MasseyMedia, Inc

Pinterest: A social network for photo collections

Our husbands call it an obsession and don‘t understand how we can spend so many hours on it. (Newsflash, guys, we feel the same way about ESPN.) We call it a way to collect ideas and a place to organize our thoughts and feelings, which usually involve Nutella desserts and chalkboard paint projects. Some are calling it "crack for ladies", which may be harsh, but rings truer than we‘d like to admit.

If you haven‘t already guessed, I‘m talking about Pinterest.

If you‘re part of the 1 percent of the female population who hasn‘t signed up for Pinterest, let me give you the rundown. Pinterest is a place to collect photos and organize them by whatever category you choose, utilizing a feature called "boards." You can either "pin" a photo to one of your boards from a Web site or your computer, or you can "repin" a photo someone else has pinned. You can also simply "like" a photo, much like the Facebook feature, and there is an option to comment. Most photos are linked to a source, such as a Web site or blog.

A popular way to use Pinterest is for collecting recipes. Users share photos of mouth-watering food, and the photos link back to a Web site or blog sharing the recipe. This is just an approximation, since there is no way to tell for sure, but since the dawn of Pinterest, I have spent roughly 9,000 hours perusing recipes for things like bacon pancakes, pecan pie cheesecake and ice cream bread. I‘m sure there are healthy recipes on there, too - somewhere.

Pinterest is, ultimately, a social network for attention-grabbing, inspiring, and/or delicious photos. A Pinterest user can follow other users and interact with their offerings. Other popular uses for Pinterest are: Home decor, fashion, DIY projects, makeup tips, photography, and much more. While it may seem all fun and games - and, if we‘re being honest, it totally is - Pinterest can also be valuable for business owners who sell items online, or for bloggers, foodies and photographers who are looking to share photos and ideas with others. While Pinterest frowns on using the tool to exclusively and shamelessly self-promote, there‘s nothing wrong with pinning your merchandise, creations and photos in a reasonable manner. By doing so, your photo may be pinned and repinned, causing it to become popular and even viral. If it is properly linked, this could lead readers and buyers directly back to your site or blog.

If you‘re using Pinterest merely for play, remember to be polite and help make Pinterest a better experience for all involved. You can do this by 1) always crediting the source of a photo, and 2) reporting objectionable content. By giving credit where credit is due, you‘re respecting the owner/creator of a photo or idea. By reporting objectionable content, you‘re improving the community of Pinterest for all its users.

Pinterest is a fantastic, inspirational, and fun network of ladies (and some gentlemen!), showcasing lots of interesting photos and links. Like any social network, it can be a vortex that sucks you in for hours and hours, but if you‘re disciplined, it‘s a happy and healthy place to spend your free time.

Now, if you‘ll excuse me, these recipes for homemade pizza aren‘t going to pin themselves.