Pinterest: Window dressing for the web



When you were in school, were you ever asked to create a collage? After all, what better way to answer, “how would you visually describe the protagonist’s emotional journey through the story” than with cutouts from Better Homes and Gardens and Popular Mechanics? The end result of my own high school handy work always made perfect sense to me; a visual smorgasbord of emotion, feeling and teenage angst placed into one, eight by eleven poster. There’s now a new social media tool (yes, another one) that replicates this activity for the web.


Pinterest allows you to interact with it the same way you would with blank poster board, scissors, a glue stick, and a stack of magazines. You select your favourite content, including photos, articles and blog posts, and assemble them into “boards” or web pages that you title, yourself. Your friends on Pinterest can see your boards, follow them, like their favourite “pins,” and even repost it to their own boards.


I have friends who use Pinterest as their digital cork board to feature favourite content from do-it-yourself wedding blogs. It allows them to create and curate an online life that looks and reads like a glamour magazine. No wonder brides-to-be are so taken with it. It’s the perfect wedding in digital form, right down to the pixel. Companies and organizations other than women planning their dream wedding are even beginning to take notice of this social network’s growing popularity.


Writer and non-profit tech expert Beth Kanter recently wrote this article on Pinterest and how charities can build boards that feature their work in a visual and creative way. Beth has created several boards herself, one of which is titled “Nonprofit Infographics” and features 16 different infographics, each one its own pin.


Organizations like the National Wildlife Federation and charity:water have begun pinning on behalf of their cause, featuring campaign photos and photos of real people from their supporter base.


Writer and non-profit tech strategist Lauren Bacon with Raised Eyebrow Web Studios identifies the different types of non-profit organizations that should consider setting up their own profile. Lauren describes Pinterest “like a custom-tailored magazine: your home page will be a visual feast of images geared to your personal affiliations and interests.”


Pinterest, while separate from my other social networks, allows me to draw from all of them and feature my favourite content as if I were designing my own, personal window display. From a non-profit perspective, it allows supporters to show off their mission-driven values like they might wear a clothing brand. Just like you would notice and be noticed for what you wear and how you wear it, Pinterest allows you to feature what you support and how you support it in an elegant and easy way.


It will be interesting to watch how non-profit organizations embrace tools like Pinterest and whether or not they impact how these groups visually communicate their message in the future. I can’t help but ask myself if I will place more importance on logos and brands? Or, when I build an action page, will I spend more time communicating with my audience using photos as opposed to words?


If tools like Pinterest are the way of the non-profit future, it’s time to dress up, online. There’s going to be a lot more people window shopping the web.

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