PINTEREST: A VISUALLY-ORIENTED SOCIAL MEDIA APPLICATION NONPROFITS SHOULD CONSIDER


By James D’Ambrosio

Last column I discussed the importance of reaching and stewarding donors by telling compelling stories of impact. I’ll now focus on Pinterest, a social media application lending itself to storytelling in a visual way.

Pinterest is a pinboard-styled social photo-sharing Web site where you create and manage theme-based image collections — photos, graphics, videos, discussions, etc. — from the Web or uploaded from a computer. In January, Comscore noted Pinterest had 11.7 million unique users, making it the fastest site to eclipse 10-million unique visitors. While founded by three men, 97.9 percent of Pinterest fans are female, perhaps a result of the About-page statement: “People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.”   

ACCOUNT SET-UP & ACCESS

Pinterest is still invite-only, via e-mail request or through a current user. Once invited, you register through Facebook Connect or Twitter. (Registration requires linking to your Twitter or Facebook account.) If you log in through Facebook, you must use or opt-in to the new ‘Timeline’ feature, a subject of some debate. Pinterest can be accessed by adding the “Pin it” button to your desktop bookmark bar, adding “Follow me” and “Pin it” buttons to a Web site or blog, or the iPhone app available through the App Store.  

BASIC TERMINOLOGY

 A ‘PIN’ is a media item added to Pinterest from a Web site using the “Pin It” button or uploaded from a computer. Pins added via the “Pin It” button link to the site of origin.

A ‘RE-PIN’ is adding an image found on Pinterest to your own board. When you re-pin, the original pinner also gets credit. Re-pins maintain the source-link of the image no matter how many times it’s re-pinned.

A ‘BOARD’ is a set of pins on a given topic, as many as you like. Boards typically have several pins, a title, and a “Follow” button.

‘FOLLOWING ALL’ means you see all of a user’s pins on all their boards;  however, you can choose to follow individual boards only. You can also ‘Unfollow’ boards and users without their knowledge.

BEST PRACTICES

Lauren Blecher, a social media marketing executive with Brafton news, an online news and content agency, offers these tips:

Organize pins into board categories defining your product or service. Optimize content for categories by placing keywords and hashtags strategically — users filter searches by pins, boards and people.

Be creative. Consider which topics best convey your brand. Enhance user’ experience with engaging boards about your brand rather than promoting a product.

Find your audience. See who’s pinning about your industry or brand by entering your company’s URL after “pinterest.com/source/” and view results.

Note who’s pinning/re-pinning your content. Pinterest is akin to a visual Twitter; follow industry leaders.

Despite an apparent focus on artistic, female-oriented themes, Pinterest is young. There’s no way to know how it might evolve over time. Given the importance of communicating in ways that show impact and/or solving problems, take some time to become familiar with it and monitor its growth and content. If/when it makes sense for your agency, consider adding it to your social media efforts.

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QUESTION TO READERS: Are you using Pinterest? If so, what has been your experience?

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