Something has happened to the Internet realm this year that has altered what were once thought to be the norms. It’s called Pinterest. Launched a little over a year ago, it has since exploded into the social media market. Well, we here are at ACNM are in the business of New Evangelization and that includes utilizing new technologies. So, just like I explained Twitter to the newbie evangelist, let me introduce to you the darling redhead of social media. I promise it’s easy to use. That’s one of the keys to its success.
How it works:
What makes Pinterest different from Twitter or Facebook is how it displays its content. It is not confined to a single, reverse-chronological stream of content. (It’s not a news feed.) Rather it displays photos (with descriptions) and has them organized by category.
Each user creates virtual “pinboards” (basically webpages), and when they find a pin they like, they “repin” that image to the pinboard of their choice. So recipe pins go on their recipe pinboard and travel destinations can go on their “Places I Want to Go Next Year” pinboard. The options are endless. (So are the snazzy pinboard name possibilities.)
Now, this is where it gets awesome:
Remember six-degrees of Kevin Bacon? Everything’s connected, especially on the World Wide Web.
While, yes, it is possible to pin content isolated from others- just find stuff you like from the various categories and pin them to your own pinboards – where’s the fun in that? This is social media, remember?
You can follow a user’s individual board…
you can hit the “Follow All” button to follow all of the user’s pins and pinboards. (This a great option for friends.)
You can follow random people whose taste you like, or link your Pinterest account to your Facebook and follow your friends who have Pinterest.
All the pins from the users and boards you follow is live-streamed directly on your homepage.
Driving Web Traffic
Let’s bump it up another level. So far I’ve shown you the basic what-to-do, show-you-around type info. However, that’s not all there is to it.
There are two kinds of pins. (1) Those that are uploaded by the user and are static. (2) Those that are pinned directly from a website and are technically just photographic links.
Because of this capability, earlier this year it was reported that Pinterest beat YouTube, Google+, and LinkedIn combined for percentage of total referral traffic. Yowza.
And I think this is where the addictive aspect comes in. I’ve lost several hours to opening dozens pins in new tabs and browsing and then coming back to Pinterest and opening more pins. It’s a great source for creative inspiration and to learn new things.
As a Tool to Evangelize
In order to effectively evangelize through this medium, here are some pointers.
- Description, description, description!
The above pins are cute to look at and then move on. But if you want to truly evangelize and lead people to the Good News, you need to draw them in. If there’s not text in your image to explain what your link is about, don’t be shy about giving a detailed description. (Also note that the description text is searchable, but the in-image text isn’t.)
- Have fun. Humor goes a long way. Appearing stuffy and pompous isn’t effective evangelization anywhere.
- Use Alt-Text on your website’s images. And then if someone pins an image from your site, the alt-text will automatically generate in the pin’s description for them.
- Embed a Pin It button on your site. Have a lot of images on your site? Include a Pin It button to encourage your visitors to share your content with others!
- Download the Pin It applet. Often I lose great content because I think to myself, “Oh, that’s nice,” and move on. Not anymore! With Pinterest’s applet, as you browse the interwebs in your daily escapades and you find something worth pinning, just click the button from your favorites toolbar and it will pull the images from the site. Select the one you want, and bravo! It’s pinned to your board of choice.
- Follow other great Catholic pinners. Ignatius Press is one. I love their Quotables.