Pinterest 101 for Animal Shelters & Rescues

Posted by Jennifer on February 24th, 2014

pinterest_logo_0A lot of people use and love Pinterest…. 70 million people actually! (You can find on Pinterest here.) A while ago I thought I should learn more about Pinterest and how it could help shelters and rescues get their pets adopted, especially since the more-social-savvy staff on our team added the “Pin it” buttons on every pet listing’s page. I was ready to start pinning pets on Pinterest interest boards! But wait… what does that even mean? Thankfully we have a Pinterest expert to help explain that and more! Meet Michelle. 

Michelle is a blogger and freelancer who’s written about every topic under the sun. She’s a fur mom to a rescued Boxer mix and is extremely passionate about rescuing animals. Follow her on Twitter and Google+

Michelle says…

Pin your interests: That’s the idea behind Pinterest, a surprise hit amongst social-media fans across the world. This website helps users keep track of the things they like on the internet; pins span a seemingly endless range of topics, from travel destinations to fashion to recipes to decorating ideas. Although many of its users rely on Pinterest as a place to organize their web-based finds, businesses and nonprofits can make use of this site as well.

That’s where you come in.

How to Set Up Your Organization’s Pinterest

It’s easy to set up a Pinterest for Business account. It begins at which is Pinterest’s business-specific portal.


You’ll have to fill out the form with information about your organization—there’s an option for non-profits in the dropdown menu—your contact information, and a “Username” that will create the URL for your Pinterest site.

  • If you have your own website, you can enter your website address, but it’s not mandatory. Next, you’ll have to verify your organization’s website – if you have one. This will make your pinboards look more trustworthy. It’ll also give you access to your account’s web analytics, which allows you to see how popular your pins are.
  • If you don’t have your own website, you can use a link to your pet listings on which you can find at

An optional step in creating a Pinterest account for your organization or shelter is to add a Pinterest widget to your website, if you have one. This isn’t so that your website’s visitors be able to find your organization’s Pinterest boards; instead, it makes it easy for them to pin the articles and images from your site that they find interesting or noteworthy. This could help something—say, an image of a cat at your shelter that’s in need of a forever home—get passed around virally and make more of an impression than it would on your main website alone.

If you don’t have a website, don’t worry! On, every pet’s page has a “Pin It” button included automatically. Surely the dogs and cats that get their stories shared this way give the “Pin It” feature four paws up!

What to Pin

There are several ways that an animal shelter or rescue can use Pinterest boards to help in their mission. Take, for example, the ASPCA’s Pinterest boards. Their 23 boards include pictures of fluffy puppies and kittens alongside images of animals that the organization works to rescue. They also pin pet-safety tips, care instructions, purchasable pet products, and images from their photo challenge. All of these integrated social media marketing strategies could inspire clicks back to ASPCA’s board, where users would learn more about the organization’s values. This, in turn, could inspire donations, adoptions or, at the very least, a more knowledgeable discussion when it comes to animal activism, breeding, and the fair treatment of all potential pets. 

Other organizations that have similarly mastered the art of pinning include the Humane Society of Manatee, Florida, and Woodbridge Animal Shelter in New Jersey — check out their boards for more ideas of what to pin on yours.

How to Gain Followers

Once you’ve curated your boards, it’s important to build a fanbase so that your posts are seen by as many eyes as possible. One way to facilitate the process is to add a Pinterest tab to your organization’s Facebook fan page. It’s a very simple process. Below are four potential steps (there are several ways of doing this):

1. Open the Facebook Developer Application installation tool and click the green button in the upper right-hand corner that says, “Create a New App.”

2. Complete each step until you reach the page that allows you to download the Pinterest application. 

3. Once the button shows up as one of your applications, choose your organization’s Facebook page(s) on which you’d like the button to appear.

4. Then go to the top right of the welcome bar and click “allow,” which will officially make the Pinterest button part of your Facebook page. You can later customize the button’s appearance and name, if you want to.

How to Gain Even More Exposure with Pinterest Contests

Another way to get eyes on your content is to create a Pinterest contest. Many businesses rely on Pinterest contests to accumulate more followers, increase awareness, and boost traffic to their website. Consider the goals that you want to achieve and then pick the contest type that best fits your goals and the website’s contest policies:

  • To gain followers, simply create a contest where the prize is up for grabs for any one of your followers.

  • To boost awareness of your shelter, ask contest participants to create boards that represent your organization’s values. Perhaps they could pin inspirational quotes, images of animals in need, innovative pet products, etc.; the best board of the bunch wins your prize.

  • To increase traffic to your website—and viewership of your original content—create a contest where users have to pin their 5 or 10 favorite pieces from your website.

After deciding which contest style best fits your intentions, it’s time to pick the right prize for the winner. It could be anything from a gift card to a basket of pet products to waived adoption fees. Whichever you choose, it should be integrated into the official contest image that you will have to create and pin to your own board so that your followers are made aware of the contest.

It’s important not to over-promote or draw out your contest—if followers lose interest, they may unfollow, defeating the entire purpose of the exercise. The good news is that most people won’t tire of quality pins or, at the very least, cute animal pictures. With strong content, you’ll be able to keep your followers and, with ease, promote the good work that you do every day.

Now you’re on your way to becoming a Pinterest Pro yourself!
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