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How to earn influence on Pinterest

Growing your Pinterest was recently named to the Genius 60 Brands to watch in 2012 and 70 days ago, we wrote the ultimate guide to using Pinterest in business and most of us on staff are addicted to Pinterest.

The network allows users to share photos from across the web while maintaining a link to the original source, and site traffic grew 4,000 percent in the second half of 2011, and still remains invitation only. Admittedly, the social network is populated by far more women than men and most of the pictures are of home decor, recipes and crafts, a subtle shift is taking place as more men join the network and share their own special brand of photo sharing.

We are noticing that ideas are being shared more now than at launch and we’ve been using the service for many months and in January have noticed a massive groundswell behind the network. I have personally been shocked to see my little internet secret go mainstream overnight, even bigger than Twitter ever did. People I knew from high school and my first jobs are there, people from church, my family (even the ones I don’t talk to often), and even our hair stylist was telling us about her photo sharing boards on the site last week. The population of Pinterest is booming and it isn’t like other social networks where people get a profile and chat, there is actually something to do and boy, do people do it. “Addicted” is the most commonly used phrase in regards to Pinterest.

More than sharing house pictures

As the site goes mainstream, there is a fantastic opportunity for businesses to join in and to actually be useful without violating the culture of the personal coffee table chat feeling. By being useful, any user can gain influence and while that sounds disingenuous, it makes sense that if you devote any time in your day to a task that it has something to do with your job.

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The best way to be useful is to start “Boards” (see this guide if you’re lost) that pertain to your career, not just the topics suggested by Pinterest. As you can see below, I strayed pretty far from the suggested Board topics (click to enlarge):

Below is a short and very incomplete list of some ideas for boards you can create to be useful (thus more likely to influence):

  1. Pictures of your clients as a “thank you” board. Pictures of friends on social networks that have made an impact on your life.
  2. If you are a Realtor, post pictures of homes you have sold or that are for sale (inside and out) – this is your chance to tell some back story and feature interesting photos (garden gnomes, cool knobs on cabinets).
  3. Start a board devoted to your area – landmarks, leaders, news, whatever, but be specific.
  4. Post pictures of your team, your office, your messy desk, your coffee maker, etc. to tell the back story of a day in the life at your office. Feel free to use a mascot or gnome as the traveling story teller.
  5. Post something of very specific interest – maybe a photo tour of all of the local coffee shops with your thoughts as comments, or as featured Yelp reviews as comments.
  6. Tell your own story – post photos of you as a baby all the way up to today. The more embarrassing, the better.
  7. Post pictures of ideas on how to use your product or services. Retailers, post pictures of people using your product and servicers, post pictures of sad people not using your services and happy people that do, with testimonials from your website below the happy people.
  8. Post pictures of all schools in the area and in the comments, put their current ratings and special features or programs and a link to the data (on your site, preferably).
  9. Publish pictures from your blog, but don’t overdo it. Ask a question or publish a board to solve a problem. One board I have is “ideas on how to save housing,” and I’ve seen some very creative idea boards that are useful as well.

Note that silly is good, it is a laid back group of users. So for #6, maybe a board of “Embarrassing Jeff Pics” or for #2, “Interior shots that didn’t make the cut” or for #5 “local hipster joints and the hipsters that conjoin in the joints.” Entertaining is more memorable and less salesy and dropping the sales pitch will get you a lot further here. When entertaining is not appropriate, be conversational. And like any social network, it is best to remember to comment on other people’s pins and boards and share their content as well – it’s easily overlooked common sense.

Pinterest has a great mobile site, is easy to use (especially with the help of some Chrome extensions), a burgeoning population and a helpful community of sharing users, so be useful to gain influence, it will get you much further than broadcasting junk or just repinning everyone else’s pins.

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Stacie Wells

    January 15, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    I just discovered the iPad app today and love it. I go there first when scanning for ideas by topic.

  2. Renee Crabtree

    January 16, 2012 at 12:14 am

    I am a big Pinterest addict with an even bigger distaste for blatant advertising on Pinterest. So many companies get social media so incredibly wrong that it makes me more than a little scared of what inviting them to post photos of homes for sale will bring. If your followers wouldn't repin a photo you pin then don't pin it. Of course, if it is done genuinely with passion and heart and not as another sales tool then that can work but only because the real estate agent actually enjoys the site and uses it for pleasure.

