The Higher Education Marketing Guide to Pinterest

The Higher Education Marketing Guide to Pinterest

Pinterest is an ever-growing social site where people can share and consume information using images. It’s the fastest social network. Like other social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, Pinterest has its unique identity and unique users.
Women Visiting Pinterest on Her iPad. Find out why colleges need to be using Pinterest

What is Pinterest? Your Marketing Guide to Pinterest

Pinterest is visual bookmarking. That’s it! It allows you to scan a large amount of content and decide what you want to click on.
Personally, I now use Pinterest search as my go-to search engine! I only use Google when I have to.
Individuals can create boards and organize their pins in whatever way they want. People can collect images and other media content and share these on their own boards.
The Power of Pinterest: Why Colleges Should Use Pinterest for Student Reach Out
Source: Adweek

Pinterest Was Uniquely Designed For Sharing 

Unlike most social media sites, the content you post stays alive and can be re-shared over and over again (1). Your content lives on and on!
When posting on Twitter and Facebook, this content can be buried under posts in just a few minutes and not be seen by anyone.
But with Pinterest, your content can still be shared “pinned” and “repined” for hours, days, months and even years. There’s no half-life for content. It means that even if you haven’t shared content for some time, the content you’ve posted can still be generating “repins” and traffic to your site.
There are definitely ways to work the system to give your content more legs in Pinterest. Keep reading to find out how to do that.

Pinterest’s Grow Is Explosive

Pinterest is the 3rd largest social media Platform, since launching in March of 2010 (2).
According to internet marketer Neil Patel in his article A Step-by-Step Guide to Driving 10,000 Visitors a Month Through Pinterest for Quick Sprout, “Pinterest is the second biggest driver of referral traffic by a large margin.”
The Power of Pinterest: Why Colleges Should Use Pinterest for Student Reach Out
Pinterest has grown considerably since it’s inception over five years ago. According to Fortune:

“Pinterest today announced it crossed the threshold of 100 million monthly active users. The media startup, valued at $11 billion in its latest round of funding, says the number of ‘pinners,’ or people sharing images and links, has doubled on its platform in the last 18 months and the number of searches on its service has increased by 81% over the last year.”

For businesses, this is great news. Two-thirds of all content from Pinterest was created by a business, meaning now’s the time more than ever to try and make a name for yourself utilizing Pinterest (3).
Pinterest is quickly becoming the place, the search engine and the stopping space for people to surf, find, garner and consume information (4).

Understanding Pinterest’s Users

The demographics:

  • 42 percent of all women (internet users) use Pinterest
  • 13 percent of men (internet users) can be found on Pinterest (5)

More men join Pinterest every day!

Go Where Prospective Students Are

Most higher education institutions will say their demographics screw women. Doesn’t it make sense to have a large presence on Pinterest? You need to go where prospective students are.
A vast majority of these users are women. In fact, 1/3rd of women in the US are on Pinterest; overall women make up 71 percent of all Pinterest Users (6).
Looking deeper at the numbers:

  • 34 percent of Pinterest users are between the ages of 18 to 29
  • 28 percent of adults 30–49 year old use Pinterest
  • 27 percent of adults 50–64 years old use Pinterest (4)Pinterest 3


How Does This Match Up With Your Enrollment Demographics?

There are two different ways to target prospective students on Pinterest.

  • You can target prospective students directly.
  • You can target the Mom’s of Generation Z (your next enrollment cohort). We dig into this a lot more below.
  • You can also  


How Schools Can Create Pinterest to Drive An Enormous Amount of Traffic to Their Website

Pinterest is easy to use, though it can be time-consuming, it is worth the time and effort. Now is the time to reach out to potential students and their parents.

So How Can You Create Boards?

  • When signing up for Pinterest, make sure you create a business account, as this will enable you to see your analytics.
  • When constructing your Pinterest page, be sure to make it SEO friendly; use keyword optimization when you name your board and when you write your descriptions and image titles.
  • On your University website, make sure you have “pin worthy” content and images, which enables pinning.
  • You want to write strong descriptions for each image that is optimized with keywords and you can use hashtags to further optimize keywords.
  • For every image title, make sure that it is “rich pin” optimized. Learn more about getting rich pins.
  • If you’re willing to spend a little money, you can use promoted pins to be able to become more visible so you can garner more followers.


