Harnessing the power of Pinterest
June 26, 2013 8:28 AM   Subscribe

What do YOU use Pinterest for?

So, I joined Pinterest sometime ago. I use it occasionally when I’m bored…mainly for entertaining ideas and hairstyling inspiration. And sometimes I’ll get sucked into reading ALL THE QUOTES, when I’m in the mood for some mindless browsing or quick inspiration.

But I feel like Pinterest could probably be a lot more useful than this. There’s probably a lot of good DIY stuff/hacks/other useful information that I am not accessing.

I follow a few friends but I am not interested in using it for the social media aspect.

What, specifically, do you use Pinterest for? I know this will vary greatly by individual, but that’s exactly what I’m looking for…ideas that will help me step out of my boring comfort zone of recipes, hairdos, and quotes.

Also, feel free to share any technical tips that might make the experience better.

Thank you!
posted by yawper to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (28 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Research. I'm a graphic designer/UI designer and I use the Design category to help me find the latest trends and UI kits for my work in app development. It's seriously improved my skills and resources tenfold, and the stuff that people pin to the design category is usually pretty stellar.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 8:42 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I use it for mostly the same things you do, but do you know about their newer "secret board" feature? I think that is really useful: I have a secret gift board (I come across something I think would be a cool gift for someone/anyone--I save it, and when birthdays/Christmas come around it is a *life saver*--and because it's secret, I don't have to worry about anyone I'm buying the presents FOR catching on) and a general secret board which I use for stuff I want but don't want to 'put out' publicly (e.g. lingerie), or for articles I want to come back and read but are also embarrassing for one reason or another (e.g. related to health issues, etc.)

I also have a "Reading" board; anytime someone mentions a book that sounds interesting, I go to Amazon, pin the cover image, and then when I am in the bookstore or library I can just pull that page up and have stuff I can look for (which, otherwise, I would have NEVER remembered). I guess you could use any sort of bookmarking tool for this but I'm a pretty visual person so Pinterest is my favorite.
posted by lovableiago at 8:50 AM on June 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

I first joined Pintrest a few years ago to see what it was about and then stalled after I pinned a few nice music videos I didn't want to lose track of. Then recently I started to use it the way I used to use magazines for decorating and renovating. I started with a "Third Floor Deck" board and a "New Bathroom" board then added a "New Kitchen" board. In putting those together I also ended up with boards for shoes and clothes and garden design. Then my son wanted his hair cut, so I made a board for hairstyles for 12 year old boys. I just added new boards as I went along. I really see it as the death of inspirational magazines in my house.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 8:50 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have a bucket list- things I want to do, places I want to go. I have a board of inspiration for my "dream home". I have a shared board with my sisters on tattoo ideas for the "sister tattoo" we will probably never get. I have a board of stuff to do with/make for my kid. I have a board for silly baby Halloween costumes I started before he was even born.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:51 AM on June 26, 2013

I have several boards of historic photos. One thing I do with it is use it to keep track of photos from different archives I might use to illustrate a history blog post.
posted by interplanetjanet at 8:52 AM on June 26, 2013

Best answer: I mostly use it now for recipes. I found Alexandra Cooks through Pinterest and have started improving my cooking techniques like woah based on Pinterest recipes.

I also used it for wedding planning/inspiration. I made a group board with my bridesmaids for their dress ideas, which gave everyone the chance to contribute dresses they would want to wear.

Also - for my vendors for the wedding. Bouquet ideas, flower arrangements, wedding poses, hair styles, checklists, etc - it let them have a better idea of what I was looking for, and was a great way for us to communicate styles.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 8:57 AM on June 26, 2013

Best answer: I play with it in several ways, including a secret gift board like lovableiago.

My favorite thing about Pinterest is using it for recipes, though. I have lots of boards - Italian, Asian, Desserts, etc. and every time I find something I think I might like to make, I pin it to the appropriate board. I follow food blogs on Pinterest, as well as other people who are interested in vegetarian cooking. Before I go to the grocery store every week, I plan my meals by browsing through old and new recipes I've pinned. If I liked a recipe, but tweaked it, I add notes to the pin. If I didn't like it, I delete the pin.

So yeah, Pinterest has taken the place of my cookbooks.
posted by ceramicblue at 9:01 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'm a binge user - I go a long time away from it, then pop in to find something specific or because I'm bored and stay on long enough to glut my boards with fresh stuff.

I was also a late adopter and cynical participant at first, because I didn't agree with their policy on copyright.

BUT. I cannot deny the value Pinterest has had for me. The way the boards work, I can use it for a multitude of things at once. At the highest level, it is a visual filing cabinet. Thinking about it that way freed me up to both commit and relax. A couple of my boards are like mood boards, a couple are reference repositories, a couple are kind of like high-level to-do lists, another couple are boredom-busters.

