Winning at Pinning | Beth's Blog

Winning at Pinning

Guest Post

Note from Beth: A few weeks ago, I asked folks on Facebook “What Nonprofits Are Crushing It on Pinterest?” and got a terrific list of examples.   There’s been a lot written about pinterest and lots of nonprofits experimenting, but how do you do it strategically?    Kate Kilbourne is the Web & Social Media Manager at Camfed USA shares her experience.

Winning at Pinning – Guest Post by Kate Kilbourne

I am a Pinterest convert. After some initial doubt, this little-social-network-that-could has become one of my favorite new tools, and I now firmly believe that for our non-profit (and for any organization with decent images to share), it is an exceptional platform not only for storytelling, but also for improving your online presence and tapping into a new potential supporter base.

As the Web & Social Media Manager for Camfed USA (The Campaign for Female Education) I am charged with expanding our online presence in new and innovative ways. We began researching Pinterest in its early stages, when it looked like little more than an online wedding planner. The majority of the boards we saw were very much about lifestyle: pictures of pretty stuff, hot style, and cool design. If Pinterest were a person, it would be a young, upwardly mobile female – an ideal potential Camfed supporter, or so I thought. I decided it would be worth the effort to create a compelling Camfed collection of images on Pinterest, and I wanted to do it strategically, leveraging the viral nature of the platform.

As Pinterest is a sharing platform, using the most attractive images in our arsenal was essential to my strategy. Camfed has over 13,000 images on Flickr. While they are not the slick, product-placement-type images prevalent on Pinterest’s lifestyle boards, they are unique and compelling shots from the field, images that allow viewers to meet the real people Camfed supports and partners with, and see where they live, work and learn. Additionally, we took care to organize our images in a way that would communicate Camfed’s mission and hopefully pique the interest of the typical Pinterest user. For example, in the villages of rural Africa where Camfed works, local community members play an essential role in helping girls succeed in school. In many communities, Camfed students are supported by Mother Support Groups comprised of women who raise funds to support and empower their villages’ neediest girls. By titling one of our boards Moms & Daughters, we were able to tell Camfed’s story of community involvement, honor our local heroes, and display some of our most moving photographs, telling a compelling visual story to an audience much wider than the international development community.

Instead of expecting our Pinterest page to serve as a major traffic referrer back to our website (and stats showed in the first month it was not), we are optimizing our captions and image filenames using choice Google Ad keywords with the intent to boost our search engine ranking. The more content we have on the internet with consistent messaging and relevant links (in other words, content that is optimized for search engines), the higher the chances are that we’ll come up in a web search on a relevant topic. The generous 500 character caption limit in Pinterest allows us to describe images using long-tail search phrases from our Google AdWords campaigns, which also helps to unify our messaging and be consistent with the content we have on other platforms.

While a boost in our search engine ranking would be terrific, I was also interested in seeing whether or not Pinterest could become a conversion platform for Camfed, turning followers into supporters. To experiment, this Mother’s Day we promoted eCards as a way for individuals to make a donation to Camfed in honor of their mothers. We pinned images of the eCards on our Mother’s Day eCards board, and if Pinners clicked on the image, they would be taken to a donation form on our site that allowed them to purchase an eCard for their mom. Given the platform’s mostly female audience, and given Pinterest’s viral nature (pin that Mother’s Day eCard to your own board and watch your followers pin it to theirs, and so on and so on and so on!) we hoped to see at least some activity – and we did. But the activity was primarily from people following and sharing our eCards, proving that the platform, at least at this stage, is a better tool for raising awareness than funds.

Do you think that Pinterest could become an important platform for non-profit fundraising? What successes or failures have you had in trying to convert followers to donors on social media platforms? Is there a culture of not wanting to be solicited on Pinterest, like there seems to be on Twitter? Please share your thoughts!

Kate Kilbourne is the Web & Social Media Manager at Camfed USA. Camfed fights poverty and AIDS in rural Africa by educating girls and providing them with economic and leadership opportunities when they leave school.

10 Responses

  1. […] background-position: 50% 0px ; background-color:#222222; background-repeat : no-repeat; } – Today, 1:15 […]

  2. Vinod Kamath says:

    Great article!Pinterest is an interesting platform because it breaks a lot of the social media conventions we were so accustomed to.

    I think probably the biggest issue for nonprofits with Pinterest (and other social media platforms)is figuring out how you inspire users to want to leave the Pinterest experience. I think many users browse the website because that’s where they want to be, so it takes some very captivating content to get them to leave Pinterest for something else. It’s a tough problem to solve. Maybe allowing donations on the platform might be a step in the right direction.

  3. Tammy says:

    As a new Pinterest user I really appreciate this article. It was a great perspective from the social media manager side as well as from the user side. Thanks for the insight!

  4. Mimi says:

    Great article, but I still don’t see how you overcome the requirement to use a personal Facebook or Twitter page if you are on Pinterest to promote the great stuff your non-profit does. We do have a corporate Facebook page and Twitter account but I like to retain control of what gets posted on both.

  5. Beth says:

    Hi Mimi: Yes, that’s an issue for now. But the work around is to use a different email address and brand the profile as you organization – upload your logo, and name your account after your organization

  6. I’m glad to see more discussion as to how nonprofits can use Pinterest. I’m a convert, and have been suggesting to my nonprofit clients that they use the site for “show and tell”. It’s a great alternative to taking prospects and donors on site visits, especially for organizations where confidentiality or other circumstances preclude this. Plus, you reach more people (including those who work during the day or can’t/don’t want to travel.

    One idea: An organization working with disadvantaged youth that has an after-school workshop. Have each of the teens post to their own personal Pinterest pages as part of a project. Then allow supporters to visit those pages to get a sense of what the teens are doing/thinking/learning.

    Another idea: An organization working with animals. Post photos to Pinterest and allow supporters to adopt an animal (you could do this with other things too; a food bank could ask folks to adopt broccoli or carrots or milk, for example).

    There’s SO much potential (IMHO).
    Of course, once everyone starts to do this it may lose its luster. But there’s a great opportunity NOW.

  7. Pinterest is becoming more common in its use among nonprofits to tell their story in a more visually compelling way, in a way that Facebook does not. I’m most interested in seeing more institutional funders such as private foundations use the tool for communicating their funding priorities and tell the story of successful grantees. I believe that the Knight Foundation – among others – is doing this to some degree. What has been your experience with funders utilizing Pinterest? @adeptdiva

  8. […] background-position: 50% 0px ; background-color:#222222; background-repeat : no-repeat; } – Today, 10:47 […]

  9. Sara Evans says:

    As a Pinterest beginner and a nonprofit enthusiast I found this article inspiring and assuring. I found the insight about subtly asking for Camfed donations among Pinterest posts to be very valuable. It seems like another way to “cross-post” which is a recurring theme as I learn more about using social networks in public relations.

  10. […] Note from Beth: A few weeks ago, I asked folks on Facebook "What Nonprofits Are Crushing It on Pinterest?  […]