8 rules of Pinterest etiquette

There’s more to proper pinning and commenting than what’s in the Terms of Service. Follow these guidelines to serve your audience—and your brand—most effectively.

Pinterest has become a social media star over the last few months, now reaching 16 million users worldwide, according to Google Ad Planner. The virtual pinboard site is the next platform marketers need to take advantage of.

As with other social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, Pinterest comes with its own code of etiquette. If you violate certain rules, you risk becoming a virtual pariah—and that’s a marketer’s nightmare. Follow these tips to pin like a pro.

1. Source images properly.

Sourcing the original link is the unspoken cardinal rule of Pinterest. Whenever you find and post an image to Pinterest, make sure to include a link to the original source. For example, don’t link to Google Image if that’s where you found a picture of the perfect flower arrangement. Instead, link to the florist who created it. It’s only fair to the original creator and to your followers.

You can also help the community ensure that these rules are followed. If you find an improperly credited source, Pinterest recommends leaving a comment so the original pinner can update the source.

2. Don’t trick users into following incorrect links.

Unfortunately, some dishonest users have embedded incorrect links with their images so that when a follower clicks on an image, they’re redirected to an unrelated website or blog (giving the site extra page views and, as a result, extra income). This is a major marketing no-no and a surefire way to lose followers. Instead, make sure you are linking only to relevant content.

3. Write a full caption.

Make sure you write a descriptive caption for every image you post. This is a courtesy to your readers and a chance for you to tell why they should click on the link. However, avoid obviously advertorial captions. Pinterest is more about authentic communication than about pushing ads on the community.

4. Don’t become a pin addict.

It’s fun to post to your virtual pinboard, but you don’t have to post every single thing you find (especially if it greatly strays from your brand image). High quality is key in the digital world—and it’s what Pinterest followers love most. Don’t go pin-crazy if you want to keep your followers.

5. Think about whom you want to share with.

If you sync your Pinterest account with your other social media accounts (notably Twitter and Facebook), everything you pin will be shared with your followers on those platforms. These updates can be considered a major nuisance, so carefully consider whether your pins are worth sharing.

6. Don’t be stingy with interaction.

Like all social media sites, Pinterest works best when users communicate with each other. The more you give, the more you get. You don’t have to engage in a ton of communication, but a nice, short acknowledgment of a comment or liking someone else’s pin will keep the good will flowing.

7. Always be respectful.

The Pinterest community is about sharing the things you like. For that reason (and, obviously, because it’s a public forum), you should always communicate kindly and respectfully and avoid negative interaction, in both what you post and what you comment. Do not insult others or use unprofessional language.

8. Report objectionable content.

Pinterest appreciates users who contribute and make the community a better place. No one likes to be a snitch, but sometimes it’s appropriate to report objectionable or offensive content (according to the Pinterest Terms of Service or Acceptable Use Policy). To report something, click on the pin, then click the “Report Pin” button that pops up in a sidebar to the right of the image.

Pinterest has become the latest social media star, so start pinning and connect with your consumer base, but remember to keep it professional.

A version of this post first appeared on Flowtown.


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