If you think Pinterest is only for sharing recipes and crafting ideas, think again. It’s the fastest growing social media platform, nearly doubling its active user base in 2014. Many businesses, schools, and other organizations have embraced it as a powerful tool to reach out to their audiences.
If you’re not familiar with Pinterest, don’t worry. Creating an account is fast and very simple. In fact, if you follow these five steps below, you can have your account up and running in less than an hour.
1. Sign up at Pinterest.com.
Start the process by heading to www.pinterest.com. You’ll be given the option of signing up with a Facebook account or with an email address. If you have a school Facebook account, that may be the fastest way to sign up. However, don’t sign up with your personal email Facebook account because Pinterest will transfer some of your personal information over from Facebook.
Once you’ve registered, you’ll need to validate the account by either email or Facebook. Once the account is validated, you can pick your username. You’ll need to pick a unique name, but you still want it to be consistent with your other social media accounts. You’ll also want it to be easily recognized as being associated with your school.
After selecting your username, you’ll select a password. Then your account is live and active.
2. Customize your account.
Just because your account is setup, doesn’t mean you’re ready to share it with the world. Before you start promoting your new Pinterest account, you need to customize it to your school’s brand and create boards with content.
Pinterest offers a number of ways in which you can customize your account to align with your school’s branding. The first is with an image. In this area, you’ll want to include your school’s logo or perhaps an photo of your school’s campus. It should be something that’s easily associated with your school.
Then you can also add your school’s website, your city and state, and even a short description of your school. There are a few things you’ll want to look at in the account settings. First, you’ll probably want to leave the “Gender” field to neutral, since this isn’t a personal account.
Second, make sure the “Hide” function is turned off. That way anyone who wants to can see your boards. After all, getting more views and traffic is kind of the whole point.
3. Create your boards and pins.
Your boards are at the heart of your Pinterest account. Think of them like scrapbooks that contain different types of content. Without any boards, there’s really no reason for anyone to follow you on Pinterest.
You can create a board by clicking the plus sign in the upper right hand corner. Just think of different topics that you’d like to highlight and then create boards around those topics. For example, you might have boards for your sports teams and student organizations. You may create a board for parent information or for study guides.
There’s really no limit to what you can focus on with your boards. Start with three to five boards. You can always add more later.
After you create your boards, you’ll want to fill those boards with content. This is called “pinning” in the Pinterest world. You can add a new pin by clicking the “pin” icon in the upper right hand corner. You’ll then be asked whether you want to pin from your computer, somewhere online, or somewhere on Pinterest.
For example, you may want to share a picture from your school’s most recent basketball game on your sports board. If you have that picture on your computer, you can simply select to pin it from there. Then you choose which board you want to pin it to. That’s it. That’s all there is to pinning.
If you’re on another website and you want to share something on your Pinterest account, look for the Pinterest icon among the social sharing buttons on the site. If you don’t see it, you can always copy the url, then go into Pinterest and click the pin icon. Simply paste the URL into the box and the content will appear on your pinboard.
4. Promote your account.
Now that you have a customized account and boards with content, you’re only missing one crucial ingredient - followers. One of the best ways to get followers on Pinterest is to simply follow others. Start with groups in your community, such as nearby schools, local governments, and family-friendly businesses in the area.
Also, many of your teachers and administrators are probably on Pinterest. Start following them and they’ll likely follow you back.
Finally, you’ll need to promote your account among your students, parents, and teachers. Include announcements about Pinterest in your school newsletters, emails to parents, and in all other communications.
Share your pins and boards on Facebook and your other social media accounts. If you have boards dedicated to certain student groups, make sure the group leader announces the board to all of the group’s members and parents.
There’s no secret formula to getting Pinterest followers except to keep pinning content and keep promoting your account. If you do that, you’ll accumulate followers over time.
5. Keep pinning.
Pinterest is like any other social platform. The way to get the most out of it is by staying active. Continue to add boards and pin content to those boards. Also, over time, you’ll start to see which types of content are most popular among your students, parents, and other followers.
Look to see which posts get repinned to others boards most frequently. Are they the posts about student achievements? Those about sports or other student groups? The pins about at home study aids or learning activities?
Use your follower activity as a guide for the type of content your followers would like to see. That will help you determine what types of content to pin most frequently.
Pinterest is a great tool for sharing information and helpful content with your community. Getting started is simple and fast. Set up your Pinterest account today and start connecting with your students, teachers, and parents.
As co-founder of Campus Suite, Steve believes behind every great school is great communication. His tech savvy and passion for design fuel his desire to help administrators understand, embrace and seize the power of web communications.