Monday, February 6, 2012
Okay, so everyone is talking about Pinterest. Or sending you invitations to check out the crazy virtual pinboards there. And so now you're thinking, 'Is this really another social network I need to know about?'
Here's the thing: Pinterest is one of the Web's fastest-growing social networks. Though it's been around for two years, it has experienced a meteoric rise in popularity over the past couple of months. Pinterest now ranks among the Web's Top 10 social networks, among the likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Tumblr. But the biggest take-away about Pinterest? It is becoming one of the highest referral traffic sources out there. Shareaholic's February report on referral traffic from social networks says Pinterest can drive more people to your Website than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube. Combined. And now it's starting to gain on Twitter.
So what's the appeal? Pinterest lets you organize and share images and videos you discover on the Web about pretty much anything -- whether a collection of favorite typefaces or our friend Lina Srivastava's collection of images that each represent a different multimedia campaign for social good. Her pinboard is called "narrative design for social action." [My pinboard, on the other hand, is a starter's collection of just a few of my favorite cause videos, here. I have another pinboard, a collection of info-graphics used in advocacy. Social Media consultant and blogger Beth Kanter, has 20 Pinterest boards that mix her personal interests with her work on social media.
Just like other social networks, Pinterest lets you build a list of people and organizations to follow. A number of nonprofit organizations already have a presence on Pinterest -- either on pinboards which they have created themselves (the Humane Society of New York) or on pinboards their fans have created in appreciation, such as this one made about the American Red Cross. Another page for good, Help Japan, had (at this posting) 421,600 followers. [For a wide array of other boards on other subjects, see Mashable's recent post, 21 Must-Follow Pinterest Users. And see this infographic suggesting Pinterest may be "the next social commerce game-changer."]
A few other things to know about Pinterest: It's not just about checking out somebody's collection of wedding gown images or their most favorite album covers from the '60s. Pinterest can be a promotional engine for brands and a way to help drum up support for an activist cause or action. It also is a form of content marketing. If you run a bakery, say, you might want to think about sharing some special cookie recipes for your Pinterest followers. Or if you're a photographer, it's a great place to show off your latest work. Pinterest also is a good way to build authority around a topic. Select a couple of topics related to your industry and create boards to share unique related content about them. Or take it to the next level. If you're showcasing products on specific boards, try running exclusive content and promotions for Pinners, or use it to complement existing campaigns.
It's not yet clear how Pinterest enthusiasts will develop the network over time. [Many social network platforms begin with one purpose in mind and then get reinvented by users to meet a wider need. This past week's controversy over the Susan G. Komen Foundation's decision (later reversed) to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, for example, spawned another use of Pinterest, which Kanter labeled "pinactivism."] But one thing about Pinterest is already fairly obvious. It can help raise awareness for a cause and a brand and build followers. And if Help Japan proves able to raise money on Pinterest, many more nonprofits will be sure to get pinned.
-- Marcia Stepanek