Sticking a Pin in Pinterest: Making It Work for Your Nonprofit

As the 2011 Social Network Benchmark Report revealed, a number of new social media outlets are emerging as popular amongst nonprofits and small business owners. Pinterest is at the forefront of this new media revolution, having experienced extraordinary growth during the last six months of 2011. During this period, the rate of unique visits to the website grew by an estimated 4,000 percent, with a staggering 11 million hits recorded in just a single week. So what is it that marks Pinterest as unique amongst its social media contemporaries and which nonprofits are leading the way in maximizing its potential?

What Separates Pinterest from Other Social Media Outlets?

Pinterest is unusual in the annals of social media, most obviously because it relies on imagery rather than words as its premier tool of engagement. It has been described as a virtual pin board, upon which users can collate and share any number of images that have been sourced either from personal collections, the Internet, or another users’ board. Those with a presence on Pinterest can also organize their images across several different boards, so that it is possible for commercial and nonprofit organizations to streamline their efforts effectively.

While the unique nature of its content immediately gives Pinterest an edge in a crowded social media market, the resource also offers a great opportunity to nonprofits that are keen to increase awareness about a specific cause or campaign. This is because every pinned picture or image that you share on your board carries a link back towards its original source, so that the collating of relevant material can ultimately drive a great deal of traffic to your organization’s website or individual project pages.

Nonprofits with Reach on Pinterest

No nonprofit has understood the potential of Pinterest better than the micro-lending organization Kiva, especially with regards to how imagery can be utilized to personalize a service and inspire others to effect social change. Though already an organization that has lent an estimated $279 million in the course of tackling poverty across five continents of the world, its Pinterest page has afforded potential volunteers and benefactors a greater insight into what it aspires to achieve. By collating vivid imagery of the people and places where social improvement has been encouraged, Kiva is creating a personified and uniquely engaging interface from which to shares its activities from.

In terms of raising awareness and calling individuals to action, The Humane Society has blazed a trail for other Pinterest users to follow. It has built an impressive array of well-organized boards, each of which details a different campaign and offers Pinterest users an opportunity to assist. The best example is the organization’s ‘Woof – Adopt a Dog’ board, which shares photos of cats and dogs  looking for homes and uses these emotive images to call interested followers into action. The Humane Society even boasts a board that showcases animals that have successfully been adopted, and this feature gives followers the chance to measure the nonprofit’s success and share in its achievements.

How Can Your Nonprofit Benefit?

It is widely known that social media campaigns benefit from the application of strategy, and more specifically, from integrating the most efficient tools of different resources to create a multi-faceted online presence. In terms of adopting the best practice for Pinterest success, this means developing single or numerous boards for specific purposes, and collating imagery that is both relevant to a given cause and also interactive to followers. As our case studies have highlighted, these streamlined boards can be used to both engage and inform Pinterest users effectively, as well as providing a nonprofit organization with valuable links back to designated website pages and specific project information.

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