What Do Pinterest’s and Instagram’s Sponsored Posts Mean for Nonprofits?

Pinterest is trialling sponsored pins: ads will look like actual pins.

Social media has changed the way we consume information: We swipe, we sift, we scroll. (Sounds like the beginning of a Pink song, right? No? Nothing? Never mind.)

Pinterest, among the most popular social networks with women, is designed to appeal to this behavior. It allows your eyes to dance from picture-to-picture, observing food recipes to furniture trends to, yes, charitable initiatives.

In October the social media giant began offering sponsored pins to companies and nonprofits willing to pay for the exposure. Pinterest says it intends to provide relevant content on its boards so that users don’t feel they’ve been inundated with advertising. Instagram is also piloting a similar approach with sponsored photos in late fall 2013.

Trend in Action

People receive about 3,000 branded messages a day; few remember what they heard, seen or touched. Instead of placing banners  aside feature content, more social networks are creating ways to embed ads into social conversations.

UNICEF, for example, created a fictional profile for a little girl, Ami Musa, who pinned items to a board that were crucial to her survival—a stark contrast from the typical fare on Pinterest. The campaign was a hit because it fit the aesthetic of Pinterest.

The point? Social networks are designing content that stands out…by fitting in.

Questions to Consider

To tap into this trend, begin asking these questions about your content strategy:

  • Are you putting out content that is as entertaining visually as it is educational?
  • If your social networks were a TV station, is the the content  commercial or a TV show?
  • Are you using social media to strike up conversations or tell stories?
  • Does your audience find value in your content?
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