Thursday, January 12, 2012

17 things you can pin on Pinterest that are not pillows and dresses

Have you tried Pinterest? It's the new darling of social media and you need an invitation to join (I have some if you'll email me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz.) You'll hear some folks dismissing or buttonholing this system of virtually "pinning" visuals to topical "boards" so others can share, like or comment on them. "It's just for 20-year-old women who want to collect pics of wedding dresses they'll never wear" or "just for middle-aged women clipping imaginary decorating projects they'll never do" are the more unkind ones I've heard. Even luminaries like Chris Brogan have said they just don't get it.

But in fact, people of all sorts, organizations and brands are working in this new space...and it's still new. Plenty of time to figure out what to do with it. I like an open-ended social network like this, one that lets the users figure out what it's for, and over time (like that Twitter thing did).

Pinterest revolves around photos and video. Many of them are indeed from "lifestyle" brands in fashion, retail, art, decorating, food and related areas; some are shared by consumers and some by the brands. But you can help this new service push the envelope a bit. Try these ideas for expanding your subject matter on Pinterest, keeping in mind it's not for aggressive promotion and sales, and more about who's sharing what you've got:
  1. Concerned about diversifying a profession? If your goal is to increase the position of young people, women, or underrepresented minorities in your professional association or membership, start a Pinterest board showing notable examples as well as new members who fit that bill. Let your members see who looks like them.
  2. Promoting a particular group of inspiring role models? I've got a series on famous speeches by women over on The Eloquent Woman blog, and I'll be pulling their photos together to show the diversity and variety of women speakers on The Eloquent Woman Index, a collection of those speeches.
  3. Raising money for a cause that convinces people by showing results, literally? If your donors are inspired to give based on laying eyes on your overseas operations, those compelling faces of hungry children or some other visual, put it on Pinterest. Or, try this: Show the old office equipment you need to replace, the too-small kitchen at your shelter, the things for which you need to raise funds. The more concrete the picture, the better the understanding of your need.
  4. Got a niche lifestyle angle that's small to your overall cause? The National Wildlife Federation is all about getting you outdoors, and one of its crossover boards on Pinterest combines a lifestyle activity with wildlife: Gardening for wildlife. Smart combo.
  5. Want to reward volunteers? AARP shows its employees in volunteer situations on Pinterest--a nice recognition, as well as a corporate social responsibility message.
  6. Got alumni and students? One standard board suggested by Pinterest is a "My Favorite Places" board, and universities, schools and colleges will find that users are already pinning their own photos of your campus on their boards. Why not give them a supply to repin--and be sure to include not just the money shots of your stadium, but photos of those special places on campus, in different seasons?
  7. Working in a field we can't normally see? If you're in radio, behind the scenes on TV, backstage at the theater, in the museum storeroom, in the library book repair room or some other hidden-from-view place, give us the behind-the-scenes tour.
  8. Creating art, music, architecture, theater? Everything from your ads and posters to your most recent designs has a place here. Show photos from performances, views of the place you create, and more. See more ideas in my post on social media for the visual artist, which covers Pinterest and more.
  9. Convening or planning meetings and events? Everything from room arrangements to place settings or famous speakers can go on your Pinterest board.
  10. Running a study abroad program? Get those traveling students to post photos--a great way for prospective students to sample what happens.
  11. Holding a retreat or workshop? Let me see those beachfront photos at your hotel, or a class or session in action. You might add a note about why it worked for you, while you're at it.
  12. Promoting a mentorship program? Get mentors to pose with mentees, in the setting where they are getting help--offices, conferences, workplaces. Ask both of them to post to Pinterest.
  13. Want your students/customers/partners to feel at home at your campus/HQ/offices? Give us the tour, inside and out. Who greets you at the door, what size are the meeting rooms, where are the best places to grab lunch? 
  14. Selling or leasing business real estate, short-term offices or other facilities? Put those PDFs away and post room layouts and views, interior and exterior. In Washington, plenty of meeting facilities talk about great views from their conference rooms, but you could show me that money shot of the Washington monument, couldn't you?
  15. Got a great view from your roof, meeting room or front steps? Any organization at a location can post the views from its building as well as of its building. Just turn around.
  16. Maintain a "wall of fame" for your well-known clients? This might be the new wall of fame--nice way to show with whom you are rubbing elbows.
  17. In the business of beds? Hotels, hospitals, assisted living communities and vacation condo rentals all can put Pinterest to use showing what they look like from the inside, with an emphasis on special features, redesigns, and facilities. Don't forget to show those upgrade suites, special-use facilities or other things that make your place unique.
For business owners like me, or those wishing not to share so widely, there are other options involving Pinterest's private boards. One college professor I know who's leading a study abroad in London wants her students to compile photos that capture what London means to them, then winnow them down to one choice that sums up the semester. I suggested she ask them to share the draft selections on private boards, one per student, giving herself an easy way to share and react to the photos during the term; then, when the final choices are made, all students can pin their photo in one Pinterest board for the end of semester project.  This Hollywood stylist talks here about using a private board on Pinterest to hear from clients who want her to react to potential outfits for events; she deletes anything on a shared board that she wouldn't recommend, leaving the right choices. (I may try that with public speaking trainees wanting advice on what to wear.)

Finally, start with some searches. You may find (as in the #6 example above) that the fans are there ahead of you and showing you what they want, in which case, you can give them that, only more/better/more conveniently. And explore the idea of inviting collaborators on some of your boards. I suspect that's where the action will be on this site, once we figure it out. Don't forget to put a "Pin It" button near photos, videos and articles on your website pages, to make it easier for those items to be shared.

No comments: