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Five Ways Colleges Can Make the Most of Pinterest

Mar 28, 2012 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Education.org Columnist | 0 Comments

Chances are that even if you haven’t tried Pinterest yourself, you know someone who has—and who raves about it. Pinterest is a new social site—established in 2011—but already it’s immensely popular; it ranked as one of the top ten most-visited social networking sites of 2011.

On Pinterest, users can “pin” images and links to articles on digital pinboards geared toward categories of their choice. You can pin any image quickly while you surf the web—and the site lets you keep track of images, articles, and other online content of interest.

So far the site is invite-only—and while its users are mainly individuals, corporations are slowly starting to get in on the action. But Pinterest can be a great tool for education as well. It can also be a media-savvy way for colleges to advertise their programs to prospective students, keep themselves top-of-mind among alumni, and build excitement for the brand. Here are five ways your college can—and should—be using Pinterest.

Pages for individual professors and staff members

Pinterest

Pinterest is growing in popularity, and it’s likely the colleges that start using it first will have an edge.

Professors can use Pinterest to collect and display images, articles, and other online content that’s useful for classes. Organize your pinboards based on your classes, and display past lectures that have been recorded and uploaded online—or post links to lectures and videos by other professors on relevant topics. Post links to course-relevant podcasts, videocasts, blogs, and more—all in a visually appealing manner that’s easy for students to sort through.

Pages for departments and programs

Your online college can promote its departmental programs and staff members on Pinterest with pinboards geared to them. Pin articles about new research grants and projects undertaken in a particular department, or by a certain professor. Pin images of department-run activities or lectures. Pin publication notices for professors’ books. It’s a powerful visual way to show all the fun and exciting things going on at your school at a glance.

Highlights of new construction projects

If your college is building a new auditorium, dining hall, or student center, you can advertise the new project to prospective students on Pinterest with a pinboard full of pictures. This is a great way to attract attention from prospects and build excitement for new construction projects among your student body. In addition, pictures for programs like this have the potential to inspire future donations from alumni.

Extracurricular activities

If your college has a popular sports team, a strong drama department, or a prominent arts department, you can use Pinterest to display pictures of the programs in an organized way. This is a great way to keep in touch with alumni—by reminding them of the fun programs and activities that made their time at your school so memorable. With an area for school-related images that’s both easily accessible and organized, you can inspire more donations and greater alumni participation in events. It’s also a great way to keep parents informed on the programs their kids are involved in, and keep the student body excited about their extracurriculars.

You can also use it more creatively. Check out Drake University’s Pinterest account, with suggestions on room décor, study inspiration, fashion choices for wearing blue (the university’s school color), and pics of alumni showing their school pride.

Pinterest is growing in popularity, and it’s likely the colleges that start using it first will have an edge. Your school will look quite social media-savvy—and you’ll have another powerful venue to reach and influence prospective and current students, alumni, and donors. In addition, Pinterest can be a powerful tool for teaching and research—as a way for instructors to organize and display supplemental online materials easily and quickly to students. It has strong potential for traditional schools, but also for online education—and it’s likely more schools will have homes on Pinterest in the future.

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