What’s Your Take on Pinterest?

Pinterest is the next big thing, right? Look out, Facebook. Get over yourself, Twitter. You’re so 2011, Tumblr. That’s the noise echoing through social media. It’s so loud it reached the editor of one of my freelance clients, who asked me to write an article about how Pinterest is causing both excitement and concern among artists.

Like these koalas chilling on a pretend beach, the Ross family knows that when you're on a staycation, you can be anywhere you want to be. As you read this, I'm floating on a gardenia-scented lagoon, being hand-fed strips of bacon by giggling mermaids.

The Artist’s Road is driven by conversation, so I’d like to engage you directly today on the topic of Pinterest. Do you use it? Have you considered using it? Have you never heard of it? (If you said “yes” to the last question, have no fear. I’m less hip than you. I discover all of my bands through Saturday Night Live, which is produced by a spry 67-year-old hep cat, Lorne Michaels.)

Here are some questions to start the conversation. Let’s all learn from each other in the comments section:

  • What attracted you to Pinterest?
  • How long have you been using it?
  • What is it you like best about it?
  • Are you finding it supplanting your other social media use, or are you simply engaged in social media even more now?
  • If you had to give up one social media service, would you sacrifice another one rather than Pinterest?
  • Do you use Pinterest more for promotion, information-gathering, or connecting with others?
  • Have you given any thought to the copyright concerns surrounding pinning others’ visual art?
  • Do you make an effort to ensure your pins track to the original source of the image?
  • How could your Pinterest experience be more rewarding?
  • Would you recommend Pinterest to others?
  • How does Pinterest work for writers?

I’ll confess that I’m handing the work off to you, my readers, this week because it’s spring break this week in the Ross household. The kids are off from school, the wife has taken a few days off work, and we’re staycationing. I’m also struggling to wrap my head around the fact that my daughter just turned seventeen, which means that, like Lorne Michaels, I am now old.

Let the Pinterest discussion begin!

60 thoughts on “What’s Your Take on Pinterest?

  1. I think it’s a ton of fun (got sucked in fast, and blogged about it first as a consumer and then much later as a communications professional). And I was annoyed that the marketers found it SO fast.

    Like lots of social media I think it’s about whether the platform fits your business. It serves some businesses better than others, and if you’re visual, it’s a great tool. But that’s the catch. Can you present your story in pictures rather than words? If so, Pinterest is for you. If not, not so much. You know, kinda like blogs – we’re not all great with words. πŸ™‚


    1. Yes, the “sucked in fast” part is what in some respects is holding me back. I have a dormant Google+ account that is idle because I already spend so much time on the blog and Twitter and, to a lesser extent, Facebook. Only so many hours in a day.

      As for fitting the business, I am curious to see if there are wordsmiths out there capable of making use of Pinterest. As the cameraphone photo above shows, visual arts is not my area of specialty!

      Thanks for your wisdom, sohini!


  2. Hi Patrick! I love Pinterest and have been on it almost a year now. I found out about it on Facebook, and after I secured an invite, became hopelessly addicted.

    I’ve used it in various ways but mostly to document my art and photography and also as an outlet for visual eye candy. Unlike other social media sites, Pinterest is a visual thinkers dream true. I admit what really sucked me in were all the ‘pretty pictures.’

    As for copyright, I don’t see that it’s any different from posting an image on the web. If someone wants it bad enough, sadly they will get it. It’s a risk to put your stuff out there, but there is also a benefit that it will drive traffic to your site, which it has done for my semi-defunct arts blog.

    Enjoy your staycation!


    1. Wow, almost a year. You’re a Pinterest pioneer! You used (or still use) Tumblr as well, right? You’re more visual-art oriented than I am, as I know.

      As for the copyright angle, I’m curious how people feel about pinning others’ works. Whatever people may feel about what an owner of a visual image should be willing to accept, much of the activity on Pinterest does violate U.S. copyright law. Here’s an interesting take on it: http://greekgeek.hubpages.com/hub/Is-Pinterest-a-Haven-for-Copyright-Violations

      TY for the staycation encouragement! Squeezing in some comment responses, then we’re off for a day trip.


