Last month, I had the honor of keynoting the Social Good Brasil Conference and one of the other keynote speakers was Peter Sims, author of “Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries.” I will have a full book review coming. One message in the book is not start with a big idea with it all planned out in advance, but to make a methodical series of little bets about what might be a good direction and learning from lots of little failures and from small wins to find unexpected strategies and tactics that lead to big and extraordinary impact. This is exactly the thinking that a nonprofit needs to institutionalize to be successful with networked approaches and social media – as well as be innovative.
I’m now on the prowl for examples from the nonprofit world of “Little Bets” and was excited to read about how Unicef created a fictional profile for a 13-year-old girl named Ami Musa, from the poor, war torn African country of Sierra Leone. Ami’s one and only board is called “Really want these” and instead of Louboutins, iPhone cases and nail art she’s dying to try, Ami’s pinned images include plain rice, faucets for clean drinking water, and chalk for school. It links to a donation landing page.
I caught up with Laila TakehHead of Digital Engagement at Unicef to learn more about their “little bet” on pinboard.
1. How did you come up with the idea for this board?
We’d been considering what place Pinterest could have in our digital engagement for a little while. We’d created the standard brand owned pin boards on a few topics but were cautious about investing too much time in the site while it’s still early days for the platform. Then an agency approached us with the core idea. It really came to life when we started to build in the authenticity and storytelling we could offer from our own skills.
2. The images link to your fundraising landing page. There was a study a while back that noted 1 out of 5 pinterest users purchase products of items they have pinned. Are you seeing this with donations or perhaps a better ‘Little Bets’ question is what have you learned?
The main objective was awareness in the first instance, but with the clear intent of moving people to becoming a donor. Results on awareness so far are favourable when you consider there was no cost involved and little resource investment too. The number of donations so far is smaller than the study you mention (1 in 5 of the pin volume). We predicted it might be smaller as the campaign is disruptive to the usual pinterest pattern. We’d like to try to benchmark it against other disruptive pinterest campaigns but we’re not sure there is a good comparison case study. Please tell us if you know of one!
3. I am assuming that this conversion from pinning to donating is one rung on your ladder of engagement ?
With this particular activity being an experiment we didn’t formally map out a ladder. As mentioned we had ambitions to reach different audiences (based on what we know of pinterest demographics) to start to build their recognition of UNICEF and the issues, with a view we could convert them into supporters through ongoing exposure across activity. For any donor who comes through the website there are defined welcome journeys (albeit ones we are looking to improve, as always!).
4. Pinterest has only been around for short time. So, I imagine this effort is an “experiment” – a good one I might add because you have specific goal, audience, and metric to measure success. What is it about your organization that will allow for experiments with emerging technology?
A few factors make UNICEF UK ripe for digital experimentation but with clear objectives:- We have a strategy to be digital first (a big part of my role is to lead this transformation). Because of this we are always looking to build our understanding of what can work for us.- Our ‘common approach’ principles ingrain values which are critical in experimentation; they include principles that focus us on putting children first, personal responsibility and transparent info sharing.- A team of specialists; the organisation is made up of specialists in their area. This is true in the digital and communications teams too. Having specialists in-house means we’re always monitoring trends and looking for opportunities. We regularly mix individuals across teams to get the benefit of cross-disciplinary insight and that spark that often happens.- UNICEF has a history of innovation. The organisation invests in creating the right climate, and everyone understands the benefits.
5. What are your 2-3 tips or advice for ngos about using pinterest?
Pinboards appear to have a longer life-span than a facebook or twitter post. Plan your content and any calls to action with this in mind. - Its still early days for brands on pinterest, especially charities. Keep experimenting but don’t invest too much yet – Pinterest is still developing its platform for brands.
Pinterest recently announced brand accounts which may offer lots of opportunities for nonprofits to place little bets. If your organization is in the process of designing an experiment and looking to other examples and best practices, see these recent blog posts “Pinterest Benchmarking” and this round up of tools, case studies, and tips.
Is your nonprofit placing a little bet on pinterest? What does it look like? What did you learn?
Have you experimented with converting pinners to donors? What did you learn?