At first, I looked at the "suggested" mix based on the initial interests thing I plugged in. That allowed me to find some folks to follow to charge the algorithm more meaningfully for my interests. Then I found that looking at the Everything category isn't as overwhelming as I thought it would be, and that's a great way to get a good variety all at once. Sometimes I pick the defined categories to scratch a specific itch. But what I'm really enjoying now is picking a particular topic or interesting element and searching on that to see what comes up, which will often inspire me to research something more specific. And it's really satisfying to look at a board and think, "I need to fill a gap here..." and then go find the exact thing that scratches that itch.

Best recent examples:
Tired of pondering menus based solely on how little money I can spend, I pick a taste I want to have and go in search of recipes with that ingredient. Also makes menu-planning so much easier to look at my food boards to pick from the variety of options I've found. More likely to go to Pinterest than my cookbooks, now.

Needed instructions on how to build something specific, so searched on that thing and got a lot of great ideas, some of which were definite improvements on the usual instructions.

Needed to build a curriculum and activity plan to keep things interesting for my little when she's not in care, and made an intense board full of ideas and leaps to even more.

An acquaintance was looking for an inspirational quote, and I happened to have it on the board where I put those things, easily located and not clogging up an image file.

Feel free to poke around my boards - it's in my social buttons on my profile.
posted by batmonkey at 9:03 AM on June 26, 2013

I'm not a very good Pinterest user. Mostly I use it for window shopping: if I'm browsing online and see a dress or something that I want to buy, I just slap it on one of my boards. It scratches the itch remarkably well.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:08 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

I use it for recipes, mostly. It's a great resource for searching for 'specialty' recipes like low carb, or specific ingredients, as long as you do a little research and make sure the 'Low Carb Chicken Tortilla Casserole' is actually low carb, and not 20g carbs per serving.

I also use it for design ideas occasionally, as well as fashion/makeup/hair inspiration.
posted by rachaelfaith at 9:12 AM on June 26, 2013

Best answer: I think that most users really don't appreciate the search function. It's really been helpful to me. At Christmas I searched for wrapping ideas. I bought an unusual tree this spring and searched for the best way to show it off in my garden. Pantry organization. How to clean or organize anything. I actually use it a lot like I use Askme, when I need a visual conglomeration of ideas. Creative imagery for inspiration. What color to paint my front door.

I could go on and on. I still have my boards, and I use the "popular" page when I'm bored, but I mostly use the search these days.
posted by raisingsand at 9:24 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

I used it a lot when we were deciding what to get for our flat - I made a board with pictures of the kind of thing I liked, which I could then send to my boyfriend.

I also use it as a sort of bookmarking service - I have a board with lots of pictures of stamps, because I love stamps as art but it isn't really practical for me to collect them (they're too small to frame!). I have a similar one with prints, which I went back to when we were thinking about what could go on our walls.

Aside from that, it is very handy if you are a crafter - I can type in something like 'crochet ripple baby blanket' into Search and many of the pictures will lead to places where I can get patterns.

I don't use the social networking aspect of it at all. For me, it's a visual bookmarking site.
posted by mippy at 9:39 AM on June 26, 2013

Visual library.

I am a big DIY-er, so I have boards with ideas for repurposed furniture, sewing projects, sewing hacks, jewelry inspiration, embroidery, etc.

We're also rebuilding our house, so I have a few boards dedicated to finishes and decor for that - which is also very helpful, because my architect can log in and look at my boards for those items.

I also have a household board to pin household hacks.

I do use "search" if I have something specific in mind, but will spend/waste an hour or two just browsing and pinning things on a Sunday morning - kind of like browsing through magazines - virtually.
posted by sarajane at 10:16 AM on June 26, 2013

Best answer: I used it when I was shopping for a chandelier, and for a sofa. I poked around the Internet finding photos of ones I liked and sticking them in a board, then looked at the boards to try to figure out what the qualities were that all the sofas (or chandeliers) had in common.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:34 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I use Pinterest mainly as a research tool for work (photo styling, food styling) but increasingly for inspiration for various non-work related projects, as well (sewing, interior design). I've a couple boards where I've pinned good graphic design, art and photography just for fun.
posted by marimeko at 10:42 AM on June 26, 2013

Best answer: I too use it for gift ideas.

Recipes, definitely, but very heavily curated (meaning, very few). I've used it often; it's really come in handy.

I do a lot of sewing, and used to have a library of my patterns on my hard drive; now they're all pinned to my "Pattern Stash" board. Likewise, if I come across fabric that is to DIE for (I can't just like it, I have to be "omg this must be mine or I will go to the grave dreaming of it"), I'll pin that too.

What I've found most interesting over time is how that sort of thing - pinning what you genuinely love - helps define your own tastes. I do similar for fashion inspiration, and have really noticed my eye getting more discerning; I have a much better idea of just what it is that "grabs" me in certain looks (not only color, but construction, shape, and balance, as well as plays on that), and as such, I'm a lot better at finding things I love. For me, at least, having wishful thinking boards has directly led to me being a more careful consumer. I never expected that.

