In case you haven’t heard, Pinterest is an absolutely huge social sharing network with traffic power bigger and stronger than Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter! If you don’t believe me, check out this infographic. Is that something you want to ignore? Or delegate to an intern or volunteer?

If you’ve been living under a rock, Pinterest is a social bulletin board. It allows you to “pin” anything you find on the web, and organize it into themed image boards that you create. All you need to be able to pin something is a URL. Here’s the basic process: (1) Surf the internet. (2) See an image/video you like. (3) “Pin” that image/video to one of your Pinterest boards. You can follow boards that others in Pinterest have created, find folks who’re already there, or invite people to join. Anyone can follow what you pin and “re-pin” those images onto their own boards. And vice-versa.

Here’s the deal: Content is king. Pinterest is all about content. And it’s about the best kind of content – the visual kind that’s super easy for people to digest.  Yes, it’s true. A picture really is worth 1,000 words. If we know anything about human beings, we know these two things: (1) they love a story, and (2) a picture is worth 1,000 words.  A new guide to visual storytelling practices reveals that when information is presented orally, people tested 72 hours later remember only about 10%. That jumps to 65% when pictures are added! Pinterest is a dream come true for nonprofits wanting to engage constituents with their mission. If you offer compelling, original visual content folks will be hungry for it – repining and spreading your content.  In other words, if you’re a nonprofit complaining that “no one knows what we do” this is your chance to change all that.

Here are 6 Reasons to “Hop on the Boards”

1. You’ve been longing to “go viral”

Pinterest is almost the most viral network ever launched, second only to Youtube. Pinterest combines speed, entertainment and interaction – all the ingredients that make a highly viral social platform. Images are quick to create, view, upload, comment on and share. But you’ve got to be strategic and thoughtful about what you’re doing.  No one is going to want to share your white paper. Or photos of guests at your event. So assure highly sharable “pins” by creating ‘how-to posts,’ ‘infographics,’ inspiring quotes, funny images and compelling videos on the site. And tie in to what’s popular on Pinterest.  Check out my article on the Maximize Social Business blog: 24 Ways to Use Pinterest Trends to Drive Cause Awareness and Fundraising. Folks are doing some really cool stuff!

2. It showcases your brand identity through cool collections

People love Pinterest because it appeals to their sense of identity. They can collect images that say something about them to the world. You can do the same for your nonprofit. Use Pinterest to build a creative identity for yourself, and get your Pinterest fans to share with the world. Check out this great Mashable article about how Whole Foods is making use of the medium. It’s not just about the “product”; it’s also about the values you project into the community and to which your supporters aspire.  Pinterest enables folks see a different side of you.  For example, most of my boards are about social media, content marketing, nonprofits and fundraising. But you’ll also find some boards attesting to my love of color, holidays and a few random interests. It gives you a fuller picture of who I am. In other words, Pinterest gives you a wonderful platform for getting creative and showcasing the depth and breadth of your work.

3. Images evoke emotional responses

You want folks to feel compelled to respond to your calls to action. By pinning compelling images to your boards you can emotionally involve your fans in your cause.

Soon, they’ll really care about your successes or failures. Think you don’t have pinnable content? You do!  You just have to exercise different muscles than you’re used to.  Think about business as usual: You write a static newsletter article about volunteers delivering food to a homeless shelter. Now, think about what you can do on Pinterest: You could link to live video of the volunteers cooking up a batch of meatballs; then pin the recipe to one of your Pinterest boards. Pinterest users are passionate, and nobody does passion better than nonprofits. See what other nonprofits are doing on my Pinteresting Nonprofit Fundraising board. It may surprise you.

4. Pinterest drives traffic like nobody’s business

The aim of social media marketing is to get lots of followers and people that will click through to your website or share your content. Pinterest today is the world’s fourth largest referrer of website traffic, reason alone to justify a presence on the site. Again, you have to be thoughtful and strategic in your approach.  You’ll get more shares if you share more.  So find other boards to follow, and share those folks’ pins. And here’s an idea: Why not check out the most popular Pinterest boards and see if there’s a way to tie some of these into what you do?  If you make friends with the top Pinterest influencers you’ll have a leg up on getting more traffic to your boards.

5. Pinterest gets folks engaged, a step along the path towards investment

Pinterest is so much fun it can become addictive.  People stay up into the wee hours looking for things to pin.  Do you have a great spot for people to have a wedding?  Do you have a craft project for kids? Could you share a recipe for heart-healthy snacks? Could you create a list of recommended movies or songs that relate to your mission? There are numerous ways to get folks to find you and begin to pay attention. Keep in mind that folks love to learn, love food and get excited by step-by-step images. What can you offer?  Time for some creative brainstorming.

6. People spend money on Pinterest

In fact, recent data reveals they spend 70% more than referrals from non-social channels. A recent survey by BlogHer found that more women say they’ve made a purchase based on a recommendation they saw on Pinterest than any other social media network. Plus, 28.1% of Pinterest users have an annual household income of at least $100,000. That’s why you’ll see so many businesses starting to put up Pinterest catalogues – price tags included. Hard copy catalogues and stand-alone websites? So yesterday.

If you’re doing something interesting, let me know and I’ll add it to my board. Happy pinning!

If you’d like more tips like these, and have not done so already, please subscribe to Clairification to receive regular blog posts with useful tips and links to other helpful resources. And check out my  ‘Hop on the Boards’ Nonprofit Pinterest eBook and Resources Guide — 39 full pages jam-packed with everything you need to know about Pinterest, one of the least effectively utilized strategies today for creating awareness and driving donor support.

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Claire Axelrad

Claire Axelrad

Fundraising Coach at Bloomerang
Claire Axelrad, J.D., CFRE is a fundraising visionary with 30+ years frontline development work helping organizations raise millions in support. Her award-winning blog showcases her practical approach, which earned her the AFP “Outstanding Fundraising Professional of the Year” award. Claire runs “Clairification School” online, teaches the CFRE course that certifies professional fundraisers, and is a regular contributor to Guidestar, NonProfit PRO and Maximize Social Business.
Claire Axelrad