May 2, 2012 at 3:36 am #160121
If you every get a chance to talk to the founder of GovLoop, Steve Ressler, about how he grew it to the community it is today, he’ll tell you that Twitter played a key role. In fact, he was one of the earliest adopters of Twitter and clearly saw how it could be leveraged to build communities.
For several years, I was myopic about the different use cases of Twitter — whether it be personally or organizationally. I get it now. I completely see the uses cases for government organizations such as the State Department.
I’m not schooled-up on Pinterest whatsoever. So why should I care? And of even more importance, why should government organizations care about this new social media tool as much as they do Twitter (and even Facebook)?
May 2, 2012 at 1:39 pm #160185
We looked at it for growing GovLoop…and decided that, at least right now, if didn’t include our target audience. It might be something we look at in the future as it matures, but for now it’s not going to be somewhere that we put a lot of energy…but I could be convinced otherwise if someone makes a compelling case in this forum! 🙂
May 2, 2012 at 2:11 pm #160183
Andrew, I am with you. I don’t quite see the use cases for it yet. I am hoping someone more insightful than me can enlighten.
May 3, 2012 at 8:49 pm #160181
You should care because you’ve got a wedding to plan and you have to find the perfect dress and flowers…
In all seriousness though the main use of Pintrest (in my opinion) is to keep track of things and capture inspiration. We always talk about what other government organizations are doing (both good and bad) Pintrest allows you to capture that and revisit it at a more convenient time that way the idea or thought doesn’t slip through the cracks like it normally does.
Also this is a copycat world that we live in and Pintrest plays to that… see something you like? Just pin it and recreate it yourself. Normally as an individual I’d have a problem copying somebody but as far as a government organization goes who cares if another organization is doing it? It’s not like the government gets profit or points for being original but rather gets props for being efficient and effective. I think that point more so than any other drive home why Pintrest might be more for the government org than the individual.
May 4, 2012 at 5:06 am #160179
For my personal use, I’ve experimented with it as a tool for cataloging content (mostly articles) that I’ve found particularly interesting or inspirational. With other tools, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, I’ve found it difficult to keep track of ‘favorite’ content. Pinterest seems to better support this..
Organizationally, I think it had some promise as a recruiting, public relations, or marketing tool. In particular, I think it could be an effective tool for natural resource and recreation agencies, but I haven’t seen it used extensively yet.
May 4, 2012 at 1:26 pm #160177
Wait, how is it that your target audience doesn’t include women? Seriously though, I think it could be an interesting platform to test out some ideas – say a contest for a ticket to the Next Generation of Government Summit. Have users create a board “What Government Means to Me” and share pins that exemplify the best ideas they see in government and then share a link to their board on a GovLoop discussion thread.
I’ve been kicking the tires of Pinterest for personal use (and some work) and although I am up to 261 followers, by far my most popular board is one that I allowed 25 of my followers to contribute to with whatever they felt like pinning, called “What Inspires You?”. It has 425 followers with only 51 pins on it. This is crazy to me, but says a lot about different ways to create a new community using the platform by allowing them to contribute and interact with each other.
Another board I have points out how interesting human behavior is. I have a board called Details (do not follow) which is mainly for me to pin ideas for a book I want to put together. It has 335 followers (more than my overall profile). The pins on there are so unique to me that I’m not sure why they would be of interest to others, but apparently they are.
I’m not saying to invest a lot of energy, but I would certainly keep an eye on it and test out some ideas. Track and see how much traffic it drives to the GovLoop community or featured blog posts (just be sure that they have a compelling graphic associated with them). Maybe share some fun photos from GovLoop headquarters or the past conferences as another way to recruit attendees.
May 4, 2012 at 4:55 pm #160175
You don’t necessarily have to care about it now, but it doesn’t hurt to reserve the name for later (as I recently read in a blag article). It’s better to adopt it early so that years from now, if it turns out to be a big thing, you have the name you want (as an agency).
As a City, I have a few followers and some pins and we’re introducing it slowly. Personally, I use it often instead of bookmarking things because it’s visual. I’m not planning a wedding, but it is helpful for planning a trip, saving recipies and smart ideas, as well as things I find inspirational/motivation. I love Pinterest and find it a great way to be productive while I’m on hold with places like insurance and phone companies.
May 4, 2012 at 5:25 pm #160173
Great examples, Stephen. I really want to explore the idea of the government using it to share practices, artifacts and accomplishments.
May 4, 2012 at 5:28 pm #160171
Heather, I really like the idea about “pinning” exemplary ideas.
That’s a fantastic tip. That example alone on the “What Inspires You?” post has convinced me to use it.
