If you haven't heard of Pinterest yet, you will do so soon enough. With a growing user base and traffic, even though it is still in invite-only mode, it is fast becoming The Next Big Thing on the web.
And, before you say, "Oh no! Not another social web account to learn about and to maintain!" - do give this one some thought, as the task might not be as onerous as you'd think.
In a nutshell, Pinterest is a virtual "pin board" of interesting photos, illustrations, text, and other visual materials. The basic idea is people share what they find interesting either by "pinning" things they find on the web, uploading images on their boards, or "repinning" existing images that they see on Pinterest itself. The images may be of just about anything - from cupcakes and wedding dresses to gadgets and posters.
Currently, majority if its users seem to be sharing photos of food, crafts, home decor, and fashion. So, if your organisation has anything to do with these popular topics, then you're all set.
But, if you're like Connecting Up and many of the other nonprofit and charity organisations that we work with, you might be wondering what's the point. Is this one of those popular web tools that you can just ignore?
With a rising user base (11 million visits by end of Dec 2011 and showing approximately an increase of 4,000%), who are primarily females between ages 25-44, a number of people believe that this is definitely a demographic worth reaching out to. Joe Waters from SelfishGiving.com shares some of the reasons nonprofits and charities should pay attention to Pinterest at Huffington Post.
Avi Lap from FrogLoop gives 42 ideas on how to use Pinterest for your cause, regardless of the type of organisation you work for.
Based on the article at FrogLoop, here are some types of organisations that may benefit from using Pinterest:
Other possible organisations that may find inspiration with Pinterest include:
Basically, if you can visualise a story or interest for your organisation, then Pinterest is worth exploring.
If you want to set up an account for your organisation, Nonprofit Tech 2.0 has a step-by-step tutorial on how to start a Pinterest account. At the moment, it's by invitation only, so you can visit Pinterest and request for one. It takes anywhere between 24 hours to two weeks to receive an invite. If you know someone with a Pinterest account, they might have an invitation that they can send you, so it might be good to ask.
Once you've set up an account, the best way to get started is to follow topics and people (or organisations) that may be of interest to your nonprofit or charity. Then, set up a couple of boards where you can show some images that would best tell your organisation's story.
Since this is still a new platform, only a few organisations have ventured in to using it for now. In fact, we've only just set up Connecting Up's Pinterest account recently. And, Beth Kanter has collected a list of some charities internationally who are using Pinterest to further their causes (via Storify).
Now, if you and your organisation is willing to take the leap, here are some ideas on how to use Pinterest for your nonprofit:
1. Use it as an Inspiration Board. Is there a photo that would be useful to tell your organisation's story, pin it on your "story inspirations board". You can also pin or repin recipes for your community kitchen, images and text that you may use to conceptualise a campaign, and photos with ideas that you'd like to use. There are infinite ways to collect and feature things that may inspire the work that you do using Pinterest boards.
Amnesty International has a board on Inspiring Quotes and People.
2. Tell your nonprofit organisation's story. If you have animals for adoption, share their photos. If you visit remote areas, take pictures and pin them on your board.
3. Promote your cause. Whatever it is that you're advocating - there are a number of photos that you can use to share what matters most to your nonprofit or charity organisation.
For example, Water.org started a board called "Be a part of something big" that promotes their organisation's work and encourages people to participate.
4. Share your events and programs. If you're holding awareness events or fundraising balls, creating a board for these special events can help you share your organisation's important moments.
5. Pass along resources and tips. There are a number of tips that you can share with people to help your organisation - from great infographics related to your work to book recommendations about your cause.
At Connecting Up, we started Pinterest boards that help us to collect all the wonderful infographics that we encounter about nonprofit work, social media, and content + marketing for good. We also have a board where we highlight some interesting marketing campaigns by nonprofits and charities and a book list for nonprofits.
To make the most out of your use of Pinterest, here are some handy hints that you might like to keep in mind:
There will always be more to learn about each platform, and we hope to share them with you. So, please do watch out for more of our tips and resources on Pinterest.