Pinterest for Your Publication

By Jennifer Ford

Most publications have gotten started with the basics of a social media plan by creating a Twitter feed and a Facebook page. But there are many, many other social media tools that your readers might be using and where you might be able to reach them. Readers and consumers these days don’t much care how you get your content to them, but they want to be able to find you on every screen and every device and every network they use.

That’s why you might want to consider Pinterest as part of your social media strategy to share your content. Pinterest is a virtual pinboard that launched in 2010. In under 2 years it became one of the 10 largest social networking services. I can easily see why: its purpose is to share photos, which we all know innately (and gauging from the shift toward a more photo-centric Timeline, Facebook agrees) are the most enticing element of social networking. I joined Pinterest during its beta phase and it has since become a regular at my social media table along with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Businesses selling products marketed with images on Pinterest are seeing better sales than through Facebook. In a comparison of 50,000 purchases via Facebook and 50,000 purchases via Pinterest on jewelry site Boticca.com, Pinterest buyers spent $180 to Facebook’s $85 per purchase.

That’s great for an e-commerce site, you say, but what about for publications? They’re getting in on the game, too. Publications like the New York Times curate images from lifestyle and blog areas of their site on Pinterest. And take the magazine House Beautiful, for example. As of the time I am writing this, they maintain 41 boards of various themes on Pinterest. And this year they became the first Pinterest-enabled print magazine by implementing a digital watermark tool, like a QR code but integrated into an image, called Print-to-Pin (Digimarc). You can actually take a photo of the printed page with your smartphone and create a pin that will reference the House Beautiful site. There are still some wrinkles to be ironed out, but there are so many possible applications it makes the mind spin.

But there are reasons you might not want to use Pinterest, either. Consider the way it works: a steady stream of photos that reference a URL. For example, healthcare publications could face HIPAA compliance fines or other legal action if Pinterest users ever shared photos that did not have identifying information removed or did not have the necessary permissions attached. Even if you’re not risking something as serious as legal action, you don’t want to risk wasting your time. You need to gauge whether your readers are on Pinterest and would want to see your content there.

If you have decided you want to get on the Pinterest bandwagon, start by downloading the Pin It plugin that you can put on your site. You can also look to see if anyone has already pinned something from your website by going to http://pinterest.com/source/yourwebsite.com/. And, of course, you’ll want to develop a strategy for your activity on Pinterest and share it with other editors who are involved. When you pin your content, you’ll want to be sure that there are feature images that relate to the content, because the image associated with a URL is what users see in the pin, and if you don’t have one, Pinterest will try to use another image it can find, like your logo or an ad. Another resource that could be helpful is the book Pinfluence by social media expert Beth Hayden, which was published in July 2012.

Share your experiences! Leave a comment or tweet @jeniford or @thewebeditors.

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