10 Prospective Federal Government Pinterest Boards

This post has been edited to reflect that “Interesting Things for Sale” is a personal pinboard, not an official GSA Pinboard. Here are the Official GSA Pinboards.

Last week, the General Services Administration approved the terms of service for Pinterest—meaning that federal agencies could start to use the site to engage with citizens. Since then, a board has been created that lsits “Interesting Items for Sale,” and has pins including lighthouses, LearJets and helicopters, and a phoropter.

I spoke with FCW about some other boards that I think should be created by various agencies. After a little reflection, I was able to think of 10 Pinboards that I think would be useful both for agencies and for Pinterest users. Agencies should create boards only if doing so helps achieve the goals as stated in their mission, a part of which may be to show people what falls under their purview. For Pinterest users, the boards must help them explore, deepen, and share their interests with friends.

With these criteria in mind, here are 10 Pinterest Boards I think would be useful for agencies and engaging for the Pinterest community that could go up today and expand for years to come:

  1. NASA: Space-faring Equipment. Pictures of all the rockets from Loki to the Saturn, and beyond, all of the rovers, all of the shuttles, every machine that we’ve sent into space.
  2. National Park Service: Flora and fauna for each park. For each park, there would be a single Pinboard with images of all the trees, bushes, and flowers as well as the birds, lizards, and mammals that visitors are likely to find.
  3. EPA: Historical comparisons of superfund sites. What did hazardous sites look like before the EPA cleaned them up? This Pinboard would have side-by-side images of superfund sites from before and after EPA’s intervention.
  4. FBI: Most Wanted.
  5. DARPA: Grand Challenge vehicles. What do all those driverless vehicles look like? This Pinboard would collect them all for easy viewing and sharing.
  6. Treasury Department (US Mint): All collectors’ coins ever minted. The US Mint produces collectors’ coins with great regularity. This Pinboard would display each coin (and of course have links for people to buy them).
  7. NOAA: Fisheries. Like the National Park Service Pinboards, the NOAA Fisheries Pinboards would display images of each of the species of fish in certain locations. This board could also show information about the health of the fish population and other facts about the species.
  8. USDA: Healthy Meals. Supertracker is already a very popular tool, and having a Pinboard showing a complete healthy meal would give poeople another way to find nutritious recipies and share them with friends.
  9. Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency Products. Have you seen some of the new programmable thermostats? LED Lights? Even tankless water heaters have managed to start looking cool.
  10. Department of Transportation: Vintage & Experimental Aircraft. There are actually quite a few interesting Pinboards the DoT could produce including railcars, bridges (yes, even of Madison County), and even air control towers.

These are my ideas – what are yours?

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Heather Coleman

Gadi: Great suggestions on ways for the Federal government to use Pinterest. I would imagine states would want to jump in as well, with boards for visitors (pinpointing popular travel destinations), boards for businesses/investors (showcasing real estate/business parks), and possibly even opening up community boards for residents to showcase what they love about the state and engage with each other.

Courtney Shelton Hunt

Folks interested in using Pinterest for their public sector entity may find the following resources valuable:

We’ll be developing and sharing more resources in the coming weeks. And though we’re not in the public sector, folks might get some ideas from checking out our boards.

Mark Forman

These are great ideas, but I wonder whether it is possible to find ways to use Pinterest boards to help reduce the cost or improve the performance of government? It seems that we are living in tight fiscal times and it may not be so useful to do things that increase costs and demand for an organization that is so far in debt. Unlike the Recovery Board’s use of Twitter and other social media to find fraud, waste, and abuse, I don’t see the return on this investment by GSA. All the examples given are already on the web in multiple forms, especially government items for sale. What are some breakthrough ways to use Pinterest that help us with the current fiscal crisis?

Gadi Ben-Yehuda

Thanks for all these great comments, especially about the USPS Pinboard.

@Mark Forman – let me use this analogy. Say you had to spend $100, and with that, you could either hire someone to knock on doors for 8 hours a day, or you could hire someone to call people for 8 hours a day, or you could hire someone to write up a e-mail newsletter, send it out to a mailing list that grew every month, and that would take only 2 hours a day, freeing up 6 hours to tend to your Web site, FaceBook page, Twitter feed, and Pinboards.

Choosing the right social media for the right content and the right audience is addressing the fiscal crisis because any time you make government operations more efficient you are getting more for your money.

Now, the question I have is: who’s doors to we need to knock on to start getting Pinboards set up?

Sara Cope

These are all really great examples. One thing we’ve done at the VA has been to create Facebook pages for each of our medical centers because we’ve found that veterans are interested in happenings at their local VA. Thinking about going local for Pinterest, what boards could a local facility create that might be useful for Veterans? Here are a few that I can think of:

Around Campus: Images of the many buildings on our campus for easy identification. Include the building number and link to the internal building map so veterans can find the room they are looking for when they get there.

History/Heritage: Historical images of the campus. History of medical devices (what we used then/what we use now).

Meet the Staff: Real people at the medical center that you might run in to on any given day. Pharmacy, Canteen, Retail Store, Radiology, etc. Including information like “Here’s how I can help you…”
Events?: Maybe not event announcements, but follow-ups to events like a link to the photos and highlights.

Probably many different directions to take this…

Elizabeth Zelman

I love the idea of state/local governments creating boards for visitors, locals, businesses, etc. I think every Department could come up with a board. For the USDA, along with the healthy meals I would like to see a pinboard of images of farms and farmers around the country. It would be nice to see where the food I’m eating really comes from.