Pinterest: Politicians’ Newest Frontier?

This week, I went where very few men have gone before: the world of Pinterest.  Still in its early growth stage, politicians have yet to fully tap Pinterest as a communications channel.  I think they should.

Pinterest is a photo-sharing website that allows users to “pin” images onto online bulletin boards.  Users create boards based upon their interests and can follow boards of other members.  The network has 25 million members, who are predominantly female (upwards of 80% according to Social Media Examiner), between the ages of 25 and 34, and have money to spend.  Pinterest also drives more referral traffic than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined (check out this graphic for more information).

For these reasons, businesses (especially retail) are adding Pinterest to their marketing strategies.  Their goal is simple—increase sales by pinning images of their products and encouraging Pinterest users to repin them.

For political communications, the strategy on Pinterest is the same.  Unlike Facebook and Twitter, which have larger networks, Pinterest’s female-based audience creates a unique opportunity for politicians to target women in a cost-efficient manner.

And the numbers don’t lie; women are more likely to vote than men, so it makes sense that Pinterest should be a major battlefield for winning their vote.

Also, if Pinterest continues to grow at this rate, politicians can test Pinterest now.  When the masses do arrive, politicos can welcome them with another well-oiled social media machine.

But most politicians are nevertheless nonexistent on Pinterest.  As a matter of fact, I searched for high-profile politicians on Pinterest.  Of the 60 politicos I chose based upon their leadership roles and notoriety, only 5 have an active Pinterest account.

Yet some politicos are thriving on Pinterest.  Case in point: Michelle Obama.  The First Lady has used Pinterest to advance her “Let’s Move!” campaign, highlight Obama’s family values, and capture memories from the campaign.  And she’s accomplished this in exciting and creative ways.  Who would have thought that the First Lady would publish healthy eating recipes, or that a photo of a Bo Obama would go viral?  And of course, it never hurts to have a video endorsement from Beyoncé.

If you’re wondering how Pinterest could directly win votes, just open the First Lady’s board entitled “Why We Vote.” The post I find to be most powerful is titled “We Can Do It.”  Pictured to the left, Michelle Obama labeled the post as the following: “To To protect my daughter’s rights to decisions about her healthcare #WhyIVote.”  Connecting women’s suffrage with a woman’s right to choose and Obamacare, the image subliminally highlights points of contrast between Obama and Romney.  Women’s suffrage and Obamacare are not explicitly linked, but the image encourages viewers to make that connection.  The post also received 6 comments, 244 repins, and 280 likes.  That’s effective political communications.

 

As Pinterest continues to grow, I hope politicians jump on board.  If women continue to dominate Pinterest and outvote men, it only makes sense for politicians to target them there.  And for those politicians preparing to take that step, I suggest they take a closer look at Michelle Obama’s page and learn a thing or two.

Welcome!

My name is Michael M. Kimmelman and welcome to the New Media Experiment!  Through studying international relations, and riding the internship train through the Beltway, I learned that new media has taken over political communications.  I used to be a cable news fanatic.  That changed, however, because watching CNN requires that I (A) buy a cable account, (B) pay for that account, and (C) suffer through Comcast’s Reign of Terror.

Although I’ve succumbed to cable, I am nevertheless part of a large group that are guinea pigs in the New Media Political Experiment.  Politicians and political news organizations quickly embraced new media, but they have yet to refine it.  We are the test subjects.

But it’s time to flip the tables.  Can we trust news reports from Facebook?  Will social media continue to revolutionize political campaigns?  Who will maintain quality control?  From online articles to tweets, this blog will follow the use of new media by politicians and analyze what works and what doesn’t; what’s cutting-edge and what’s flat out hilarious.  Enjoy!