3 Counter-intuitive ways to use Pinterest

Build a board around an idea

Pinterest is an addictive, visually-oriented way to highlight ideas, arrange and gather images, and understand what memes, colors, and things appeal to your friends and to the marketplace as a whole.

You might be tempted to just “PIN. ALL THE THINGS” and spend lots of time endlessly scrolling the service, and here are three ways you can use Pinterest to find information in new and different ways.

1. search for a concept, not just a person or a thing

Pinterest allows you to search for ideas in addition to people or things. Try searching for something abstract, like freedom and see what you find. You’ll find like-minded individuals (or not-so-like-minded individuals) and people who have expressed your idea in different ways.

2. Find the people who are talking about a meme or a thing

When you’re interested in a certain topic, you may start to see it everywhere. I just started using a Standing Desk, so I used Pinterest to search for all mentions of standing desk to see if there were great setups to learn from and people who were interested in the topic

3. Set up a board to capture ideas on a topic

Pinterest isn’t necessarily set up to be an idea capture, but in a way grabbing pins to link to articles and notes that also happen to have appealing pictures is a perfect method of combining the visual simplicity of Pinterest with the power of Evernote or other note-taking methods.

How are you using Pinterest in an intuitive (or counter-intuitive) way?

Pinterest is brilliant because it solves the tagging problem and makes it mainstream


Source: flickr.com via Greg on Pinterest

For a couple of weeks now I’ve been hearing about Pinterest. The references have run the gamut from fawning tech portrayals of the service (“Fastest to 10 million users in history”) to shares from Facebook friends about how they start Pinning and just can’t stop until hours later. Clearly, Pinterest has become an important site to many people, but why? And what does it mean for the larger trend of how we characterize, organized, and build information?

Pinterest is brilliant because it turns a geeky process – arranging like things by using “tags”, “word clouds”, “memes” and word names – into a visual process that anyone can do easily. Pinterest allows you to visually tag well, anything. This is cool both because many people (and mostly, so far, women) are clearly interested in sharing chocolate hacks, cute DIY pillows, and new fashion looks, and not as interested as categorizing for a system that these might be posts about food recipes, home crafts, and fashion trends. All of these represent a gold mine for retailers and interest graph mappers of all kinds.

Pinterest also is very cool because it’s taken a social process (I have an interest and want to share it) and combined with social distribution (it’s easy to share through Facebook, Twitter, and of course, through Pinterest) and made it very very very easy to use. This means that UX designers in particular should consider using a visual matching process in favor of a “pick this item from a list” display in the future to get better user adoption.

Retailers (especially those who sell products that you can see and touch) should be especially excited about Pinterest because it gives them a way to access a community starved for mix-and-match looks. In the same way that companies and brands have started to build communities on Instagram with photos of their ideas and products, I think it’s likely that “community ambassadors” and brand champions will emerge as design superstars from the Pinterest community (if it hasn’t happened already.) Does this mean that Pinterest replaces existing brand outlets on Twitter, Facebook, etc? I don’t think so – I think it’s just another way for the customer to own and shape the brand experience.

And this leads me to the inevitable “what’s next” question: will people get tired of Pinterest? (who knows – I don’t think it’s super-important at the moment.) The real “a-ha” here is that people like to categorize information visually. Call it “micro-scrapbooking,” “pinning”, or just arranging the things you like together – the people at Pinterest have come up with a dynamite model for gathering, organizing, and sharing like visual information. It will be particularly interesting to see if Pinboards emerge as a model for organizing metaconcepts like “Customer Service” or “Branding” – and turn into de facto micro-blogs or distribution networks for other content -or whether they stay individually focused on the interests of the Pinners.

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