        1. Kate Arms-Roberts

          The new terms protect Pinterest’s interest. Copyright owners, not so much. There is a massive lawsuit against Pinterest users waiting to happen. Disney is sure to get into the action. They usually do.


          1. Kate, you’re so right! Pinterest’s interests are protected much more so than ours. My husband and I own a small business and have approximately 50 graphic designs copyrighted. When asked to do a copy of Disney’s wizard from The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the first person we called was our attorney. His comment, “If it’s Disney, don’t touch it! You can’t afford the lawsuit.” Having worked in the legal business some 30+ years, I didn’t disagree. You’ve made a good point that there’s a lawsuit in the wings against Pinterest users, and Disney images will likely be at the center of that debate.


            1. Kate Arms-Roberts

              Just because I no longer practice doesn’t mean I don’t remember how to think like the intellectual property lawyer I was. πŸ˜‰


                1. I knew there was something special about Kate that I liked! Having spent close to 40 years working in the field of law myself, I picked up on a certain fine-tuned nerve about copyright law, etc. And a Harvard grad besides!


  3. Kate Arms-Roberts

    I really want a useful bookmarking set-up for web pages I find, and the set-up and ease of Pinterest is very appealing, but I have decided not to use Pinterest because of the copyright issues.


    1. (Yours was one of 4 comments written while I was writing mine!)

      Kate, I have such deep respect for your ethical behavior. Now, I need to reconsider my use of Pinterest (again).

      Bless you,


    2. Kate, have you heard of Evernote? I’ve been using it about six weeks now for just what you describe. Fantastic piece of software, free, downloadable at http://www.evernote.com. Take a look. As I understand it, there’s no copyright issue in how you save things to Evernote — it works just like a file cabinet, more or less.


        1. Kate, I’m still working on that part too. It is very flexible, in fact a bit over the top there. But so far I think I’m going to stick with it. I am determined to master it! πŸ™‚


  4. Ah yes, Pinterest. I have been working with Pinterest for a few months now, before it became a phenomenon [are you sure?]. I don’t quite remember, but must have heard about it from someone who also provides useful links, besides you. My brain is telling me probably PJ Kaiser.

    The attraction is that I love to collect and organise things. It occurred to me, as I read about Pinterest, that I might be able to use it for my blog and for my poetry.

    It does not supplant because it does not provide the services the other social media do. It’s just one more. Sigh. Wow, would I give up this, or another… that’s difficult. My reaction is that I would give up Twitter, because I don’t use it except as a promotional thing for my blog posts. While that’s a good thing, Pinterest provides me far more in concrete, before my eyes, stuff.

    I use Pinterest to entertain myself, to gather research for poems, or for poetry prompts on my blog.

    You are worrying me with the copyright questions. I thought Pinterest took care of that. No?

    A tiny thing. I wish I could move the pictures on the boards around. Unless they snuck that in recently, I have to take the pictures in the order I pin them. The boards can be moved, but, enh.

    I recommended Pinterest to the writers following my blog.

    I do think that this is an overlooked but possibly rich resource for writers. Most of my boards are divided into categories such as Sensory: Smell, or research for poem x, or surrealism… whatever I need as a category. My thinking is that I visit the boards, or troll the web, periodically and use what I find as work material.

    Well, that was fun. I’ll be interested to see what else comes out from your rather large following.

    Old? Pah! My son is 37, my daughter 34. Wait til you get around those numbers, Patrick!


    1. “It’s just one more. Sigh.” Yup, one of my fears!

      “I use Pinterest to entertain myself, to gather research for poems, or for poetry prompts on my blog.” Those all sound like great benefits.

      Interesting on the ordering. Unless there’s something I don’t know, I don’t know how to re-order my “followers” or “following” columns in Twitter; they too are listed in order of following. Sometimes I want to find a certain person on one of those lists and it’s a pain in the butt.

