Online pinboard Pinterest has been gathering a lot of attention since the start of the year.
You still need an invitation before you can join what AppData states are the 11.4 million users pinning content from around the web and following other users’ boards.
Pinterest lends itself to visual content, with popular boards including collections of recipes, fashion photos and other lifestyle content.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) was one of the first news organisations to join Pinterest, social media editor at the WSJ Emily Steel told Journalism.co.uk in this podcast.
The New York-based outlet joined in January “almost before all of the buzz of the site had exploded”.
Steel took up her role at the WSJ that month and noticed readers were pinning content so decided to join them in their space.
“I went to the site and I noticed that what was being posted to the site was very much in the food, fashion, travel, design categories.”
Steel and her colleagues started to experiment and have created a “visual read of the journal”. Here is a link to the WSJ on Pinterest.
“What we are finding is that it is giving us a really great opportunity to showcase the visual side of our coverage that often could get lost on other social networks,” Steel said.
Here are 10 ideas for using Pinterest in the newsroom:
1. Think about what Pinterest users are sharing
Steel and colleagues decided to create boards that fit with the culture of Pinterest, looking to add their own content around popular topics and “curate it in a interesting fashion”.
We know our users are using Pinterest and we have to experiment alongside them
Carla Buzasi, Huffington Post UK
The Huffington Post UK is also using Pinterest. Here is a link to its boards. Although still “a work in progress”, according to Carla Buzasi, editor-in-chief of the title, “we know our users are using Pinterest and we have to experiment alongside them”.
She said there are areas of the Huffington Post which lend themselves to the platform such as fashion and beauty area My Daily.
2. Showcase visual content, such as photographs, infographics and videos
Pinterest lends itself well to visual articles and also has a space for video. Several of the WSJ boards feature “stunning photography and videos” from various sections of the newspaper, Steel said.
The Huffington Post UK is also thinking about image-led posts.
“We spend a lot of time making sure we choose the right images for our splash, the front page of the Huffington Post,” Buzasi said.
3. Encourage journalists to use personal Pinterest accounts
Buzasi explained how “one of the guys on my picture desk has been using Pinterest for weeks” and how he pins all the splash images he has created for the Huffington Post UK.
She added that she thinks a lot of journalists will collate the stories they have written and are particularly proud of.
4. Use Pinterest as a new storytelling platform
This is something the WSJ is doing, according to Steel.
For example, this board tells the story of New York Fashion Week and there is also a board built to introduce readers to Pinterest.
5. Look beyond the obvious Pinterest users
Those new to Pinterest will not fail to notice that Pinterest is popular among women, particularly those planning weddings.
“Pinterest really started with a popularity among more of a female audience but we think it could grow and build into a much broader area,” said Steel.
“It started with this one segment and we are exploring how it could grow and expand into something that could be more popular with some of our more traditional readers.”
They have added boards on the themes of technology, such as this one from the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive, an annual festival held in Austin, Texas.
There is also this economy related board which looks at vital signs data.
6. Be aware of interest’s potential as a traffic driver
Data collected by Shareaholic’s “global publishing network that includes more than 200,000 websites” found that in February Pinterest drove more traffic than Twitter and more referrals than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined, according to Janet Aronica, head of marketing for the company, which creates content sharing tools for publishers.
So has Pinterest become a significant source of readers for the Huffington Post UK?
“I haven’t seen any huge spikes but watch this space,” Buzasi said.
Traffic is growing exponentially and the amount of time people are spending there is phenomenal
Emily Steel, Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal is noticing that Pinterest traffic is “about on par with Tumblr”, according to Steel.
“The rate at which the site is growing and that we are expecting that it will grow demonstrates it is worth devoting energy and resources to building pinboards on the site.
“Traffic is growing exponentially and the amount of time people are spending there is phenomenal, so we are really trying to figure out if people are already there, how we can expose our content to them in such a way that they are interested, so that they want to follow it and they will also come back to our site more and more.”
7. Consider adding a Pinterest button to encourage readers to pin content
Pinterest encourages users to add a “Pin It” button to the bookmarks bar in their browser.
Publishers can also add a Pinterest button to help readers pin content. This is something the Hufffington Post UK has done.
There is also the option to add a “follow” button, so websites can encourage readers to follow individuals or the site’s boards.
8. Showcase behind the scenes of the news room
This is something the Guardian has tried in its experiments with Pinterest, for example here it has pinned photos from the Guardian Open Weekend.
CNN’s iReport, the broadcaster’s user-generated content section, is exploring this area on Pinterest. iReport has a board introducing readers to its members of staff.
9. Think about ‘crowdpinning’ and interacting with the Pinterest community
Pinterest allows your to permit others to contribute to a board.
The WSJ would like to utilise this and “figure out ways we can interact with people more and more”, Steel said.
The WSJ team is trying to “think of new ways we can create things together”, perhaps by building boards others can contribute to in order to “really interact with that community”.
Al Jazeera has has a board called Crowdsourced News. It states: “This board is open for you to share your pins with us – anything you think is newsworthy, that we’re covering or not.”
Northcliffe Digital title This is Kent has opted for this idea of rewarding pinners. Here is there board Hey, thanks for pinning us.
Arguably the best example of a news organisation collaborating and interacting with it audience is Al Jazeera’s the Stream. The programme, which has social media contributions from the audience at its heart, has created a board called #StreamPic to which it adds “one image or video that is selected daily from our community”.
10. Liveblogging? Consider ‘livepinning’
A quick hunt has not unearthed any examples of liveblogging on Pinterest, except a picture pinned on Al Jazeera’s Today’s News board but, in theory, a visual story – perhaps the Oscars or a red carpet celebrity story – could be livepinned using the Pinterest app’s, which has a photo upload option.
Here is a Journalism.co.uk-curated board of pins on Pinterest for journalists.