A look at social media’s latest craze (and whether your higher education institution should care)
It’s being touted as 2012 hottest start-up. It reached (and surpassed!) 10 million unique monthly U.S. visits faster than any site in history (yes, even faster than Facebook and Twitter). Its users are spending an average of over 90 minutes per month on the site. It boasts just 16 employees. And it’s probably something few of you have heard of.
So what exactly is Pinterest and should your higher education institution care?
Pinterest is a visual bookmarking website that lets users share images of their favorite things - from recipes to home decorating ideas to travel destinations - with their followers and the Pinterest community at large. Vocabulary to know:
- Pin - a pin is an individual image linked to the site of origin and placed on a board. Includes options for prices, descriptions, links, tags and more. (e.g. Drake University’s lovely image of the Old Main building http://pinterest.com/pin/276760339570567353/)
- Board - a board is a category to organize like pins on. Users can create and delete boards according to their needs. (e.g. The example above of Old Main Building was pinned to the Drake Alumni board http://pinterest.com/drakeuniversity/drake-alumni-pin-your-pride/)
- Repin - repinning is an action performed when someone sees a pin they like and would like to place it on one of their own boards. (e.g. In keeping with this example, four people have repinned the Old Main building image to their own boards.)
- Follower - a follower is a user that has elected to follow one or all of your boards (and all the subsequent pins). Your latest pins will show up in their feed when they login to Pinterest. (e.g. A total of over 1,100 users are currently following the Drake University account. http://pinterest.com/drakeuniversity/followers/. Not bad for a college with an enrollment of approximately 3,500 undergraduate students.)
As with any social media website, there’s more to it than that. To find out more, I encourage you to peruse this nice write up by USA Today.
There’s also a handful of higher education institutions already on Pinterest:
- Drake University - http://pinterest.com/drakeuniversity/
- University of South Carolina Arts Education - http://pinterest.com/scartseducation/
- North Carolina State University - http://pinterest.com/ncstate/
- Miami University - http://pinterest.com/miamiu1809/
- Texas A&M University - http://pinterest.com/tamuaggies/
- Skidmore College - http://pinterest.com/skidmorecollege/
- Oberlin College - http://pinterest.com/oberlincollege/
- Yale University - http://pinterest.com/yaleuniversity/
Should you care?
You may be saying, “Cool! So Pinterest is really popular, has its own vernacular and there are other higher education institutions with profiles? Sign me up!” Yes, but that’s no reason to jump on the bandwagon and start implementing a profile for your own higher education institution.
At VisionPoint Marketing, we’ll always advise you that it's quality over quantity - meaning that unless the social media channel aligns with your strategic goals, it’s not worth pursuing. Does Pinterest fit the bill? Well, maybe.
There are a lot of users on Pinterest and it’s only growing daily, but research from the Google Ad Planner shows that an overwhelming 80% of users are women (some research suggests even more at 97%). Further, the Google Ad Planner suggests only 9% of users are under the age of 24. Even in the best case scenario, that’s still a pretty narrow set of users.
In the grand scheme of things, it is more advisable for institutions to focus their time and resources on building their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+ profiles (where considerably larger sets of their users are living), than creating and maintaining a Pinterest profile.
If you have extra resources (Drake University employs student interns to run their Pinterest account), it might be worth it to explore. Educate yourself on what it is and how it works. But at the end of the day, the best advice is to “wait and see” what happens. It may be a fad or it could be the next big thing.comments powered by Disqus