Have you ever been online and seen something cool and interesting that you’d like to save and share with your friends? Wouldn’t it be great if you had this giant virtual bulletin board where you can clip your favorite things? If you answered yes, then welcome to Pinterest, the fastest growing social media network in 2014.
If you’re not already familiar with Pinterest, it’s an incredible visual medium that operates like a giant bulletin board where you ‘pin’ your favorite images to a board that you create. Specifically for ministries, I wouldn’t put Pinterest in the same class as Facebook in terms of driving people to attend your ministry. Pinterest is more for sharing, engaging, informing and even entertaining your current congregation. Here are some top best practices, opportunities, challenges and more for launching Pinterest boards for your ministry:
Pinterest Best Practices
Using Pinterest is pretty straight forward but if you need a quick demo, Pinterest has an intro video although I found these tutorials from Real Simple and PC Mag more helpful. Unlike Twitter, there is no set format to Pinterest; basically you just find pictures you like and pin them to a board that you’ve created. Having said that, here are some Pinterest best practices that you should know before creating your ministry’s boards:
- Themed Boards: Creating themed boards is the first step to pinning on Pinterest. For your ministry, you could create faith specific boards such as these for church quotes, Bible studies, beautiful churches and others. Also creating boards that are not specifically related to the church’s mission can spur greater engagement from your members particularly those who are already Pinterest fans.
- Group Boards: Pinterest allows for group boards where you and anyone you invite can Pin to. Perhaps create a ‘Just For Fun’ shared board for your members where they can highlight favorite recipes, crafts, books, quotes and other popular topics. Additionally, here’s a great idea that I’ll borrow from Lifeway who suggest creating a board around ministry space ideas where members can see creative ways that other churches are utilizing their space.
- Highlight Your Ministry & Members: You will definitely want to highlight your ministry activities and members. Create boards with pins around mission trips, church potlucks, favorite church crafts, as well as highlighting community work your church may engage in such as Habitat for Humanity.
- Repin Others: While you’re browsing other people’s pages for creative images and inspiration, repin your favorites to your board. This is also an organic way to attract new followers to your Pinterest boards.
- Maintain Board: Spend time to maintain your board with fresh pins. If your board is static, you’ll find that over time engagement will drop off and it will be difficult to get members re-engaged.
Pinterest pinning parties are not a best practice or even a widely used practice but I think it can be an intriguing idea for ministries. For starters, here’s a quick how-to for creating a Pinterest pinning party. The basic idea is that you create a group board where members can add/share pins based on your selected topic (summer crafts, Thanksgiving recipes, etc.).
Ministries can utilize pinning parties as a creative online giving fundraiser, a stand-alone contest to augment a pledge drive, or even as a monthly event to bring your congregation together to share your inspirations. A few years back, I participated in and helped to manage a pinning party for a large group and I found it to be spirited, fun and conversational. Part of the fun with a pinning party is chatting and discussing each other’s pins in real time so you may be surprised at how much buzz and playful competition this creates within your congregation.
Engagement Opportunities and Challenges
As I mentioned above, your ministry’s Pinterest goal should be to engage with your congregation and to drive greater interest in your church’s upcoming events. Pinterest is no substitute for a robust church website but it can help to augment events such as fundraisers and can help build advanced interest in evergreen events. For example, if you have a major youth ministry event coming up, create a mood board that describes what your parents (and kids) can expect. I love this pin of a giant cardboard maze that could be utilized for a church event. Or this paint slip n slide. Or this cool logo describing a future ‘Survivor’ type event. You get the picture, pinning for a future event is great for building buzz.
Pinterest’s appeal to your ministry is not limited to event promotion. You should also create a board solely dedicated to your Sunday message that quotes Scripture and highlights readings which provide additional context. Through these mood boards, Pinterest can help you to spread the gospel with others through sharing scripture and inspirational quotes.
The aspects of Pinterest that make it such a desired site- visual medium, beautiful imagery, sleek design- are also what makes it such a challenge. This is especially true if you are trying to create your own pins which I would not recommend unless you have significant resources. The bigger challenge for churches is keeping your boards fresh and interesting which will require some maintenance but probably no more than a few minutes a day. Although Pinterest does not have the reach of a Facebook or the ‘breaking alerts’ feel of Twitter, it is a great setting for your ministry to engage your members in a different manner that is about sharing visually the everyday things that inspire you.