Interest in Pinterest explodes as virtual pin board site gains popularity

Primer on Pinterest

CINCINNATI - It's been a little more than two years since a website called Pinterest  was created. But it's only recently started to capture the hearts and clicks of people worldwide.

Pinterest is a virtual vision board, an online pinboard where you can find pictures of things you like, create boards for any category and "pin" what you find on those boards.  If your passion is photography, you can click on that category and pick through the hundreds or thousands of photos already posted.  You can comment on the photos, "like" them or  "repin" the pictures you like to your board.  Or if you find a photo on a website you like, you click a "pin it" button, which you can install easily, and pin it to your board.

And here's the good news for bloggers and retailers: Those pictures found on Pinterest, once clicked upon, should go back to the original source, which could be a store's website and can make shopping a snap for those who are motivated.

So, if you're interested in Pinterest, here's a quick primer:

First, you need to sign up for the site.  This is an invitation only website, so you can ask someone who is currently on Pinterest to invite you, or you can ask for an invitation from the website. Just go to Pinterest.com .

Similar to other sites, you have to create your profile.  You can use a picture from Facebook or Twitter, or you can use one from your own computer. You can also add a couple of short sentences about yourself .

Then, set up your boards. You can use preset categories or label them whatever you prefer.  So, if DIY projects are important to you, you could create a board titled, "DIY Projects."  Or, you could create one for projects you've completed, such as "All done".

The site will then ask your interests.  Based on your responses, the site will provide you with suggestions of people to start "following."

And that's when you start "pinning."  When you hover over an image, options to "like," "comment" or "repin" will pop up.  You can do one, all or none. Drop down menus of categories help you navigate the site or there is a search bar in the top left corner.

If you're looking for your own friends, you can find them through your own Facebook or Twitter by going into your own Pinterest page (far right at the top) and click on the button, "find friends."  Once you find them, you can choose to follow them.

There are a few suggested rules for Pinterest. The people who started the site ask that you keep self-promotion to a minimum and be sure to give proper credit to the website from which you pin pictures. 

And there are risks when you start a Pinterest page. Many people find they lose hours to the site; it has a way of drawing you in because it can be visually stunning. Consider in May of 2011, Pinterest had 418,000 U.S. unique visitors. Eight months later, in December of 2011, Pinterest had 7.5 million U.S. unique visitors, according to comScore Inc. , an internet research group. 

Megan Heher, 27, of Mason says she used to spend her free time on Facebook, but no longer. Now, she only posts pictures of her infant daughter, Savannah. Instead, Heher spends her time on Pinterest. 

Same thing goes for Randi Taylor, 26, of Silverton.  She admits to spending sometimes two hours on Pinterest looking for pictures, ideas and thoughts that inspire her.

But Heher does more than graze the site.  Because of Pinterest, she's clicked on pictures that send her to the original website. And she's made purchases because of ideas or products she's seen on Pinterest. A wood monogram hangs above her daughter's bed. She saw a picture of it on Pinterest, clicked on the photo, which took her to the originating site, and she placed her order.

She's also tried multiple recipes and crafts that she found on Pinterest. She even went to a gathering of friends where all of the women did a craft they found on Pinterest, while the men made food for the group from recipes found on the site.

In fact, some consider this a way to keep recipes in one location, like an online recipe box.  (click here to see Tanya O'Rourke's Pinterest page. NOTE: Mobile users, go to a browser version of WCPO.com to access links).

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