Pinterest is a social networking site that has been gaining a lot of following in recent months. For those of you not familiar with the site, it is basically a place where people share things they have found online with others. It's kind of like bookmarking a page in your browser and making it public to the world. The difference is that this is done visually, and most users organize their topics into boards that they "pin" sites they find of "interest". The pinned site is shown on Pinterest by a single picture that the user selects from the page they are sharing. Once shared, a pin can be repinned by others over and over and over. Pinterest is driven by pictures ... pretty pictures. If you take a closer look, Pinterest is driven by pretty pictures that are really stock photos.
So what does this mean for us as stock photographers?
One thing this means is that we have a whole new place to market our images, and this one is truly designed with eye-catching images in mind. You do not need a large following for your pins to be found -- pins and boards can be searched for by description. But, a large following definitely helps get your images "out there" quickly. The nice thing is that when an image is clicked on, users are taken to the site that the image is from.
Since our pictures are linked back to our websites, we can use Pinterest to drive web traffic to our businesses -- or to our Dreamstime portfolio. Several recent news articles have discussed how Pinterest is bringing more visitors to many sites than Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. (This really depends upon a site's content and target audience -- a very large percentage of Pinterest users are females in their 20s and 30s.)
Pinterest does allow the link that is associated with an image to be modified. To do this, a user simply goes to the item he or she has pinned, selects "Edit", and changes URL in the link. This feature probably exists so that pages that do not have images can still be pinned. We Dreamstime users can also use this feature to make sure that our referral ID is attached to any our of DT images that we pin. The downside to this feature is that other people can use our image and have it link to their sites.
How do we report images that are being misused?
Pinterest has a simple method of reporting misused images. All we have to do is click on a pin, select "Report Pin" from the options on the right, and fill out the form related to intellectual property. You can only report pins that are using your own copyrighted material. I've only used this feature once (someone had taken an image from my site and was using it to point to their own), but Pinterest was very quick to remove the pin and to send me an email that it was taken care of.
What is a misused image?
Ah, now we are in debated territory. Unfortunately, most people today do not even know that it is wrong to use someone else's photography on their website with-out permission. Some people think it is okay as long as they give credit. Some think it's okay if it is watermarked since that shows who the owner is. Most people honestly do not know that they need permission, and in many cases that they need to buy the rights to use an image. The rule is not so clear when it comes to search engines. Should Google, Live, and Yahoo! be able to display our images with-out compensation? This is has been debated many times, and Pinterest is really in a similar category. The bottom line is that if you do not want your image to be on their site, report it when you find it.
How do we protect our images?
The easiest way is to use a watermark for anything that we want protected that we make available electronically. If you use a watermark with your website address, stolen images can actually be used as advertisements and bring other people back to your site. Watermarking provides a (limited) level of protection across all of the Internet
Pinterest has provided one other method of protection. If you do not want your site shared on Pinterest, add the following meta tag to your site: <meta name="pinterest" content="nopin" / > If you do this, any user who tries to pin something from your site will see the following message: "This site doesn't allow pinning to Pinterest. Please contact the owner with any questions. Thanks for visiting!"
How do I see what images from my site are already on Pinterest?
To find pins linking to our (or any) site on Pinterest, simply enter the following in the URL bar: http://pinterest.com/source/YOUR_WEBSITE_HERE.com/ For example, click here to see what pins link to Dreamstime: http://pinterest.com/source/dreamstime.com/
So what do you think?
As a stock photographer, what do you think of Pinterest? Is it a great way of sharing your images and advertising, or is it a great way for your images to be used illegally? Are you okay with sharing your own images? Are you okay with others sharing your images? Personally, I am very glad to see my work shared on Pinterest -- as long as it links back to my site, portfolio, or to where the image can be purchased. But what do you think? I'd love to hear your comments below.