    • Lani Rosales

      January 16, 2012 at 1:29 am

      Renee, you're right, so to clarify, I would note that I was intending on saying that *details* of these homes should be posted like hidden rooms or neat door handles and I do not advocate pumping MLS listings into Pinterest as it will do the opposite of earning interest. Sharing homes that are beautiful is a neat tactic that is already being used on Pinterest without violating the culture.

  3. Coady

    January 16, 2012 at 12:24 am

    I would like an invite.

    Thank you very much!

  4. Martin Taggart

    January 16, 2012 at 1:41 am

    Please send an invite to

  5. melissa

    January 16, 2012 at 1:52 am

    I would like an invite please.

  6. Jules Bristow

    January 16, 2012 at 4:44 am

    I would love an invite!! And any more information on getting started…

  7. Pat Mistretta

    January 16, 2012 at 6:37 am

    I checked this site out and how wonderfully creative it is. I wanted to comment and pin so many items, but cannot do without an invite. I would very much like an invite.


  8. Matt Thomson

    January 16, 2012 at 10:04 am

    My wife will be so disappointed, but I'll take an invite. She'll think I'm invading her last quiet online territory.

    GigHarborInfo at Gmail dot com


  9. Danny Brown

    January 16, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Nice overview and tips, Lani. Though I can't help but notice the irony that there's no Pin It button here… 😉

  10. Nicole Boynton

    January 16, 2012 at 12:23 pm
    Would live an invite!

  11. Cindy Surette

    January 16, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    I'd like an invite too. Thank you, Cindy

  12. Tinu

    January 16, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    I purposely waited to join Pinterest due to its addictive quality. Now that I have space in my schedule, really happy to have time to explore and add. This list has given me a great idea. 🙂

    • Lani Rosales

      January 16, 2012 at 4:27 pm

      Can't wait to see what you come up with, Tinu!

  13. Darryl

    January 16, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    I haven't ventured into Pinterest yet, but my assistant has and she loves it. One of the best qualities is the easy shareability. Her pins always get found and repinned by people who aren't even following her but who found that particular pin interesting. She has had more random people share her information on Pinterest than any other social site. I'll pass this along to her so we can get started on my account.

  14. Tina Merritt

    January 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm


    I was getting my daily dose of crack, I mean Pinterest, in today when I saw something that made my heart drop. Someone had posted details about a REALTOR designation. That is so not correct Pinterest-iquette! UGH!

    • Lani Rosales

      January 16, 2012 at 6:21 pm

      Tina, as it goes mainstream, the culture will be violated, just as people did with Twitter. Thank goodness we can unfollow! 🙂

  15. Alba

    January 17, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Would love an invite

    Thank you!!

  16. Discover Hawaii Tours

    January 20, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    We love Pinterest, and we joined just last week! In addition to adding lots of unique, beautiful photos of Hawaii, our business are trying something different from the norm: posting scanned customer comment cards:

    From a glance, the pins might appear all the same, but if you look closely you'll find unique, handwritten reviews from our customers. (If you're a graphologist, you'll love these boards!) If you're a potential customer, we hope you appreciate a more tangible, authentic approach to reviews.

    Lani, any feedback on this idea? Thank you for a very useful post!

  17. Discover Hawaii Tours

    January 20, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    We love Pinterest, and we joined just last week! In addition to adding lots of unique, beautiful photos of Hawaii, our business are trying something different from the norm: posting scanned customer comment cards.

    From a glance, the pins might appear all the same, but if you look closely you'll find unique, handwritten reviews from our customers. (If you're a graphologist, you'll love these boards!) If you're a potential customer, we hope you appreciate a more tangible, authentic approach to reviews.

    Lani, any feedback on this idea? Thank you for a very useful post!

  18. steve

    January 24, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    I would like an invite please

    thank you

  19. Lisa Hogan

    January 25, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    I requested an invite yesterday on pinterest, so don't want to duplicate, but would love to have a board on the site.


  20. Vernon Hatridge

    January 26, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Please send my an invitation.

  21. Yeshica Yanes

    January 26, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Would love an invite, please.

  22. Jim

    January 28, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    I would just love to know how to create some of the amazing photos that are posted on Pinterest!

  23. JaniceSpruillwoodring

    December 1, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    I would love to create my own boards. ie hidden truths. survival tips and a few others.. please give me a shout.
    janice woodring/ janxie66

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