Pinterest Etiquette: 13 Tips to Pin By

The Golden Rule of Pinterest

Pinterest The golden rule applies to Pinterest etiquette. Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. On an image driven content site, following this seemingly simple rule isn’t always as easy as it appears, especially for marketers who may not understand the platform’s implicit rules of conduct.

To help you mind your Pinterest manners, here are thirteen recommendations to guide your pinning activity. (Here’s what Pinterest says about etiquette.) 

  1. Share interesting, quality items. Remember your boards and the images you share on Pinterest reflect on your brand. Therefore, develop boards that are aligned with your brand and related activities. Think about whether your desired audience finds them attractive and/or useful.
  2. Show consideration for your followers. Recognize that members of your audience may have a very different perspective and may not share your language or beliefs. Respect them by avoiding offensive and disturbing images.
  3. Be selective in your pinning activities. Don’t just push all of your images out all at one time or followers will view it as spam. Respect your place in followers’ streams. Choose when and which images you share. Think about the context in which viewers may see your content.
  4. Pin responsibly. Clearly explain what the piece is and link to the original source. While this sounds easy, it’s not always that simple. Don’t assume you can pin any image you discover on Google Images. Unless you’re using your own images, verify the source and whether you have the right to share it on social media. Understand that many images are covered by copyright that doesn’t allow for reuse on social media. Respect other people’s intellectual property! If you discover an image on Pinterest that’s incorrectly sourced, you can let the originally pinner know.
  5. Give credit where credit is due. Since Pinterest is a major referral source, it’s enticing to direct traffic from an alluring image to your site but this is unethical and unacceptable behavior. Understand that your audience is at least as smart as you are and can tell that you’ve misdirected them. In addition to  losing followers, it can have other implications, especially if someone calls you out publically. This rule of etiquette holds for other social media platforms like Twitter as well.
  6. Provide context for your pins. Write a description that explains the image. For marketers, this means skip the sales lingo even if you’re showcasing your product. The photograph should be alluring enough to make viewers want to click through to find out more. This is where you must think through how you’re extending your brand on social media so that it shines through without the sales promotion.
  7. Limit the information you share. While this sounds like it contradicts offering a complete description of your pins, it isn’t. It means that you shouldn’t lift entire sections of other people’s work. This is another place where you shouldn’t violate copyright or intellectual property rights. Viewers should click through the image if they want additional information from the source.
  8. Allow others to pin your images. Offer content that visitors to your owned media such as your website and blog can pin. Use a combination of pinning buttons and calls-to-action to signal that it’s okay to pin your images. Of course, it’s critical to ensure you have rights to the images first!
  9. Skip the me, me, me.  Like other social media networks, no one wants to hear you promote yourself. This can be difficult for marketers who are used to sending out one-to-many broadcasts. Don’t just use any image of your products. Think about how you can enhance the value of your offering by how it’s presented.
  10. Build your following on Pinterest. Like other social media platforms, it’s important to build your tribe. It’s polite to follow people back who follow you.
  11. Put out the welcome mat. Engage and interact with others who have similar interests. Go one step further and invite your social media tribe to join you on Pinterest.
  12. Participate in the conversation. Pay it forward by commenting on other people’s boards and responding to their comments on yours.
  13. Inform Pinterest about “objectionable content.” As a member of the Pinterest community you have a responsibility to report content that’s against Pinterest’s Terms of  Service and Acceptable Use Policy. Pinterest explicitly doesn’t allow nudity, hateful content, or content that encourages people to hurt themselves.

As social media’s newest darling, Pinterest is still growing and evolving. Therefore, it’s not easy to understand the network’s unstated rules of etiquette. Like other social media platforms, be a positive force by sharing interesting and useful images and engaging with others without infringing on copyright or intellectual property rights.

What other rules of Pinterest etiquette would you add to this list and why?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Hat tip to  Kelby Carr, author of Pinterest for Dummies, who inspired this post with her discussion of Pinterest Etiquette in her presentation at BlogWorld Expo New York.

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  • http://twitter.com/AvectraCarlos Carlos Restrepo

    Great post on Pinterest – Can I suggest: Use, but don’t Abuse Links – Many are interested in the SEO value Pinterest provides, but as #3 – #5 show being direct and useful with your linking and use of a pin real-estate can provide a steady buildup of SEO and gain your more hits and credibility.

    • Heidi

      Carlos — Thank you! I agree the subtext for using Pinterest is to be honest, transparent and authentic. This is consistent with other social media platforms. Research from Shareaholic  shows that Pinterest is increasing as a source of traffic. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://moonbridgebooks.com/ Moonbridge

    Great post for me, a newbie pinner. Still not clear on what we can and cannot pin. I thought as long as it connects back to the original source…

    • http://twitter.com/heidicohen HeidiCohen

      Moonbridge — Pinning back to the original source isn’t enough. You must check that they allow the content to be shared. Flickr has a category for this. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • Melonie Dodaro

    It’s always a breath of fresh air to
    find something that reminds us how we should behave when using online
    platforms.  For me, it’s showing genuine
    interest to what others are pinning, without actually stalking them.  Starting conversations, after that firm
    virtual handshake. 

  • http://www.newsmakergroup.com/category/blog/ Suzanne Mannion

    Great tips. Indeed Pinterest is a new trend in social media platforms, one that we adopted for ourselves and our clients. Just like with other social media networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, it will require an adjustment period before we fully understand and embrace the concept. If you want to join the network, it’s very important to establish some rules.We discussed more in a blog article, which you can check here: http://www.newsmakergroup.com/blog/best-practices/has-pinterest-stolen-the-limelight-from-google-media-strategists-shifting-strategic-communications-plans/

  • Laura Briere

    Awesome tips. Another thing to add: make your presence interesting for humans (rather than companies). For instance, our Pinterest account (http://pinterest.com/visionadv/) doesn’t just include marketing topics, but our boards reflect the personality of the people that work here. You gotta relate to the people, not the business!

  • Jeanne

    I SINCERELY APPRECIATE YOUR TIPS AS I AM A “NEWBIE” AND HAVE NO CLUE. I RECENTLY OFFENDED SOMEONE BY PINNING TO MUCH AND FOR THAT I APOLOGIZE. I NEVER INTENDED TO BE DISRESPECTFUL. I JUST GOT TOO EXCITED.

  • StereoCultureSociety

    How about “Don’t Copy over 100 images from another board at once”. The idea is to pin, not to copy. This is a probem for me and I’ve blocked a number of people who just sit there and (basically) pin my board onto theirs.