When I was a kid, I kept a bulletin board in my room to pin up my achievements (ribbons), things I liked (magazines clippings), and pictures of girls I wanted to date (but never did). You could look at my board and learn a lot of interesting — and not so interesting — things about me.

Since I’m no longer 10 years old, and the Internet exists, things have gone a bit more digital. Enter Pinterest.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a photo-driven social network that gained traction by women in the Midwest, but has since opened up its doors to everyone.

There are two things you need to know about Pinterest: boards and pins.

A pin is a photo or video that you can collect from other websites or your own computer. Other users can either “like,” “comment” or “repin” (which also can be linked to an outside website). When someone repins something you’ve created, it opens it up to their followers, much like retweeting on Twitter or sharing on Facebook. When you pin something great or useful, chances are people will want to repin it to their own boards, which is the sign of a successful pin.

Boards are what categorizes your pins. For instance, if you find a website that has a great image of how someone turned a pool noodle into a golf swing aid, you can pin it to a board you create called “Unique Things You Can Do With Pool Noodles.”

Your profile will be filled with boards that represent your company. You could have a board titled “Employee Christmas Party” that’s filled with photos from the event, or a board called “Amazing Infinity Pools,” where you can collect photos from around the Internet of amazing pools. The more boards and pins you post, the more chances someone will want to follow you.

Why you should be on Pinterest

Other social networks are just streams of content. Companies post a status on Facebook or send out a tweet, and it’s gone into the ether of the Internet. Pinterest, on the other hand, is a collection. Everything you post on the site remains there for any of your followers to see at any given moment. This means that when you put time into posting something, you don’t need to get instant feedback to achieve success.

As a pool professional, you should be taking photos of your work, and when you do, it doesn’t benefit your business by keeping them on a hard drive — you need to share them with the world to help attract new clients. So create a board to showcase the pools you build or the amazing pools you service.

You can also use Pinterest to educate. Create a board filled with links to great online content (even your own). If you publish something on your website that’s useful, pin it and spread the word about your business.

Now, here are some more specific guidelines for using this great tool.

Five effective Pinterest tips

1 Board names are important

The goal is for people to see a board and want to follow it. To that end, don’t just create one called “Pools.” Give it an attention-grabbing name, such as “Pools That Will Blow Your Mind” or “Pools That Will Make Your Friends Jealous.”

2 Be active

Spending a day posting a few boards and pins, then never doing it again won’t attract customers. It’s a social network, which means you have to be social. Make sure you follow people and boards you like too. You can like other’s pins, comment on them or repin them to your own board. Make friends with others and they will follow you and promote your pins.

3 Repinning can bring serious traffic

A year ago, I pinned an article on how to landscape around your hot tub, and it gets repinned several times a month, which brings people back to the site.

4 Great photos are key

Pinterest is known for having a beautiful layout with an emphasis on photos. If you want your content to be worthy of a repin, you should aim for high quality or interesting photos and videos.

5 Stand out

Because of the way boards are presented, using taller photos will help make your pins stand out. Wide photos are limited to a certain size, but tall photos can stretch down the page and attract visitors. Keep a good mix of sizes to create a cool looking board, but remember, it’s all about the content. A tall, boring photo won’t do you any good, but a tall, amazing photo could be a game changer.

Warning: Pinterest is highly addictive, which is why the website is so popular. You can learn a lot or waste a lot of time looking at photos. Before you start, I suggest you create a strategy and timeline, as with any marketing effort. Know what your goals are, set a schedule and start pinning. You’ll be glad you did.