When I wrote last week about growing a readership online, the one element I mentioned which I admittedly haven’t been cultivating is the use of social networking. Getting into social networking can be a daunting prospect, given that social networking sites these days can be numbered in hundreds instead of handfuls… Still, I think it’s past time for me to go
play research and see which of these sites and tools might be useful for a writer & blogger…
An online “Expotition,” as Winnie the Pooh would have it… and if I turn this into a reporting-mission with a blogged report afterward, I won’t even feel guilty for spending the time
playing researching. So here’s the first installment in my Social Networking Expedition Journal–with hopes that my exploring might prove useful to someone else as well.
Today’s expedition: Pinterest.
How Pinterest Works
Pinterest allows users to create online “bulletin boards” of images and interests (Pinterests?)–either re-pinned from other Pinterest users, or snagged from anywhere on the internet with a “PinIt” button on the browser toolbar. (Pinterest supplies a “Pin It Button” which can be easily added to your toolbar, and which allows you to add any online picture directly to one of your Pinboards with a single click. Super-easy!)
You can create different Boards, adding and arranging images of your choice, and add tags and comments to the virtual pinboard or to the images themselves. The social interaction includes the ability to “follow” other Pinners’ Boards, “like” or comment on Boards and photos, and re-pin any image from other people’s Boards to one of your own. You can also choose to post any new Pin or Board to Facebook or Twitter with a single click.
Pinteresting stuff, to be sure–and engaging enough to pose a danger as a “time-suck!” Though I see some uses for it, which (for me) are sufficient to justify my time spent playing…
How I’m Using Pinterest
1. Collages for fun & inspiration.
I began by just fooling around with a few themes that already have a visual interest for me. “Markets,” for example–I enjoy Farmer’s Markets and Co-Op type stores as much for the visual feast they offer as for the products I might purchase. So a Markets pinboard sprang up easily enough, with appealing photos of bulk bins and jars and bottles, fruit and flower displays, garlic braids and coffee beans and… The stuff I enjoy at markets.
I used to keep ziploc baggies full of cut-out pictures from magazines, and I’d periodically get out a gluestick and collage all over a couple pages of my journal. It was therapeutic at times, and it often sparked an interest in whatever theme developed from the process, as well as a renewed energy for writing–either on that theme, or on some other thoughts that developed from the exercise. A “collage” on Pinterest is considerably easier (the search tool is far more convenient than pawing through my baggie of magazine cut-outs!) and far less messy. Plus, no problem if my gluesticks are dried out.
2. Pinboards for projects and planning purposes.
Lots of Pinboard users post DIY (do-it-yourself) projects or craft instructions among their Boards, and I found myself setting up a couple boards as visual idea-collections for projects we have planned. Our son Christian really wants chickens, and we’ve promised him we’ll work with him on building a chicken coop and learning about chicken care… Now I have a collection of fun and interesting coop-designs, as well as detailed instruction on chicken-care from some other users’ “Poultry” pinboards (which I’m now following online).
Another project for which I’m already happily Pinning ideas is the Bed and Breakfast we intend to open in Hawai’i ten years from now. We’re tied to Idaho for another decade while the kids are in school here–but there’s an acre waiting for us on the Big Island, and we have a notebook-full of scribbled-down ideas and sketches for the B&B which exists at this point only in our minds… We’d like to make it as self-sufficient as possible, with water catchments and solar power and growing food of our own–and we look forward to sharing Keoni’s cooking and our combined enthusiasm for and knowledge about the island and its culture… And now we have a start at collecting the visual versions of our ideas–so much more effective and inspiring than all my collected notebook-scratchings!
I have a hunch that Keoni will get hooked on Pinterest for the food-ideas and recipes here–and he might find it a satisfactory venue for the hundreds of food-photos he currently has stored on his phone! (I always know dinner is ready when I get an email, sent from his phone in kitchen a few steps away, with the photo and gourmet description of my meal… “Corned Beef Sandwich, Sautéed Mushrooms and Melted Swiss Cheese, with Baby Spinach and Vine-Ripened Tomatoes on Grilled Alpicella Rye Bread“–that was the tag on my lunch today!)
3. Saving funny stuff!
At last–an easy way to save the jokes and cartoons and funnies that come my way! I always have messy folders full of “bookmarks” or copy-and-paste conglomerations where I try to keep track of things I want to come back to or think I’ll use later… But this is a much smoother solution. Pinning a picture is just as easy as creating an online bookmark, and now I can see all the pinned items at a glance. Probably there will be another folder for things-I-expect-to-use-in-blogs…
4. Creating links to my blog.
Among my Pinterest boards, I’ve created one board titled “The Blog: Kana’s Chronicles.” For each new post, I can use my “Pin It” button to add a photo from the post onto that Board, and it will be posted to the Board with the link to the blog-post. I’ll be watching my stats to see what kind of traffic this brings in, at least once I’ve established myself as an active member of the Pinterest community.
User-Notes About Pinterest
- To begin using the sharing service, you need to get a Pinterest invitation. You can request a Pinterest invite from the site itself (it took about a week from my request to the arrival of the invitation) or you can ask someone you know to send you an invite if they’re already using Pinterest. (I’m more than happy to send out an invite to anybody who wants one–I just need your email address.)
- When you click on any image while logged in to Pinterest, you’ll have options to Tweet that image, post it to Facebook, email it, or embed it in a blog (Pinterest will give you the HTML coding to past into your blog if you want to use this approach.)
- Pinterest itself provides a brief list of Pinterest Etiquette Rules, which includes crediting sources of images, and reporting “objectionable” material (no “nudity, hateful content, or content that encourages people to hurt themselves” allowed).
- If you want to see what images have been “pinned” from your own website, open a new browser window and type in this address: http://pinterest.com/source/ADD YOUR URL HERE. You can see what images from your blog or site have been added to Pinterest, and by whom.
- Do be careful of a recent “phishing” scam that has recently been playing out for Pinterest users… A user is offered a gift certificate or coupon in exchange for re-pinning a product image and completing an online survey.