Take Prospects On a Tour Using Your Boards

You can setup Pinterest boards so prospective students can see what your school looks like. If, for example, they aren’t able to explore the campus on a tour, they can take a look at a board titled: “School Tour.” This board can have photos of all the important parts of your school you want to show off to potential students (9). This can help make a prospective student an enrolled student.
Prospective students want to control the enrollment process as much as possible. They want to learn as much about your school without getting on a phone or visiting a campus.
Some colleges have done an amazing job of dominating on Pinterest.
The University of Michigan, for example, creates unique and interesting boards for their school (9). They have a vibrant history, stretching back some 200 years. They are using their boards on Pinterest to showcase their history and traditions through historical pictures.


How to Organize Your Boards

Create boards for prospective students to explore your school. Create boards for students to check in with the admissions department to make things much easier. Create boards to highlight your school’s history. Create boards by program of interest. If you offer degrees in Nursing, create a board that has a large variety of articles and infographics about nursing.

Here is a career advice board for nursing

The Power of Pinterest: Why Colleges Should Use Pinterest for Student Reach Out


You can even go whimsical with a nursing themed cake board

The Power of Pinterest: Why Colleges Should Use Pinterest for Student Reach Out

Check out William and Mary’s Alumni Association

You can also have ones dedicated to your alumni, as well.

The Power of Pinterest: Why Colleges Should Use Pinterest for Student Reach Out


You Want Your Boards To Be About Your Story, Your College

You can have boards set up to help incoming students learn about your school. You can have boards that keep current students engaged, as well as boards to keep alumni engaged – maybe they want to continue their education and your school is the first choice because you are so present.

But It’s Not All About Boards

Be sure to check your analytics to see your competition and see how you’re doing (9). Whoever you leave in charge of creating your boards, also needs to be active in the Pinterest community. It’s important for your staff to pin other people’s content to your boards too and not just your own.
If you’re unsure how to do this, give Tribeca Marketing Group a call at (866) 255-4955. We can help you execute your Pinterest content strategy.

Best Times to Pin

One of the challenges of Pinterest is that some of the best times to pin are when your staff is done for the day. The best time to pin is between 2 to 4pm and 8pm to 1am (6).  There are tools out there where you can schedule your pins. Pinterest Business also offers a tool.
Be sure to check out this great article on using Pinterest in Higher Education.

The Importance of Content Strategy and How Pinterest Should Be A Part Of It

It’s important to have a content strategy for Pinterest and other social sites. For Pinterest, you want to be deliberate in creating amazing visual content catering directly to your personas (i.e. your target demographic) (8). You can learn more about what’s involved in visual content marketing our Visual Content Marketing for Higher Education board on Pinterest, of course.
Check out these great examples of colleges doing it right on Pinterest:
Check out how Michigan State uses Pinterest: Using Pinterest in Higher Education marketing to engage a student audience

How Your School Can Use Pinterest

Drake University of Des Moines, Iowa, is a good example of a college doing a good job of utilizing Pinterest to its fullest potential. It has 5.4 thousand followers; has boards that represent its school, such as famous past alumni; a board about the city, the school and about different programs they offer, such as a study abroad board.
“Our primary motivation with Pinterest is to connect with several of our audiences, including our current students, alumni, and prospective students,” digital media specialist at the university, Aaron Jaco, said to US News (10).
This is just one way a college has successfully used Pinterest. There are so many other ways colleges can utilize Pinterest, from promoting events to group recruiting.

Some Other Colleges That Stand Out Are:

  1. Yale University2.4k followers. 356 pins. 9 boards.
  1. Indiana University23.6k followers. 952 pins. 15 boards.
  1. Colorado State University4.1k followers. 4.3 thousand pins. 51 boards.
  1. William and Mary Alumni Association10.1k followers, 1.3k pins. 19 boards.
  1. University of Michigan20.3k followers. 6.3k pins. 44 boards
  1. Falmouth University (UK)234.4k followers. 2.8k pins. 28 boards
  1. Manchester University (UK)233.3k followers. 6k pins. 44 boards.
  1. Kaplan University4.5k followers. 5.4 pins. 29 boards.

