6 ways to use Pinterest for storytelling

Think of your products in terms of stories—and make them come to life on Pinterest. Communicators from Disney Parks, PBS and Definition 6 show you how.

I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of beautiful, sunny days with a few hundred of the best and brightest minds in communications last week at the Ragan’s 6th Annual Social Media for PR and Corporate Communications Conference at the Walt Disney World Resort.

The conference featured presentations from communications professionals at Disney Parks, The Phoenix Suns, Whole Foods, Google, ESPN, Southwest Airlines, Marvel, Microsoft and Zappos to name a few.

I participated in a panel discussion about how brands can use Pinterest for storytelling. The panel featured Whole Foods’ Michael Aaron Bepko, global online community manager; Samantha Hosenkamp, social media director for Ragan Communications; and Kevin Dando, director of marketing communications for PBS.

As a supplement to the ideas I shared during the lively discussion, here are six tips brands can use to leverage Pinterest for brand storytelling:

1. Incentivize your community to participate. Consider sponsoring contests and promotions to reward your community for generating content on the platform. For example, start a “Pin It to Win It” campaign for users who pin specific images related to your brand. Everyone that pins within the guidelines of your promotion are entered to win a prize or some recognition for their efforts. Perhaps the winner serves as your Pinterest brand ambassador or gets some more formal role for a period of time (e.g. summer intern for your brand).

2. Tell your story over time. Use a Pinterest board like you would time-lapse photography or a flip book to tell your story. Do you own a pumpkin patch you want people to come to this fall? Start by pinning images of you unpacking the seeds, planting the seeds, watering the seeds, watching the seeds sprout, etc.

Tell the story of pictures all the way through families coming out to your pumpkin patch to get their prized selections. You can do this over the course of a long period of time, or you can do it in a day. For example, show images of your upcoming road race starting with setting up the course, runners starting to pile in each hour, people running the race, and the first and last people to cross the finish line. There are endless opportunities to use images over a designated period of time like this.

3. Guess the picture. Ask your audience a trivia question, with an image-based question. For example, guess the destination we’re sending one lucky winner too. Take a picture of the event and cut it up into 20 different images. Post different pieces of your image puzzle over the course of the contest and enter all correct guessers into a drawing to win, then pin a picture of the winner receiving their prize.

4. New product launches. There’s no rule that says you can’t use your pinboards to promote the products or services you sell. When you get in a fresh batch of your latest product, why not pin an image of those products going onto the shelves? Come in and get yours before they’re all gone. Feel free to update the board as your limited supply leaves the shelves—you just might drive in-store traffic. You can do the same with sale items, clearance items or event items that you sell online. Show images of your trucks being loaded with product heading out to all your retail stores if you’re a wholesaler. Customers buy from you, so why not remind them what they buy?

5. It’s OK to be fun and goofy. You don’t have to be serious with everything on Pinterest. Consider putting a funny or witty spin on the drab and boring stuff some might perceive about your business. GE does a great job of this with its “Big Ass Machines” board. It shows pictures of big machines it manufactures. It could have called the board something more descriptive (and boring), but we wouldn’t be talking about it. What do you joke about inside the company that people outside your company wouldn’t know about? That type of stuff can be gold on Pinterest.

6. Pay it forward. It’s not all about you. Consider sharing content from other brands’ boards to generate interest for your own brands. Are you inspired by the products and services other brands post on their boards? Create a board of your inspirations or things you love and share it with your community. Those brands, and the people enjoying your curated content, will reward you by sharing your content. Pay it forward.

Bonus: Here’s a bonus tip for you. Are you looking for clever images to include with your blog posts? Embed an image from your Pinterest board as the visual to complement your next blog post. You’ll drive traffic to your Pinterest boards from your blog, but you’ll also attract new readers to your blog from Pinterest.

Jeremy Porter heads Definition 6’s new unified communications group. A version of this article first appeared on Definition 6’s blog, Defining Insights.

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