In a little over two years Pinterest has become the third largest social media network recently surpassing LinkedIn. Couple the size of this network with the fact that 83% of U.S. users are women and Pinterest occupies a unique position among social media networks.
Our internal research at my school continues to suggest that women, i.e. mothers, are the main decision makers when selecting a school for their child. So when you add all of these pieces together Pinterest quickly becomes a social media network that your school needs to pay attention to for marketing purposes.
I created our school’s Pinterest account over the winter not really knowing what to expect. My hope was that at the very least our account would help to raise our brand awareness among women in our region as well as help with search engine optimization.
Our Pinterest account is part of our larger inbound marketing strategy – we are trying to drive web traffic to our website and then convert those prospective families into inquires. I encourage you to think about your school’s Pinterest account in the same way. As a result, let’s begin to learn how to use pinterest to market your school!
Step 1 – Create Your School’s Pinterest Account
Pinterest is currently operating in invitation-only open beta which means that you still need an invitation to use Pinterest.
If you need an invitation to Pinterest please join my community on the SchneiderB.com Facebook Page.
After you receive your invite follow the directions in the email to create your school’s Pinterest account. We will need to sign-up using a Twitter or Facebook account. I recommend that you use your school’s Twitter account. If your school does not have a Twitter account please check out my post about using twitter for your school.
Once you authenticate your Pinterest account with your school’s Twitter account you will be asked to select a username, add an email address, and select a password. Here are some things to think about as you complete the Pinterest sign-up proccess:
- I would select a username that is consistent with your school’s Twitter ID, Facebook Page URL, etc… in order to having consistent branding across social media channels.
- If you cannot select the same username, please try to make the username memorable for your school.
- Your school’s username must be between 3-15 characters.
- If you are going to be the only person using the Pinterest account I think it’s OK to use your school email address.
- If you are not going to be the only person using the Pinterest account make sure to use a general email address that someone is monitoring. This is important for two reasons: 1. Once the Pinterest account is created you can give people the ability to log into the account using the email address which might be helpful so that you don’t have to give them access to the school’s Twitter account. 2. The email account you use must be monitored because this is the account were Pinterest will send notifications of repins, likes, and comments.
After you complete the username, email address, and password section Pinterest will ask you to select 10 pins you find interesting so that they can suggest people for you to follow.
Please note – as you select 10 pins you must begin to think like your school. Act as if your school is a persona and select pins that will be in line with the school’s mission, e.g. children, education, play, activities.
After you select 10 pins Pinterest will suggest you create 5 Pinboards. Pinboards are a collection of pins related to a particular interest. The 5 Pinboards are Products I Love, Favorite Places & Spaces, Books Worth Reading, My Style, For The Home.
While I think the suggested Pinboards make sense for an individual I don’t think they necessarily work for a school. As such, I recommend deleting Pinterest’s suggestions and create your own boards with general topics related to your school and it’s brand. You’ll be able to create Pinboards at anytime so don’t think that you need to get everything correct at first. Additionally, don’t create a pinboard and leave it empty. If you have an empty board delete it until you are ready to pin content to it.
At Sewickley Academy we have the following Pinboards: Meet Our Teachers, Great Ideas for Families, Blog Posts, Recommended Books, Thoughts, Fun Stuff for Kids, History, Senior School, Middle School, Lower School, Academics, Alumni, Athletics, Arts, Pittsburgh, Summerbridge Pittsburgh, and Sewickley.
After creating your Pinboards, Pinterest will suggest that you install their bookmarklet to your web browser. I highly recommend doing this because it will making pinning so much easier in the future.
Step 2 – Personalize Your School’s Pinterest Account
Once you’ve finished creating your school’s Pinterest account the next thing you’ll need to do is to personalize the account.
To do this select settings under your Pinterest account’s name and you will be directed to the Edit Profile screen.
The email, first name, last name, and username fields will be pre-filled using the information you entered when you created the account. Working from the top down let’s talk about each field:
- Notifications – click notifications to select when you want to be notified when someone interacts with your Pinterest account. I’ve left all the notifications ON and frequency to IMMEDIATE.
