Pinning for purpose
“Social networks aren’t about Web sites. They’re about experiences.” – Mike DiLorenzo, NHL social media marketing director
The path of business sustainability is a journey. And what makes up a journey? Experiences. As sustainability consultants, we're aware that high level sustainability concepts are universal and easier to understand. However, what is compelling is the expression of how an individual or a company embraces those sustainability concepts to deliver results. We're all captivated by the unique sustainability experiences but equally important is their delivery and expression. Social media has proven to be an innovative and effective way to address two of the biggest hurdles around sustainability: defining what it is and providing the means and channels for sharing sustainability experiences.
Enter the world of Pinterest. Because the site’s very structure makes it the most visual social media platform around, it allows users to visually express (pin) the things they enjoy and then share them with others of like mind. As such, the site offers brands and consumers a means to pictorially share what sustainability means to them. Pictures can help contextualize sustainability concepts of energy efficiency, waste management, fair trade, and other related information that not only educates, but engages us in ways beyond words. How can Pinterest help your sustainable business?
- Branding: A major component of any corporate sustainability plan isn’t so much how a company carries out those strategies but also how it communicates it to its many stakeholders. There is an emerging role of social media for stakeholder engagement and for businesses to communicate their broader corporate responsibility agenda. Whole Foods, for example, says it is committed to “selling the highest quality natural and organic products available.” For Whole Foods, such a commitment originates in the garden where the food is grown and pays off through the appeal of the dish that is ultimately served, and the healthier lifestyle to which the food contributes. Pinterest boards sponsored by Whole Foods bring each of these dimensions to life.
- Prospecting: By using the Pinterest search function, you can find the people and brands to engage in business opportunities. Consumers can find your business too. Consumers like to browse Pinterest, and while doing so, discovere brands. Brands are maximizing their chance of being discovered by finding ways to distribute their content on Pinterest.
- Networking: Using Pinterest as a tool to create and foster relationships is among its best attributes. Sustainable businesses looking to reduce cost, increase productivity while simultaneously reduce environmental impacts by minimizing travel are looking to technology to do the trick. Pinterest as a networking tool aids in this strategy.
- Engaging: By building strategic relationships with key influencers of sustainability in the social space, we all create and empower sustainability and its mainstream adoption.
- Competitive intelligence: Creating bridges between the corporate world and its competitors, social media closes the gap on knowledge management and business intelligence. Social media for sustainability communications has become a risk or an opportunity. Monitoring, listening, and dialoguing in the social space not only offers a competitive advantage but also provides other key ingredients for successful social media engagement and competitor intelligence.
- Green Vendor Selection: Companies evaluating their vendors on mutual sustainability values have the opportunity to leverage Pinterest in building a relationship that provides transparency and visibility into operations and creates opportunities for performance oversight.
- Stakeholder Conversations and Brand Ambassadors: Social media provides individuals, communities, businesses, and non-government organizations the ability to connect with business in meaningful discussion from anywhere in the world in real time. To focus the corporate ear, sustainability minded businesses are engaging with stakeholders, who have a vested interest in the success of the business, and profoundly advance the sustainability conversation.
- Reporting: It is becoming more common for businesses to integrate social media in the annual corporate sustainability report. There are examples of how Sustainable Story Telling Through 25 Sustainability and Green Pinterest Boards can share your corporate communications.
The role of social media shares similar values to sustainability: authenticity, transparency, and engagement. Pinterest has more than 20 million monthly active users spending on average over 90 minutes on the site each month. Is your green business on Pinterest? If not, perhaps now is the time to build a social media marketing plan for your business on Pinterest.
Julie Urlaub is the founder and managing partner of Taiga Company, a sustainability social media consulting firm, where she aids clients to powerfully engage in sustainability-related issues and stakeholder communications in the social space. She can be contacted at www.taigacompany.com | @taigacompany | Facebook/TaigaCompany