As Pinterest grows into a top 30 US website, brands are joining the image-sharing social network by the boatload.
But not all Pinterest strategies are created equal. A new medium requires some creativity, so I set out to find some of the most creative uses of Pinterest out there today. If you’re planning your own Pinterest strategy, use these 21 examples to help get you going.
Celebrate The Iconic
Oberlin College does a ton of things well on Pinterest. By looking at their boards, it’s really easy to get an idea of the college, its students, its city and what makes it unique, like the neat chairs you can find around campus.
And what’s more distinctively baseball than majestic mustaches? Exactly. Major League Baseball isn’t afraid to have a little fun with its boards, and the attitude is infectious.
Tell A Story
ThinkProgress’ Pinboard of companies that have dropped Rush Limbaugh following the Sandra Fluke controversy is a unique way to tell a story in icon form.
Count On Cute
Pinterest loves cute. The Humane Society of New York capitalizes on this opportunity with a Pinboard full of portraits of adoptable animals in the New York area. Irresistible! Can your brand leverage Pinterest’s insatiable need for adorable photos?
Post Videos, Too
Dollar General’s Pinterest presence banks heavily on the popularity of recipes on the site (food is the fastest-growing and most viral category on Pinterest). The company also smartly repurposes a series of quick video recipes from its YouTube channel onto Pinterest as well.
Create A Resource
Teach Pinners about something they want to know about. The Wall Street Journal created an informational board to help new Pinners understand the social network.
Go Behind The Scenes
Does your brand have unique inner workings that a larger audience might like to see? Use Pinterest to bring them to light, like the Today Show does with its “Anchor Antics” board.
Make It Beautiful
Carmaker Peugeot uses its Pinterest presence in a uniquely creative design way. Wonder how long it took to get those just right?
Note that the stylized boards are interspersed with larger-subject boards anyone can add an image to. Don’t leave your followers out of the fun!
Plan A Contest
Pinterest contests are a growing trend, with brands often requiring entrants to pin a particular image from the brand onto one of their boards. Here’s a contest example from nail polish brand ORLY.
Be sure to read through Pinterest’s terms of service before starting a contest.
Sneak In Affiliate Links
Internet marketer Joe Hall offered up his Pinboard of “Spy stuff” as one offbeat use. Pretty cool on its own, but even sneakier when you know all these products are … (dun dun DAH!) affiliate links. Affiliate marketers, take note.
Go Off-Topic (Just A Little)
Yogurt brand Chobani includes plenty of the expected boards featuring recipes, but also brings a little flavor and personality with “We Would Like to Eat With You,” a board focusing on beautiful spoons and bowls. Get it?
Celebrate A Milestone
USA Today’s Pinterest presence has news stories, great photos of the U.S. and one board marketers can take a page (pin?) from. “Centennials in 2012″ focuses on 100th anniversaries of everything from Oreos to Fenway Park. What milestones can you focus on for your brand or industry?
Humanize The News
As a news source, Newsweek/The Daily Beast takes on a wide range of topics both fun and serious. But with a compelling series of photographs, a Pinboard focusing on Arab Spring humanizes a news event that’s remote for most of us.
Pinboards are the perfect way to break down your brand’s subject area and focus on a fun detail. Paintmaker Benjamin Moore’s “Doors!” board is a great example of a big topic writ small.
Also see how Bergdorf Goodman’s “Rainy Day Considerations” brings whimsy and fun (high-water pants! the perfect cappuccino!) to a tiny topic. Don’t be afraid to get creative with a smaller topic.
Ride A Pop Culture Wave
The New York Public Library, Art and Picture Collection’s Mad Men board is pretty much a work of genius. Blending stills and promotion from the show with period ads and clothing photos, the board provides a glimpse into those days and promote’s the library’s “Mad Men reading list” – another pretty smart marketing element.
Milk Your Mascots
Keep in mind it doesn’t have to be an official mascot, either. Another great example from Oberlin: a fun board of squirrel origami, accessories and more in honor of the campus’ high concentration of white squirrels, which act as fuzzy informal mascots.
Chronicle An Evolution
News brands and magazines are the most obvious for this category – witness the New Yorker and Newsweek’s vintage cover collections. But other brands can use this idea to detail their own evolution – from logos to photos and more.
Inspirational quotes and sayings are popular on Pinterest. GE leverages that popularity in its “That’s Genius” board focusing on the sayings of GE founder Thomas Edison. Of course, not all brands have a well-known genius as part of their legacy, but we can all start somewhere. What’s quotable in your industry?
Tug Some Heartstrings
Just try not to smile when you look at some of the photos on the National Guard Valentines Pinboard. A visual medium like Pinterest is a great one to bring in some emotion.
Bergdorf Goodman has one of the strongest Pinterest accounts in retail, and it’s full of creative corwdsourcing. Yes, you’ll find spring fashion trends, gift ideas and other expected boards, but also the “I Never Forget” board featuring beautiful images of the items Bergdorf’s Facebook friends say they never forget in the morning.
Whole Foods’ Pinterest highlights hundreds of recipes and foods, but there’s also an inventive board devoted to the brand’s Whole Planet Foundation.
Show Off Your Roots
Cabot Cheese’s Pinboard of Farmers and Farms is a behind-the-brand view that tells you exactly what the company is about.
Amnesty International’s mission of worldwide human rights is a tough one to put onto a Pinboard, but a creative strategy gives the non-profit lots to work with, including quotes, fair-trade items and a reading list that’s perfect for Pinterest.
What creative Pinterest strategies are you finding? Let me know in the comments!
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.