May 4, 2012 at 5:29 pm #160169
I’ve never found an app that’s really been good at organizing all the disparate, interesting content that I found. I never realized Pinterest could be used for that.
I definitely can see how it could be used for recruiting purposes. We all know what issues the government has in recruiting good talent.
May 4, 2012 at 5:30 pm #160167
You’re probably right about it doesn’t hurt to get on the bandwagon in case it becomes the next Facebook or Twitter. Seems like it’s well on its way.
May 7, 2012 at 1:19 pm #160165
I echo the comments about Pinterest being a forum for things that are truly inspirational. As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” A single photograph can be inspiring in ways that online text never can.
I use Pinterest as a “dream” to-do list: all the things I would love to do but aren’t on my practical to-do list for whatever reason. But the nature of Pinterest begs the question, what’s stopping you from doing all these things? Why aren’t you creating the fabulous piece of art or that culinary masterpiece? The participation aspect of Pinterest makes one realize that you should stop dreaming about implementing certain things and actually do them. It’s not a one-way inspirational site. It’s a multiway, crowd-sourced, participatory inspirational hotbed. That can be applied to any field you wish.
May 7, 2012 at 2:38 pm #160163
Erica, that’s a really, really good use case. They say the best ways to achieve your goals is to visualize them.
May 7, 2012 at 2:42 pm #160161
I’m going to start following you, Heather! 🙂
May 7, 2012 at 2:53 pm #160159
Great! Thank you 🙂 I look forward to sharing with you.
May 7, 2012 at 3:03 pm #160157
Couple other thoughts…
One of the limitations of Pinterest is that you can’t create a pinboard and then open it up for anyone to pin something to. THAT would open up lots of possibilities for engagement (for instance, a gov agency could invite people to share what they love about their community, or the coolest things they’ve bought at local stores). Instead, as Heather illustrated above, you need to create a pinboard, and then add some of your existing friends individually so they can also pin to that pinboard. Generally, people just pin to their own pinboards anyway, so I haven’t yet found that adding some friends to a pinboard actually gets others pinning to your boards. Plus, Pinterest discourages doing that in any larger scale by having you type their names into a field (you can’t just look at your list of friends and check some/all of them, which would make collaborative pinboards much, much easier).
That said, one of the great things about Pinterest is that you can link it directly to your Facebook account, so if you have a lot of friends/colleagues on Facebook already, it’s much easier to get lots of people to follow your boards on Pinterest. As my Facebook friends join Pinterest, they’re given a list of their Facebook friends to add, and can just “add all” if they want. I guess because of this, most of my Boards have over 500 followers at this point. So unlike Twitter, you don’t have to completely start from scratch building our community.
I use Pinterest mostly to share products I think are cool, but I have a few pinboards that are work-related. I use my “social media stuff to check out” board to just bookmark things to go back to related to social media, and I appreciate that my “things to post on the NCDD blog” pinboard has a lot of followers, so even if I never get to posting them on our blog, I feel like people see them!
I’m at Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/heierbacher, by the way.
May 7, 2012 at 3:10 pm #160155
One thing I’ve noticed on Pinterest is that people who are using the site well for non-commercial purposes (info sharing, marketing for their organization, etc.) are doing it by using Infographics. Here’s a good example of an infographic: http://pinterest.com/pin/112308584427801270/
Basically, they’re just images that organize and present information in a much more visual way than we tend to do in blog posts, on forums, etc. They’re very bloggable too, though, as they fit nicely into most blog formats. So I’d suggest that government agencies, NGO’s, etc. think about what they want the public to see/know about them that can best be translated into a visual graphic — and who can make that happen for them. Then pin those infographics and see what happens.
May 7, 2012 at 4:47 pm #160153
I’m a big of the infographics. We weren’t built for text; we were built to evade predators, so tools which turn an endless ocean of info into something we can visually process are good!
May 7, 2012 at 5:41 pm #160151
May 18, 2012 at 2:09 pm #160149
I agree with these comments. Pinterest is growing. While you can plan your future wedding or your own personal recipe book, it can also be a great venue to broaden the Govloop community.
May 18, 2012 at 2:36 pm #160147
After seeing this discussion, I did a little experiment in Pinterest. I created a new pinboard called “What’s happening in public engagement?” and invited about 30 of my pinterest friends to join me as co-pinners (there’s really no name for this; it just says “who can pin?” and you type in your friends’ names one by one). I chose people who tend to be network leaders in my field, so they should already be seeing and sharing these types of posts elsewhere.
