How to become a pinning pro
Your nonprofit already has a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Do you really need a Pinterest account, too? Consider what a Pinterest presence can do and how to make this tool work for your nonprofit.
How does Pinterest work?
Pinterest is a tool for collecting and organizing things you like, primarily images and videos from websites.
Instead of cutting interesting images or articles from print publications and posting them to a bulletin board, users pin web-based items to a virtual board known as a pinboard. You can create and categorize multiple pinboards based on your interests. Beyond serving as a way to gather inspirational ideas, Pinterest can help you keep your thoughts and plans organized — and share them with others.
What's the hook for nonprofits?
Popular pins include food and drink (recipes), crafts, home decor, hair and beauty, and women's fashion — which might not be a great fit for all nonprofits. But if your organization is interested in connecting with millennials or women, especially those in their 30s and 40s, Pinterest is one way to do it.
Your nonprofit can share videos and photos to a wide audience on Pinterest, and your pins will have a longer life than your posts on other social networks. Even infographics and interesting quotes from your website or blog can serve as pinning fodder.
Possible benefits of using Pinterest include:
- Increased traffic. When people click on an image you pin to your Pinterest board from your website, they'll be directed back to your website. This can create traffic.
- Branding opportunities. Your nonprofit can use Pinterest to grow its brand. The tool also offers web analytics to help you monitor how well your content is resonating and how best to share your content.
- Building community. Pinterest can help you develop and strengthen relationships with supporters and nonprofits with similar missions or goals.
Before you sign up for Pinterest, consider your specific goals. Is your priority growing traffic or building relationships? This can help you determine how to use the tool.
Keep in mind that your nonprofit might have pinners sharing your content on Pinterest, regardless of whether you've created a Pinterest profile. To check, add your website's URL to the end of this address and enter the URL into your browser: http://pinterest.com/source/.
How do we get started on Pinterest?
Your first step is to create a Pinterest account, specifically a business account. Be sure to verify your website to show you're a trusted source. When creating your profile, include specific information about your nonprofit, such as your website address. You can also use your Twitter account to sign up, which will allow you to share Pinterest pins with your Twitter followers.
- Select your interests. Each interest will provide you with a selection of Pinterest members you can follow. Select a few to get started. You can add more and refine your choices later.
- Create pinboards. Start with 5 to 10 pinboards. Give each pinboard a different category with a specific purpose. Be creative, but keep in mind that the categories you choose matter. This is how users browsing by category will discover your content. Check out other nonprofits' pinboards for ideas. Remember that you can delete or edit a board at any time.
- Upload pins. Add or upload a selection of your best pins to your boards. Aim for at least five pins for each board to start. Pin videos you've posted on YouTube or photos from Flickr. Pin the best graphics or images from your website. Add a description (if needed) and a link to your website to drive traffic.
- Become an active member of the community. You can create collaborative pinboards that allow you to invite other pinners to pin to it and share their stories. Follow other nonprofit Pinterest users with similar interests. Consider repinning their stories. Users are credited for repins, which can increase their following — and they're notified when it happens. If you're lucky, these users might return the favor. You can also use the pin comments section to participate in conversations.
- Make pinning easy for yourself and others. Install the "Pin It" button on your browser and download the Pinterest app on your mobile device. Also, add the Pinterest icon to your website, blog and e-newsletter.
- Get personal. Don't be afraid to use Pinterest to pin things that help your audience learn more about the people behind your organization, their interests and what inspires them.
- Consider fundraising opportunities. If your nonprofit also sells goods, consider selling them on Pinterest. Simply pin an image of the item and type "$" with the price in the description box. The item will be added to the Gifts tab on the Pinterest homepage.
- Pace yourself. Feel free to pin daily, adding one or two pins each time. Just be careful not to inundate your followers' feeds with too many pins, which might cause you to lose followers.
What are some best practices for Pinterest images?
Images that have the most impact within tools such as Pinterest are compelling — stirring emotion and making people want to know more. You can use these types of visuals on Pinterest as calls to action, pairing them with descriptions of how to participate in one of your campaigns.
Also, keep in mind that vertical images look better in Pinterest. And, since pins appear small on pinboards, images shouldn't be too complicated. Working article titles into the images on your website can also make your content more Pinterest friendly.
However you decide to use Pinterest, avoid using it to simply promote your organization. Constantly pushing your cause might turn people off. Be sure to find and share other great content, too.
Causevox: Pinterest for nonprofits and social good
Social Velocity: Why I love Pinterest and nonprofits should too by Nell Edginton (2012)
JohnHaydon.com: 12 ways to use Pinterest for your nonprofit by Noland Hoshino
Mashable: 10 strategies for nonprofits on Pinterest by Matt Petronzio (2012)
Capterra: How to use Pinterest for nonprofits by Hannah S. Ostroff (2015)
Nonprofit Tech for Good: How to: Get your nonprofit started on Pinterest (2012)
Viraltag: Five nonprofits thriving on Pinterest and how they do it by Sarah Beckham (2015)