2012 is the year that Pinterest goes mainstream. Some universities have already jumped on board and are experimenting with the latest social network. Will Pinterest be the next big thing for universities? We think there’s a good chance.
What is Pinterest?
Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board that enables users to share interesting images, videos, and links. Users can create pinboards based around certain themes. Other Pinterest users can share your pinned items by “repinning” it. The site is quite addictive since the visual layout makes it easy to browse what other people find interesting.
Pinterest is exploding in popularity. Over the last 6 months traffic has increased by 429%. Engagement is through the roof and has now become a daily fixture for many users. 70% of Pinterest users are female, a rare occurrence for early adopters in the tech world. All of these facts have drawn comparisons to Facebook’s early days.
How Universities Are Using Pinterest
Drake University has emphasized the student experience on its Pinterest page. They have boards dedicated to adorable pictures of bulldogs (its mascot), dreamy pictures of study abroad destinations, and an assortment of delicious looking treats for when students get hungry.
The University of Maryland has created several pinboards that showcase images of its campus and wrestling team.
Texas A&M University has boards featuring pictures of its campus, dorm room decoration ideas, and the best food for tailgating on game day.
Oberlin College has pinboards dedicated to artwork created by students, achievements from alumni, and recipes for vegan students.
Yale University has created a board that features videos of its art collection. How pinteresting…
Drake University should be the model for higher ed to follow. If you’re a prospective student, one look at Drake’s page and you get a good feel of the student experience. While other schools and brands tend to use Pinterest for self-promotion, Drake is using Pinterest to engage with its community. Pinterest shouldn’t just be a collection of images taken from around campus (you can have one board for that). It should be about collecting interesting and inspiring content from around the web that highlights the uniqueness of your institution.
Should Universities Use Pinterest?
Michael Fienen on eduGuru wrote a scathing post about higher ed embracing Pinterest. He argues that Pinterest might prove to be just another fad that goes away. Institutions should think twice before committing resources to the emerging social network when schools are still trying to figure out how to use Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It’s a fair criticism since brands are still experimenting with using Pinterest for marketing. For some universities, a “wait and see” approach could prove to be the most effective.
Does your school need to be on Pinterest? It’s not necessary yet, but its a good idea to watch what other schools do. If your institution is a fashion or design school then you should consider signing up soon. Just remember, don’t make your brand page all about you. Be creative and make it about the students.