How to Investigate Individuals and Companies Using Pinterest


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Provides a step by step guide for Professional Investigators on how to research individuals and companies using Pinterest. Shows you what information is available and provides step-by-step guide.

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How to Investigate Individuals and Companies Using Pinterest

  1. 1. SMI’s Social Media for Investigations Series: Pinterest for Investigations
  2. 2. Pinterest for Investigations There is a consensus among investigators that social media has become an invaluable tool for online investigations. Most are familiar with the big hitters such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but where does one go when the major social networks are not coming to the surface during an online investigation? Pinterest can be an excellent tool to gain access to your subject’s social media presence, online activities, travel, and even daily movement. The following is an investigator’s guide for using Pinterest as a tool for online investigations. Intro to Pinterest Pinterest did not arrive onto the social networking scene until its debut in 2010. In only a few years, Pinterest went from its initial 5,000 members to 70 million “pinners” and now has more active users than the popular professional networking site, LinkedIn. Speaking Pinterest The Pinterest language is easy to learn. The following is a brief list of Pinterest terms that will be useful to know for navigating this site and this guide. Pin An image that you can upload and add to your account to show your friends or save for later. Typically this image has a link attached to it that will take those who click it to a different website. For example: A common pin includes an image of a meal. Clicking on this pin typically takes you to the recipe for the meal.
  3. 3. Pinner A Pinterest user who creates pins Re-Pin Pinning an image that was originally pinned by someone else Board Pinners organize their pins into boards (similar to a file) that typically have a theme. For example: Restaurant review pins could be all saved onto one board called “Restaurants to Try.” Follow You can “follow” pinners and/or their boards or be “followed” by other pinners. How to Set Up an Account 1. Go to 2. Choose to sign up through Facebook or an email account 3. If you choose to link your Facebook account with Pinterest, Facebook will give the necessary information to Pinterest. Hint: See privacy settings to choose whether or not you want your Facebook account publically available to other pinners. 4. If you choose to sign up through an email account, you will be asked to enter your name, email address, password, and gender 5. Start Pinning! You can either re-pin from the newsfeed that you will see upon creating an account, or you can create pins of your own. PINTEREST.COM
  4. 4. How and Why to Use Pinterest in Online Investigations Pinterest can be an invaluable tool when investigating a subject online. A big plus to beginning your online investigation with Pinterest is that Pinterest does not require you to have an account to search the site. Anyone is free to search 70+ million Pinterest users, but once you have your subject’s Pinterest account, what do you do with it? The following are just a few ways to successfully use Pinterest for online investigations. Pinterest Links to Other Social Media Accounts and More. More than 9 million pinners link their Pinterest page to their Facebook account. Pinners also have the ability to link their Pinterest account to their Twitter page, personal website, Flickr account, blog, etc. All of these sites can be accessed through icons and links on a Pinterest page. YouTube accounts can also be found through a Pinterest page. Every video on Pinterest is provided by YouTube, and therefore can be traced back to the individuals YouTube account. YouTube accounts are connected to Google+ accounts. Because Pinterest accounts are more often public and searchable than other social media accounts, Pinterest can often be the clue that one needs to open up a subject’s online social media presence. John Doe Pittsburgh Most Businesses Now Have a Social Media Strategy And that social media strategy often includes a Pinterest account. Pinterest is an excellent marketing tool that allows customers to follow their favorite businesses and share their favorite products.
  5. 5. This becomes valuable to investigators when one has the opportunity to find a person-of-interest’s online presence through their place of employment or known business ventures. If the subject of an investigation is an employee at a company who uses Pinterest, the chances are good that the subject follows that company’s pins. There are two ways to locate the subject of an investigation through their business’s Pinterest account: 1. Every Pinterest page will have a searchable list of followers as well as a list of who the business itself follows. Search these lists for your subject. Hint: Typically the “Following” list of the company will be shorter than the “Followers.” Start with the “Following” using a simple Ctrl F search of the screen. 2. When you click on a board posted by the business, you can see who is following that board. This is a separate, and often shorter, list followers. To access this list click “Followers” in the upper right-hand corner of the board. Find the Holy Grail of Online Investigations: The Username One often overlooked characteristic of the Pinterest page is the URL. URLs contain the username that was entered by the account holder. This information is crucial to an online investigation as people often use the same username for all of their social media accounts. One search with a good username can pull up social networking accounts, dating sites, classified ads, gaming accounts, anonymous blogs, and much more. To find a subject’s username in the Pinterest URL, navigate to the pinner’s profile page and use the information provided in the URL.
  6. 6. Pinterest Maps Movement, Literally. Pinterest has recently added a location capability that allows users to add a specific location to each one of their pins. After a pinner adds locations to their pins, they can then generate a map which displays the locations of all of a board’s pins. SMI Headquarters Office Address 700 River Ave Pittsburgh, Pa 15212 Contact Information (888) 299-9921 From the pinner’s perspective they are simply sharing their favorite restaurants, night spots, travel destinations, etc. From the investigator’s perspective, you can actually track the movement of a subject.
  7. 7. The Future of Pinterest The future of Pinterest seems bright with both its commercial and personal user base growing. Pinterest attracts new businesses to their social network with the addition of “promoted pins” which companies can use to put their own pins into the newsfeeds of millions of Pinterest users. Already Pinterest has more than 500,000 business accounts. The commercial worlds growing interest in marketing through Pinterest suggests that Pinterest’s personal user base is growing rapidly as well. Pinterest is also growing as an international social network. Before the end of the year, Pinterest hopes to launch its network in an additional 10 countries while giving its international users access to their mobile application. For investigators this means more online connections and frequent online activity for millions of people worldwide. Soon it could be no longer necessary to physically track one’s subject. One will only need to download a map from a publically accessible social network, and the movements, interests, daily spending, and relationships become instantly available. SMI 700 River Avenue Suite 323 Pittsburgh, PA 15212 Ph: (888) 299-9921 Fax: (888) 236-2057 © Social Media Information, LLC