      As for 37 and 34, 17 and 13 is already too much to handle! πŸ™‚


  5. Answer Z: all the above. It’s a love/hate thing for me.

    I’m on Pinterest: partly out of curiosity; partly as a way of connecting with more people; partly due to it’s addictive qualities (“Oh, let me just click through one more picture”). The (obvious) visual character of this particular SM offering is definitely one of it’s best features. It seems to me that humans like pretty pictures. This from a guy who wants connections that are about more than appearances. Did I mention the love/hate thing already?

    In fact, one of the Pinterest annoyances is people collecting pictures from online catalogs of stuff they want to buy. But why would that annoy me? After all, one of the reasons that I’ve developed my SM presence is so that I can sell my songs and services. Go ahead, everybody! Collect pictures of stuff you want to buy and I hope that my album covers are among them! How’s that for a love/hate thing?

    Oh, yeah. The copyright thing. It’s really fun to “re-pin” and to “pin-it” from original photographs and videos all around the web and elsewhere. But this copyright thing does concern me. Just as it concerns me when someone takes a CD and burns a copy for a friend. Part of my worry is that people continue to water down the concept of artist rights to own and sell their work. It’s not just pictures (or words or songs or…). It’s someone’s creation or creative eye that allowed it to be captured in this way. Making another copy without attribution and compensation is theft unless the creator said it’s OK to do so. (I know that this is not a popular stance these days.) How else can the originator have the possibility of making a livelihood from their creative work?

    And don’t forget the monetizing thing (http://llsocial.com/2012/02/pinterest-modifying-user-submitted-pins/ how Pinterest is selling connections to products out the back door of it’s enterprise). Yeah, Pinterest itself wants to make money from the whole deal. Everybody’s ready to either buy or sell on this SM platform.

    My internal jury is still out, Patrick. Pinterest has drawn me in. But some days I think about dropping out. For now, it’s a sideline to my Twitter and blog. Tomorrow? We’ll see.

    Playful blessings,
    Stan (aka @muz4now)


    1. Wow, Stan, this is a really thoughtful and helpful post. Yes, I too gather that humans are visual creatures, and so I think there are neurological reasons for Pinterest’s appeal.

      “Making another copy without attribution and compensation is theft unless the creator said it’s OK to do so. (I know that this is not a popular stance these days.) How else can the originator have the possibility of making a livelihood from their creative work?” I worked with performing rights organizations and music foundations during my artist advocacy career, and yes, this is a real concern, and yes, it’s not a very popular stance. I admire you for owning it in social media, and for your reflection on how this may relate to visual artists.


  6. After reading many “Pinterest is the new social media must do” articles, I asked to be let into the club. I have an email sitting in my inbox letting me know that I’ve been invited to join (does anyone not get invited?), but I just haven’t been able to make myself join one more “thing to do.” From the above comments, Pinterest sounds like a lot of fun but is not being used at the same level as FB, Twitter, and blogs. I’ll wait and see (read)…

    Thanks for the post!


    1. I think it’s like when Google had “invites” to Gmail or Google+. The facade of exclusivity drives its popularity! Yes, I think anyone can get “invited.”

      You sound like me with my Google+ account, which I signed up for after being invited, and still sits idle. Interestingly enough, every once in awhile someone will follow or like or whatever it is of me with Google+. Can’t they see I never use it? πŸ™‚

      Glad you like the post. We’re learning together, Lisa Ann!


  7. I’ve yet to use it because I can’t quite justify it for my purposes yet, and I know I need to have a plan if I go in there, or I’ll get gleefully–if rather irresponsibly–lost. I’ve seen other strategists recommend using Pinterest to highlight clients’ work, in a “pay it forward” way, and that’s one that interests me.
    But no, I’ll never let Twitter go.


