Why Schools Should be Jumping on the Pinterest Bandwagon
The only thing growing as fast as Pinterst these days are blog posts about Pinterest and why and how various constituents should be using this (relatively) new and fastest-growing social media website. In the short time that I have been on it (and admittedly addicted) I have wondered why there aren’t more schools getting on the Pinterest bandwagon. I have run across a number of bulletin boards and pins by individuals paying homage to their alma maters but schools, not so much.
Admittedly, the search function for Pinterest leaves a lot to be desired at this point in time so it could be that there are more schools on it than I realize but I ran a rather random Google search and found of the US News and World Report top 10 colleges, only two had an official presence (Yale and Amherst) and each had only one board and a smattering of followers at best. Of the top 10 high schools, none had a presence. My college (Denison University) had no presence and the only presence for the grad school I attended (Northwestern University) was established by the Career Services department. Back to the search function issue, it may take students and alums a while to find schools that are on there, but that doesn’t deter me from thinking it’s a good idea.
Why Pinterest, Why Now
Why add Pinterest to your social media strategy? Because as a social content curation venue, it offers a different approach to connecting than Twitter or Facebook. A recent Huffington Post article suggested that part of Pinterest’s appeal is that the focus is on “look at this” rather than “look at me.” (Amen to that!) Another reason for schools to add Pinterest to their social media strategy is about timing and momentum. Once you get beyond the big three (Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin) there is a virtually inexhaustible list of social media sites with relatively small, growing followings. Pinterest usage is comparatively speaking, skyrocketing, and there are rewards for getting in early; it’s typically easier to grow your user base when there’s less competition. (Conversely, growing one’s user base on Facebook has become more challenging for small pages because they actually get less exposure than prior to the timeline/newsfeed format change.)
How Schools use Pinterest
It is easy for me to envision a school using it as sort of more creative “virtual yearbook” telling their story and building their social community visually via what folks in that community find fun, interesting, useful and important. One nice feature is that you can even set up collaborative boards, where people you approve can contribute to specific boards.
Northwestern University and Others
Northwestern University Career Services is doing a good job with their boards that cover everything from “Internship Resources,” “Companies where NU Students Intern,” “Dress for Success” (separate boards for men and women), and “Office Spaces,” “Volunteerism” (National and International) and various Library Boards with reading suggestions for Career Resources, Majors/Degrees, Internships and more. They take a lighter turn with “Wise Words” and “Movies and TV That Work.” Other schools from my random sample that appear to be off to a modestly decent start are Bowdoin College, University of Texas McCombs School of Business and Miami University (did I mention my sample was random?).
But a truly imaginative and better example of the potential for a school, however, is Drake University. They have managed to fall squarely within the fun and visual user experience that is Pinterest. Their boards cover everything from “Rad Room Décor,” (loved this!) and “School Colors” (fashion) to “Adorable Bulldogs” (the school mascot – VERY endearing and fun), “Study Inspiration” and “Alumni at the Office” (office décor that incorporates either the school colors or their mascot). I didn’t go to Drake but I sure enjoyed perusing their boards – which is exactly what Pinterest is all about. They have done a great job of making their boards bring the Drake student experience to life in such a way that ANYONE can enjoy it.
A common (and I’m guessing widespread) reaction to all the hooha over Pinterest may be similar to my own – “Oh no, not ANOTHER social media site I need to keep up with.” – All I can say is, yes, it is BUT this one may be the one you end up enjoying the most – and possibly reaping the most benefits from.
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