Just take a look at how these 4 colleges utilize their boards on Pinterest: 4 Colleges That Are Using Pinterest (Really Effectively)

Target Moms of Prospective Students

That’s right! Moms are on Pinterest. Why not create campaigns targeting moms of future students? If you get moms to follow and interact with your boards, then you have created the possibility of getting their kid, a perspective student, enrolled in your college or university.Higher Education Marketing Guide to Pinterest
There is no limit to how you can target prospective students and their families!
Some of the biggest demographics on Pinterest are 30–49, these are the ages of parents of younger Millennials and Gen Z. When it comes to deciding on what colleges kids go to, parents have a huge impact on their children’s decision. Having your school on Pinterest, where you know a prospective student’s mother is consuming and sharing information, is a great tactic in selling your school.
So why not cater your message to parents on Pinterest? That’s a different content strategy than how you position your institution to students, but can be equally effective.


Target Younger Millennials and Gen Z Using Pinterest

18 to 29 year olds are the ripe age to target when it comes to colleges. Though they may already be in college, targeting them for potential higher education is a smart move. Keeping them engaged, whether they’re students of your university or not, by showcasing media content that talk-up the importance of higher education at your university is a good way to try and pull them towards your university.
It is, therefore, a great audience to target for colleges and universities who want to start reaching out to future students. Start creating infographics and shareable content and images with keyword descriptions that are catered towards this demographic.
Also, be sure to check out this article: 56 Ways to Market Your Business on Pinterest

How People & Businesses Used to Dominate on Pinterest

When Pinterest launched, those individuals and businesses first on the platform were able to grow their followers exponentially. Originally, the newest content was at the top of the page, which made it easy for your content to be seen, shared and pinned. This allowed those first users to amass hundreds of thousands of followers.
Algorithms changed and Pinterest became more sophisticated. Now, instead of the most recent pins at the top, they’re now the most relevant pins. This does disproportionately help those early Pinners. Since their posts have more pins, those pins will often show up as more relevant. Eventually, this will change.
When MTV was the first channel to showcase music videos, those first few artists who had the foresight to create music videos were aired the most. The song Sledgehammer by Pete Gabriel still holds the title for the most aired video of all time.
This is the case when a new social media network launches. Those first few to jump in generally get the most followers.

If You’re New To Pinterest There Is Still Hope

Just like those that started out on Pinterest now have more followers, you can catch up by creating valuable content that is pin worthy and sharable.
You want to learn how to optimize your boards and pins. Don’t be disheartened if other colleges are doing better, they may have jumped on board in the beginning.

Running Ads on Pinterest

You may also consider running ads on Pinterest. Check out these do’s and don’ts of running ads on Pinterest. We recommend you spend the time to get to know this social network before jumping in with ads.  If you’re interested in running ads, give us a call to help optimize your ads.


Once you start creating great content that is worth pinning, organize your boards and keep pinning daily, you’ll start seeing a dramatic increase in website traffic coming from Pinterest. These colleges have done it! So can you!
Utilizing Pinterest isn’t complicated, it is worth the effort to try and find new students, engage with the students you already have and stay connected with past Alumni.
If you need help with your content strategy and/or your social media strategy development and execution, give Tribeca Marketing Group a call at (866) 255-4955. We can help you execute your Pinterest content strategy, train your team on best practices and help you start driving more traffic to your website through Pinterest.
Higher Education Marketing Guide Pinterest

  1. Quick Sprout: A Step-by-Step Guide to Driving 10,000 Visitors a Month Through Pinterest
  2. IvyWise Newsletter: Neat as a Pin: Using Pinterest in the College Admissions Process
  3. Fortune: Pinterest hits 100 million users
  4. DMR: by the Numbers: 270 Amazing Pinterest Statistics (march 2016)
  5. Sprout Social: New Social Media Demographics
  6. Quick Sprout: How to Turn Pinterest into a Revenue Generating Channel
  7. US News: College of Tomorrow: The Changing Demographics of the Student Body
  8. Localist: How are Colleges and Universities Using Pinterest?
  9. Smart Insights: Using Pinterest in Higher Education marketing to engage a student audience
  10. US News: Colleges Try to Find Their Voices on Pinterest