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GovBytes: Government takes on Pinterest

As Pinterest gains in popularity on the Internet, government is taking notice; Pinterest is already the 3rd most popular social networking website, behind only Facebook and Twitter. It specializes in allowing users to create their own pin boards and share photographs they find interesting with their followers. The Military has taken advantage of
Pinterest, and some local governments such as Tyler, Texas, are taking advantage as well.

Officials in Tyler suggested that because Pinterest boards are so simple to maintain, they have a relatively high yield, unlike websites like Myspace. According to Susan Guthrie, Managing Director of External Relations for the city of Tyler,

“A lot of people are getting their news from social media, so if you’re not there, you’re relying upon what other people are saying about you … You’ve got to be part of the discussion. For us, it’s about going where people are getting their information and being part of it”

Pinterest for Government: A Recipe for Success

The biggest challenge posed for government on Pinterest is the use of copyrighted material. The staff at Tyler avoids copyright complications by making sure that the majority of the material they pin is taken by them, or is shared with them by artists.

What are some best practices for governments and agencies looking to maintain a presence on Pinterest?

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Stephanie Johnson

I think the biggest concern among governments using Pinterest is the challenge of copyright infringement. Government agencies have to be very careful about their social networks and what can be posted to the account. Pinterest is based on sharing other people’s content and weaving in your own. A best practice would be to have a disclaimer or have a set of rules in place about what can and cannot be pinned.

Another best practice is to create boards that enhance your agency’s story: history, business, open space, etc. This helps you determine the pins and direction that the conversation will take.

Jessica Orquina

Pinterest is a very interesting social network. It is visually appealing and has a rapidly growing user base. However, the two stumbling blocks I see are the issues around copyright concerns and obtaining a government friendly terms of service.

Molly Moran

Well, it all depends on what they are trying to accomplish. I feel like so many of these social media initiatives are done without a clear goal in mind. Do they want to increase tourism of their state/town? I could see using Pinterest (plus other tools) to help accomplish a goal like that. Also, to be clear: driving traffic to a website is not an end goal. Neither is “communication” or “outreach.” All three are ways of achieving a goal, but they are not goals in and of themselves.