From presidential contenders to school board hopefuls, political candidates are experimenting with a wide variety of social platforms to get their message heard. Some are turning to Pinterest, the explosively popular image-based pinboard site -- even President Obama and Ann Romney, wife of Mitt Romney, have accounts on the image-based social network.
What's the key to political perfection on Pinterest? Scott Peters and Garrett Law of social media agency Attention Span Media, which has worked with several political campaigns, have shared with Mashable five of their can't-miss tips for Pinteresting pols:
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It's All About Images
"Pinterest is very visual," said Peters. "It's less about words and more about images, and it's meant to be quick, easy and digestable"
Translation: Don't put overly-long captions on your photos or send out too many infographics. Instead, send out plenty of photos of the politician hard at work or interacting with the public. Pinterest users are there for eye candy, not tomes of text.
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"If people wanted to read position papers and debates," added Law, "there are other platforms for that. Pinterest is best thought of as a visual resume."
Make it Shareable
"Put stuff there that's shareable," said Peters. "Voters and potential voters will appreciate engaging content that relates to them and their community. Ideally, share something they'd be interested in repinning on their own page."
What might sharable content look like for a politician?
"Mitt Romney on the Republican side is very much about family values, so he might pin a photo of himself and his family," said Law. "He'd want to piece together a nice image that he's using to communicate to voters and supporters. You should know what ideals your audience upholds and use visuals to communicate those ideals.
Law also gave an example from a campaign his firm has been working with.
"One strategy we're using in the Scott Peters for Congress campaign in San Diego is building a pinboard of people that have endorsed Peters," said Law. "It's about putting a face to a name. People react better to interactions with other people visually than just via text. It's a great way to create that more personal connection."
Interact, Don't Just Broadcast
"Pinterest intended to be a social platform," suggested Peters. "It's not all about politicians being 'me, me me,' it's about the people -- which is what all politics should be about, really."
How should a politician engage on Pinterest?
"Give people material they can repin and encourage them to comment on photos from the campaign," said Peters. "Also, develop a preemptive or proactive plan to understand which posts you want people to engage with freely and which you might want to moderate, instead of flaring up a conversation you'd rather not have active on your Pinterest page."
It's Not Just for Women
Pinterest has gained a reputation for having an audience made mostly of women, so should politicians post content that appeals mostly to females? No way, said Peters and Law.
"There's this misconception that there's only women [on Pinterest]," said Peters. "But there's a wide range of age demographics on the site."
"Even outside sphere of politics, interest has collected a reputation of being female-centric," he said. "But we really have seen a wider range of people from male to female, young to old that are participating."
The lesson for politicians, then, is to post content aimed at different demographics and see what gets the attention of the audience. Experimentation is key.
Don't Pin and Ditch
This is a rule across social media: If you're going to start using a particular platform, you've got to commit. Otherwise, your followers are going to be left feeling abandoned, wondering what happened: not a good sensation to be felt by potential voters.
"Be active. It's about being visible," said Peters. "If you're not active, your visibility on the home page drops dramatically, your fans will be less engaged, and you'll see fewer interactions. People can access conversations at any given time -- people do check often and see what's new, and I think especially this year there's a huge timeliness to things in online politics. You only get so many chances to get in front of voters, so you want to make sure you have every chance you can to control the last thing they see before voting and to have a share of that voice."
How've you seen your local politicians using Pinterest or other forms of social media in unique ways? Tell us in the comments below.
Thumbnail image courtesy ep_jhu, Flickr.
This story originally published on Mashable here.