Also inspiring people, characters, words, but also highly curated. More than once I've gone back to that board for reference.

Cute animal pictures. That board has saved my sanity multiple times. Crazy day? Pull up the cute fluffykins, featherkins, fishykins and lizardkins.

As far as technical tips go, the main one I'd say would be to click on pins before repinning them. Be sure you have a useful source. I try to avoid tumblrs and Google search results because they're all but useless when you want to know who made/did something. TinEye is a boon for this: as a last resort, you can save a pin's image to your hard drive, upload it to TinEye and see what it gives you for sources.
posted by fraula at 11:59 AM on June 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

This may be silly but it's been a great motivator for my weight loss. I pin all sorts of fashion images from the blogs I love and style I admire and now that I've lost weight I've used the board to build my waredrobe with my new style that I can now fit into.
posted by xicana63 at 12:37 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I used it to pin potential vacation rentals when planning travels. Potential apartments in Paris, London, etc. from Homeaway and the like, with availability and price. This would be especially handy if you needed to make these kinds of decisions with friends or family.

I have a Feed your Triathlete board as a repository for those gluten-free, vegetarian, awesomely yummy recipes I find.

I follow draw draw draw which is AMAZING for inspiration.
posted by coevals at 1:02 PM on June 26, 2013

I use it 90% for party & holiday planning. I keep boards for December & Halloween- and any other parties of festivities I might plan throughout the year- and all year long I find things that inspire me or that I'd like to remember where to buy them, and so I pin them.

My husband is also in the habit of linking me to cute pictures of animals, so I pin those too.
posted by haplesschild at 1:07 PM on June 26, 2013

I know a woman who uses Pinterest in a professional way. She's a communications consultant and she'll post public speaking tips, famous speeches, quotes, etc. The most productive thing I did with Pinterest was make a board that was all shoes I was thinking about getting to be a bridesmaid and asking people to tell me which were their favorites. I also look for recipes and home decor ideas.
posted by kat518 at 1:18 PM on June 26, 2013

Lots of things mentioned above-boards for specific projects, like patio ideas, or events, like Christmas. The vast majority of my use is a virtual Manila folder full of recipes cut out from magazines. One board with things to cook, then move recipes to a things I've cooked board when I've tried em, adding notes about how they worked.
posted by purenitrous at 1:55 PM on June 26, 2013

I use it as a way of tracking inspirational images and ideas (I'm a photographic artist) and also, when I'm working on a shoot, for creating mood boards, i.e. images that all fit the theme or feeling I'm looking to produce. I share it with my team so that we're all on the same page when the shoot comes around.
posted by gmb at 2:11 PM on June 26, 2013

Best answer: I use Pinterest in several ways that have already been mentioned. An additional purpose is long-distance collaboration. A close friend is making me a baby quilt, and I have pinned patterns and fabrics I like so she can get a better sense of what I like.
posted by emkelley at 3:18 PM on June 26, 2013

Visual library and leap point to other things. I ruthlessly edit those I follow.
posted by jadepearl at 6:38 PM on June 26, 2013

I'm a roleplayer (tabletop/PBEM/journal) and one of my uses of Pinterest is for items related to games. For instance, clothing a character might wear, places a character might travel (real-world or fantastic), furniture they might own, etc. It's very useful for getting a visual sense of things, particularly for text-medium games.
posted by immlass at 9:43 PM on June 26, 2013

Best answer: I don't use it for anything practical at all. It relaxes me. I look at whatever pictures they have for me on my page, and if I like any, I pin and/or save them. I'll search for things I want to look at, like flowers or chickens, and just sit back and enjoy looking at them.
posted by melesana at 9:48 PM on June 26, 2013

I got on Pinterest after my sister commented that my Facebook style was really suited for Pinterest. My style is mostly binge/video game like, and occasionally I lock in and repin dozens at a time.

I indulge practical interests - home organization, interesting recipes, Information Architecture and User Experience; and fun obsessions - mostly geek things like Doctor Who, Star Wars, and Walt Disney. Sometimes a side effect is that I turn up things that are practical for others.

One time I stumbled across pins that referenced free Kindle eBooks, and ended up getting into ebooks big time.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:13 PM on June 27, 2013

Wedding planning, since we're doing a backyard wedding, trying to be DYI about things and getting help from our families. People are constantly asking me about wedding plans, especially my mom and future MIL (sigh). Helps a ton to just pull up pics of the ideas I'm working with.

Nothing beats Pinterest's search function, either. Awesomeness quickly skimmed and optimal results found, rather than sifting through piles of stuff via google search.

I installed the Pin It tool in my bookmarks bar on my macbook, and it has been invaluable in saving particular posts from my favourite blogs for quick reference on my phone later.
posted by lizbunny at 7:00 PM on June 27, 2013

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