    1. Shakirah, you sound just like me. Can’t quite justify the time commitment, concerned I’ll get sucked up in it, recognize many find it of value, and would never abandon Twitter. Thanks!


  8. Hi Patrick,
    Pinterest does seem like the new cool social media kid on the block. I have set up an account, but haven’t spent much time on there. I’m really afraid of falling under its spell and watching more of my potentially productive time get sucked down the drain.

    At this point, I’m just leaving my bare bones profile up there as is; it’s YET ANOTHER social media platform I feel a bit pressured to participate in when I’m already feeling a wee bit overstimulated already.


    1. Carole Jane, many other commenters (and me) seem to share your view of losing productive time. I guess the flip side is that if one can find a way to make Pinterest itself productive (as I try to do with Twitter) then it’s not a complete time loss.


  9. saranjou

    I’m with you there, Carole. A writing friend was delighted with Pinterest but as I noticed the word ‘addictive” frequently used in connection with it, I held back. Yes, potentially productive time is too precious to squander on the over-stimulation continually morphing into something even more beguiling.


    1. Yes, I see “addictive” next to Pinterest a lot too, saranjou! We have to be really careful in this social media age, just as when we were younger we had to learn how to act moderately in a candy store, or like I have to do now when I’m at a breakfast buffet and see an entire warmer full of bacon…


  10. pjreece

    What! Another time-sucking e-diversion? When will I find the time to write? I think I’ll wait on this one. I just signed up for this thing called Twitter. Anyone heard about that one?


    1. A ha, you’re on Twitter now? I don’t think we’re connected on there, are we? Yes, I believe I’ve heard of that. And you know, despite my use of it, I only joined in the fall of 2010, when everyone cooler than me (you excluded) had already joined.

      FYI, I learned in looking up Lorne Michaels to find out his age that he is Canadian. As an American, I am grateful to your country for the amazing number of funny people you’ve given us.


  11. Yes, I fell victim to Pinterest a few months ago because a blogger friend “invited’ me. For me, as others have already said, it’s just another social media sight but not one I’d look to for advancing my hopes as a writer. It’s highly visual, it’s fun to pick and choose and organize the boards, and it’s like playing a game for me when I’m there.

    There’s very little communication or community happening as I see it. And as a writer wannabe, I’m more into words supported by the visual, not the other way around.

    As I mentioned in a reply to a comment posted by Kate Arms-Roberts, I’m using Evernote to “file” away blog posts on writing, grammar, etc. and for gathering research and quotes in one place. I use Scrivener for my current project, which also provides its own storage for research, photos, etc. I don’t think either of these pose the copyright issues that have been discussed here. After all, if we’re using something we know to be copyrighted by its originator, we are to be responsible for letting the world know who holds the copyright.

    Thanks for such an interesting blog today, Patrick! It certainly got the commenting juices flowing. πŸ™‚


    1. Hi Sherrey, glad you found the post creatively stimulating! I haven’t used Evernote or Scrivener myself, but I assume if they’re for your own archiving, there wouldn’t really be a copyright issue. With Pinterest, what you pin is visible to the world, and full-resolution copies are stored on Pinterest’s servers, which is by any definition, copying.

      I’m realizing I need to come up with an organizational system for my own writing projects and social media exploration. You are light years ahead of me in that regard!


    2. Sherrey,

      I love Scrivener for writing and while I have downloaded and tried to work with Evernote I’ve had the same trouble Kate Arms-Robert has shared. Funny though because you are right there is much about it that is similar to Pinterest. Thank you for making me think about Evernote again.



  12. Yes, I love Pinterest, I think because it’s my chance to play with images. I use it to promote my blog but not to much effect yet. I’ve read that Pinterest is driving more traffic than YouTube and LinkedIn combined, but its not happened for me. And, that’s not the only reason I use it. I like Pinterest because its beautiful and fun.

    Pinterest has changed its terms of use so that’s a plus. I’m always very careful to make sure the images I pin link back to a site.

