Pinterest is pretty simple in my mind – it’s a virtual bulletin board. One that has millions of people organizing their favorite items, such as home decor, dresses, recipes, farms, boots and cakes. I even know a middle-aged male farmer friend with a wedding board on Pinterest. Personally I’ve never pinned an outfit, but have been known to post pictures of hot shoes (that I’ll most likely never wear). I have also pinned pictures of calves, 4-H kids, travel wishes, farmers, dietitian tips, ranches and crops. Therein lies the value to agriculture – being a part of every day images.
My brain is highly visual, so Pinterest is very logical to me. However, my more data driven (ahem – male) friends like to slander Pinterest and point to recent studies that it doesn’t drive sales. The value to agriculture on Pinterest has nothing to do with sales, but everything to do with human interest. The “agvocacy” value in Pinterest is that it humanizes the farms and ranches that 98.5% of the population don’t live on. It’s hard to refute that farmers and ranchers become more mainstream when they’re included alongside fashion, recipes, travel stories, foodie finds, and yes – cute shoes. If you want to go beyond the choir, go to where non-ag folks are singing, share your music – and listen to theirs.
Studies show that people still trust farmers, but question farming practices. Photos and videos are a GREAT way to build trust in what we do – by showing pictures of what it’s like to care for the land and animals and your personal explanation. It is true that the majority of Pinterest users are female, but given agriculture’s need to connect with women’s emotions – I see that as a win. And just for the record, Pinterest has a higher level of engagement at this point in business than Twitter did at the same age.
Do I think Pinterest is THE answer to creating conversations around food and farming? No. Yet is a valuable tool that needs to be a part of the mix. Pinterest is also driving a considerably more visual experience in our social arena, which is a win for farms who choose to bring their world to life through images. You may not think your daily chores are that interesting, but they are FASCINATING to a person not on a farm. Following are a couple of guideposts, examples and tips to help – more articles can be found on my social resource page.
Boards – these are folders/albums of ideas or bulletin boards. Once you sign up (don’t forget your photo & a fun bio) you can name your board, select a category and pick your favorite image as the cover. People can choose to follow individual boards rather than users. Groups of people can pin to boards if the creator chooses to invite others. The Farms & Rural America, Food & Agriculture board has nearly 175 contributors with 713 pins. Most importantly, it has 837 followers, many of which have nothing to do with agriculture. Each time a group member posts to the board, it shows up in the activity of the 837 followers.
Pins – just like it sounds – Pinterest users “pin” what they like (think thumb tacks). Each photo, video, image or graphic is a in. People like, comment or “repin” these individual pins to their own boards. The more repins, the more your image spreads, just like a RT on Twitter or Share on FB. When someone repins an image, they pin it to their board and can change the comments to meet their own interests.
Aside from the simplicity of the tool – and the fun of organizing ideas, photos and wish lists while I’m standing in line – there’s great value to agriculture in playing in the Pinterest sandbox. Know that Pinterest is public domain – your boards and pins can be seen by anyone, whether they’re on Pinterest or not. Follow your instincts and you’ll get along just fine. If you’d like more of an “owner’s manual” see https://www.pinterestguide.com/
What questions do you have? Feel free to post them here and I’ll do my best to answer them or find someone who can. And if you’d like to share your Pinterest profile, how you’re using it and favorite boards, write those in the comments. You can find me at https://pinterest.com/mpaynknoper. The more the merrier!