Pinterest for Politics: Not Just a Shiny New Toy

Update: Check the comments for an interesting conversation breaking out.

Guest article! The latest from our old friend Beth Becker, who’s seized with excitement over Pinterest, the latest shiny object potentially useful item in our ever-growing social media toolkit. Also, check out Beth’s previous work on

Pinterest for Politics

Pinterest for Politics: Not Just a Shiny New Toy

By Beth Becker

It’s all about the visual now: from Twitter’s embedding of photos and video to the new Facebook timelines for both profiles and pages, the online world is buzzing with the power of a photo.

If you’ve been paying any attention at all over the last few weeks, social media fans everywhere are raving about Pinterest, the newest platform that’s still in limited beta. But what is it? And, what are its implications for an organization in the political space? (The answer to the latter: endless.)

What is Pinterest? How does it work?

Pinterest is a platform that maximizes the potential of visual impact to move people to action. It’s organized by “boards” subdivided into “bulletin boards”. Each bulletin board is composed of pictures that a user can either “pin” from the web or upload from your desktop. Every picture can be commented on, and more importantly from a social perspective, re-pinned to other people’s bulletin boards. It also allows for shared curation, the ability to have multiple people pinning pictures to a particular board. Imagine the possibilities for engagement-building with your core supporters if you ask them to help them curate particular boards.

In just a few short months:

  • Pinterest is now generating as much web traffic referral as Twitter
  • Has over 10,000,000 (you read that right: TEN MILLION) users
  • 80% of the users are women, but I fully expect as Pinterest moves out of limited beta that the gender curve will even out a bit

Putting Pinterest to Work in Politics

So you work for an organization but aren’t quite sure what to do with Pinterest? Here are some general ideas, plus links to what other organizations are already doing:

1. Have multiple chapters across the country? Set up a master board for the organization and then bulletin boards (with the chapters sharing in the curation of their board) For an example, take a look at what Working America is doing.

2. Have multiple campaigns running? Set up a bulletin board for each individual campaign. (You can also have each campaign set up their own master board and then repin pictures to the master account to help drive traffic.) For example, check out New York Communities for Change.

3. Need to do some small-dollar (emphasis on small-dollar) fundraising? Why not run a Pinterest based online auction- or if you’re running an online auction of any kind, make sure to set up a bulletin board to post pictures of what’s being auctioned off. I’m doing this for a candidate fundraiser I’m co-hosting in a few weeks

4. If you have an affiliate code for a particular site, make sure you use it!

5. Have an active you tube channel? Make sure you’ve dragged the bookmarklet to your browser toolbar and when on the youtube page for any video you can then pin a screen shot to your bulletin board like this NOI RootsCamp’sShit Online Organizers Say

6. Set up an entire bulletin board to highlight television appearances the mention your organization, like the one by Rep. Raul Grijalva

7. Does your organization do a big conference? The possibilities are endless- have a bulletin board dedicated to other people’s pictures, have conference speakers upload their powerpoint presentations to scribd or some other archive and then pin those to a dedicated bulletin board, ask speakers to turn the powerpoints to jpgs and pin the entire presentation to a dedicated bulletin board (like I did for a presentation I did at NOI Roots Camp on Social Media Trends

I could go on for pages. but I hope you get the idea. As with any social media platform, experiment, have fun and don’t be afraid — the only failure in social media is not trying!

(Need a pinterest invite? Ping me on Twitter @spedwybabs and i’ll send you one! And send me links to what you’re doing on Pinterest and I’ll come back and update this post in a week or two!)

Thanks Beth! And we’ll hold you to that promise to come back and update the post…

Written by
Beth Becker
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  • I know I’m in the minority, but I have to chime in here. It’s a shiny object for people who are stretched thin on social media already. Will this deliver better results (and what results) than an email list, or Facebook or Twitter?

    And what about Google+. Don’t we “have” to be there, too? The question isn’t potential, it’s ROI, and the “I” part of that has limits.

    We can’t keep adding to the pile without consequence.

    OK, crankout over.

  • Ok Kerri…I’ll bite. You’re right, small organizations are stretched thin. But with the shared curation of boards, the ability to engage your core supporters and volunteers really make this easy to manage.
    As for results, I’ll repeat what I said in the blog- it’s already TIED with twitter for website referral traffic… in other words the ROI on this for such a young platform is insane, and will only grow as it comes out of limited beta. The ease of use for this platform make the biggest time investment the initial strategizing for how to use- actual day to day management can be done in literally minutes a day.
    My twitter handle is in the post, I’m happy to continue this conversation on twitter or we can find a way to connect offline- I don’t get anything for promoting the use of Pinterest other than the satisfaction of watching everyone use social media for ultimate impact on an organization’s accomplishments of its goals.

  • Hi Beth, I got curious about that referral number and checked the stats here at Between January 1 and February 22 (yesterday), I can find NO recorded instance of a referral from Here are numbers for comparable social media platforms: 512 (Twitter) 243 (Fb mobile) 92 40

    As of 10:30 tonight (February 23), I can see THREE referrals from, accompanied by 61 from (+11 from and 31 from BTW, traffic from a listserv posting beats all of the above by a long shot.

    So it’s hard for me to believe that Pinterest outdoes Twitter in referrals, when on my own site — which I’d assume would be at least vaguely representative — Twitter outdoes Pinterest by a factor of ten, even on a day with a new article about Pinterest. Somethin’ sounds squirrely.

  • But, Colin, has anyone pinned any pictures from your blog TO pinterest so it can refer people here? #justsayin

  • to be clear i’m referring to the fact that people repin photos from a website somewhere and then when people are pinterest they click back thru back to that site (remember pinterest got it’s start with people posting arts & crafts how tos and pictures of food they cooked that linked to recipes 🙂

  • @CPD well until very recently it was going to people’s blogs that were linked to with their recipes and arts & crafts how tos. As we political/advocacy types we’ll see that outgoing traffic redistribute itself… if we don’t put the content there it won’t come to us.

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