I have a million Pinterest followers, but I can’t tell you how to use it.
Pinterest doesn’t give you ad-fueled training wheels like the other Internet giants. You need to be self-motivated for it have any value to you.
Pinterest isn’t like Facebook.
You can’t just sign up and wait for the distracting updates of friends of friends’ friends and advertisers to start filling up your stream.
There is no clear-cut way of uploading pictures of that amazing sandwich you had for lunch.
Pinterest doesn’t come with ad-supported social media cruise control. You actually have to pedal and make an effort to get anything out of your time spent with it.
I can’t tell you how to use Pinterest. All I can tell you is how I use it and how I think about it.
I think about Pinterest as a personal inspiration archive. I used to keep physical sketchbooks with things I liked pasted in there. Back then my ‘content’ was mostly things I’d gleaned from magazines. A Nike ad. A still frame from a movie. An album cover. Things that moved me and that I wanted to remember. Now I put those same things on my Pinterest.
As the medium of our culture became more disposable, we have collectively started losing our feel for what moves us. We are all trapped on the other side of the screen from the inspiration. We can’t touch it; we can only glimpse the movies, TV shows and music that moves us through a small window, like a jailhouse visitation. Our tangible connection to culture is estranged. And more than ever our interests have been turned into a commodity, and sponsored by corporations.
Pinterest is a way to pause the stream. It gives you a place on the Internet where you can go to only see what moves you. No click-bait buzz feed articles to distract you. No whiny or braggy dudes you went to college with. Just a collection of pictures, ideas and content that mean something to you. Using Pinterest can feel very pure. It feels protected from the metric vultures that now openly govern most monolithic Internet web nations.
Using Pinterest is like creating a mix tape of the culture you dig. Each board you make is kind of like a digital zine. And you are the editor. It’s a lot like Tumblr in that regard, except because of the ability to curate around multiple identified niches, it feels more focused and concentrated than the content spew that Tumblr encourages.
As your boards grow, they grow more valuable. If you are a creative person or someone who needs to make visual presentations, your Pinterest boards will ensure that you’ll never have to use stock photography in a presentation ever again. Boom, one tangible benefit of having hundreds of inspiring, self-selected photos at your fingertips.
If you have a blog or website that you’d like to get more traffic to, Pinterest is what you’re looking for. During the weeks I focus on pinning content from my blogs on Pinterest, my traffic enjoys a nice multiplier effect.
There are many ways to use Pinterest, but you have to come up with your own reason. When people say ‘I signed up for Pinterest, but I don’t get it,’ I see that as an indictment against the person and not Pinterest.
Pinterest is a powerful tool. But like even the most burly and thunderous hammer in the world, it won’t do a damn thing until you know what you want to do with it.
Oyl Miller is followed by more than 1 million users on Pinterest. In 2012 he was named the #2 most influential user on Pinterest by The Daily Dot. He was a Shorty Award Finalist for ‘Best Pinterest User’ in 2013. He has been featured in media and e-books for his successful use of the popular, visual bookmarking website.