How I Used Pinterest to Create Our School’s Virtual, Viral Viewbook

Canterbury School FLA Pinterest pagePrior to being the Director of Communication & Alumni at Canterbury School of Florida, I was a professional home organizer for five years. I organized people’s closets, garages, home offices and the like. In the hundreds of home offices I organized in that time, I cannot tell you how many women had hanging files full of magazine tear sheets with titles like, “Trips I Want to Take,” “Fashion Inspiration,” “Things I Want to Buy Someday,” or “Humor.” Thus, when I discovered Pinterest two years ago, I did a *facepalm*. Of course! Why didn’t I come up with this digital, clutter-free way to collect, save and share inspiration?

As the fastest-growing social media platform on the planet right now (see this infographic for details), in the last few months, Pinterest has become more than just a way to search, save and share “things I want to buy.” With any luck, it will become a place for parents and students to search, save and share “schools I’d like to attend.” What does this mean for independent school marketers and admission directors? Just that we have yet another way to visually illustrate our school’s story, culture, traditions and differentiators. Your school’s Pinterest page could become your Admission team’s newest tool:  a virtual, viral Viewbook to share with prospective families.

If your school does not have a Pinterest page, now’s the time to jump on the bandwagon. In November 2012 Pinterest opened itself up to the business community with Pinterest for Business. The new features available specifically to businesses are posted on the company’s blog along with new, specific Terms of Service that differentiate personal accounts from business accounts such as their Logos, Trademarks and Marketing Guidelines section. According to this Forbes article, benefits for businesses will include verification badges, buttons, and widgets you can use to drive more people to follow and repin material from your Pinterest page.

If your school already has an existing Pinterest account, don’t worry. Converting a personal account to a business account is a cinch. Just specify your business name and verify your website. If you are completely new to Pinterest, SchneiderB’s post on this subject is a great place to get started.

Also feel free to browse, follow and like any of the pins and boards on Canterbury’s Pinterest page like:

  • Favorite Books. Posted by your librarians by age group.
  • International Foods. Pin favorite French food recipes by your French language teacher or Chinese recipes by your Mandarin teacher
  • School Pride. Pin fashion/jewelry/style inspiration in your school’s colors
  • Study tips
  • Athletics
  • Arts. Don’t just show photos and videos from school plays. Get permission from students and alumni to showcase their artwork and photography on your boards. They will appreciate the link-backs to their sites!
  • Around Town. Feature the city where your school is located so families from out of town can get an idea of the fun things to do in your area.
  • Good to Know. Things high school seniors may want to know as they head to college and into the real world (like how to write a check, how to do laundry, how to tie a tie or general inspirational quotes).
  • Alumni. Showcase your top grads and/or matriculation lists.
  • Campus. What should visiting students and parents expect to see when they get to your school?
  • Summer Camps. Share some of the fun ways your school continues education through the summer months.

Whether you’re growing your school’s Pinterest page or just starting out, remember that—like all social media—Pinterest is time consuming. Be sure you have the time and staff to keep up with

  • Taking, editing and uploading photos
  • Pinning and correctly linking images to your school’s web pages
  • Writing SEO-laden descriptions for each pin
  • Searching colleges and universities on Pinterest to find appropriate school-related repins

Most importantly, when creating your school’s Virtual Viewbook on Pinterest, don’t take yourself too seriously. Pinterest is the perfect place to show your school’s and students’ personalities.

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Anne

    Hi Heather – great post! How much time do you spend updating your school’s Pinterest page in a typical week? Do faculty/admins send you links to post to particular boards? I feel like I’m willing to take the plunge in terms of my own time commitment… but I want to make it a community-wide project to provide varied and interesting content.
    Thanks!
    Anne

    • Heather Lambie

      Hi Anne, The initial setup took quite some time, but I don’t spend more than an hour or so a week on Pinterest. (I spend far more time on Facebook and twitter). But you could easily spend more (it’s addicting!) Faculty here are in the habit of sending me photos and images for those pages (FB and Twitter) so I don’t have a problem getting content, and once I’ve editing and saved a photo for one medium, it’s easy to add it to Pinterest. Go for it!

  • http://www.socialmediasass.com/ Karla Campos

    Awesome way to use Pinterest Heather! I know many teachers who use it to help parents with resources to aid in the learning process. Keep up the good work!

    • Heather Lambie

      Thanks, Karla–that’s a great idea! I do see tons of teacher resources on Pinterest. That would be another good board to add for the school!

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