I added this description:
“Let’s experiment with a joint pinboard where we can post what we feel are the most important happenings (news, resources, events, whatever) in public engagement and community problem solving. I’m inviting some of my friends from the field to join me as pinners, but let me know ([email protected]) if you want added too!”
So far, about 10 of my pinners have accepted my offer to co-pin on this pinboard. None of them have pinned anything. I’ve pinned 3 things to the board.
Do any of you have ideas for what I should do next? I don’t have tons of time to devote to experimenting in pinterest at the moment, but I’d like to see if there’s any way to get a joint, professional pinboard going with minimal effort.
I guess I’ll have to email my joint pinners and encourage them to pin? I don’t think there’s a “send a message” option in pinterest.
May 18, 2012 at 2:37 pm #160145
Oh by the way, the pinboard is up at http://pinterest.com/heierbacher/what-s-happening-in-public-engagement/ and I’d be happy to add any of you who want to join the experiment.
May 18, 2012 at 3:32 pm #160143
I’m not a huge fan of the way Pinterest does the collaborate feature. You might want to ask one of the users what the email notification said. I don’t think there is a way to customize it and some users might not know what it is. I had a friend that wondered why this new board showed up on her profile and how others were pinning to it. So if it is something that they might wonder about a separate email to give them a heads up about what you are trying to do and how they can participate would be good. Might also encourage them to start pinning, which will encourage others to follow and request ability to pin, etc. Once it gets going, it might surprise you where it leads. I try to comment/like when others contribute to a collaboration board so they feel recognized, but that’s about all of the maintenance I do. I have removed contributors who weren’t participating after a length of time also. I really want the “send a message” option in Pinterest. I can’t wait to see where this goes for you!
May 19, 2012 at 3:42 pm #160141
Actually, our main advantage over the other creatures on this earth is words. But don’t let that get in the way. <grin><sigh> of saying we aren’t built for it. Uh…well. Actually, we ARE.
May 19, 2012 at 4:17 pm #160139
Thanks for these ideas, Heather! I just invited you to join the pinboard (if “join” is the right term; probably not). If you do get an email notification about this, would you please forward it to me at [email protected]? I’d like to see if it includes the pinboard’s description or not.
May 21, 2012 at 2:37 pm #160137
Whenever I see this topic what goes through my head is “You probably shouldn’t.” I don’t think it really has that much to offer in terms of increasing services of government. I can think of a couple agencies that might make use of it, such as NASA showing off the latest technology or a Parks & Recreation Department looking to show how they’re cleaning up parks. Other than that though, eh.
I’m not against Pinterest, but I think it would be more useful as a periphery to Facebook or something than a platform all its own.
May 21, 2012 at 9:33 pm #160135
I think you’re right — good as a Facebook periphery.
June 15, 2012 at 8:19 pm #160133
Thanks for your example. I also collect inforgraphics, on Pinterest itself.
I also have a pinboard about my youtube video tutorials (I am a trainer).
June 15, 2012 at 8:33 pm #160131
That’s pretty good idea — collecting infographics. Perfect fit for Pinterest.
June 15, 2012 at 8:51 pm #160129
The US State Department is on Pinterest, and some embassies.
Definetly a branding, marketing tool. you can create “booklets” (aka pin boards) of pictures around a topic, concept, ideology. Link to a page, blog, wiki to learn more. A visual tool for many things.
You can also pin videos.
Worth experimenting. Another new Beta is “bo.lt”, similar to Pinterest, but instead of pictures/videos, you collect web pages. You actually archive them, so even if the website goes away, you have a copy. Interesting concept.
CAUTION: Be aware the COPYRIGTH! I researched this issues, my collected articles are here: http://www.scoop.it/t/pinterest-copyright
June 16, 2012 at 7:02 pm #160127
State Department always seems to be on top of the social media tools. Given their mission, certainly makes sense. Thanks for the comment.
June 18, 2012 at 1:37 pm #160125
As a graphic designer, I too have been collecting graphs, infographics and other design elements that inspire me for my job. Not only is it a great way to organize design that inspires you, but it is also a good way to connect with other people (as yourself) who are pinning similar things. Great idea to have a pinboard strictly about youtube tutorials! here’s my link…
August 3, 2012 at 5:20 pm #160123
NASA does use Pinterest. Their use of it is interesting – one sees the pinterest “Pinit” logo on pages and underneath images.
Pinterest is a fascinating medium for those who believe that a picture is worth a thousand words. Perhaps that’s why it works so well for NASA – try to describe a galaxy 🙂 and you realize how empty words can be without an image. Pinterest is a stunning example of the power of visual rhetoric.
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