Many Pinterest users are guilty of pinning photos without acknowledging the source or the photographer responsible for creating the photo. This faux pas can land individuals in hot water with the source and photographer who deserve credit for their work.
Meghan Ely runs a wedding marketing firm called OFD Consulting. She says, "It's always best to use photos that have a small watermark on them -- versus watermark-free -- to ensure that the photographer receives appropriate credit."
She further advises that if you're about to repin a photo that currently has no credit associated with it, "Take the extra step to look at the original source of the photo and see if you can find out who took the photos or, in other cases, handled the design."
If you're a creative professional, you'll want to mind another piece of advice Ely offers. She cautions against pinning photos of other people's work and giving the impression that these pins are part of your own portfolio. "It's one thing to showcase what inspires you. It's another to feature photos of work as if it were your own," she notes.
Photographer Jonathan Nafarrete says, "It is unacceptable to just download a picture and upload the picture as a pin with no credit given." He encourages pinners to link images back to the site where the image was initially posted and to provide a photo credit for the photographer with a link to their site in the comment field.
Brina Bujkovsky is a founder and CEO of The Younique Boutique, Inc., an e-commerce suite of shops dedicated to hand-crafted and personalized gifts for special occasions. "I'm generally happy any time I see my work pinned because I know that someone found my work to be inspirational in their own life," she says. "Since I sell my work commercially and run an online store, I am somewhat bothered when pinners post my work with a comment like, 'I could totally do this.' After 10 years in business and learning everything the hard way, trust me when I say it really isn't that easy."
Given the popularity of Pinterest, you may be tempted to advertise your products or services to quickly and affordably reach a large number of consumers. This may not go over well with other pinners. Bujkovsky explains, "I have been seeing more and more paid-for pins that are usually selling subscriptions and or e-books. The images are not visually interesting and it detracts from the site in general. I usually unfollow anything spammy or commercial-looking."
Social media experts and employers have issued plenty of warnings about keeping your Facebook profile, Twitter account and blog free of "digital dirt," which includes offensive content and inappropriate photos. The same advice applies to the photos you pin and the comments you share on Pinterest.
"Make sure what you are pinning is something you are comfortable associating yourself with in a public forum. Pinterest isn't private, so employers, family and strangers can see everything you pin or comment on," says Katie Miller, a social media and public relations professional for several large brands.
Miller further adds, "I believe that Pinterest is a way of expressing yourself, so I don't feel we should regulate what people pin. That being said, it is unacceptable for people to harshly criticize and comment on someone's pin just to be negative. I see a lot of people putting down the pins that other people make and I think this defeats the purpose of the platform. It is about representing who you are in a visual way."
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