Pinterest is a hybrid image bookmarking and social network service that allows users to take images from the web and organize them into online collages called “pinboards.” Topic pinboards range from architecture to fashion and food, but you can create any pinboard with any topic.
Why it Works and Succeeds
Pinterest’s success is a concoction of different things. It’s certainly gratifying and addictive to use, but the usability and elegant presentation stems from solving some user experience (UX) issues that plagued other image bookmarking sites. If you dare, geek away and read more about that here.
Despite it still remaining “invite-only,” it has exploded beyond the “beta” curtain and continues to pervade and illuminate everything in social media. Here’s a data-infused source full of charts and graphs tracing its growth.
Nonprofits and the Current Issues
Pinterest is great for visual storytelling and content curation, but so far, at least for the nonprofit sector, its actual long-term benefit becomes a little hazy and unclear.
Tom Watson from Forbes takes a skeptical view. I tend to resonate with the theme: Do not expect positively heavy results.
Hype collides with both Experimentation and Skepticism
Big brands use it to inspire and influence and drive customers closer to a purchase. Social enterprises can emulate the same strategies employed.
But spying on #nptech or #pinterest or nonprofit blogs lately, I’ve noticed nonprofits struggle with tying a strategic use of Pinterest to a real organizational outcome which goes beyond a fiscal transaction. The diversity of a nonprofit’s objectives, audiences, and call-to-actions are too many and incredibly diverse.
Staff begin their experimentation runs. They play, pin, and repin and realize they’re still confused on nailing down its relevance and long-term benefits — tying ideas and inspiration into the execution of the organization’s call-to-action. Whatever it may be.
These lead us to classic social media ailments for organizations:
- Tying any social media channel clearly into objectives.
- Inspiring real action beyond the “liking” and “repinning”
- Allocating resources: time, staff, energy.
- Measuring and proving part of an objective’s momentum was due to Pinterest.
But! Here are some examples of how other nonprofits are leveraging and experimenting with it.
The nonprofit consensus so far with Pinterest is this: Experiment but tread carefully.
Pinterest can still be useful on a smaller scale, however:
Building brand image. Posting images of project work and volunteer activities. Content curation of issues and causes your organization is privy to.
Moodboards. As you pin and repin smartly and selectively, it begins to create a bit of a moodboard. This is a similar visual tool that web design firms use to brainstorm a vision. More on that here. It’s a good marketing “back office” tool to have to remember in setting communication and marketing tones with your audiences.
Keep up with trends. Not much to be said here. People love pinning infographics and stuff. They’re all over Pinterest, so have it.
A tip though in creating your pinboards: Avoid broad. As Pinterest evolves, I wager you’ll see plenty of noise, saturation, and clutter for very broad topics. I find that the more you try to link Pinterest to an actual organizational objective, then you can make your pinboard more relevant and stand out.