By Katy Snyder, JVA Consulting
Where can you learn how to use a sock to curl your hair, check out what your neighbor had for dinner last night, and look at pictures of baby pandas? Why Pinterest, of course! While there are endless uses for Pinterest, you are probably wondering how it can help your nonprofit. I agree that its applications to the sector are not immediately clear. My initial reaction was to think that we’ve already invented enough ways to waste time, why add another? But, like most other converts, I was hooked once I actually checked it out.
First of all, Pinterest is much simpler than Facebook or Twitter. And while neither Facebook nor Twitter is rocket science, Pinterest doesn’t require any hastags or personal information. You simply post pictures (or in the language of Pinterest, “pin”), and if you feel like it, comment, on pictures that others have pinned. The more interesting or visually stimulating your picture, the more people will like it or, “repin” it. If you have your Pinterest page well-aligned and connected to your other social media, the connections you make on Pinterest can lead to real business.
How to use Pinterest for your nonprofit
Like other social media tools, you want to strike a balance between promoting your products and services and providing interesting content. As social media marketer John Hadon says, “Pinterest is not a place to blatantly promote your organization.”
Mike Tuttle adds that, “No one comes here to shop. They come here to find things they like. Respectfully converting that sale is key.”
In a nutshell, respect the fact that Pinterest is about eye candy. Don’t force your products or services on people, but rather position compelling pictures of what you do/sell so that people want to come to your website to learn more.
While Pinterest is an obvious place to put pictures of your product, what if you have a product that is not tangible, such as mentoring services or environmental consulting? In these cases, simply posting pictures of your staff and clients in action is an option. Or, use pictures to show what you value as an organization. As this article says, nonprofits might even have an advantage over for-profits on Pinterest because “while big brands may struggle to tap into the cool, organic culture, nonprofits have a real opportunity to connect with people’s hearts. That’s because most of what happens on Pinterest is sharing images, and few things evoke human empathy and emotions more than pictures.”
Getting started. Here are the basic steps to getting started. For more in-depth how-to, check out John Hadon’s article mentioned above.
Sign up. Unlike other social media sites, starting your own Pinterest page requires an invitation. You can either request an invite on the Pinterest site (just type in your email) and you will be added to a waiting list, or, if you want to join more quickly, ask a friend who is already a member to send you an invitation. When I sent a request directly to Pinterest yesterday, it took about four hours to get an invite.
Start pinning. As mentioned above, use images that are high-quality and evocative of your mission. Most people create multiple “boards” that cluster pictures by theme (e.g., “things I like” or “causes I support”). And make sure it easy for viewers to get to your website—if you have a social enterprise, for example, post pictures of your products and use the caption feature to add a link to your website so that viewers can buy your products. Also make sure to add buttons for your Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts so visitors to your Pinterest page can quickly get to them.
Follow others. Including nonprofits doing similar work, your clients and competitors.
Repin. If you see something cool, repin it. Make sure that you add thoughtful and relevant comments (when appropriate) so that you are engaging with your followers.
Learn more. Check out a great Pinterest board from Nolan Hoshino that compiles the Pinterest boards of nonprofits.
Check back. JVA Consulting’s very own Pinterest page is under construction and will be up shortly! Have any suggestions of what you’d like to see on our page? Let us know by leaving a comment below.