In the digital world of 2016, there’s no shortage of social media platforms for sharing what you’re doing right now (or what you think about what others are doing right now). Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are perfect for conversing with others and voicing your opinions.
Pinterest excels in a different area, however. Popular among those interested in arts & crafts and other niche hobbies, Pinterest is an opportunity to share your interests and individualism by collecting images on Pin boards. Like Instagram, it’s extremely visual—but Pinterest is more focused on inspiring creativity.
So how can higher-ed institutions connect with constituents through Pinterest?
Keep in mind that Pinterest is not a platform for forcing your own objectives. It would be difficult to push marketing around a giving day through a Pin board. After all, the site’s goal is “to connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting.” Here are some ideas for getting started with Pinterest for alumni relations:
- What visuals connect your alumni, parents, and friends back to your school? Is it your mascot, school colors, or a particular monument on campus? Consider building boards around these themes.
- What will inspire your constituent base? For example, if your alumni hold game watches, consider giving them ideas for a theme party with food, decorations, and half-time games to play.
- Is your school located in or near a vibrant city? What makes the local area so special? This could be a great theme to build a board around.
Here’s a round-up of five schools that are doing great work on Pinterest:
Going to school at Temple is about more than just the campus; it’s also about experiencing the city of brotherly love. Temple is located right in Philadelphia, so many students and alumni feel a strong connection to the city. The school has tapped into that connection with a board dedicated to Philly, highlighting why it’s a great place to go to college.
Sooner Nation has a lot to be inspired by on the University of Oklahoma Pinterest page. The school has created boards with ideas for tailgate parties, Oklahoma-themed weddings, and even dressing up your kids in Oklahoma gear.
Is your campus located in a part of the country with less-than-ideal weather? Oberlin College, located in Ohio, turned this into a positive by accentuating the beauty of all four seasons on their Pinterest feed.
Another way to take advantage of Pinterest is to emphasize the global impact of your school through visuals. Mississippi College has a board called “Choctaws Around the World,” which features students who studying abroad and provides links to their travel blogs.
Other departments on campus can use Pinterest, too—as long as those departments have visually compelling ideas to share. The library at Saint Mary’s College (in California), for instance, has a Pinterest page with more followers than that of most colleges or universities. What makes it so successful? Its organization and focus on what makes Saint Mary’s unique. On the page, the library highlights its Byron Bryant film collection, along with faculty, staff, and student authors.
If your school plans on using Pinterest as an engagement tool, remember that Pinterest is a site to emphasize who you are, not necessarily what you are doing right now. Use Pinterest to give your school a personality, while also showcasing—and facilitating—the creativity and uniqueness of your alumni base.
Looking for more ways to visually represent your school’s brand? Check out our posts on using Snapchat and Instagram for alumni relations.
Tim Ponisciak is director of graduate alumni relations at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. Tim also runs the blog Alumni Catalyst and is passionate about promoting how higher-ed institutions can learn from marketing agencies, advertising agencies, and great brands. Tim loves old movies and board games, and is currently trying to visit all 30 major league ballparks.