Pinterest: Yet another social media tool for journalists to cope with?

Some reporters/editors are still struggling to figure out how to catch up with Facebook and Twitter. Now they have to deal with yet another social media tool: Pinterest.

What is Pinterest?

An opinion piece published by an Australian paper may serve as a good primer on “What is Pinterest:”

In its most basic form, it’s a visual bookmarking site that allows users to pin anything they find on the web that interests them. All of your likes, comments, pins and re-pins are recorded on your own profile – or, more fittingly, pinboards – thereby connecting people based on their interests rather than friendships or professional networks. These boards are arranged by any number of topics from gardening to technology and include subjects such as Products I Love and Favorite Places and Spaces.

The Wall Street Journal has a Pinterest account and put together an “Introduction to Pinterest” for a sampling of how companies and people are experimenting with Pinterest.

Why does Pinterest matter?

Pinterest is among the hottest social media sites on the web. The site, which is still invitation-only, has hit 12 million unique visitors in the U.S – the fastest social network ever to hit the figure. According to findings by online sharing tool Shareaholic, based on aggregated data from more than 200,000 publishers that reach more than 270 million unique monthly visitors each month,  Pinterest beat out Twitter for referral traffic in February. Further, Pinterest outpaced Google Plus, LinkedIn and YouTube combined for share of referral traffic.

How are the news media catching on?

There is a growing list of U.S. newspapers that have an official Pinterest account. Newspapers can generate traffic from Pinterest to websites of the newspaper. Take for example the Pinterest account of Wall Street Journal.

As is seen in the screenshot of WSJ’s Pinterest account, there are different “boards,” each has a different theme or topic. A click on a board will lead to a separate window with more “boards,” with each board relates to a specific article or picture, in a new window upon click.

WSJ has some boards on its main page that correspond to the sections of WSJ newspaper such as “WSJ Front,” “WSJ Fashion,” “WSJ Travel,” etc. Individual boards within each section are linked to regular articles on WJS’s official website.

A blogger put together some ways that a reporter can make use of Pinterest such as find ideas for trend stories, mobile-pin pics, curate news, etc.

About Mu Lin

Dr. Mu Lin is a digital journalism professional and educator in New Jersey, United States. Dr. Lin manages an online marketing company. He also manages MulinBlog Online J-School (www.mulinblog.com/mooc), a free online journalism training program, which offers courses such as Audio Slideshow Storytelling; Introduction to Social Media Marketing; Writing for the Web; Google Mapping for Communicators; Introduction to Data Visualization; Introduction to Web Metrics and Google Analytics.
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