Pinterest might have a reputation as a social network for sharing recipes and fashion tips, but news organizations are embracing it in innovating ways.
In case you’re not acquainted, Pinterest is an image-based social network where users post links and photos onto different topic boards. The posts show up as a stream of images, like photos pinned to a bulletin board.
Each user can create and pin to dozens of different topic boards, to share different types of content. As with Twitter, you can follow other people — or individual boards — on Pinterest, to see what items they are pinning.
The simplicity and visual appeal give posters a different approach to attract interest for their content.
Several newspapers are using Pinterest for features items. The New York Times, for example, started its Pinterest page in June with boards on shoes, food and fashion.
But the visual power of the social network can extend well beyond fluff stories, as the following examples show.
Several news organizations have boards that highlight their front page each day. The pins link back to the newspapers’ websites.
Lack a photo? Follow the lead of The Wall Street Journal and the San Jose Mercury News: grab wacky pull quotes from a story to draw in readers. Pins link directly to the article.
News organizations have created boards for items such as prom pictures and engagement announcements, to share their readers’ content with a broader audience.
The Wall Street Journal has a board of its “hedcuts,” those dot-ink portraits that have become a signature illustration in each day’s newspaper. The illustrations are impressive on their own. But a sea of the illustrations on a Pinterest board is a fascinating back door to interesting stories you might have missed in print, or online.
Many news organizations are posting photos of staff members, with contact info and links to their content on the news site.
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The Washington Post has boards for biographical information about presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, for a different approach to profiles about the candidates, complete with childhood and wedding photos.
The Guardian of London has a board called “On Our Radar,” in which it links to news stories from other sources.
The Des Moines Register has a board called “Interesting People” that links to news stories, blog posts and other features about people in Des Moines.
Digital First Media newspapers have a Pinterest board called American Homecomings, for their special reporting project on veterans returning home.
From The Morning Journal’s guide to Ohio golf courses, to the Denver Post’s Favorite Colorado Places board, newspapers are using the visual ability of Pinterest to offer a public service to readers.
The key, as with any social network, is engaging your audience. Invite readers to contribute their own content to boards, as the Atlanta Journal Constitution does.
And make sure you aren’t spamming your readers with feeds of only your content. Keep the pins interesting — and don’t be afraid to share content that isn’t from your news site.