Pinterest and Politics

Pinterest is the latest social media phenomenon to catch fire, boasting over 11 million unique visitors in January, up from around 5 million visitors in November. As with other social media sites, the question becomes how we leverage that traffic into engagement and action.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Pinterest has a lot to say. The latest darling on the social media scene allows users to post images to ‘virtual’ pin boards they find interesting. The pin boards can then be shared with others, comments can be made, and users can re-pin the images to their own boards. The following video explains the basics of getting started with Pinterest.

One way we can use Pinterest is to create issue specific boards, as suggested by Mark Drapeau of the Huffington Post. Politicians giving speeches often times give a brief overview of the issues they would like to tackle. Using Pinterest, a candidate can collect graphs, charts, and images that are relevant to the topic all on one board. The board can then be shared and people can re-pin items they find helpful.

from my.barackobama.com

One of the more popular graphical representations that seem to be catching on is the use of Infographics. Infographics combine a handful of stats with a graphical representation – usually an icon, and present the information in a pleasing way. I see more and more of these on the net and I find  them useful in understanding a sometimes complex issue. Here is one I have pinned to my Politics board from Obama’s campaign website relating to air pollution standards.

Speaking of issue specific boards, Beth Kanter, co-author of  “The Networked Non-profit,” started a board titled “Komen can kiss my Mammagram” showing her disapproval on their decision to defund Planned Parenthood – a decision they had to walk back amid public outcry. The board today has over 1500 followers and exemplifies the potential this platform can have on shaping public opinion.

And all those visitors are not just looking, they are clicking away. A report by Janet Aronica of Shareaholic, a market research firm, reported in January that Pinterest had more referral traffic than Google +, YouTube and LinkedIn combined. What this means to political campaigns is that the crowd hanging out on Pinterest is engaging the site. The average time spent on Pinterest stands now at around 100 minutes, a huge number given the way we interact with the internet today.

An engaged audience can lead to the ultimate goal in online interactions – action.

Drapeau also points out how we can use Pinterest in fundraising activities. Pictures of oil covered animals in the gulf could lead to a greater demand for regulations on off shore drilling leading to public support for a politician that is in favor of tougher regulations. The picture itself can be a link to a donation website.

To be fair, the majority of the Pinterest community shares recipes, design ideas and cute kitten photos. But, the potential is there for political statements and with that, active engagement will soon follow.

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