- Gender – I would set to UNSPECIFIED unless you work for a single-sex school.
- About – Here is where you can include general information about your school including mission statement, enrollment, and type of school paying attention to long tail keywords. I would also include a link to your school’s official website.
- Location – Your school’s City and State.
- Website – Your school’s website. This is the link on your Pinterest profile that looks like a globe. I would also include your school’s website in the About section above because the globe icon isn’t too obvious in my opinion.
- Image – By default, Pinterest will use your Twitter ID profile image but you can upload another picture here. I would suggest keeping both images the same to help with your school’s social media branding.
- Facebook – Unfortunately, Pinterest is only able to connect to personal Facebook profiles and not to Facebook Pages. Leave this setting OFF unless you want any pin to your school’s Pinterest account to show up on your personal Facebook profile.
- Twitter – Select ON to link to your school’s Twitter account. When you Pin something you will have the option to tweet the pin. Pins are not tweeted automatically.
- Hide – I would leave this setting OFF. It defeats the purpose of why we use Pinterest for school’s in the first place.
Step 3 – Follow
During the creation of your account, Pinterest automatically followed 10 people based upon your initial pin selections. I recommend that you find other people and organizations to follow using Pinterst search. By literally “seeing” how other people and organizations are utilizing Pinterest you’ll be able to tailor your use accordingly as well as find other great information to pin.
Here are a couple of searches I suggest you complete and follow other Pinterest accounts based upon your school’s mission and brand. Please be aware that the search results will allow you to see your search terms for Pins, Boards, and People.
- Your local community and/or region names
- Other schools – both secondary and university level
- Brand names or unique identifiers for your school, e.g. Montessori, Chrisitian, Accelerated
I also hope you’ll follow my school – Sewickley Academy on Pinterest.
Step 4 – Pin, Like, and Comment
Now that your Pinterest account has been created and personalized it’s time to engage. For the purposes of using Pinterest for schools I recommend that you engage on Pinterest using the 50/50 rule – 50% of the content should be directly related to your school and 50% of the content should not be directly related to your school but rather to things to extend your school’s brand.
Some things to keep in mind when pining to your school’s Pinterest account:
- Our goal is to drive web traffic back to our school’s webpage where we then have the opportunity to convert that prospective family into a inquiry. As a result, the 50% of content directly related to your school should be information pinned directly from your school’s website or blog. Don’t pin information that will take web traffic away from your school’s website.
- Try to make your school’s Pinterest account a valuable place for people to visit to learn about topics related to your school including local area, recommended books, places to visit, etc…
- I’ve found a great way to find content to share for the 50% not directly related to my school is by repinning other pins on Pinterest – especially for our Pinboards: Great Ideas for Families and Fun Stuff for Kids.
- Don’t be afraid to ‘Like’ other pins on Pinterest. Just remember to you are participating on Pinterest as your school’s persona.
- Additionally, don’t be afraid to comment on other pins keeping the same warning in mind as above.
Step 5 – Promote Your School’s Pinterest Account
After you have created a number of boards and have 25-50 pins, likes, and comments you are ready to begin promoting your Pinterest account.
- Put links to your school’s Pinterest account on your school’s webpage, blog, and Facebook page.
- Promote your school’s Pinterest account by tweeting and posting your Pins on Twitter and Facebook.
- Put a link to your Pinterest account in your email signature
- Find Pinterest logos and buttons here: https://pinterest.com/about/goodies/
Step 6 – Measure
Now that your school’s Pinterest account is created and active it is always important to attempt to measure your efforts. I suggest that you sign-up for an account at PinReach and check your PinReach account weekly to see which pins and boards are receiving the most engagement.
Now Get To Work
I encourage you to begin using your Pinterest account as soon as possible and after creating your account please post it to the SchneiderB.com Facebook page and will follow your account with my school’s Pinterest account as well as my personal Pinterest account.
I also encourage you to follow my school’s Pinterst account: Sewickley Academy on Pinterest.
Finally, if you have any questions please post them in the SchneiderB.com Facebook page Pinterst Forum.
Good luck and have fun!