Some weeks ago, I was asked by a lawyer whether Pinterest could be useful tool for him as a lawyer. In the past, we have already given introductions to other social media channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for lawyers. Pinterest can be a useful addition to that. So, in this article, we will look at Pinterest for Lawyers. We will answer questions like: What is Pinterest?, how does Pinterest work, what are the benefits of Pinterest for lawyers? We will explain how to get started and what to post.
What is Pinterest?
The Wikipedia describes Pinterest as “an image sharing and social media service designed to enable saving and discovery of information (specifically “ideas”) on the internet using images, and on a smaller scale, animated GIFs and videos, in the form of pinboards.” It has also been described as a social networking tool for visual bookmarking. One author called it a visual Twitter.
Pinterest was created in December 2009 and has its headquarters in San Francisco. Like several other social media, it is a free website that requires registration to use. The service is currently accessible through a web browser, and apps for iOS, Android, and Windows 10 and 11 PCs. In February 2022, it had more than 430 million global monthly active users. (That is approximately 100 million more than Twitter at that time). Interestingly, over 60% of its global users are women.
How does Pinterest work?
So, how does it work? What is the philosophy about it? Think of digital pinboards that you can pin your interests on. (Hence the name). Pinboards are collections of pins. You can create multiple pinboards, all dedicated to different topics that interest you. Say you are browsing the web and find an interesting article, then you can save it as a pin to one of your pinboards. The pinned article will get a thumbnail image that is presented along with the title of the article on your pinboard. All your pins are visually displayed on your pinboard. By default, pinboards and pins are accessible to the public. Just as is the case with other social media networks, you can follow other Pinterest users or just individual pinboards. Pins that are saved on one users’ board can be saved to another user’s board. Pinterest uses advanced keyword analytics to recommend pins and boards on topics of interest to its users.
Pinterest uses its own terminology. The article by Allison C. Shields on LegalEase provides the following mini glossary of Pinterest terms:
- Pin:An image or video posted to Pinterest by a user.
- Pinboard:A collection of pins created by a Pinterest user, usually organized around a particular theme.
- Pinner:A Pinterest user.
- Pinning:The act of posting content to Pinterest.
- Repin:Users can share others’ content on Pinterest by “re-pinning” (the equivalent of “re-tweeting” on Twitter). When content is re-pinned, the original “Pinner” receives a notification from Pinterest.
What are the benefits of Pinterest for lawyers?
There are two main areas where Pinterest can be useful for lawyers. These are legal research and social media marketing.
Research: The description of Pinterest as a visual bookmarking tool is quite apt. As lawyer, you can create different pinboards to organize information on the topics that you specialize in. It is possible to create sub-boards, which helps to structure the information. As a family lawyer, e.g., you could create boards for marriage, adoption, divorce, child custody, etc. And as you come across relevant information, you can save it to the appropriate board or sub-board. Keep in mind, though, that Pinterest is not a reference tool like Mendeley or Zotero. But it offers a very easy way to keep track of information: with the Pinterest browser add-on, it is as easy as clicking a button and then choosing the board you want to pin the information on. Also worth knowing is that there is such thing as collaborative pinboards, which means you can give other people access permissions to your pinboard, so you can collaborate with them.
Marketing: like all social media, Pinterest can be a useful marketing channel. Pinboards and pins can be viewed by the public. So, you can create pinboards to provide information to potential clients. And any content you create – blog, podcast, videos, infographics – should also be shared in pins. In other words, your pins and pinboards offer yet another way to attract potential clients to your content. Pinterest therefore can be a useful content marketing tool and can have its place in your content marketing strategies. Noteworthy is that if you have a Pinterest business account, you have access to analytics. So, you can verify how your pins are performing and whether your content strategy needs fine-tuning.
Getting started with Pinterest
If you haven’t used Pinterest before, it may be useful to use it for a while as a non-professional user first to familiarise yourself with it. Pinterest also has business accounts. One of the advantages of a business account is that it offers analytics and metrics. You can choose a business account when you set up your profile, or you can later convert your private account to a business one.
Once you registered, you set up your profile. Make sure to mention your business name and include a link to your website. Remember to “verify” your website with Pinterest. Provide a compelling professional bio where you address some of the legal issues your potential clients could be dealing with. Don’t forget to include your location. For your profile photo, it is always better to use a photo of you, rather than a company logo. People relate better to other people than to abstract logos.
What to post?
The rule of thumb that applies to other social media applies to Pinterest as well. You want to post both professional information that is relevant to your potential clients, and personal information. Legal consumers want to know the person they will be dealing with.
As mentioned before, you should always include links to the content you create: your blog or vlog, your podcast, any articles you have published on other media. You also want to provide links to relevant pages in your website. As is the case with other social media, here, too, it is a good practice to include links to content provided by other lawyers on relevant topics.
Other items that are popular on Pinterest include quotes and/or one-liners, and “How-to” posts. You can put up photos from events you attended or spoke at. You could even add photos of clients, with their permission. Your pins should portray what you stand for and represent your law firm’s values and culture. In other words, use Pinterest to show value and earn trust.
To cultivate a following, you should also interact with your followers and your colleagues. You can repurpose your best content. Use hashtags and keywords, so your pins can easily be found.
Finally, use the provided analytics to finetune your strategy.
Some additional remarks
Pinterest has full access to the entire browsing history that is saved on your device. So, there may be privacy and confidentiality concerns. This is especially the case if you are using cloud-based software in your law firm that is accessed in a browser.
Another area of concern is copyright infringement. Does pinning and re-pinning on publicly accessible boards constitute copying and distributing the information, or does this fall under fair use? It is a grey area. As a rule of thumb, if there is a complaint about a copyright violation, Pinterest will remove the pins.
In its default setup, Pinterest tends to be overactive in the notifications that it sends. You may want to finetune what you get emails and notifications for.
One annoying aspect of Pinterest is that it is not possible to exclude certain topics. If Pinterest thinks it will be of interest to you because it is of interest to other people who share similar interest, then you will keep receiving suggestions. There is an option where you can click “I don’t want to see this”, but it is of little help.
In conclusion, Pinterest can be useful for lawyers in two ways. It can be a beneficial additional social media marketing channel. It is also useful for keeping track of your legal research.