    My plan was to master Google+ next, but Pinterest came along and took any extra time I’ve had to use social media, so my Google + site is sitting dormant for the moment.


    1. Kate Arms-Roberts

      As I understand the change in Pinterest’s Terms of Service and Acceptable Use Policy, they have covered their own assess effectively, but I don’t think the fundamental problem has changed. They have created an appealing service that encourages copyright violation.
      I would guess that a shockingly high percentage of websites who encourage users to “Pin this page” don’t have the license rights to distribute the images in that manner.
      I am unwilling to police my own behaviour so as to trace back copyright ownership to the actual owner on every image I pin, so I am taking the safest road of not pinning any images.


    2. Hi Charlotte!

      As for Google+, mine sits idle as well. And as Kate points out, I learned when researching the freelance story on Pinterest that, indeed, even when an image is linked back to where the pinner found it, that site often doesn’t have a license to be showing it, or a license allowing redistribution.

      I get what you love about Pinterest, as “beautiful and fun,” and also find it interesting what you say about not seeing the traffic, which others are saying as well. Perhaps this notion that it is THE driving force of traffic now is being stirred up by Pinterest itself.


  13. The intellectual property/copyright issue really bothers me. I got really attuned to the issue when developing a slide presentation for my business. I wanted to make it 100% legal, using free images, getting the necessary permissions, etc. That took a TON of time. Probably 10 times longer than if I’d just swiped everything off Google image.

    So when I played around with Pinterest, I was very careful at first. Then I read that to be a “good” pinner, you’re supposed to re-pin others’ stuff, which I started doing. But then I was appalled that almost everything I found to re-pin was unsourced/uncredited.

    Pinterest just updated its TOS and offered some protections to owners, but it still feels like the wild, wild west to me. Like Napster in 2000.


    1. “Like Napster in 2000.” You know, Rob, that’s the buzz in a lot of the visual artist circles I travel in. And like Napster, it can be addictively appealing if you’re on the consumer side of it, not as much fun if you’re on the supplier side.

      I respect your approach to slide presentations. I too would struggle with that, and usually bought images off of microstock sites because the licensing terms were reasonable and affordable. When I started this blog, I decided I would avoid any copyright image concerns by only using my own photography. Of course, I am NOT a photographer, and often I don’t have an image that really relates to the post (NOT good in a slide presentation), but it’s become part of the flavor of this site, so it works for me!


      1. Not to get too off topic, but using your own photos is a great idea! There’s a blogger on Balloon Juice who illustrates his post with classic artworks (that I think) are in the public domain. Finding ones that are relevant must be difficult, but it’s very impressive when they are!


  14. Hi Patrick,

    I haven’t used Pinterest personally yet, as I just can’t justify my time on there as a writer (contrary to Facebook, Twitter, and my blog). However, I have started using it for my day job, a work account set up for my company. To be honest, I haven’t seen the wild, crazy results that everyone beams about. I see the business potential for artists, fashion designers, photographers, and interior designers or event planners … but not for writers. Unless it offers a much deeper ROI, I probably won’t be pinning, personally, for quite some time. I just have too much to do, already, and cut back my blogging to twice a month! πŸ™‚


    1. Hi Shari,

      You echo Charlotte above regarding the notion of wild and crazy traffic not appearing. And it would seem to me that you are right about Pinterest not being perfectly suited for writers.

      I know you’ve cut back on the blogging, and I miss those posts no longer being written, but I fully sympathize and support your decision. Better to find a schedule that’s manageable than not to post at all.


      1. Thanks Patrick! I’m glad to know you miss them, though! It means I was doing SOMETHING right. πŸ˜‰ Perhaps if life calms down, I’ll go back to posting every week (which is the hope), but right now, I needed something that was consistent and manageable. Thanks for understanding!


  15. I’d heard of Pinterest but had resisted checking it out. I don’t even have time to do FB or Twitter properly and the thought of adding more social media to my life does not appeal.

