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Colleges Use Pinterest to Reach Out

by Nicole Leonard | Boston University

F Posted in: College P Posted on: April 17, 2012
Screen shot 2012-04-17 at 11.19.20 PM

At the beginning of the millennia, Myspace was created in 2003 as a place for people from all over the globe to interact with each other and create virtual profiles of themselves.

In 2004, Facebook was founded by a group of undergraduate college students that developed a social networking site that eventually had millions of users logging on every day.

Twitter hit the web in 2006 as an information source for people to share ideas, thoughts, and trends. Twitter promotes that it is “the fastest, simplest way to stay close to everything you care about.”

The newest social media website Pinterest was launched in 2010, quickly attracting many people to create virtual “pinboards.” The company’s mission is “to connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting.”

Not only are students, parents, and companies creating accounts on Pinterest, but colleges and universities have jumped at the opportunity to create school-themed pinboards.

Pinterest lets people create multiple pinboards that each focus on a theme or interest of the user’s choice. The user can then find an image he or she likes and “pin” it to the pin board with a web address attached. Eventually, each pinboard consists of linked images that focus around a particular interest; other users can “re-pin” these images as well.

Not every school has a Pinterest, but among the ones who have developed accounts and pin boards are Oberlin College, University of South Carolina, University of California Berkeley—Haas School of Business, Rutgers University and more.

Oberlin College social media coordinator Ma’ayan Plaut wrote an online article for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education in January that explained the college’s process in creating a Pinterest account.

In the article, Ma’yan said, “I’m seeing Oberlin’s Pinterest as a way to better visually represent what we care about and connect with people who care about these things, too.”

The Oberlin social media coordinator said the Pinterest account would serve to connect with alumni, work with students, and feature everyday things such as clothing, recipes, gifts, art, and books.

Rutgers University currently has a Pinterest that is aimed at their undergraduate population. The Pinterest has 15 boards with 272 pins and 49 followers showcasing the university’s culture. Boards include topics like “Rutgers Traditions,” “Sports, Clubs and Recreation,” “Notable Alumni,” and “Rutgers Gear.”

Not only do universities and colleges have their own Pinterest accounts, but there is also a whole board called Higher Ed that features institutions and their “pins.”

However, not everyone is in favor of Pinterest being used by higher education institutions. Michael Fienen, former director of marketing at Pittsburg State University, wrote on his blog how he thinks high education should not be using the site as a marketing tool.

“Higher Ed should not be himming and hawing about whether or not to use it (to be specific, I’m talking about usage institution-wide, as a marketing and community engagement tool),” he wrote on his blog.

Collected data from comScore shows that the average 18-to-24 year old college student is not listed at the top of the list of visitors using Pinterest, falling behind the age group of 25-to-34 years.

Many predict Pinterest will be the next biggest social media site. Regardless, some colleges and universities will be taking advantage of the new media to connect with alumni, current students, as well as those who are looking for post-secondary education.

Nicole Leonard Nicole Leonard Nicole is a sophomore at Boston University, where she is studying journalism and psychology.

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