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FEBRUARY 2015 - Social Media
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Social Media 101: Pinterest

by Reg Levy

This article will cover Pinterest, a social media network primarily geared toward sharing visual content.

How Pinning Works

When you sign up for Pinterest, you are given the option of installing a browser plugin that allows two-click pinning (otherwise, you have to navigate to, click the plus sign, paste the URL in, select a photo, and then pin it). If you’re planning to want to use Pinterest in an instant, this is perfect for you. From there, whenever you see visual content you’d like to save, simply hover over the image and click “Pin It.” This brings up a dialogue box that allows you to comment on and name the pin, so you know later what it was for. Later, when you’re going through your pin-board, clicking on a pin will take you back to the original website you found it on.

You can create public or private boards—as many as you need—and can select which board to pin something to via a drop-down menu.

Getting Noticed

Like all social networks, Pinterest can be used as a way of promoting yourself and your services. Pinterest is based around sharing photos of things, so if you want to use it in this manner, you’ll need nice-looking photos or infographics targeted toward your potential client-base. For example, here’s the Pinterest board of an attorney who specializes in reproductive legal services. She’s posting the kinds of content that her potential clients are interested in finding and sharing. When a Pinterest user re-pins something that already exists, they’re told where else they can find it; in this instance, on the attorney's pin-boards.

Unfortunately, if it’s in multiple places, it’s a bit of a gamble whether or not it’ll be traced back to you specifically, so unless you’re hosting all of this content locally on your firm website, you’ll want to look long and hard at the cost/benefit of spending time creating content for a Pinterest board as a means of attracting clients.

Although Pinterest is technically a “social network,” there’s little in the way of personal interaction with others in your network. You can “follow” any public pin-board—whether you know the pinner or not—but interactions, such as liking and commenting on pins, while possible, are not encouraged by the medium. If you’re looking to find new friends or keep in touch with old ones, Pinterest is not really the best way to do it.

Saving Visual Content

Where Pinterest really shines, however, is in saving visual content for future reference. The most innovative use of Pinterest by an attorney that I’ve heard of is researching patents. Because patents include diagrams, this attorney uses pin-boards (which can be public or private) to track his research at the USPTO. With few clicks, he can flag a diagram for use in a particular case as either helpful or harmful to that case. And, if he happens to run across something that would work well in one of his other cases, well, that’s just a click away, too.

Pinterest can be used to track online research for any case, but due to patents’ visual component, it is especially well-suited to that. I can see it being a boon to an attorney’s arsenal of research tricks for trademark matters, as well, or for cases where a copyright infringement of a visual medium is at issue (that is to say, photography, video, sculpture, or the like).

Of course, Pinterest can also be a good way of saving a favorite recipe to try out after you get home from a long day of legal work.

How Pinterest Fits Into Your Social Media Strategy

I don’t recommend Pinterest as a way of advertising oneself, although it is technically possible, because re-pinned posts don’t necessarily lead back to you. I do, however, highly recommend it as a way of keeping track of links—especially to visual content—while conducting legal research.


Reg Levy is the WLALA Website Committee Chair.  She is VP of Compliance + Policy at Minds + Machine.