    In a writing newsletter I was reading today the author provided a link to her Pinterest page, so I clicked to see what it looks like. I can see where people would enjoy the color and creativity of it . . . but after what Kate said about copyright laws, that gives me double the reason not to even get a login.

    I’m happy for the people who are enjoying it. But I’d rather read a book (a real one; I don’t have Kindle) than do more social media.

    P.S. Loved the koalas and the giggling mermaids!


    1. “I’d rather read a book (a real one; I don’t have Kindle) than do more social media.” Love it!

      And thanks for the shout-out about the photo and caption. I was telling my wife the other day that you’d be the only person to notice!


      1. Since Pinterest really doesn’t “interest” me, your funny photo and caption were what convinced me to read this post. But then your writing about it made it fun, too, so good value all round. πŸ™‚

        (Loved the line “Look out, Facebook. Get over yourself, Twitter. You’re so 2011, Tumblr.”)


  16. I have tons to say, but will probably post about it soon so I won’t say it all here. I enjoy it and find it completely different from Twitter and FB. It’s less social in a way . . . I really don’t think it’s a place for self-promotion, unless you’re a food blogger. People are really on there for visual inspiration, not to read posts. Not sure authors will find it so useful for promoting books either . . . as a user of Pinterest and an avid reader/book buyer, I know that I don’t really want to see tons of book covers. I’m there for other reasons.


  17. i started using pinterest about 6 months ago. at first it was just for looking at stuff i could never afford or DIY projects I may never complete. then, i came back to reality and created boards for stuff that matters: home school for kids, gift ideas, food to make, etc. i also have a board for our blog, so that friends who follow me on pinterest will find the blog there.
    i confess i waste some time there, but it is a fun tool and a lot easier than looking at magazines (i have a newborn)
    i have found some great ideas and implemented at least 20 of these ideas, and plan to use so many more.
    all in all, i like pinterest but use Facebook way more and would never give up my facebook


    1. Thanks for sharing. It seems you, like others, have found Pinterest useful for organizing different interests, particularly where you’re seeking new ideas. As for not giving up Facebook, others above seem to indicate it’s not really a “social” medium as much as others, so I understand why you wouldn’t give up Facebook.


  18. My involvement in Pinterest was piqued by the beautiful visuals. I am a very visual person and I love looking at the boards. I’ve been using it for a month or better primarily as a way to share some of my favorite things with other people, but only slowly adding to my own boards.

    At this point I am using it just for personal sharing; I might swap Twitter for it, but not my other social media sites. At a later date, who knows? I prefer Evernote as the “catch-all” for my creative ideas.

    I have some concerns about copyright infringement so I avoid pinning anything with a clear copyright. However, I ALWAYS make sure to link back to the original site where I got the image, rather than simply posting it as though it was my own. In a lot of ways, I consider that free advertising for the people who own the original image, and for their site.


  19. I also really like Pinterest and set up both a personal account and as well one for my business.

    I use the personal one to create Inspiration Boards for a remodeling of my apartment and the business one to display my post-it art pieces.

    What I have not figured out is out to get attention and follows on pinterest.

    Have you been successful with that?


    1. Follow, Like, Repin and Comment. Just do what you’d do at a cocktail party. “Oh, let me go with you to see the …” “I like that new hairstyle.” You get the idea. And truly, Pinterest is the most cocktail-party-like of the social media so far.


  20. Pingback: Link Instagram and Pinterest with Flickr « rsmithing

  21. rsmithing

    Great post, here! I got into Pinterest just for fun and to discover great images, but have found more uses as I get more involved with the site, which is easy to do (and, as noted, kind of addictive). I was already highly into image-sharing sites like Instagram and Flickr, so Pinterest is a natural extension.

    I actually link to your post at one I just did, “Link Instagram and Pinterest with Flickr.” I’d be curious to know your thoughts there if you’d care to leave a comment.

    Again, great post.


  22. Pingback: Link Instagram and Pinterest with Flickr | rsmithing

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