Pinterest Strategy: It’s More Than Just Posting Pretty Pictures

April 3, 2013

So, you’re hooked on Pinterest and you want to get in on the action on behalf of your own organization or cause. You’ve created an account and you’re ready to create your first board. You ask yourself, should I start with a board for this project or that project? Or, wait, maybe I should first create a board to highlight my top volunteers?

Before you rush off to create those soon-to-be-eye-catching Pinterest boards, go through the same exercise that you did when you first developed your website or created earlier social media accounts like Facebook: identify your goal and determine your audience. Who are they and why can starting a Pinterest account get you closer to whatever goal you have for activating these people? Is this a story that is best told visually?

UNICEF is a model example for how nonprofits can use Pinterest to tell the story of what they do and to get their audience to do something that will help further UNICEF’s mission; in this case, to give money to help UNICEF carry out its work. UNICEF has done a brilliant job creating a board for Ami Musa, age 13, of Sierra Leone, one of the typical children it helps around the globe. When you visit her “Really want these” board, playing off so many women’s personal Pinterest boards of objects people love and want to buy, you see photos of clean water pouring into a bucket, a school chalkboard and a handful of rice, with a message from UNICEF saying, “This is what 13-year olds like Ami from Sierra Leon really want. Repin to remind people…” The UNICEF hyperlink takes you to a donation landing page. Kudos to whoever came up with the fundraising tagline, the “pinning their hopes” appeal. What do the people you serve “really want?”

Follow the same best practices that work for other online media:

  • Offer useful content
  • Credit your sources
  • Interact with others
  • Repin others’ pins, don’t just self-promote
  • Use keywords and descriptions with search engine optimization in mind
  • Let others pin on your boards
  • Use high-quality photos and label them clearly (Check out our Seeing is Believing guide for more on the power of pictures.)
  • Consider text overlay, so the picture’s description will stay no matter where it travels across the web
  • Measure and evaluate to make sure Pinterest is worth your time and effort

Learn more with our Pinterest Tips for Nonprofits tip sheet [pdf], and check out the National Wildlife Federation to see some best practices in action.


Liz Banse