One of the things I love about social media site Pinterest is that it’s so positive. This deceptively simple platform is based on a “virtual pin board” concept. Users post beautiful images, useful ideas and inspirational messages to “boards”, collecting the things they love in a virtual space; then, other pinners can repin, comment or share. Snark is minimal. Most people I know use Pinterest to find recipes, decorating ideas, fashion tips, or craft instructions, or to browse and collect funny/inspirational sayings, but the potential for even greater uses is huge. I’m really excited about how some pioneers are using Pinterest for social good. Below are some tips and examples on how to “pin” for your own personal or group success.
Powerful, Simple, Collaborative
Even though Pinterest has been criticized for being the domain of suburban housewives, inspiring “craft envy”, and encouraging over-the-top domestic exploits, it’s also being used for more meaningful pursuits. And why not? It’s an easy-to-use, powerful tool that enables users to quickly collect images and their related click-through links. Here are some creative ways to take Pinterest’s super-effective functionality and put it to work for your favorite personal project or good cause:
1. Create a personal vision board. Pinterest was intended to be a “virtual pin board.” With the recent introduction of “secret” (or private) pin boards, you can create more personal pin boards that don’t necessarily have to be shared. Why not use this functionality to create a digital “vision board” that gathers images of your goals, ideals, and visions for the future? The vision board then serves as a constant reminder of where you want to go, keeping you on track and helping you realize your dreams. And because it’s virtual, you can open it on your desktop or phone whenever you need a hit of inspiration. Try creating one board for where you see yourself a year from now, and another one for 5 years from today.
2. Collaborate with partners. Virtual brainstorming just got a lot easier! Create a pin board for a shared project and invite your partners to pin along with you. As you come across good idea fodder on the web, pin it to your shared board. you can use the secret board function if you wish, just giving access to your project partners. I’ve done this with a social media project I’m working on. It’s a great idea repository we can come back to time and time again.
3. Connect people for a cause. Here’s a beautiful example of an entire Pinterest account set up for the purpose of social good. P-Ink (Personal Ink), pictured above, arose from a need of breast cancer survivors who undergo reconstructive surgery. Many of these women choose tattoos to disguise their scars. The P-Ink Pinterest page connects these breast cancer survivors with tattoo designs and art ideas, providing boards expressly for this purpose. It also connects women with tattoo artists who specialize in this area, and provides links to survivor stories. The P-Ink project is housed entirely on Pinterest. With custom graphics arranged in order across the pin boards, it takes advantage of the Pinterest platform to tell a cohesive and functional story. This innovative use could easily be copied for other social causes. P-Ink is a project of advertising agency Crispin Porter and Bogusky, which has generously used its resources to make the project happen. Bravo!
4. Curate for a cause. In a similar vein, I created a Pinterest board to collect resources for women planning breast cancer awareness parties. I still receive quite a bit of email from my former web project GirlfriendCelebrations.com. Many of the inquiries are from women looking for more information on how to plan a party for a breast cancer patient or survivor (a topic we had posted here). It took me less than an hour to get this pin board up and running with a full page of pins to party plans, decorations, printables, recipes, invitations and more. It should be easy to maintain, especially if other users suggest pins, too. With very little effort, I’ve created a starting point for women trying to honor their friends and relatives. Sharing ideas makes everyone’s life easier. Many teachers already share ideas for classroom use on Pinterest. I can see this method having many applications – for scout troop leaders, nonprofits, fundraisers, churches. It only takes one person (YOU) to make it easier for countless others to do good!
5. Bring attention to a cause by sharing stories and images. Pinterest users are visually motivated and social: They want to share beautiful images or cool stories. It’s relatively easy to use that appeal to bring attention to your project or cause. Here’s a great post on how nonprofits like Operation Smile, World Wildlife Federation, and Heifer International are using Pinterest to raise awareness. Key idea: Pinterest is remarkably effective at driving web traffic. Use your success stories or those fun, intriguing, and heart-tugging images to bring people to your cause website!
Have an idea for using Pinterest that goes beyond the basics? Want to share? I’d love to hear it. Please leave a comment below. And, follow me on Pinterest here.
New to Pinterest?
If you’re a new pinner, you’ll need to create an account at www.pinterest.com. You can find some basic information on getting started here. I personally would like to share these important beginner tips:
– Slow down and pin with caution. It’s so tempting to quickly repin a beautiful image. But, believe me, you don’t want to do that! Vet each pin by clicking through to the source. Some pins are attached to incorrect links, no links, or “scam” links. Make sure the content behind the pin is what you had in mind.
–Be picky about your images. Pinterest is a visual platform. Striking, beautiful, or at least quality images are important if you want anyone to pay attention. (If it’s your own secret board, this is not as important.) Be sure to fill the frame and use an image that’s in focus.
-Make your links specific. You almost never want to pin to the general home page of a website (for example, www.girlfriendcelebrations.com). If you are pinning to the first article on the page, your pin will link to irrelevant content when the site is updated. Make sure you are pinning to the long link of the specific blog post or article you want by clicking on the post title, then copying the long link from your browser’s navigation bar. (example: http://www.girlfriendcelebrations.com/celebration-ideas/a-little-pink-party-to-support-friends-with-breast-cancer/)
–Be mindful of copyright. There has been some controversy about copyright infringment on Pinterest. Sites that have a “Pin It” button are generally safe to pin from. Be wary of using original images by photographers and artists. Using your own photos and/or illustrations is safest–as long as you realize others may repin them.