Over the holiday break I finally discovered Pinterest.

I know I’m late to the bandwagon and lots of you “long-time” pinners have been active for some time now (or at least since Pinterest launched in March 2010).

But I made a vow to myself  that over the holiday break I would figure out my account login issue (having created an account a few months ago but promptly forgotten the login and so was never able to get back in) and learn for myself what all the buzz was about.

Seems I was not alone and there were loads of new Pinterest users singing up over the holidays. Lots of mom bloggers who finally found that extra moment to steal away and get on the Pinterest bandwagon.

If you haven’t “found” it yet yourself, you might be wondering what all the hype is about and why you need to get yourself into yet another time sink on the internet.

Pinterest is Visual

Here’s the thing… in trying to describe to my husband, who is himself a total internet geek, what Pinterst is all about the best description I could come up with was that it was like catching up on old magazines. It’s a visual social networking tool that lets you see what your friends and followers are looking at and “pinning” for later reference.

Pinterest is “Exclusive”

To get started with Pinterest you need to request an invite -- which personally I loathe when sites do this. As if some perceived exclusivity makes it all the more alluring. Frankly, I’d much rather they just grant me access when I request it so that I can get going right away because lord knows when the demands of life and kids and jobs and blogs will permit me to get back to this. But, alas Pinterst is that kind of exclusive site and yes, now you are just DYING to join, right?

Pinterest Lets you Find Your Niche

Once you get your invitation in your email to set up your account you’ll be assigned some generic “boards” – this is Pinterst lingo for your virtual “pin boards” where you can curate and display all of the goodies and gems you come across while “pinning”. You can customize your boards to whatever interests you, which is of course what’s so great about it. If you want to have a board about interior decorating – great. If you want a board about tropical orchids, super. Knitted monkey butt hats? YES, girl – go for it. Somebody else will find your niche boards and enjoy them, too.

After you’ve set up some of your own boards you’ll need to start finding things to pin to them. So, you can of course browse the popular pins or start following other friends (which conveniently can be imported from facebook) and troll their pins. You can also install the “pin it” button in your browser’s tool bar so you can pin anything worthy that you find on your regular internet browsing.

Pinterest is Habit Forming

To me, the best thing about Pinterest is once you start looking at others’ boards and pinning some of their pins to your own board you find yourself lost in this six degrees of separation from the original person whose boards you were viewing and you suddenly find the best website ever or the greatest crockpot recipe you’ve just got to try or the most inspirational quote you never would have found otherwise. So this is where the addictive part comes in. It’s truly like getting lost down this rabbit hole of internet awesomeness finding more and more cool things to pin until you finally must tear yourself away. For me, it’s gotten so bad that I feel a little twitchy if I don’t get on it at least like twice a day. If a day goes by and I’m not on Pinterest even for just a few moments stolen here and there, I feel a little void. Like maybe I missed some really great pins and maybe I can just sneak on for two minutes to see a few things and THEN I will go to bed.

Pinterest is Good for Your Brand

But lest you think Pinterst addition is all fun and games, think again: Pinterest can drive A LOT of traffic to your site. If you’re a craft blogger or a food blogger or a fashion blogger and you start pinning your own stuff to your own boards that others who are following you re-pin and share with all your followers you’ve created a very nice little stream of new traffic to your site. In fact, Pinterest pageviews increased 2,000% from June to October 2011 and has 3.2 million users (as of Oct. 2011)*  And Pinterest has reached Top Ten Status among social networking sites in very short time.

Tips for Using Pinterest to Drive Traffic to Your Blog

If you want to use Pinterest to actually help boost traffic to your site, make sure you have “pinnable” content. And that means good pictures. Think visual – fashion spreads, recipe how-tos, craft tutorials, quotes, art, locations. These are the sorts of things that are highly pinnable and will definitely get you lots of repins. But even if that’s not the type of content you typically have on your site, you should still add a “pin it” button to your posts to make it easier for your readers to pin your stuff even if it’s not the most visual content out there. And once you’re on Pinterest, add a Pinterest social media icon to your site so folks can easily find you there. Finally, go ahead and pin some of your own content if appropriate but be careful not to only pin your own stuff or you will be considered spammy and inauthentic and everyone will be on to your ulterior motives. But I’m willing to bet that this won’t happen and you’ll get so sucked into Pinterst, you won’t be able to stop pinning anyway. Happy pinning!

* Source: The Realtime Report  - http://therealtimereport.com/2011/12/16/social-networking-stats-pinterest-page-views-increase-2000-rltm-scoreboard/

Jennifer Oxenford is a mother of two and the founder of phillyfun4kids www.phillyfun4kids.com your place to find free and mostly free things to do with your kids in and around this great city of motherly love. You can also follow phillyfun4kids on Twitter and on Pinterest.

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