It’s not just for crafting…Pinterest and Advocacy

Image by Mashable

I don’t post too much anymore about social media and technology and nonprofit advocacy.

Mainly, that’s because there are people who are way smarter than I am at that, and so I just learn from them. I also don’t have nearly as much time to play around with new tools as I wish I did, because of consulting and teaching and parenting. And, truly, I’m pretty comfortable these days in some of my social spaces online–Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, this blog.

I am sure that there is more I could be doing with each of those, but I’m getting essentially the outcomes I hope for, connecting with great people, and learning new things.

I came across this post, though, on Have Fun Do Good, about Pinterest and nonprofits, and I just have to share…and weigh in with a few advocacy-specific ideas, too.

I am not much of a ‘pinner’. I spend a little time on Pinterest, but, truly, it makes me feel woefully inadequate. I would love to whip up fantastic, healthy meals for my kids that feature radishes shaped like farm animals (actual recipe I saw pinned last week) or use recycled paper to make a fabulous centerpiece for my table.

I would. Really.

But I take care of my four kids all day long and then work as a consultant and professor until about 1AM. I squeeze in some blogging in the (really) early morning hours. And then I wake up at 5:30AM and do it all over again.

Hence, no creative uses of chalkboard paint around here.

And I’d never really considered Pinterest as an advocacy platform, until I read that post, followed the links to different examples, and played around with some ideas about what it might look like in my work.

The key ‘lightbulb’ moment for me is that Pinterest is all about the visual.

And there is so much in advocacy that is visual, or should be.

Pinterest forces people to show, in photographs or graphics or illustrations, what they want people to see. And painting those sorts of mental pictures is a huge part of the task in advocacy, to get others to view the world through the same lens, so to speak.

So there are inspiring examples of Pinterest to capture attention for the plight of California’s state parks, to raise money for a cause, or, really, just tell their stories (in pictures).

And I am now convinced:

There are tremendous opportunities on Pinterest for advocates.

We have images to share: children who are hungry, children who are thriving, neighborhoods that are blighted, programs that are working. We have graphs that show the impact of new tax policies, the effect of nutrition policies on infant mortality, and the racial academic achievement gap. We have maps that demonstrate that distribution of resources is not random. We can show individuals’ stories in photographs, and we can invite people to share their own images, about what justice would look like, what they love about community, or what their hopes are for their children. I remember a photo journalism activity I did with some immigrant youth several years ago, about their families and what it means to them to be migrants. What if we had had the ability to pin those images and share them?

But, like any social media outlet, I’m interested in Pinterest not just for who it could help us reach, but also for what using it would mean for us, for our ability to tell our stories in a compelling way and for the curation that we need to do in order to be effective advocates. And that’s where I think Pinterest is particularly promising, because it could allow nonprofits to connect with those who may not be die-hard supporters, but who are drawn to some of the images that we share.

And that means that we’ll have to get good at communicating with those who don’t necessarily see the world in the same way, so that we can tell a story, in pictures, together. We’ll have to pare down what we know, so that it comes across powerfully, passionately…visually.

And maybe pick up some holiday decorating ideas while we’re there. No harm in that.

One response to “It’s not just for crafting…Pinterest and Advocacy

  1. Reblogged this on The Political Social Worker and commented:
    Yet another way we can use Pinterest. A few weeks ago another Social Work blogger had written a post about using it to create vision boards with clients.

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