How to Leverage Pinterest to Raise Awareness

When it comes to using social media, most nonprofit organizations stick to the “Holy Trinity”—Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. However, broadening your scope and reaching out into other social media platforms like Snapchat, Vine and . . .  you guessed it, Pinterest, can help tell your story in a different way to engage constituents and build a stronger community. Depending on the goals and focus area of your nonprofit, Pinterest is especially useful for driving traffic to your website and showcasing your organization’s mission and personality.

So, what is Pinterest?

According to their website, Pinterest is a “visual bookmarking tool that helps you discover and save creative ideas,” allowing organizations to “get discovered by millions of people looking for things to plan, buy and do.”

Basically, Pinterest is an online social network that serves as a vision board / scrapbook / household style guide for its users.

Here are the basics:

  1. People save Pins
    1. Users find things they like on the web and save them to Pinterest. These “Pins” are visual bookmarks which link back to the websites they came from.
    2. Pins are saved to boards. Boards are collections of Pins organized by varying themes or topics, such as “Animals for Adoption.”
  2. People discover more Pins
    1. Not only can users save Pins from the web; they also repin items already on Pinterest by searching or browsing different feeds and profiles. When Pinners repin a post they’ve discovered, other Pinterest users are able to see it.
  3. People click Pins to take action
    1. When people want to see or do more, they click on a Pin to go straight to the website it came from. From there, users can utilize your site to register for events, sign up to volunteer, read an article or donate.

Who’s on Pinterest?

Pinterest’s popularity has exploded in the last five years, growing from 1.2 million users in 2011 (Mashable) to over 100 million monthly active viewers in 2016 (Marketing Land). The social media site represents over 28% of all internet users (Pew Research Center) with a majority of its visitors (68.2%) as women. Most Pinterest users are between the ages of 25-34, followed shortly by the millennial generation.

If that isn’t enough to convince you that Pinterest is a happenin’ place, the average user spends 15.8 minutes on Pinterest, beating out both Facebook and Twitter.

Should your organization use Pinterest?

There’s the key question. You’re probably wondering, “Sure, Pinterest seems great and all, but another social media platform? Is that really going to help my nonprofit?” Here’s the thing: being more involved in social media is never going to hurt your organization. If you have the willpower and capacity to have a stronger social media presence, then Pinterest is an excellent option to get involved in.

Particularly if most of your constituents are women in their thirties, Pinterest may give you another tool to reach that audience. Additionally, as the millennial (Generation Y) population grows and becomes more involved in the workforce, ignoring any social media platform will become increasingly difficult.

Pinterest is a significant way to tell your nonprofit’s stories through images and video. Even if your organization’s website is mainly text-heavy, adding a quick image, caption or eye-catching quote can inspire users, help you increase awareness, drive traffic to your site and gain additional volunteers and donors.

Get started with Pinterest.

Pinterest accounts are quick and easy to set up and manage. First, it’s important to make sure your account is searchable as an organization and not set as an individual. To do this, set up your Pinterest account as a business. If you already have an individual account, you can convert to a business account here.

First, you’ll enter your contact information, organization name, business type (e.g., Institution/Non-profit) and website URL. Make sure to upload your nonprofit’s logo for a profile picture, enter your location and your mission statement. It can also be helpful to include links to your other social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. 

Once you have made your nonprofit organization’s profile, you can start creating boards! Boards are general overarching categories where volunteers or donors can click to see more pins. Think of them as folders or albums.

It’s good to start with 5-10 boards you feel will represent your nonprofit. Use common and all-encompassing titles like “Events”, “Volunteers”, “Fundraising” and something related to your mission or cause (e.g., homelessness, fighting hunger, saving the planet, etc.)  This will give you a starting point for adding material to your website. As you begin to pin more stories, you can utilize these boards and even create specific ones as you become more established.

Creating Pins on Pinterest

Now that you have a solid foundation for your group’s profile, you can begin adding pins. From a nonprofit standpoint, your pins are going to be more intentional than other companies. Pull material from your own website, blog or online news articles that relate to your cause. Make sure your pins are purposeful, relatable and eye-catching to potential followers.

On Pinterest, you’ll  need to include an image or video on each of your pins. Make these as much a part of your organization as possible. Try to avoid stock photos and be sure to include images that elicit an emotional response. These pins will link back to whichever website URL you provide, so incorporate your own site as much as possible.

Stay tuned for even more content on Pinterest to learn about what to pin and how to utilize your Pinterest account to its fullest potential. Until then, check out Pinterest’s series of best practices guides for making your website Pinterest-friendly and helping people find your organization.

Social media is not going away anytime soon, so the best way to grow as an organization is to jump in headfirst. While Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are great fundamentals to building your nonprofit’s social media presence, utilizing a wider variety of outlets will only further your cause.

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