Pinterest is a photo-sharing website that is rocketing in popularity. It's still in its infancy but it is already proving to be a great social media tool. Here are a few tips on how your charity can get involved and get experimenting.

Pinterest has been around in one form or another since 2010, but recently it’s experienced a massive surge in popularity. It’s goal is to connect “people all over the world based on shared tastes and interests.” For charities the goal should be that they can use Pinterest to connect people and communities based on their social interests and motivation to do good.

It is a photo-sharing website that takes its name from its pinboard-like design. What makes Pinterest stand-out from its competitors is that it blends elements from ‘traditional’ photo-sharing websites such as Flickr with the social media aspects of websites like Facebook. It combines the visual flare of the former with the shareability of the latter.

Among social media sites Pinterest has a unique demographic – with women currently making up 90% of its user base, and most of them being between the ages of 25 and 45. This is a demographic that most online campaigns find difficult to target and one that is a great source of donations. Pinterest is already starting to prove itself as a great tool for reaching this target and many users are finding that it has greater referral rates than both Twitter and Google+.

How can you use it?

Pinterest is a photo-sharing website at heart so you need to consider whether your charity is well suited to this very visual medium. There are some charities that are going to naturally be more suited to Pinterest than others – an animal rescue charity will find it a lot easier than one raising money to combat terminal illness. Don’t let this dissuade you though as with a bit of effort and creativity any charity will be able to make use of Pinterest, and here are a few tips on how.

Be upbeat

Looking through Pinterest can be a chaotic affair. There are lots of pictures fighting for your attention and users tend to browse through hundreds of pictures to find ones they like. So you need to do something to make yours stand out. With Pinterest being a light-hearted website the most effective tactic is to be upbeat. Don’t show people the terrible things you are fighting, show them the good your work has brought about and make them feel positive that by supporting your cause they are going to help you make a difference.

Create coherent themes

Pinterest allows you group together the photos you upload and re-pin them into ‘boards’. This is just Pinterest’s term for collections of photos that people can follow. Every time you update a board everyone who follows it will get a notification, so make sure to look through your photos for a theme and create boards out of photos that are relevant to each other. Group together photos that follow a similar colour scheme, that focus on the same subject matter or use boards to tell a story and keep people engaged. If your charity has a shop, these boards are great for showcasing your merchandise and increasing your fundraising potential.

Don’t be too vain

It’s important to get your message across but, as with all social networks, if you repeat your message too much people will begin to tune it out. Mix it up by re-pinning other non-profits and inspirational people. This is a great way to show to your audience that you aren’t just thinking about yourself and it also gives you a chance to build up a relationship with other charities. They may even return the favour and re-pin one of your photos.

Link into other social networks

Although your Pinterest campaign will likely be aimed at a different audience to your other social media campaigns it’s still a good idea to link them all together. Social media networks all feed off each other, by sharing links to your Pinterest boards on Twitter and linking back to your Twitter feed on Pinterest you can create a reciprocal cycle that benefits both of your campaigns as well as bringing them all together.

Pinterest is a great website but, although it’s been around for a few years, it’s still in its infancy. People are still finding new and unique ways to use it. So get involved and get experimenting.

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