So I mentioned earlier this month that I am super sick of so many advertisements bombarding my life. I have been trying different strategies for Facebook usage and still haven’t landed on a good fit there (though my favorite so far has been cutting my newsfeed usage- once I hit an add or a vague “Your friend liked this article/ad based page” entry I stop scrolling and either sign off or go to a specific friend’s page or group if I have an actual purpose for being on the site… still tweaking though…)
For Pinterest, however, things were much simpler.
I completely cut out using the Pinterest main page feed this month and it was great. I had friends send me a few pins and then I went through tons of old saved pins and cleaned up my boards to make the site clearer and more efficient for me to use- just in time for my new resolutions! It got me thinking that it might be useful for some of my readers to hear some of the ways I strategize my use of this social media site. So here are my top 6 tips:
- Determine how and why you want to use the site. This can be tricky because there are lots of options. I don’t have one set purpose, personally, but three main purposes:
*keep track of things I want to try or remember for later (aka using it to more efficiently organize things I used to bookmark)- this comes into play with recipes, crafts, or baby/toddler/teaching ideas
*Keep a visual dream board/motivation board: I was the kind of person who already found this to be a useful tool in my life and was doing it concretely with magazine clippings and whatnot. It is nice to reduce the clutter and keep it all digital now.
*Use it as a shared brainstorming space: this is particularly useful for throwing parties with other people or for when I am working on shows with a whole design team and want to be sure we’re on the same page as far as visual look and concept. It’s also been a way for me to brainstorm on my own about visual looks of shows I’m going to direct. Pinterest is a visual medium so using it in this way is particularly effective.
- Follow only those people or boards who are pinning content or contain information relevant to your goals for using the site. Unless your goal for interest is to advertise and hone in on social media reach for a brand or business, Pinterest can be more useful when you follow LESS people. Some of my closest friends in life or people I engage with the most on other social media platforms are not people I follow on Pinterest. This helped keep my feed mostly useful back when the feed wasn’t taken over by promoted and buyable pins and is even more important now if I want to search without using the feed. You can also choose to follow only certain boards, instead of everything a user pins. So if you have a friend who pins amazing crafts but whose taste in food or fashion is not in line with yours- you can decide to only follow their crafting boards and Pinterest will become a much better tool or you to find what you want instead of being bombarded with random pins that can overwhelm you. (The biggest complaint I hear from people who were not into Pinterest is that it was too overwhelming. This step is KEY to avoiding burn out and overstimulation.)
- Don’t pin spam. Nothing is more frustrating than pinning something that looks amazing only to find out later that it links to an article that has nothing to do with the picture or that you aren’t actually going to a site with the recipe, just a photo shoot of that amazing looking meal. I am not 100% on this, but I try very hard to check on what I am actually pinning before I pin it to one of my boards. To help with this when I don’t have time to go to the linked sites or when I’m not on my computer where some of the linked sites work best, I utilize the “like” option (the little heart on pins) and sort back through my likes later (This is often a great de-stresser for me to set aside an hour or so on weekends… but sometimes I go long stretches of time and my likes get out of control. That’s why I’ve been trying to get back on top of that this month!)
- Use it or lose it: If I don’t actively look at the motivation and dream boards I pinned, they aren’t helping me accomplish that goal. If I pin a thousand recipes and only ever try five, it is not helping me accomplish my goal. ON that same note, if you pin something and then see that it will require you to buy five new tools or a bunch of ingredients you never have on hand, really give yourself a moment to evaluate if you will ever make that recipe or craft, or if your board will become more helpful and clear if you delete the pins you know you will never “get to” (that’s not to say I don’t have pins from YEARS ago. But I have purged many pins in the last few years too. Again it is all about how you want to use this tool!)
- Make Notes in the comments or description section: This not only helps you if you want to try the same project in the future or want to remember something specific about an article or pin, it can help other people who are searching your pins. Oh? they hated that recipe? Maybe I’ll keep looking. OH, this takes four hours or tastes better with a half cup less sugar? Maybe I will try that or save that etc. etc. etc.
- Review Your Organization: Keep tweaking. Especially as your goals change or time passes. Change the order your boards appear. Add new, more useful boards. One of the most useful things I’ve done in the past year is to create a board of “up next” projects so I can easily find a handful of pins when I’m out at the grocery store, etc.
So those are my big tips for making Pinterest a helpful tool. This does not include covering more detailed but useful aspects of the site such as shared boards. And of course, you are bound to have some Pinterest fails along the way- but sometimes that’s just as fun. (And if you’re doing any at home beauty stuff… maybe make sure that you read what others have written about it…. there was a pin going around a few years ago that was dying people’s feet blue instead of making them soft and moisturized! Be wary of pictures with no links…) and one final bonus thought that applies not only to Pinterest but online sites and blogs in general: Don’t judge your iPhone pictures against professional cameras and lighting. If your goal is perfectionism then all the Pinterest organization in the world won’t help you get there because it is impossible. You are enough. Keep exploring, keep trying new things, and if you hate this site? That’s ok too. Good for me, not for you works too.
Now we just have to hope this useful site doesn’t continue to deteriorate with invasive advertisements and continually frustrating “upgrades” on their mobile app. I’m optimistic that even if it does, I will find a way to keep making the useful outweigh the frustrating.