“I would have written this article sooner,” says business journalist Lydia Dishman, “but I was busy on Pinterest.” Turns out, she wasn’t alone.
In her recent story in Fast Company magazine — entitled “Why Pinterest Is So Addictive” — Dishman explores the reasons this relatively new social networking site is attracting so many people, including, perhaps, students you’re trying to recruit.
Launched in 2010, Pinterest has suddenly exploded in popularity, with nearly 12 million unique U.S. visitors last month. The site is a virtual bulletin board that enables you to create online image collages, then easily share those collages — called pinboards — with other users.
Part of Pinterest’s appeal is that it is visually beautiful and overwhelmingly positive (“like Facebook without the whining,” says one expert). But more importantly, says another, it has the potential to become a heavy hitting marketing tool. Even now, it’s driving more traffic to company websites and blogs than Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Reddit combined.
So, is this something you should be adding to your student-recruiting toolbox? Probably, writes the University of Louisville’s Karen Freberg, an assistant professor in strategic communications. She reviews several colleges that are already using Pinterest to “strategically manage their brand and overall image.” She’s a fan of Drake University, where they do a great job of visually telling the school’s story, she says.
The bloggers at Genius Recruiter are also big fans: “Drake should be the model for higher ed to follow. If you’re a prospective student, one look at Drake’s page and you get a good feel for the student experience. While other schools and brands tend to use Pinterest for self-promotion, Drake is using Pinterest to engage with its community.”
If you jump on the Pinterest bandwagon, most of the people you’ll be engaging with are women, who make up 70 percent of users right now. So the site may not help you in your quest for more male students. You may decide, however, it’s a place where female prospects need to see you.
Read more about our authors. Ray Ulmer, public relations director at TargetX, has been involved in higher education marketing for more than 25 years, including serving as executive director of communications at La Salle University and director of public relations at Drexel University. He has also worked in corporate marketing and advertising.