More than A Pretty Face: Using Pinterest to Tell a Story

Pinterest is the (not so) little online bulletin board social channel that has everyone talking, er, pinning. As of January 2012, 11.7 million users were using Pinterest, making it the third most used social network (mostly by women). Suddenly Pinterest is the new “It” girl in town.

It is going to be fun to watch Pinterest grow, work its way through some sticky wickets (copyright, anyone?) and keep itself relevant as mobile devices continue their takeover of all communication devices. In the meantime, not only is Pinterest literally fun, but it has vast potential for telling organizational stories.

How so, you ask? How could “pinning” images found online to personal bulletin boards for everyone to see help an organization share its vision and engage and influence customers?

Well, for one, Pinterest is more than just a pretty face. First, companies and non-profits can create boards that anyone can pin to. And, the quick and easy “repin” function makes images go viral very easily. Pinterest automatically grabs source links from images that you pin from a website so the original creator is credited. Therefore, clicking on that image allows web sites to be easily found. And, with our ever increasing visual world, the ability to give graphic representation to your image, opinions and viewpoints, and products and services can move you into a whole new level of storytelling.

If I were to counsel a non-profit in the environmental arena I would tell them to create a board of the places or wildlife they are seeking to protect. Get people engaged in the story by letting people pin images that are indicative of why they think the place or wildlife should be protected. Ask them to comment under their photos as to why they support the protection and what makes that place, bird, animal or whatever, special to them. Let the users tell the story of how important the work is.

If I were to advise a company that provides training programs to sales people, I would tell them to create a board of images of people who are great salesmen of both products and ideas, such as great speakers, book authors and political leaders. Who is selected to post on that board says a lot about the organization’s influences. Then, ask people to pin their favorite “sales leaders” to a public board. Oh, and while they are at it, be sure to post videos and infographics on topics relevant to what the company does. Become a curator of the best sales advice ever.

If I were to give advice to a book author, I would tell them to host a board of favorite books or writing mentors. Or, start the teasing process early for their new book, by having a board that contains images that were inspiration during the writing process.

Or, if I were to guide a restaurant in using Pinterest I might suggest they post pictures of their dishes and people enjoying them. Post “in the kitchen” pictures, showing people how the dishes are made (barring giving away any secrets, of course). Show off the wine list on a “favorite” wine list. Ask people to “like” their favorite dishes or wines.

And, while they are doing all these things, they should note who is re-pinning and liking pins. Consider it one piece of the market research function.

Most people talk about weddings, interior designers and landscapers making great use of Pinterest, enticing people to make “wish” boards where people can post pictures of their dream wedding, dream home or dream landscape, or women’s clothing and shoe stores showing off their latest offerings. But, there are many more creative ways to use Pinterest.

Now ask yourself, what story are you trying to tell? And, how can Pinterest help you and engage your customers and clients?

 
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