Charities and Pinterest – making the most of “word-of-pin” marketing

Charities and not-for-profits should be seriously considering Pinterest, the rapidly growing social media platform as a channel for their communications. As with many brands, members of Pinterest are already pinning charity-related pins in their profiles.

Joe Waters has some great thoughts on causes and pinterest use in his recent post and there’s a good guide on how to set up your nonprofit account from Nonprofit Tech 2.0But what happening already on Pinterest and how do charities make the most of it?

Charities I Love

Take Oxfam for example, where Pinners have posted a mixture of products, images and campaign logos related to the charity and its work on Pinterest. The names of folders in which they’ve posted show their strong brand advocacy, including titles such as “Causes worth fighting for” and “Charities I Love”.

Oxfam Christmas 2011 Campaign

Although Oxfam isn’t on Pinterest as yet, its supporters, fans and brand advocates are, sharing graphics from new campaigns with pinners, receiving likes and repins in return. On Pinterest “word-of-mouth” marketing becomes “word-of-pin”, as members like or repin images out to their Pinterest audiences.

And it’s not just Oxfam supporters promoting their good cause through word-of pin marketing. Unicef, Save the Children and other good causes are getting great pins, and therefore promotion on Pinterest, but without having a presence on the network.

Think visual,  link and engage

Charities have amazing stories of change and transformation to tell, many of which are very visual. Imagine those visuals being pinned, linked to campaigns and fundraising asks, and then being repined and liked by their supporters out to wider Pinterest audiences. There certainly could be a huge potential to create new supporters and donors through this word-of-pin marketing.

Charities should also promote their gifts on Pinterest, ranging from the “buy a goat for Africa” through to goods made through social enterprises, such as carved items and clothing. My simple trial this week was to pin some clothing items to my newly created “Ethical Style” board. The Two Too hoodie and scarf (Two Too donate a scarf to a homeless person for every clothing item bought) I pinned got repins and a like almost immediately.

Toms Shoes on Pinterest

Speaking of ethical style, its encouraging to see that Toms Shoes has a presence on the network and is starting to engage with pinners, as members pin photos of their Toms Shoes to their boards.

BTW I’m really pleased to see that YMCA of Metropolitan Washington is already a Pinterest pioneer for causes and the first YMCA on the network.