Pinterest and Instagram – Why They’re the New Darlings of Social Media

Now that we’re a solid month into 2012, it’s time to move past all the “what’s hot in the new year” posts and start considering who the real trendsetters are. When it comes to social media networks, it appears the burgeoning sites Pinterest and Instagram are in the winner’s circle. Those sites have achieved social stardom for at least the following two reasons – simplicity and content. Specifically, visual content.

A few innovative, early-adopting nonprofits are already staking their claim on Instagram

Instagram: If you haven’t yet started an Instagram account (unfortunately, it’s currently only available to iPhone users) here’s what you’re missing – an easy-to-use mobile app built on sharing snapshots of life’s fleeting moments. You see something cool, take a picture of it, add a few tags to make it more searchable, and post. Be sure to “like” and comment on other users’ – or Instagrammers’ – photos to earn your way into a community and you’re on your way. As one blogger put it, Instagram is all the good aspects of social networking minus the “punditry” you’ll find in spaces like Twitter, Facebook or blogs.

Pinterest: “Bookmarking” websites are nothing new, but few bookmarking sites are as visual and engaging as Pinterest. Find something you like online, put a “pin” in it and add it to one of you “boards” on Pinterest. What you end up with are groups of images that link to websites you want to remember. Post as many “pins” to as many “boards” as you like. Connect with other Pinterest users to discover everything from recipes to home decorating ideas to fashion to pictures of puppies.

In both cases, these new and rapidly growing social sites (click here for some recent and stunning numbers on Pinterest) are reflecting a back-to-basics trend in new media. Users are saying “make it pretty and easy to use and we’re in.” While Facebook, YouTube and other leading sites continue to get crowded with noise in the form of constant political rants, games and applications from users you barely know, Pinterest and Instagram take users through a mostly upbeat and calming experience.

Mobile is the Key

With Instagram, “ease of use” means a social network that does everything in just a few easy steps via your mobile phone. As a result, Instagram is one of the few successful social networks that can only be accessed via your mobile device (only via Mac iOS devices, for now) and it works because it’s visually pleasing, simple and, above all else, fun. And enough can’t be said about the importance of “fun.” If you want your social media strategy to work, it has to have value or online surfers will move on to the next thing quicker than you can say “MySpace.” Instagram and Pinterest have figured this out in more ways than one.

For nonprofit organizations

So how do you make these new sites work for your nonprofit organization? The following links will take you to separate posts on each network…

To learn more about Pinterest for nonprofits, click here.

To learn more about Instagram for nonprofits, click here.

As always, learn more about social media in fundraising by vising out site, BWF.com.

3 Pinterest Tips for Nonprofits

Pinterest is the new darling of the social media world. In August, the fledgling social network had just surpassed the 1 million user mark. By the end of 2011, Pinterest packed on nearly three times as many users and is now well over the 5 million mark. What is Pinterest? Most simply put, it’s a social bookmarking website that allows users to easily save their favorite products, pictures and other online media in easily organized “Boards.”

Do you like that handbag you see on Amazon? Put a “Pin” in it and add it to your “Fashion” Board. Would that curio look good in your dining room? Pin it and add it to your “Home Decorating” Board for future reference. Do you often come across gift ideas for Mom, but then forget in the months leading up to her birthday? Make a “Presents for Mom” Board and Pin a bunch of gift ideas there throughout the course of the year.

As you can imagine, the potential for online retailers in Pinterest is enormous, but what about the nonprofit world? There are ample opportunities for NGOs on Pinterest, as well. The following are three tips your nonprofit organization might consider if you’d like to be an early adopter on this rapidly-growing social network…

  • Boards with gift options: The Food Bank for New York City is enjoying a tremendous amount of success after revamping its online food bank (more on that in this Chronicle of Philanthropy Article). One main reason why? The NY Food Bank made its online food bank feel more like online shopping, making certain products available for purchase (click here for an example). World Vision offers another fine example of turning small gifts into products online. In both cases, the organizations could have Pinterest Boards that list these products. Supporters with Pinterest accounts could add Pins to those “products” and save them for giving at a later date or recommending to their friends and followers.
  • Create Boards that show pictures of the impact the org makes: Pinterest is a social network. Which means it’s not just about blatantly asking for money …it’s about sharing content that matters to your followers and supporters. Create a Board that shows the impact your organization makes in the world through photos. Another Board could recognize your biggest donors. Also, be sure to find and follow your supporters and “like” and “mention” their Pinterest activity, much in the same way you’d manage a well-run Twitter account.
  • Create Boards that show what your staff is into: Again, Pinterest is a social site. Share the personality of your organization by allowing your staff, board members or volunteers to create Boards around their interests.

Have you seen any examples of nonprofit orgs with well-run Pinterest accounts? If so, let us know! And as always, check out BWF.com for more info on social media and philanthropy.