish as membership grows.

It’s also clear that Pinterest in still very much in start-up mode. The site architecture leaves a lot to be desired and it’s far from intuitive as you try and navigate your way about the site. But once you get used to the clunkiness, Pinterest is a lot of fun. If every picture tells a story, then Pinterest has an awful lot to say!

Comment by Vania, posted 2/2/2012, 2:11 PM:

I am brand new to Pinterest and loving it. My creative 11 yr. old daughter wants her own account and naturally being on the internet I'm weary of it. I may just let her have her own board on my account. However,it seams like a pretty safe online environment, any input to help me decide? Anything you are aware of that I should definetely be aware of? Thanks, Vania
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