Pinterest: Visualizing our Aspirations for the HIV CommunityThis week we have a guest New Media post from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, one of our Federal HIV/AIDS Web Council Members.
Pinterest is the newest wunderkind in the recent influx of social media tools. Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter all promote a shared community across borders. Pinterest has exploded as a social media tool and even though it is still invite only, it receives over 11 million unique visitors each month in the U.S. In the government sector Pinterest is still relatively unknown; only the US Army has made the jump to the new tool, but other agencies are not far behind. Pinterest offers the government a forum to disseminate the vast amounts of knowledge its agencies possess in a purely visual way. The Obama Administration already does this with its use of infographics and tools like the taxpayer receipt.
I am slightly biased as I am an avid pinner. I got hooked on Pinterest one rainy Saturday and now spend much of my internet time sharing photos of places and things I dream of. For the uninitiated, Pinterest is basically a virtual bulletin board that places photos, links, and videos from websites the user browses on the internet. You can follow other users and “repin” their photos and links that you like onto your boards. This creates a continuous sharing of ideas through different circles of friends and followers. There is no limit to the amount of boards you can have; people have ones relating to their favorite sports teams, books to read, and places they want to travel to. You can also like or comment on people’s pins just as you can on Facebook photos. Many boards deal with non-work related items but there is vast potential for bringing the professional sphere to Pinterest. Currently, the majority of visitors to Pinterest are women between the ages of 25 and 40.
Non-profits and even the U.S. Army have taken note of Pinterest’s rise and have created their own boards that people can follow. Non-profits can use Pinterest to promote their programs and keep in contact with their members in a purely visual way. Amnesty International is using it to promote their products, disseminate information, and provide a space and links for followers to take action on an issue. Boards can showcase prevention messages or highlight programs across the country and the world. Pinterest can be a forum for collaboration and support on a variety of topics in new and creative ways. For example, Beth Kanter, a social media blogger, has a board where she provides social media tips for non-profits. The U.S. Army has 24 boards that range from photos of soldiers around the world to their efforts to go green. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom even has his own official Pinterest account.
The growing audience makes this an ideal platform to spread messages about HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care. Pinterest can be a powerful tool for the HIV/AIDS community to connect and learn about other programs and opportunities out there. Until there’s A Cure curates a profile to promote positive messages, offer fundraising ideas, and showcase strong women in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Individuals post prevention posters, advertise AIDS walks, link to programs around the word, and offer positive messages. Jamie Minchello in Boston curates a work related board that posts videos from Healthy Volunteers – Red Ribbon Heroes , a community outreach and education campaign that raises awareness about research on an HIV vaccine domestically and internationally.
I enjoy seeing the new feeds of those I follow as it increases my networks and new inspirational ideas. Some people call Pinterest a visual Twitter feed; however, I believe it is more a visualization of one’s dreams and aspirations. Twitter documents what has happened, while Pinterest visualizes what could happen. What one person has done and shared can become inspiration for another, and the social media and online organizing world has begun to take notice. I am excited to see how Pinterest is used as a tool for sharing information and building collaborations across networks. You can learn more about Pinterest here .