Pentagon Joins the Pin Craze


Servicemembers might not expect the U.S. military to adopt Pinterest, the fastest growing social medial site that's most popular with young mothers, as quickly as it did. This is the same organization that drug its feet for years debating whether to allow troops to go on Facebook.

The National Guard jumped first in December and set up a Pinterest pinboard of its own. The pinboards are what drive the social media site. Users set up their own boards on the site and "pin" pictures, links and videos of their interests. They can then repin other pictures and share them on Facebook, Twitter and email.

Pinterest has quickly become popular with mothers ages 25-34.  The site was recently named the third most popular social media site behind Facebook and Twitter.

Rick Breitenfeldt, head of the National Guard's Public Information Branch, said the Guard joined in December after hearing the buzz surrounding Pinterest.

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"We were particularly interested in the popularity with women. We saw it as an opportunity to reach a new audience in a way that our other social media accounts weren't able to," he said.

Pinterest opened to the public in August and is no longer invitation only. The growth has been impressive with 104 million visitors, according to a Forbes report. The site could see an additional spike in visitors after starting an easier registration process.

The service pinning the most and acquiring the most followers is the Army as one might expect considering it's by far the largest service. Brittany Brown, the Army's social media manager, contributes the Army's success to testing "unique content for a unique medium."

"It's hard to guess what content people want, but it is trial and error. We look at what they are using Pinterest for, wedding planning and community, and this established how we use it, but we shake it up: humanitarian missions and boot camp boards," Brown said.

The Army has 3,152 followers with the vast majority of those followers being women even though the active service is only 14 percent female. Brown said the Army has worked hard not to give into that reputation and make their board interesting to men too.

"Metrics are yes, female, but we don't want to marginalize male users," she said.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno even has his own pinboard. He has a meager 140 followers with 13 boards and 226 pins. His pinboard is unlike most board's that populate the site. He pins about Army values, the Army's birthday, training and history.

Pinterest officials have come under scrutiny recently for their user agreement and potential copyright infringements by tracking the links to user-posted pins, but the social medium's growth has not stumbled.

With leaders, bases and military agencies all following the National Guard's lead setting up their own pinboards, it doesn't appear the Defense Department has any intentions of slowing down either.

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