To the uninitiated or casual observer, Pinterest might seem like an entertaining social media site used primarily for fun and to share lifestyle content.
But social media platforms are what you make of them.
When used strategically, Pinterest can be an invaluable tool that colleges and universities can use to share some good-natured fun, market their higher education institutions, attract and recruit prospective students, and even educate.
What exactly is Pinterest?
Pinterest is an image and short-form video social media that's quite different from other social media tools. It's used more as a more self-serving visual search engine.
For higher education marketers, creating a business profile allows you to access analytics and run ads, among other features.
Many marketers promote their Pinterest profiles on social media platforms for those who prefer visual information. You can also link Pins to your website, giving you more flexibility in how to use it.
Although Pinterest has a significant lifestyle and entertainment following, higher education institutions and even individual professors leverage this channel for marketing and teaching.
A pin is the most basic unit in Pinterest, much like a tweet on Twitter (X).
Pins are visual bookmarks—images, animated GIFs, and videos—that you use to save content of interest on Pinterest. They can be original content created by a Pinterest user, linked from a website, or re-pinned from another user's board.
Manchester University's Dorm Room Essentials pin
A Pinterest Board is a categorized collection of pins that you use to organize your content by theme.
A board on "University Application Tips"
A Pinterest feed is your dashboard, where you can see your most recent activity and curated pins related to ideas, brands, and content of interest.
In addition to boards and feeds, the Pinterest Trends page is worth checking out. This lists the top search terms in various countries and regions to see the most popular keywords used to search for content and what's trending in specific audiences.
How can Pinterest be used for higher ed?
There are many ways to use Pinterest to promote your university and college.
You can use it to market your college or university, showcase your school's work and achievements, recruit prospective students, or as an educational tool in the classroom.
You could also use it to show off your campus, promote tips for freshers as infographics, profile alums, give students ideas on decorating their room, share news stories from your institution, or even recommend healthy and easy recipes for incoming students.
Remember: Pinterest is a visual social media platform; don't be afraid to have some fun with it!
Pinterest higher education examples
Here are examples of what some colleges and universities are doing with Pinterest:
University of Sussex
The University of Sussex's "Our Work" board markets its school to prospective students by highlighting the school's achievements and the work produced by its faculty and alumni
University of Michigan
The University of Michigan "Tour of #UMich" board contains over 800 high-quality pins, giving prospects a virtual tour of their campuses and campus housing
Texas A&M University
Texas A&M's "Traditions" board draws heavily on the school's traditions—especially its Fightin' Texas Aggie Band—and how its past makes the school unique in the present
University of Oregon
The University of Oregon uses its "Student Profiles" board to showcase some of their students
Point Park University
Point Park University's School of Communication created a board to educate and inspire, sharing photos, designs, and resources (such as infographics) for collaboration and peer critiques
University of Oklahoma
The University of Oklahoma's "Sooner Style" board contains an extensive catalog of purchase pins, where students can show off their school pride by buying Sooner clothes and accessories
University of Wisconsin-Madison
The University of Wisconsin-Madison had some fun with Pinterest, giving their mascot Bucky Badger his very own board
Five easy-to-follow tips to post higher education content on Pinterest
1) Be consistent with your pins
Like many social media tools, post consistency and frequency are crucial to gaining a steady following.
Irregular and infrequent posts can cause users to lose interest and will give off the impression that you're not truly committed to the endeavor.
Pinterest itself suggests a fresh pin, original pins created by the account holder (as opposed to repins), at least once per week.
Social media experts suggest more aggressive daily activity of fresh pins and repins.
But this is ultimately something you and your team need to decide for yourself. What can your higher education marketing team manage on a steady basis?
2) Set goals and create a schedule
Creating new and engaging pins daily can be taxing—especially if the person tasked with it isn't a full-time social media manager.
Plan several posts ahead of time and use Pinterest's schedule feature to ensure a steady flow of pins.
And if something interesting comes up between scheduled posts, you can always pin them on the fly.
However, set a realistic goal that you feel you can maintain in the long run—and stick with it.
If you try to do too much and can't keep up, you'll wind up with an inconsistent pinning schedule where weeks go by without new content.
3) Choose quality over quantity
You can walk in circles for an hour, but you won't get anywhere. Similarly, posting and reposting 30 pins per day doesn't automatically equate to a recipe for success.
Three well-crafted pins—images and copy—will be far more effective than several dozen poorly produced pins or repins.
Plus, the last thing you want to do is get caught by Pinterest's stringent SPAM filters.
Pinning a lot of content very frequently can flag your content as SPAM. If this happens, everything you did up to this point can be for naught, and your account can even be suspended.
4) Interact with other Pinterest users
Like all other social media tools, Pinterest isn't a monologue; it's a conversation.
Don't focus solely on increasing your higher ed institution's brand; interact with other Pinterest users' content by commenting, saving, and repinning.
This creates an organic virtual community with student and faculty influencers.
5) It's not only about images
Pinterest is an image and short-form video tool, but that doesn't mean you should ignore other forms of supporting content: well-crafted copy and headings/captions, links to relevant landing pages, logos, etc.…
And depending on the purpose of your board or pins, don't forget to include calls-to-action (CTA)
How does your college or university use Pinterest?
We'd love to hear about it in the comments below or on our social media channels.