What to know about Pinterest’s recent changes

Pinterest recently updated its layout, terms of service, and acceptable use and privacy policies. Here’s how the changes affect you.

In a recent video from NBC Nightly News, Pinterest founder Ben Silbermann said his childhood bug collection was part of the story that transformed his passion for nature and science into the third most popular site on the Web.

Silbermann developed Pinterest as a place for individuals to digitally share their stories, interests and passions, and connect online inspiration with offline action.

Pinterest is grounded in the simplicity of collecting, sharing and discovering images of inspiration and passion. Yet I find the beauty/addiction of Pinterest to be the stories between every pin. What we like, love, live and dream are the foundation of every story.

Here’s a look into the revised terms of service, updated Pinterest layout and what they mean for your brand.

New layout

One of the most noticeable changes to Pinterest is the new layout of personal profiles. Personal account information is now at the top of the page, and users have the option to add a personal description, which is similar to a Twitter bio.

The layout has also shifted from horizontal to vertical, which presents more boards in the first row. Key analytics, such as number of followers, boards, pins and likes, are also at the top of the page.

Cover pins

Boards now place a greater focus on the cover pin rather than the board’s pin collection. When Pinterest first announced changes, the cover pin was consistently updated to reflect the most recent pin. However, as of April 5, Pinterest announced that users can select a cover pin from any of the pins on that board. When a user selects a pin for the cover, it remains the image for that board, regardless of the pins that follow. However, if an individual does not select a cover photo, the most recent pin will be the cover image.

Telling a story

Pinterest has always been a visual site, but the new layout provides ways for brands and individuals to tell stories. Like traditional books where the cover is a clue for what lies ahead, brands can display an image to identify the story of every board.

Take a look at three different ways a brand can use Pinterest to tell a story:

1. Big picture storytelling

One of the best parts of Pinterest is every board has the ability to tell a story. For example, Kate Spade created a Pinterest account that focuses on living life in color. Every board title features the word “colorfully,” such as “Charm Colorfully,” “Live Colorfully,” and “Travel Colorfully.” In addition, all the pins feature a hashtag in connection with the board’s theme, such as “#thinkcolorfully.”

Rather than just showcase a collection of pins that represent the Kate Spade icon, the account tells a layered story of the brand. Pins of nostalgia, beaches, food and vintage fashion that seem unrelated manage to tell the brand’s story.

2. Real-time storytelling

In today’s world, we often hear stories as they happen. We live in a real-time world and the most successful story is one that seamlessly connects various platforms.

Pinterest is one of the latest additions to real-time storytelling. In a recent example, Oscar de la Renta used the platform to live pin a bridal show featuring images from before, during and after the show. The board attracted 15,786 followers. Pinterest gave followers a first-hand view of the show as it happened, in addition to behind-the-scenes images.

When a brand has the opportunity to connect pins to a larger experience, it will not only make the most of its experience on Pinterest, but engage followers in a meaningful way.

3. Encourage your followers to tell a story

If you think back to your childhood bedtime stories, the best ones were not always the stories someone read word for word, but the collaborative ones filled with imagination and creativity. As a brand on Pinterest, you should not only focus on telling a story, but encourage your followers to tell their own. One way to successfully engage users is to create contests that go beyond pinning images. Take your followers on a Pinterest scavenger hunt or ask them to design dream home DIY boards.

Updated terms of service

Recent copyright issues have sparked a lot of questions. As a result, Pinterest updated its terms of service to address key concerns.

Pinterest introduced three new documents: terms of service, an acceptable use policy, and a privacy policy. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Within the original terms of service, there was a note that granted Pinterest the right to sell any content posted on the site. In the new terms of service, Pinterest acknowledges this was never its intent. It removed this mention altogether.

2. A big issue Pinterest faces is the majority of pinned images are from third-party sites. Like other social media sites, Pinterest requests users follow acceptable social media etiquette when they share content. The best way to pin third-party content is to clearly represent the original source and be mindful of where you pin from.

Pinterest also took its own steps to address copyright infringement. It provides an updated system that allows intellectual property owners to quickly and easily report violations to Pinterest. Websites can also block people from pulling pins from their site. This works similarly to Facebook settings, which prevent users from pulling any images off the site.

3. Pinterest firmly addresses what to do with images that express self-harm. It will remove images that showcase “nudity, hateful content, or content that encourages people to hurt themselves.” While other social media sites such as Facebook have a similar stance, a great deal of responsibility still falls on users to immediately report images that represent self-harm in any way. But the fact that Pinterest has a firm stance on the issue will help keep users accountable for what they pin.

4. Pinterest continues to improve the importance of attribution; it recently released an announcement with Flickr. According to the Pinterest blog, “Images with sharing enabled on Flickr now have a Pin It button, and pins from Flickr now have a clear attribution statement on Pinterest.”

The key implication from this change is that pins from Flickr will have a permanent reference to the original source that Pinterest users can’t edit. Pinterest is currently rolling out attribution for additional sources, including YouTube, Behance and Vimeo.

These changes indicate that Pinterest is addressing key issues. However, since it’s focused on sharing content from all over the Web, copyright will always be an important issue.

The best way for a brand to engage on Pinterest is to be respectful and authentic, and share content from trusted sites. Brands that have relationships with bloggers can also work with them to create shareable content.

Additionally, several brand sites and blogs have a “pin it” button on their content, which essentially provides permission to users to share the content on Pinterest.

Diana Kelter works for Edelman Digital, where she enjoys writing about all things Pinterest while managing the Edelman Digital Pinterest account. A version of this article original appeared on the Edelman Digital blog. (Image via)

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