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Pinterest Etiquette (or) 7 Ways to Annoyingly Misuse Pinterest

Updated on January 1, 2013
Just Stop.
Just Stop. | Source

We Pinners (a term for people who use Pinterest) are a vast society, and as with any other society there will be those that annoy and give a bad name to the rest. As Pinterest gains popularity, 7 types of "Pinterest Abusers" have caught my attention. Whether these people don't know Pinterest's rules, don't have any social grace, or simply don't have brains in their heads.... I leave for you to decide.

1. The Spam Account

This one is the least seen, but most annoying. Sellers on places like Ebay and Etsy (as well as those ever-present weight loss scammers) have picked up on the fact that Pinterest can be used to market products. However, just like 95% of these small businesspeople who did the same thing with Twitter 2 years ago, they don't take the time to understand the site's character.

Twitter and Pinterest are NOT effective marketing tools if you don't take the time to figure out the site's tone.

On both Twitter and Pinterest, if you are just pinning and tweeting ads for your own junk every 5 minutes, no one is going to want to follow you. No one will repin or retweet you. Your effort (small as it was) is lost in cyberspace. Additionally, it's bad form to only pin your own items. I know there used to be a real rule against it but Pinterest had to back down during the copyrightgate. The userbase; however, still doesn't respond well. (See links below)

If you do manage to get followers, they're simply other sellers or spam accounts as well. If you hold a contest to get followers, you can bet you're being deleted by those who actually use the platform as soon as the contest ends. The ones who remain are dead accounts, or people who know how to hide your feed easily and never see your posts anyway.

I won't get into the Twitter bog here, just thought it was worth mentioning as the type of account is so similar. Small business people who think these sites are full of people looking to be advertised to.

So how can you fix this?

Amend your ways!

Official From Pinterest:

As simple as it sounds, best practices for using Pinterest for brand purposes center around pinning like a regular user. Most importantly, this includes:

  • Pinning from various sources rather than one specific site.
  • Repinning from within the site to engage with others - repinning is one of the most social activities on Pinterest and it's how any user really builds his/her network of followers.
  • Creating at least a few boards that cover a broad range of interests, rather than maintaining a single board devoted to one topic

                          -Pinterest Brand Best Practices (link below)

There's nothing else for it - you have to become a real pinner. Or at least take beautiful photos to pin. The real trick to Pinterest success is a beautiful photo, as people will repin without a care for where the link goes. If your product is photography - Pinterest is your paradise. For the rest of you, how about sprinkling some content in with the advertising? Become part of the Pinterest community and you'll naturally gain followers, THEN you can sprinkle a few self-promos. For example, back when I sold crochet items, I pinned crochet stuff from all over the web. My craft board is pretty popular as a result of the content it provides, and thus when I decide to sell a crochet item, I can broadcast to a receptive audience.

But I don't really want another social media account, I just want to advertise...




No one joins Pinterest to view advertisements. There are thousands of accounts that don't advertise.

Steps to baking a potato: 1. bake it 2. there is no step 2
Steps to baking a potato: 1. bake it 2. there is no step 2 | Source

2. Painting yourself Incompetent

One of the most popular genres of Pinterest consists of pinning "I can't believe I never thought of that!" ideas. Things like using cute boxes with holes cut in them to hold multi-outlet surge protectors and keep cords organized. Or making ice cream out of frozen bananas.

However, there are some people who pin common-sense things that everyone who moved out of their parents' house already knows. "Oh my god! I didn't know you could bread cheese and fry it to make fried cheese! Hey have you seen this pin about folding a normal piece of paper into the shape of a folder? It totally makes a folder! Use this simple trick to put your hair into 1000000 variations on a ponytail!"

Maybe I'm exaggerating, or maybe I just had parents who raised me to know that baking soda is a normal cleaning agent, and can also keep your fridge smelling nice. Chemical cleaning products haven't been around that long folks! If you don't believe me, find the nearest over-40 person and exclaim excitedly that "Baking soda can be used in place of chemical cleaners! And it's totally natural!" Watch his/her face carefully for the stifled laughter.

The usual culprits:

  1. cleaning "revelations" that aren't
  2. recipes for extremely basic food or drinks
  3. makeup and hair "secrets"
  4. "new" uses for an item

Amend your ways!

Before pinning anything with a caption about how new and exciting it is, call your mom and ask her if they had it in the 50's. Or text your friend with a job and apartment and see if they already know it.

Why it's annoying:

This type of pin isn't offensive, but like any social network, your Pinterest page defines who you are. In fact, it's better than most because it works as a window into your desires, thoughts, interests, and ideas. When you fill that window with obvious junk, you end up looking incompetent. The fact that you display it for all to see, actively pushing it in front of your friends, makes everyone uncomfortable.

3. "Pin now read later"


This is the most common faux pas on Pinterest. Whenever you pin something, at least give a cursory glance at the origin and MAKE SURE IT'S RELATED TO THE PHOTO.

Yes, we should blame the original pinner for being a you-know-what, but if no one repinned it without checking, it wouldn't go anywhere and there would be no profit in posting BS.

The Culprits:

  1. promises of recipes that actually lead to long-winded blogs who eventually want you to buy their E-book.
  2. "free patterns" for knit or crochet that A: are in uzbecistanian B: actually link to someone's NOT free pattern C: have no pattern at all or link to a page with changing content so the picture isn't even there anymore.
  3. recipes that don't flipping work and set your kitchen on fire.
  4. anything that dead-ends at a google image search page
  5. any weight loss 'hook' line. It's 100% always a link to a scam site.

A hook line in a Pinterest caption is a dead giveaway that you're not being taken to content, but to a scam. "I lost 30lbs using this one simple rule..." Yeaaahhhh if it was really you who lost that weight, you wouldn't need to keep us on the hook to get us to click over to your diet pill website.

I want to spend a minute on #3. This ties in with the incompetent people above, and I wasn't sure where to include it. Recipes that obviously won't work are a plague on Pinterest. Someone originally posts a recipe they never actually tested, or just gives terrible directions, it gets pinned and then repinned 600 times just because the original (stolen) picture makes it look yummy. The caption of course is "The best pasta I ever ate!" because no one will admit they're posting something they haven't tried. 600 pins later, I see it and think...

Wow, with so many repins, this recipe must rock! Let's take a look .... Oh... what .... lemon... baking soda... mushrooms .... bake at 400 for an HOUR?! What are these people on, crack?

If you want to see some pins which have been proven "duds" yet are still constantly reposted (some hair curling techniques, food, art projects that don't hold together) check out the Pinstrosity blog below. I get nothing for sending you there, but it brings me joy to inform the masses.

Okay all this annoyance was actually very tiring. If you aren't enraged yet, check out the next installment of Pinterest Abusers.

Or read about the answer to that ever-present question: What is the point of Pinterest?


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      Mary ann 2 years ago

      Rules? I view Pinterest as a mental vacation....since finding it I have reduced blood pressure consistently by 10 points to 116/ 76 which makes me happy. I get inspired to actually make positive changes everywhere for free..I was playing with my phone and found the app by accident and now everything has changed..I just pinned away. I go back read my pins and print my favorites in a notebook. I don't have all day to "like or pin" something someone has posted as i view it and move on..rules??