Everyone knows that Facebook is the biggest social media platform. But do you know which platform is experiencing the fastest growth? That would be Pinterest, which nearly doubled its active user base in 2014.
Pinterest grew its membership by 53 percent and its active user base by 97 percent. Meanwhile, over the same period, Facebook grew its membership by only one percent and actually lost nine percent of its active users.
What does that mean for your school? If you’re not already using Pinterest as part of your online communications strategy, then it’s probably time that you consider it. Pinterest was founded in 2009 as a kind of visual “thought catalog.” It quickly gained traction among those interested in cooking and arts and crafts as it provided a fun and easy way to share ideas.
Pinterest isn’t just for sharing recipes anymore. Thousands of businesses use it to visually connect with their audiences. And many schools use it to engage with parents, students, teachers, and prospective student families. In fact, more than 80 percent of Pinterest’s users are female, which makes it a great tool for connecting with your students’ mothers.
When you first log in to Pinterest, you might be a little overwhelmed by its layout. Navigating the boards and pins may feel a bit confusing and you may not be sure quite how to leverage the platform effectively. Once you get the hang of it, though, Pinterest can be a powerful asset.
Here are three ways that schools are using to Pinterest to promote themselves, connect with their students and parents, and engage with their communities. Use these ideas as inspiration to start building your own Pinterest boards and following.
1. Share helpful tips and advice with parents and students.
One of the best features of Pinterest is its ability to aggregate and store content. Everyone’s been in this situation before. You read something interesting that you think could be helpful to your school’s parents. Maybe it’s an article on how parents can better help their kids with homework. You think your parents may find it helpful and you want to share it with them.
Of course, you get distracted or pulled in a million different directions and forget to share the link. Later, when you get the time to send it by email or post it on Facebook, you can’t remember exactly where you found the article.
On Pinterest, you can simply pin that article to one of your boards. Then it’s there forever, so you can quickly access it later. It also becomes visible to all of your followers for that board, who can then repin it for their followers.
For example, Bellhaven Middle School, in Linwood, New Jersey, uses Pinterest to share a variety of tips and ideas with their students and parents. One of their boards is on healthy eating, where they pin a variety of articles and recipes for fun and healthy snacks and meals.
You can follow Bellhaven’s lead and create your boards around the topics that most interest your audience. Then you can quickly pin content to that board and use it as your own content library.
Another great example that demonstrates how to organize your content is Goshen Central School District's Pinterest account. More than a photo album, theirs is a resource-packed collection of links that makes it easy for parents to find what they're looking for – and lots more. Apps for education, nostalgic school photos, educational videos, alumni – all told, they have 32 different boards that cover a broad range of topics of interest to the Goshen school community.
2. Share achievements of your students, teachers, and organizations.
You’re no doubt proud of your students and all of their achievements. And you likely want to tout those achievements to your community and to prospective students who may be considering your school. Pinterest offers a great way to do that because you can create dedicated boards specific to certain groups, teams, or even classes.
People who are interested in those groups or classes can then follow the boards. Since Pinterest is such a visual vehicle, the boards end up looking like a scrapbook, which makes it easy for followers to quickly notice new updates and announcements.
A great example is the strategy used by Notre Dame High School in Easton, Pennsylvania. They have boards for all of their major student groups, including theater, art, service groups, and sports teams. Each group uses the board to pin pictures, videos, and articles.
Not only is this fun for the group’s participants, creating group boards could also be a highly effective recruiting tool. Suppose you have a potential student who is interested in your school’s band program. They could take a look at the band’s Pinterest board to get a sneak peek at the group and what it’s all about.
3. Share tips to enhance learning at home.
Every educator knows that learning doesn’t end when the bell rings. To really accelerate their education, most students need homework, projects, and study outside of the classroom. Of course, the more you can support them in those efforts, the more successful they are likely to be.
Pinterest offers a powerful and effective way for you and your faculty to share learning materials with students at home. Your teachers can create their own boards to pin cheat sheets, study guides, and homework materials. You might create boards to help students with things like productivity. For students who need specific help, you could create topic-focused boards on things like reading and math with supplementary learning material.
W.T. White High School in Dallas has a wide range of boards focused on things like study tips and presentation skills. Their board on productivity has hundreds of tips to help students get more done in less time.
And Bellhaven Middle School uses Pinterest to share fun projects that kids and parents can do together. For example, here’s a project on how to represent the different phases of the moon with Oreo cookies.
Pinterest for schools: picture perfect for engagement
Perhaps the best thing about Pinterest is that it’s not only a great resource for you to share ideas, but also for you to discover them. Just as you’ll want followers for your boards, you should also follow other schools Pinterest. You can look at their boards for fun and helpful content that you can then share with your followers. That allows your students and parents to not only get your best ideas, but also the best ideas from educators all over the world.
If you haven’t started with Pinterest yet, now may be the time to do so. Given how fast it’s growing, it’s likely that many of your students’ parents - especially mothers - are already on there. Once you start creating boards and pinning content, you’ll likely build a fast following.
Marketing director and content strategist for Campus Suite, Jay’s a former school public relations specialist who’s helped businesses, schools and colleges use the power of web communications to improve their image, generate support, and optimize relationships. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.