Despite what you may have observed, you can pin more on Pinterest than recipes, home décor, fashion, and enough DIY projects for a lifetime.

Much has already been written about magazines’ use of Pinterest. Because the majority of the site’s users are women, much of the coverage has focused on how Pinterest has presented opportunities for women’s magazines to share content with wider audiences and drive traffic to their own websites. But magazines of all types, beyond just women’s publications, can use Pinterest creatively to craft interesting selections of content to intrigue current — and potential — readers.

I spent hours on Pinterest looking for innovative ways that magazines — especially smaller publications, and those on non-lifestyle topics — are using Pinterest. Here are five creative strategies I found that might also be new opportunities for other magazines.

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Surfer magazine features surfing videos on Pinterest.

Pinning More than Pictures: Multimedia

I was surprised to see how few magazines were posting links to collections of videos or other multimedia. Music and video provide a refreshing change of pace from Pinterest’s mostly static content. A few approaches to multimedia include:

  • Oxygen, the women’s fitness magazine, posts collections of music videos for playlists designed by each month’s cover model.
  • Entrepreneur magazine has a selection of videos on its “Online Business Videos” board, featuring the voices and experiences of real-life entrepreneurs.
  • Surfer magazine showcases some of its own videos on a dedicated video board.

Pinning for a Purpose

Some magazines focused on social and political issues are using their boards to curate their own work and other online material related to their causes.

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Latinitas’ pins reflect a different perspective on fashion and beauty.
  • Mother Jones has created boards that feature its excellent infographics and flowcharts, neatly combining the visual nature of Pinterest with its investigative journalism. (And, more typical for Pinterest: It also has a board of its food bloggers’ recipes.)
  • Cannabis Now magazine collects infographics supporting marijuana legalization on one of its Pinterest boards, giving visitors the chance to re-pin weed right alongside knitting projects.
  • Latinitas magazine, a small digital magazine for young Latina women, uses some of its Pinterest boards to collect poor media representations of women and encourage media literacy.

Pins Offer Insider Experience

Pinterest boards can also collect “insider” content from the magazine to encourage readers’ identification with it and make them feel like they have special access to the magazine’s inner workings.

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Readers can reminisce with Seventeen’s collection of vintage covers on Pinterest.
  • Dance magazine has a board of “Cover Outtakes” that shows the photos that were not selected for their print covers — but that are still beautiful images that help readers feel like they were there in the studio.
  • Lucky magazine, focused on shopping, also has a board of “Models Being Models,” showing what models are like when they’re not being photographed.

Quite a few magazines have created boards of “vintage” covers. One interesting example is Seventeen. Most of Seventeen’s boards have relatively few images pinned, seeming to reveal a minimal investment in its presence on the site. However, its “Vintage Seventeen Covers” board includes 79 covers dating back to the 1950s. Seventeen’s reader demographic, with an average age of 16, doesn’t really match Pinterest’s primary users yet, but the somewhat older women who are on the site might enjoy the nostalgia of the vintage covers.

B2B Magazines Get Pinning

Most of the magazines on Pinterest are lifestyle-focused consumer magazines, to be sure. But business-to-business (B2B) magazines haven’t ignored the site entirely. Finding the right approach for B2B content on Pinterest might be tricky, but here are a few magazines that have given it a shot.

  • Convenience Store Decisions, designed for convenience store owners, has a Pinterest account, with boards featuring food service and convenience store designs. The food pictures blend naturally into the rest of Pinterest’s content, though the convenience store interiors clash a bit with the lavish home interiors that generally populate Pinterest.
  • Architect magazine, the magazine of the American Institute of Architects, has an appealing selection of building photos, movie suggestions and books on its boards, offering design-obsessed Pinterest users another source of inspiration.
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This pin from Architect magazine is part of a board focused on visits to architects’ studios.
  • Challenge magazine isn’t a household name for most people, but it’s the magazine offered at Flying J and Pilot truck stops for truck drivers who frequent them. It has a variety of content beyond just trucking topics, including sports and news. It is also running a photo contest. The “likes” and “repins” on Pinterest will decide the winner, who — appropriately — will receive a GPS device.

Bonus: Going Magazine-Meta with Pinterest

Other fun Pinterest items for magazine enthusiasts:

  • Jeremy Leslie of magCulture has a fascinating board of magazine covers and magazine ephemera.
  • Condé Nast recently redesigned the website of its U.K. magazine Easy Living with a very Pinterest-esque layout.
  • Pinterest might also be a way for new magazines to generate reader interest pre-launch, as Cosmopolitan Latina is doing. As editor-in-chief Michelle Herrera Mulligan told Advertising Age: “We debuted the Pinterest page in early March as a way to begin a compelling, visual conversation with our readers and develop a strong relationship with them before the magazine launches in May.”

Despite all of these creative uses of Pinterest, we don’t know yet whether the initial burst of hype about the site will really lead to more magazine readers long-term. Consider this comment from a Pinterest user who learned about an apparently short-lived print magazine based on Pinterest content: “[O]ne of the things I love about Pinterest is that it’s not in print, no paper, no waste, no junk in my mailbox, no what page, what issue was that. WTF?!”

Susan Currie Sivek, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Mass Communication at Linfield College. Her research focuses on magazines and media communities. She also blogs at sivekmedia.com, and is the magazine correspondent for MediaShift.

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