Earlier this year, Pinterest arrived on the social media scene like a cool new kid showing up in school -- one everyone couldn’t wait to sit next to at lunch.
Online, though, that kind of popularity is worth a lot more than free meals; it means going from a tiny, invitation-only site to 25 million unique views per month in just about a year (per Fast Company). And it also means a lot of people with a lot of businesses and causes saying, “Is this useful to my work?”
For those of us in the historic preservation, house museum, and Main Street worlds, the answer is very much YES. Pinterest is, at its core, a place for sharing pictures of pretty things. Historic places are pretty, but it goes well beyond that, too.
To help demystify the latest social craze, here are 10 tips for using Pinterest -- five for getting started, and five easy, preservationist-friendly ideas for content to share.
1. What is Pinterest, exactly? It’s where the corkboard on your wall meets your web favorites and becomes social -- it's bookmarking, with pictures, that you can share. But instead of having one corkboard like on your wall, you can have as many as you want, and each can have its own theme. For example: National Treasures. Historic Travel. The color yellow. (Really.) Each pin links back to the site it came from, so if you are sharing content from your own website, you’ll be driving traffic right where you want it!
2. How do I use it? Visit www.pinterest.com to sign up for an account, and use the built-in tools to identify your interests and find people to follow.
Tip: Take a moment to install the “Pin It” button that makes pinning fast and easy.
3. Create some boards. Pinterest is a great way to show visually what your site, museum, or community is about, so when you’re planning your boards, think about what story you want to tell. Are you into “neato architecture”? Or maybe about “finding your cool”?
4. Pin. Once you've decided on what your story is, pin items -- from your website, partners (see item #9 below), or other sites -- that support the story you want to tell.
5. And re-pin. A big part of the culture of Pinterest is sharing, so be sure to watch the feeds of the pinners you follow. If you have picked folks with similar interests and/or organizations within your community, you’ll find lots of pins to share -- or re-pin, as it's called.
6. Say “I do.” Pinterest is a hotbed for planning weddings and other events. So if your site, museum, or Main Streets hosts weddings and other social events, post as many pictures of it as you can, and link it back to the related info on your website.
7. Cook up interest in your site. Food is another popular topic on Pinterest, so use recipes to tell the story of your site or community.
8. Think about your partners. If you don’t have wedding photos to share or your own tasty food, do you work with photographers and caterers when you’re hosting events? Of course you do! Coordinate with them to cross-promote their service at your site.
9. Use the search function. A great way to find more great things to pin is to use the search. You'll find pins from people who have visited, or want to visit, your site. Click through on their pins, and you may even make your way to blog posts or online reviews that say nice things. Re-pin those too!
10. Expand your online store. Does your historic site or Main Street shop sell things online? Share them on Pinterest to give them additional visibility.
Tip: If you include the price of your item with a dollar sign ($15.00, for example), Pinterest will automagically flag it as something that can be purchased.
Are you a pinning-for-preservation whiz -- or know someone who is? Let us know in the comments.