Sports editor makes Pinterest a Digital Ninja School project

By Joe Pelletier (@jdpelletier)
The Middletown Press

From the perspective of a media outlet, Pinterest is a lot like Tumblr.

One, the author isn’t important. Two, “pins” of more abstract and relatable themes are more successful (memes included). And three, there are lots of high school girls posting pictures of handsome actors.

So what can a media outlet do (and do successfully) with Pinterest? That’s what I’ve been working on for the last few weeks.

It’s important to note you can’t run a Pinterest account through a Facebook page (i.e. “New Haven Register Sports”) — it has to be done through a Facebook profile. But you can link the Pinterest account to your Twitter acount (@nhrsports, for example), and make that a visible part of your Pinterest page. So right there is an opportunity to grow your social media presence.

This screen grab shows a sports photo we pinned on Pinterest

FOR STARTERS

There are two basic components of Pinterest: boards and pins.

Pins are any image file uploaded or copied to Pinterest. You can create a pin two ways: (1) upload an image file or (2) copy from another website via image URL. These pins have titles and tags for identification.

Boards are a way to organize your pins — and not just your pins, anyone’s pins. Like Tumblr, you can reshare (or repin, in Pinterest-speak) a pin of some delicious-looking food to your “GOD I LOVE FOOD” board.

SO WHAT’S THE DRAW?

If the Internet has shown us anything in the last two decades, it’s that people love expressing themselves through other people’s stuff. Remember when you featured that Nirvana song on your Myspace profile because it totally summed up your 17-year-old life? Remember that Facebook phase when all your status updates were excerpts from Kerouac literature? Notice how you still love to retweet the latest @FakeAPStylebook zinger?

Tumblr became the hallmark of that idea a few years ago, and now Pinterest is right on its tail.

SO WHAT DID I DO?

I created boards for each of the 11 high schools we cover, and started uploading pictures by Catherine Avalone — organized by school.

And something interesting happened.

It wasn’t necessarily the “best” pictures that received more repins or likes. It was the pictures with strong themes and unique characteristics. Like this one.

Not a great picture — in fact we didn’t even put it in the print product. But the picture speaks very clearly to teamwork and unity. And very quickly, it got a bunch of repins.

This was another interesting one. Not an action shot. Just a nice portrait. And even though nobody outside of Middlesex County has a clue who these three guys are, it got repins. One to the board “PORTRAIT INSPIRATION,” another to “My Style.”

Again, the theme becomes the most important part of the picture. These guys are looking out to the field. Looking forward to their season. Anxious anticipation.

In the beginning, I had uploaded a bunch of pictures every day — just trying to see what worked. But very quickly, you learn what kind of pictures draw the attention of the Pinterest community. And it’s not even about the organization by school. It’s just about the image, and your relationship to it.

HOW CAN PINTEREST HELP A MEDIA OUTLET?

Well, like Tumblr, it’s not going to help you directly. Linking from a certain pin to a certain story will not be successful, I guarantee it. But it will give you a presence in a vibrant and growing community, and very likely help your Twitter following.

The real question becomes (as we draw out the journalism and photography purists in ourselves), “What can we do for the Pinterest community?” And the answer, of course, is offer up professional-level photography in hopes of stimulating some emotional reaction. Being the artists we’d like think we are.

Former Middletown Press intern and current ESPN 3D freelancer Matt Andrew is a good example — including this outstanding photo that has gotten a bunch of repins.

Pinterest is a nice refresher for media outlets — a reminder that you’ve got to forget about page views sometimes and just enjoy the content.

Because, ultimately, good content is the foundation of a good social media presence.

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One Response to Sports editor makes Pinterest a Digital Ninja School project

  1. Pingback: Helpful links for learning and exploring Pinterest « The Buttry Diary

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