Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Operation Pinterest

by Dan Yaeger

It started with Leslie a few weeks ago, who said that the new social media site Pinterest might be a good tool for NEMA to make connections between its member museums and the general public. Like many things in my life, the suggestion didn’t connect with me right away. So Leslie gave me a gentle reminder about her suggestion last Thursday, and added that, were we start a Pinterest presence, we’d be the first museum association to do so. Again, I was interested in a sort of, kind of, maybe way, but with everything going on in the NEMA world, it was a momentary distraction, momentary being the operative word here.

The next morning, driving in to work, it hit me: What a perfect team-building project for a February Friday! Though I didn’t know Pinterest from patchouli, I decided to lay down a challenge – create a credible NEMA presence there in one day.

0900 hours
The staff gathers for a typical Friday. I tell them we need to meet in five minutes. They look at me suspiciously, wondering if this is one of those corporate end-of-week staff purges. It isn’t.

0905 hours
I unveil the big idea, Pinterest in one day! Still, they eye me suspiciously. Now they aren’t afraid of a staff purge, but that I’ve lost my grip. I’ve gone from luddite to early adopter overnight. Exhilarating!

But, after they see I’m not dangerous, we settle in for some enthusiastic brainstorming. We go over the basics of Pinterest, the audience, potential “pinboards” we can create. Then I say, if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it right: we need a consultant. We resolve to conference with the redoubtable social media guru Kate Laurel Burgess Mac Intosh at 1030 hours.

1030 hours
We connect with Kate Laurel Burgess Mac Intosh via teleconference and give her the skinny on what we’re up to. Kate is a font of ideas, almost giddy that NEMA is taking the lead on the latest craze in social media. After helping us devise a list of 25 or so potential pinboards, she advises us to keep it simple for our launch. We agree to create 5 – 10 boards with 15 – 20 “pins” each (pins being a graphic pulled from a web site and inserted onto your pinboard, with a link back to the originating site). We decide to create a pin for each of our member museums and organize them by state – this, we reason, will be the most useful way for the general public to find them. We thank Kate for her wisdom, then get cracking.

1200 – 1530 hours
The NEMA office is like Houston Mission Control. Intensity. Collaboration. Gazes fixed on computer monitors. Focus on a singular objective: a successful launch.

Sample dialogue:
Heather: I have Connecticut done! I’m on to Vermont.
Leslie: That’s great! I’m halfway through Massachusetts and people are already re-pinning us!
Dan: Who wants more pizza?

1530 hours
Our Pinterest site is almost complete. Now we turn our attention to getting the word out. I mean, what’s a social media site for, if not getting the word out? I write some copy for an email and turn it over to Heather.

1600 hours
Five… four… three… two… one. The email’s out. We’re live! Within seconds, we see that our NEMA community has opened their email and clicked through to Pinterest. Just like that, 100+ followers. Immediate gratification never felt so good. It’s been a long, exciting day, but we did it. I give the staff a big pat on the back and tell them I’m proud. Amazing work. NEMA’s the world’s first museum association to engage the world of “Pinheads.” We’ll see where that gets us.


  1. nice job NEMA! talk about putting a quick plan into action. What I especially loved is that, even with a 'one day and go' strategy, you put specific thought into your plan. Social media serves a real purpose for museums and cultural institutions. It can be more than 'just' an exercise in self promotion as you proved - it's also fun!

    Jenn Seeley
    Community Engagement, Radian6

  2. Now, if we can get NEMA on Google+, we can fully take over the internet world! LOL

  3. As a "pinner" that participated in Friday's operation I have to say it was a lot of fun being able to look at all of our members' websites. I'm always amazed at the variety of museums in the New England region. I'm constantly adding more to my "must see" list.

    We will be updating our boards often and looking for people to help. Contact the NEMA office for complete details.

  4. It was an exciting day last Friday, getting NEMA onto Pinterest.

    Like Heather said, it was also fun to get onto our members' websites and learn more about them as we searched for "pinnable" images.

    I must say it was also quite satisfying and rewarding to see an idea follow through to a state of completion all in a matter of hours. The NEMA staff makes a great team!

    The Pizza lunch didn't hurt either...