A Pinterest board is easy to create, but there's an art to finding and making popular image boards filled with the kind of "pins" that get repinned, liked and draw lots of comments.
Pinterest boards are the heart of the Web's top social network for images, thanks to social features that are baked into the structure of each board.
What's an Image Board?
A Pinterest pinboard, in case you're new to the image-sharing site, is a grouping of images that you "pin" or save in order to view later and share with other people.
In the site's special lingo, an image is a pin and each collection of images is a board. Image boards look a bit like traditional online photo albums, but they've been converted into social experiences through the addition of features like the ability for other users to follow them.
All sorts of social networking features that are standard on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn also exist on Pinterest. Not only can you follow other users, for instance, you also can follow individual boards and "like" individual pins.
Taking a page out of Twitter's retweet playbook, Pinterest also lets you "repin" other people's images to your own Pinterest board--and you don't have to be following them to do so.
Virtual pinboards basically amount to an image-navigation system. Pinterest board names or titles serve as tags to create an indexing system. Repins and "likes" serve as popularity measures, which is typical for a social network.
How Does a Pinterest Board Work?
Board creation and management are fairly simple. You create a new board by clicking the "ADD" button in the upper right, then assign it to a standard category (such as Architecture, Travel or Kids) and give it a name.
Pinterest board names signal what kind of images their creator will be storing inside -- "My Favorite Gadgets" is an obvious one, as are "Theater Posters" and "Muscle Cars."
More interesting are thematic Pinterest board titles like "Places That Inspire Me" or "Things That Terrify Me." People are inventive about what they call their boards and pin to them.
You can also choose a Pinterest board cover, which is the image that will appear as the largest thumbnail to represent each of your image collections. To change the cover image, go to your profile page where all your boards appear, mouse over a particular board, and click "Edit Board Cover" when it pops up. Then you'll be able to click the image you want to serve as your cover.
Public or Private Pinterest Boards
By default, image boards are public, but the site allows each user to make up to three private Pinterest boards. You simply slide the "secret" button to the "on" position when you create a new board, or you can click the "create a secret board" option at the bottom of your profile page.
Once you have created three private boards, if you want to make another private or "secret" board, you'll have to make one of the others public.
Button for your Web Browser
You can pin almost any image you find online to your boards once you have installed the Pin It button in your Web browser.
You also can let friends pin images to your boards by checking the "Me + Contributors" box and entering their email addresses into the box that pops up.
Finding Good Boards to Follow on Pinterest.com
The easiest way to find boards worth following is to pay attention when you see an image on Pinterest that you like. Click on the name of the board it was saved to, which appears at the far right directly under each image. Click on the board name/title to see the full image collection and decide whether it contains other imagery that appeals to you. If so, trying following it for a while.
Another way to find good imagery is to click the "Popular" button at the top of the home page. It will displaypopular images on Pinterest, which often leads to good boards and users who might be worth following.
Why Follow an Image Board?
It's a good idea to follow some boards created by other users, because Pinterest will show you new images when they get added to boards you follow. Choosing which users to follow and which boards to follow will determine the kind of images you'll see in your home page image stream.
Pinterest took a page out of Facebook's playbook for its home page display mechanism. Remember when you used to be able to toggle back and forth on your Facebook home page to see what ALL your friends were posting as status updates, or just the "top" status updates?
Pinterest effectively does that by letting you toggle between seeing fare that "everybody" is posting on image boards, or just what the people and boards you're following are posting. To switch back and forth, click the "Everything" or "Pinners You Follow" tabs at the top of the home page. A third image stream option is to see the most popular images by clicking the "Popular" tab.
Pinterest Apps for Phones Make Browsing Easier
Pinterest apps for mobile phones can help you navigate the site on the go, especially the iPhone app. There is no official app for the Android or iPad just yet.
You'll Need a Pinterest Invite
If you're not already a member, you'll need to request a Pinterest invite from the home page of Pinterest. It usually takes less than 24 hours to receive your Pinterest invite via email, and then you sign up.