Digital Publishing: All the News That's Fit to Pin
Posted: 1/14/2014  |  By: Rob Tornoe
It’s not news that hard-pressed editors are being stretched in many different directions these days, but no challenges seem as complex and vexing at times as how to divvy up the resources to devout to social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, all provide benefits and exposure for a newsroom’s content, but how do you prioritize? What should you make more time for?  

Pinterest wants to make that calculation even harder. At this point, I’m sure everyone has heard about the pin-obsessed social media player that has quietly grown out of crafts and macrame into a major player in the social media arena. You also may have discounted its potential as a driver of traffic, and shrugged off its holiday recipes and crafty goodness in favor of tried and true avenues like Facebook and Twitter.  

One look at the numbers might cause you to change your mind about the might of Pinterest. BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti says that Pinterest sends more traffic to their site than Twitter. In fact, according to data released back in October by Shareaholic, Pinterest drove 3.68 percent of all social media traffic to publishers in September, more than Twitter, LinkedIn and Reddit combined. In the case of some media websites, like Martha Stewart, Pinterest actually drives more traffic than behemoth Facebook, driving about 6.5 percent of the estimated 5 million visits her websites receive in a month.  

According to a study by Piqora, the viral ratio of posts on Pinterest have shot up a whopping 42 percent from the last quarter of 2012 to the first quarter of 2013. That dramatic increase could be the result of publishers and marketers gaining a better understanding of Pinterest’s users, but it also means users themselves are becoming more and more interested in sharing content.  

So, how does your newsroom take advantage of this growing popularity? Luckily, the folks at Pinterest have noticed a growing interest in news stories on their site, to the tune of 5 million articles “pinned” every day, and have added some new features that should allow media companies to benefit more broadly from his growing traffic profile.  

One of the big changes Pinterest has made in the past few months is the addition of “article pins,” which make it easier for users to curate news stories to read when they want. When a user comes across articles posted from your site that they don’t have time to read, or perhaps just want to hold on to for later, they can easily save them to their own reading list board. The addition of a “Pin It” button for webmasters to add along with their Facebook “like” buttons makes it even easier for users to pin and share articles at any time to a board created in some cases for a specific topic, like science, technology or parenting. Pinterest has also created ‘rich pins’ that include more information, like headline, author, story description and a link to the source, and display it all better in an attempt to help your posts gain traction.  

“Pinterest gives people a way to find interesting content,” said Pinterest’s Malorie Lucich. “It’s unique to other platforms in that the article is easy to save and reference or search later, and is easily discoverable over time because it doesn't fall off the page. Great content lives on in Pinterest and older content is rediscovered all the time, as pins remain clickworthy over time.”  

So, Pinterest not only has the potential to drive significant traffic to your website, but it also has the ability to give content created for a daily deadline and typically discarded new legs. How are different media companies best utilizing Pinterest’s community of readers?  

Over at the Pottstown (Pennsylvania) Mercury, in addition to the typical boards you can expect to see targeting Pinterest’s female-heavy audience, the newsroom has also created a “Wanted by Police” board, which consists of a constantly-updated series of mug shots of individuals wanted in the Pottstown area. Since the paper started publicizing the board, arrests went up a staggering 58 percent, according to Police Capt. F. Richard Drumheller.  

“We initially had this Most Wanted list as a photo gallery on our website but one of the advantages of a Pinterest board is the view on mobile devices,” Mercury Editor Nancy March told Digital First Media’s Steve Buttry. “It far surpasses what reader sees on our site.”  

The Wall Street Journal might be one of the more innovative media companies when it comes to experimenting with Pinterest. On one board, they share a collection of their iconic dot-ink portraits (also known as “hedcuts”), which at the time of this writing featured Akio Toyoda, a jar of honey and the close-up of an iguana’s head. The social media editors at the Wall Street Journal have even figured out a way to promote content without art on the visual-heavy social network—by grabbing great pull quotes, dropping them into a graphic and adding a link directly to the article in the pin. They also have a separate board devoted to sharing the rich infographics that have become increasing popular on all social networks.  

At the Huffington Post, the staff of different verticals maintain their own boards curating the best content not just from their own site, but from various websites as well. One of the most popular, maintained by Huffington Post Parents editors, curates the vertical’s top parenting content, ranging from articles like “What a 4-year-old should know” to “Two words I’ll never say to my daughter again.” In addition to Parents, Huffington Post’s health editors curate their favorite “(Good + Well)ness Reads,” and the site’s tech editors maintain a collection of technological and natural wonders. Even Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington has gotten into the act, maligning her own board featuring what she’s currently reading.  

Meanwhile, the Des Moines Register has decided to go local on an “interesting people” board it uses to link to content about interesting citizens in Iowa’s bustling capital, including belly dancer Kristina Moseley, aerial aerobic workout wiz Felicia Coe and Veggie-Table stand owner Dan McCoy. They also have a “Unique Iowa” board, which as you can imagine features an eclectic array of local content ranging from Lazerfest to the Red Flannel Run. Even Bacon Fest gets some love.

So get pinning. It might mean even more time spent plodding away on a social network, but considering Pinterest’s growth and the loyalty of its users, it might be the best thing that’s happened to your content since Facebook.  

Rob Tornoe is a cartoonist and columnist for
Editor and Publisher. Reach him at robtornoe@gmail.com