How to use Pinterest like a Pro

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In the last few years, Pinterest has transformed from social network lightweight to one of the biggest names in the industry. The scrapbook-like social network has blown up since its 2010 inception, quietly collecting millions of unique visitor, while continually adding intuitive features. It’s a tool for inspiration and brainstorming — among other things — and serves as a means of sharing and exploring visual content from like-minded individuals around the globe.

The site’s massive growth is, in part, due to a search algorithm that compiles unexpected results. Pinterest claims that the array of interesting results can inspire users to, say, make a new kind of martini than the one they originally intended. What’s more, the platform’s advertisers jumped from zero to 500,000 in a year, allowing you to buy the fashion accessories and home decor you see from directly within the app.

That said, learning the ins and outs of the site may not be straightforward, even if you are tech-savvy. This guide should help you spend less time fumbling through horrendous boards and more time pinning blue-ribbon offerings of your own. Read on for all the details.

Getting started

Join Pinterest

It should go without saying, but you need to activate a Pinterest account before you can use the social networking site. The service is entirely free to use, and setting up a profile takes less than two minutes of your time, whether you opt for the the service’s web or mobile offering.

Step 1: Head over to Pinterest  Navigate to Pinterest, or download the app on your iOS or Android device.

Step 2: Sign up with Pinterest  Choose whether you’d like to sign up using your Facebook account or email address. If you select the Facebook option, enter your login credentials and allow the site to access your basic account info, email address, birthday, and other information like you would any other app. If you select the email option, enter your name and email address in the resulting text fields prior to specifying your password and gender.

Step 3: Verify your Pinterest account  Check the email account you registered with for a confirmation email. Once found, click the red Confirm Your Email button to verify your account.

Step 4: Tweak your settings  Click the person icon in the upper-right corner of the Pinterest taskbar on a desktop computer, or in the lower-right portion of the mobile app. The settings options are indicated by a bolt icon, which is located in the upper-right corner of the mobile app or just above your name in the desktop version. Once there, you can edit various components of your user profile, such as your bio, photo, search privacy, and location. You can also use the panel to opt out of email notifications and link your Pinterest profile with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other popular services.

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Learn the Pinterest lingo

Terminology is key to properly navigating any website, and Pinterest has lingo you should learn if you’d rather not remain in the dark regarding the site’s various functions and features. Many of them are similar to those you would find on Facebook or Twitter, but there are few exceptions you should familiarize yourself with before pressing forward.

  • Boards: In a way, Pinterest boards are much like the deteriorating cork boards of yesteryear. The virtual walls, which are typically content-specific, provide a space where you can post various images and articles you’d like to both organize and share with others. Boards function in a similar manner to your Facebook Timeline, yet they present content in an organized grid that makes it far simpler to find specific posts. Boards also help keep your recipes from your home decor ideas to make them easier to find later. The organization scheme is entirely up to you, whether you want to categorize all recipes under one board or divvy them up so as to keep the dessert ideas from the dinner fanfare.
  • Pins: Pins are single photos — and occasionally videos — that typically link to a website, serving as visual bookmarks detailing everything from you favorite lasagna recipe to popular film trailers. The posts are essentially the site’s namesake and the means by which you share your content. You “pin” something to your board as you would post on Facebook or tweet on Twitter, except pins take on a larger visual element than posts on other social networks.
  • Repins: If you’re an avid Twitter user, you can think of repins as retweets. Repinning content allows you to share others’ pins on your own board, while showing your appreciation for others’ finds and adorning the appropriate board with content other than your own.
  • Comments: As you might expect, comments are merely another way you can provide feedback or respond to a particular pin. Comments on Pinterest work much like they do on other social media sites, but unlike Facebook and Instagram, they’re far less pervasive and encapsulate only text.
  • Likes: Again, likes on Pinterest are similar to those found on a bevy of popular social networks. If you “like” a particular pin, you can show your interest and refer back to it later without having post the content on your own wall. Unfortunately, however, there’s no dislike button to show your apparent lack of interest.

Understand the taskbar

The Pinterest taskbar is the convenient navigation bar spanning the width of the site, conveniently located at the top of every page in the desktop version and at the bottom of the mobile app. The majority of the desktop toolbar is taken up by a search field, where you can get as specific as you want or just search for general terms. When you begin typing a term, you’ll get a list of suggested search terms, along with Pinners that have that term in their name and boards using said term.

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To the right of the search bar, you’ll see four different shortcut icons. The first — shaped like a compass — brings you to the “Explore” section on Pinterest, which brings up the trending topics of the day by default. This is where you go if you’re not looking for something specific but rather inspiration. If you’re looking for a recipe for great pizza crust, use the search bar, but if you need some dinner inspiration, click the Explore icon and navigate to the “food” category.

The second icon takes you to your profile — head here if you want to find something that you’ve already pinned or want to adjust your account settings. The third icon, which looks like a shopping bag, allows you to shop without leaving Pinterest. Essentially, this is you Pinterest “cart,” where you go to finalize any purchases. The final icon — aka, the conversation bubble — reveals your notifications, so you can see what your friends pinned or who re-pinned or liked your pins.

If you click on the Pinterest logo on the left-hand side of the toolbar, you’ll be taken to your Pinterest “home” — think of it like your Facebook News Feed, but on Pinterest. Here, you’ll see new pins added to the boards you follow, or from other users you follow. The site’s algorithms will also add suggestions here based on the things that you’ve searched for or pinned in the past, as well as the occasional sponsored post.

In the mobile app, the icons mean the same thing, but they’re located at the bottom. Instead of a search bar, you’ll have to tap the magnifying glass icon to access the app’s search functionality. The shopping bag icon isn’t in the toolbar, either, but you can find it after clicking your profile.

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Link your other social networks

To say everything is connected these days would be an understatement. Although Pinterest is a terrific platform on its own, the social aspect of the service works best when you tether it with other existing accounts. To link the service with other social media accounts, click the person icon and navigate to your settings. Once there, toggle the switch directly right of the social network you wish to connect Pinterest with, entering the necessary login credentials and authorizing the app when prompted.

Add friends

Social networks are all about who you know (to a certain extent), and while Pinterest is less about sharing personal aspects from your day and more about sharing discoveries on the web, friends are still an important part of the platform. Although Pinterest recently removed the ability to instantly add your Facebook friends when the two accounts are linked, you can still discover other users using the search bar. You can search by username or real name — just click the profile and red “follow” button once found.

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