[pinterest float="left"]Pinterest Etiquette has changed. Pinterest has changed since it blew up with interest from every which way. Hundreds of thousands of articles have been written on the subject of Pinterest and here is one more. Though, this is more of an article for me to state a change of heart related to the Pinterest Etiquette and self-promotion. In a previous article, I begged photographers to not use Pinterest as yet another social media channel for pushing their photos into like they have on Flickr in the past. I desired to see Pinterest as an actual interest-graph vs a place to dump your own photography in mass batches.
There did seem to be some confusion that I desired photographers to NEVER pin any of their own photography. I had no issue with anyone pinning their own work within a mix of other imagery found interesting. I believe that peppering your work into your Pinterst feed is a better way to not appear so self-promotional even if your true goal is to get your work into the Pinterest system over time. I know that I’d be more likely to like / repin work on the fly if my feed wasn’t being filled with someone promoting their work. My view went beyond just looking at the service on a 27″ iMac and went down into the Pinterest App. Looking at your Pinterest feed on an iPhone is much different and excessive pinning on your account can be just as annoying as posting 50 pictures to Instagram at one time.
My thoughts on Pinterest and self-promotion were confirmed when I noticed that Pinterest Etiquette noted to please avoid self-promotion. These were clearly thoughts expressed before their service went viral and everyone started using it. The social pinning service was a small and close community and such self-promotion was looked down upon. However when a service breaks out like Pinterest did, there was no stopping the people. Nor was there any hope to try and teach a massive about this etiquette – especially after everyone heard about the traffic potential driven to their website. People wanted their content into the system as quick as possible. Like a Pin-Rush. I pinned a few of my own photos too!
A Change on Pinterest
Pinterest, as we know, recently changed it’s TOS and has no intent on selling the content we pin. I decided to watch the hangout Trey Ratcliff held with a group of photographers, pinners, and lawyers to discuss Pinterest. I watched because I had planned a blog post that would talk about the conflicting etiquette and terms of service. It made no sense to say we can only pin content we own and ask us not to pin our own content. The discussion in Trey’s variety hour was most excellent and I felt Thomas Hawk made some really insightful points. Essentially, he mentioned that he has stopped pinning other material because of the risk in violating copyright. Pinning material other than your own could place you at risk for being sued by some hot headed photographer out to earn a quick buck.
In reality, it appears that the best and only content we should be pinning is our own work.
Within minutes of the Pinterst Episode, I opened up the Pinterest Etiquette again and found no sign of the earlier point to “not pin your own stuff”. This quote below no longer exists on the etiquette page:
“Avoid Self Promotion | Pinterest is designed to curate and share things you love. If there is a photo or project you’re proud of, pin away! However, try not to use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion.”
With massive attention on the social sharing site, mega sites joined and began pinning. Take a site like Mashable and see what they pin. Kristi mentioned in the comments of my other pinterest self-promotion post:
Going to play a little devil’s advocate here, but Pinterest created the perfect online portfolio. Is that what it is meant for? No, of course not. But the layout really does work nicely for that.
Also, it depends on what types of followers users want to build. If I want followers who are just curious what stuff I like at random, then I should post random stuff. If I want followers who are there strictly because they like my photos, then I should post my photos.
Interestingly enough, the lead social media site, Mashable, is using their profile for what looks like nothing but self-promotion. Every board I checked out all linked back to their own posts. One board is all pictures from one post, for that matter. They so far have 10,509 followers and every update has been repinned, liked, and/or commented on.
So really it depends on the goals of the user. As a follower, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to follow them. If Pinterest really wants this to stop happening, they should say “you will get banned” for self-promotion, not just put it as an etiquette boo-boo.
The mega sites like Mashable are going to promote their blog posts. This same action happens with design sites, home design sites, and more. The self-promotion etiquette went out the window and it is for the better and actually matches up with the TOS now.
Self-Promote on Pinterest Like it’s All You Can Do
Perhaps the only thing we should do pin is our own work. Once it’s into the Pinterest Ecosystem it means it’s fair game to repin and we can’t get into trouble with copyright violations. I mentioned before that Thomas Hawk is very concerned with pinning anything outside of his own photography because of copyright violation potential. The last thing Thomas Hawk wants is some hot head photographer suing him at random because he pinned one of their photographs. I can’t help but agree. There are photographers that are still of the old mindset that this is stealing their photography. Meanwhile, we all know that this is just sharing an image we think is awesome and find inspiring. While I was upset with Thomas Hawk and Trey Ratcliff setting up camp on Pinterest via mass pinning of their own work, I have to admit now that I have a change of heart. They were pinning in excess to clog their followers feeds, but I understand that there is no issue of self-promotion on pinterest now. We can’t keep it as a small town site. We have to allow it to become a metropolis.
Share your work but keep it within reason. You probably don’t post 20 photos at once to instagram because it just feels wrong. Think about the Pinterest users that are scanning the pins via a mobile phone app.
I have given in. I don’t think that Pinterest needs to change their TOS any further at this point. I believe the source of the issues surrounding Pinterest are copyright laws on a whole. The mindset of people needs to change and understand the purpose behind social sharing online.
If you’re concerned about copyright violation like Thomas Hawk, I’d probably agree that you should only self-promote on Pinterest. I still feel the desire to share the great things I find online because I see it as working in public now. I do the same things on Tumblr and ZooTool as well. Who knew we were all such criminals.
Get Creative with Your Pinterest Self-Promotion
In a photoblog post recently, I talked about remixing your own photography. Is there a way you can remix your work to share and promote it on Pinterest? I think there is. I love motivational and inspirational notes on photography. I follow a huge number of Tumblr blogs that share fitness imagery with motivational quotes on them. I’ve started to do this with some of my photography. When you pin the graphic, add your own attribution that the photography is done by you and link back to your website. It’s just an idea so that you start to create new content from your work and still direct people towards your photography. Again, it all comes down to the type of following you’d like to build.
Yes, I’ve had a change of heart regarding my original post asking photographers to stop the crazy self-promotion. Perhaps all you should be doing, right now, is pinning your own photography. The “official” pin etiquette has dropped the blurb related to self-promotion and thus so have I. I still believe that there should be no reason to worry about someone going to sue you over a pin. It’s a cautious line to walk though.
If you were against massive self-promotion, have you had a change of heart as well?
If you haven’t seen the Variety Hour on the topic of Pinterest watch it here:
Connect with me on Pinterest: My Pinterest Profile