Just Stop It: Pinterest Torture

Pinterest is the latest-greatest-fastest-growing social media platform, with a high conversion rate. Meaning that users are likely to buy something they’ve pinned, according to a small survey done Harvard Business Review 12% of pinterest users have gone on to make an online purchase of something they’ve pinned, and 16 % go on to make an offline purchase of something they’ve pinned.

Great news for businesses.

So why then do businesses pin a great image of their latest trendy product and then…

when I click on it give me this;

Requiring me to create an account in order to see the product price.

Guess what – I don’t. And I’m not alone.

Amazon, surely the standard-setter in online retail, lets you browse as long as you want, and offers you deals and discounts before asking you to log-in or create an account. Everything we know about transactions online says that the customer will only give you information when they’ve made a decision to buy – and that you shouldn’t put anything in the way of that decision. Once that decision is made then the customer is very task oriented, they’ll create accounts and do what they need to complete their purchase.

In the mean time; let me browse – who knows I may find a second pair of sunnies for the weekend.

3 Things I Hate About Pinterest

I am having a lot of fun playing on Pinterest, I probably visit it daily and add something each day. But there are a few things that annoy me.

1 Lack of Curating of Categories

Pinterest have set up a set of default categories, which you don’t have to use.

I like to browse through these categories for ideas, particularly the architecture, history and geek categories.

I’m prepared to stretch a definition but it’s getting ridiculous. Here are three items from each of the categories I mentioned.

Architecture History Geek

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for yoga and for more understanding of individuals with autism, and I’m really happy for you if Leather Honey Leather Conditioner really is the best leather conditioner. These things just don’t belong where they’re categorised.

The history category seems to be the worst curated – with images of everything from Cameron Diaz at the Oscars to a memorial of a soldier killed in Afghanistan to perfume bottles from the 1950s. I get that all items represented stuff from the past, but it’s not History.

2 Lack of Privacy controls

You cannot set up private boards – where you could collect images of Christmas presents or wedding ideas before the big day. Or protect yourself from online stalkers.

You cannot block people – so those annoying posters who provide 20 percent content and 80 percent advertising will always appear in the main streams.

Pinterest have no plans to change this as the goal of their site is to share as much as possible. Fair enough in one sense, until someone comes along with either a site that allows more functionality or a tool to complement Pinterest and give users the functionality they want.

3 Image rights

The terms and conditions state

By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services.

Which means that any image that goes on to Pinterest could be resold by them without any payment to you. If they did a deal with a digital publisher your images could land in a book without you getting royalties.

For amateurs like me it’s not much of an issue – I’d probably be so thrilled that a photo I took was published in an actual book I’d immediately order five copies. But for professional artists this is an issue. On one hand they want their images seen on pinterest, on the other hand they don’t want to lose revenue. Which means that the pinterest “no pin” code is not a solution. One artist, Hugh MacLeod of Gaping Void fame, has solved this by slapping a big ‘copyright’ watermark on all images in his online shop. Smart guy.

Pinterest is a relatively young site, and they’ve demonstrated that they can drive traffic and that they listen to user input. Let’s hope they’re listening!

Pin it

If you recognise the image on the left, then you’ve probably already discovered the wonderful, and time-sucking, Pinterest.

I started playing with it about six months ago, and it really appeals to my visual senses, it’s a way to collect and categorise images. It adds a social element by allowing you to re-pin images from others, or to follow others. I’m using it to collect quotes, design ideas, fantasy homes, and “objects of desire” – for all those wild objects I’d buy if I had more money and another twenty rooms to put them in.

Interest in Pinterest has been growing, and it’s currently the fastest growing social media site out there. Even though it’s not easy to get an account; right now you’ll need an invite from a friend or you’ll be on a waiting list.

Given the high level of growth, and the length of time people spend on this site (the average user spends 88 minutes – third behind facebook and tumblr, and a long way ahead of Google+) it’s inevitable that people would see a business opportunity. In fact it’s already starting to rise as referrer site according to a study by Mashable.

So what are the best professional uses of Pinterest?

Product Catalogue

This is the most obvious use of Pinterest, particularly if your products are visually appealing cupcakes or fashion.

Wholefoods group great images of their products, under some fun headings “Eat your veggies” for example. Samsonite have used some boards to display their products


I found two different approaches here, Savannah College of Art and Design focuses on current and prospective students. Their pinterest boards give a good insight into live on the campus and the achievements of their students.

The University of Pennsylvania Career Services on the other hand provides resources for their graduating students, including where to find a job, tips on job hunting, advice on updating linkedin, and image on appropriate interview wear.


Unicef has arranged their boards according to the themes of the work they do for the most part, but has separate boards for video and cartoons which I found a bit disruptive to how I like to find things.

A more radical approach is taken by South West Key, they’ve got posters from activist campaigns, books related to their cause, and profiles of some members.


There are a number of magazines using Pinterest, often as another channel to display their own content. Women’s Running does something smarter, collecting relevant, funny and inspirational images from around the web.


OK, this is a no-brainer, particularly if you’re promoting a place as beautiful as Aruba.


The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art display some of their catalogue via Pinterest, museums usually can’t display all the artifacts they hold, so tools like Pinterest can increase their exposure.


Pinterest is new, but the most successful boards so far seem to have a few things in common;

  1. Be aware of your target audience; the University of Pennsylvania Career Services know who their audience is and match the resources they provide.
  2. Choose great images; the photos on the Aruba page had me contemplating travel.
  3. Go with themes; Samsonite provide some catalogue styled boards, but also play with the theme of travel.
  4. Don’t just reproduce content from your own sources; use the tool to collate relevant content from around the web as Women’s Running did.
  5. Have some fun labelling your boards; Wholefoods, the Smithsonian and Women’s Running magazine pulled this off. You’ve got images there to back up whatever labels you choose, this gives you a little extra freedom.