Making Sustainability Pinteresting

Your company’s sustainability commitments can be some of the toughest stories to tell. There’s often no “hard news,” very few reporters actually cover the topic as a dedicated beat and initiatives often take place thousands of miles away, far from the backyards of the average consumer.

So how are people engaged? Obviously, a company’s website is often the sole source, but sometimes a blog entry or a blurb on product packaging can invite readers in. Obviously, event marketing, cause marketing and creative partnerships can make a much bigger impact, but why not try something more subtle: Pinterest. 

I like to think of the fastest-growing social channel as the marketing equivalent to sneaking spinach into your mac & cheese because it’s not a place where consumers are likely to be seeking CSR information, but rather are apt to stumble across it.  

What is Pinterest?

If you haven’t already succumbed to the hullaballoo, Pinterest exploded onto the social networking scene and has already attracted more than 10 million users. Essentially a virtual pinboard, it’s a website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections based on events, interests and hobbies. Users can browse other users’ pinboards for inspiration,re-pin images to their own collections or simply like those images. Pinterest's mission – so says its website – is to "connect everyone in the world through the things they find interesting via a global platform of inspiration and idea sharing.”

Whereas Facebook is a place where users document life experiences, Pinterest is more aspirational. On Facebook, people share “what I did.”  On Pinterest, people share “here’s what I wish I could do.”

Connecting Your Sustainability Story

Sustainability commitments run the gamut of green building, green energy, certified sourcing (e.g., Fair Trade), nonprofit partnerships and more. The key is to make your story visual and link what you’re doing with a broader lifestyle.

Depending on your sustainability programs, there are plenty of opportunities to intersect with what people already care about. Right now, the most popular and shared categories on Pinterest are food, style and fashion, home, arts and crafts, and inspiration and education. Savvy brands are using visuals on Pinterest to educate, share behind-the scenes information about their culture, while connecting with these popular categories.

Making the Connection

Here are just a few examples of how to bridge what you do, with how people are already searching.

• Purchase only organic ingredients? Start a board on backyard gardening and homesteading under “Grow Your Own” and classify under the popular Home category.

• Care about sourcing? Pin exotic pictures of your countries of origin under “Places We Love” and categorize under travel.

• Want to share about your green operations? Pin beautiful green architecture and sustainable design under “Build Green” and categorize under style.

• Want to tout the relationship with the people who grow your ingredients? Start a “We Love Farmers” board, and show pictures of the people and places behind your brand and categorize under inspiration.

Pinterest is certainly an emerging versus established communication channel, but you can’t deny that it’s the fastest-growing social network. If you haven’t already done so, reserve your brand name on Pinterest today. Identify your board themes and get creative with naming your pin boards. Find like-minded accounts and boards to follow.  And develop content guidelines that will ensure that you always practice ethical pinning (e.g., attribute your content to the original creator or owner).

Lastly, don’t forget to integrate. Add “Follow us” and “Pin It” buttons on your website, incorporate the Pinterest app on Facebook, tweet links to pins, add social links to your Pinterest profile, and share your boards.

Yes, it’s more work for you and your team. But the benefits of Pinterest are its power to bring life to your sustainability story through images in our highly visual society. Not only that, it will help amplify efforts on your other channels, increase referral traffic to your website and help with SEO. Not too shabby for a picture. Might just be worth a thousand words after all.

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