The sharing site enables trainers to boost learner engagement while promoting best practices with peers.

Once viewed as technology for recreational purposes, Pinterest has earned a following from training and development professionals.

What it is

Pinterest is a social media site focused on sharing visual content. Think of it as an online bulletin board that shows your favorite magazine clippings and videos, organized by topics that you select.

Pinterest has turned into a tool used by training and development professionals that allows them to "pin" content to virtual bulletin boards for training events.

Why it works

Although most Pinterest users are women (79 percent), it is rapidly growing and should not be disregarded as just a fun way to locate recipes and crafting ideas. According to Mashable findings on Pinterest usage, the sharing site has 11.7 million users who spend an average of 97.3 minutes per visit. That's notable because it is a longer visit than that of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ combined.

Most importantly, Pinterest's adoption is rapidly increasing, with a 1,047 percent increase in usage in 2012. Its growth is faster than that of Facebook in the two years after its inception.

The pictures and images from your Pinboards can be shared with followers on other social media platforms as you pin them on Pinterest. And just like Facebook posts and YouTube videos, pins on Pinterest can go viral.

Pinning ideas for training and development professionals include

  • projects relating to training activities
  • lesson outlines for courses
  • images to illustrate ideas for your training sessions
  • online field trips
  • items that fit a certain criteria, such as icebreakers
  • your own tutorial videos.

Guidelines

Pinterest is a great tool for curation, collaboration, humanizing the brand, and research.

Curation. Pin articles or questions for discussion as part of a training event. Because Pinterest is visual in nature, the best way to do this is to create a visually appealing quote or question in PowerPoint. Then, save the PowerPoint slide as a JPG file to post on Pinterest. You can include keywords and even a link to an article for learners to read.

Another use is to provide a list of recommended reading items. The pins can be linked to a site where the books can be ordered, such as Amazon. If your organization has a library or resource room, a Pinterest board can be used to inventory the available books and items.

You also can collect resources from the web to share with other training and development professionals, in addition to learners. Each pin can include keywords to increase searchability, as well as web links. Share successful training activities or whole course modules with your peers to enable them to replicate the idea, activity, or module.

And share your learners' work on Pinterest. Have participants take photos of work products from breakout activities, and post them in the activity folder. That will help archive their work and enable everyone to review later.

Collaboration. Pinterest can be used as a valuable collaboration tool with other training professionals. Request feedback from others using pins from a course, and then use their feedback to improve the course content. You can do this by either providing colleagues with the link to the board, or using the share feature so they can also post to it.

If you are working on a group project, collaborate and share ideas using pins on a shared board so that no ideas get lost. This can be especially helpful if working in virtual groups when face-to-face meetings are limited.

You also can comment on pins made by other trainers. When searching for "training development," you will find numerous training consultants and organizations that manage boards on the topic.

Humanizing the brand. Use Pinterest to post photos of your learning participants, your organization (the training facility and your team), and from events you've attended. Photo journaling can give pinners an idea of your style and the organization's culture.

Research. Training professionals can use other Pinboards to locate resources and find out about new products in the field. You also can develop as a trainer by finding ideas to improve your skills as a facilitator, and following other training professionals and their boards. With Pinterest's "everything" and "popular" feeds, as well as searches tailored to your specific interests, you can stay on top of trends.

Results

As you post interesting and relevant content, your Pinterest page will slowly attract followers. These individuals will post comments, repin your images, and like your posts—all providing your organization additional visibility with potential clients.

The goal is to grow your audience using visually interesting pins that are linked to content that people value. Over time, pins will build recognition of your brand, and showcase the work of training consultants and establish them as experts.

Pinterest analytics will enable you to evaluate your success by determining how many people are pinning from your website, seeing your pins, and clicking on content.

One company that has successfully used Pinterest is WikiHow, an educational company that has more than 162,000 articles on how to do just about anything. The company promotes its extensive article resources through pinning of photos from each resource in an appropriate board, including a "wikiHow to Career Success" board. Organizations that blog can follow this model by creating a board for keywords from blogs.

Mashable uses Pinterest to highlight technology gadgets, infographics, social media, and apps. With more than 1.4 million followers, it has demonstrated that you don't have to be a company with a physical product to sell to be successful on Pinterest. Any training and development company can use this model to promote core competencies or focus areas.