Whenever a trendy app comes along, there are people who ask, “What is the point of this?” If millions of people are using something, there has to be a reason. In our What Is the Point of… series, we’ll explain it to you.

This week, we’re asking, What is the point of Pinterest?

You’ve heard of it. You’ve probably seen it once or twice. But the one time you typed in Pinterest.com, hit enter, and were immediately assaulted by cupcakes, dresses and duvets, you bugged out immediately.

That’s an understandable reaction. If you fell in love with what you saw the first time you visited Pinterest, you probably don’t need this article. But with all this hype, there has to be some reason to use it, right?

Thinking In Pictures

There are actually many reasons, and Pinterest isn’t the same thing to everyone. But basically, Pinterest is an app for saving and organizing images. It’s also great for sharing your images with others, but you don’t have to use it that way. You can keep your boards to yourself, but the social part of Pinterest is also a great way to discover things visually.

How People Use Pinterest:
  • Get inspiration for their careers or hobbies (57%)
  • Store images of things they dream of having (53%)
  • Keep their thoughts and ideas organized (47%)
  • Share their ideas with others (32%)

A great study by Engauge recently broke down all the different ways people use Pinterest. People use it for visual inspiration, for wish lists, and for organizing and sharing ideas that are best expressed with pictures.

So don’t believe the hype. Pinterest is not just for planning weddings. You can make visual lists of all kinds of things, like album covers, your favorite apps, funny memes or favorite foods. Our Richard MacManus, to his surprise, found a bunch of reasons that even financial services firms should use Pinterest. If you’re a visual thinker, you’ll find a use for it.

What Do I Pin?

Pinterest’s bookmarklet is smart about finding images on Web pages and letting you grab them easily. But users can also upload images from their computers, no matter where they got them. That’s a popular choice, representing 7% of all pins, and no Web source has more than 1%. But that just means people pin from all over the place.

Still, the ability to upload your own images comes with one important consideration. If you pin from the Web, the site will get a link and attribution, and everybody wins. But if you download and re-upload someone’s stuff without attribution, that’s rude (and could be illegal). So keep that in mind.

Pinterest is for curating the images you see, but don’t think of it as passive. A cool board idea that’s updated often is a creation of its own. Just remember to be good about attribution. People use Pinterest to find cool things. If you found something cool, tell people where you found it.