I think Pinterest is cool. I really do. I know how fast it’s growing. I’ve seen data. So I don’t discount it, nor do I want anyone who reads further to think that this post is about Pinterest hate (or even dislike). It’s not.
It is about focus, though.
Let me explain. I’ve been busy with meetings and focused on writing this week so I haven’t spent a lot of time on Twitter, but I’ve seen a bunch of tweets about highered and Pinterest. And Becca Ramspott wrote a terrific post for CASE’s social media blog about how Frostburg State uses it.
This buzz indicates that Pinterest is a new BSO for higher ed. [That's Bright Shiny Object, in case you're wondering.] Unfortunately.
Why “unfortunately?” Because a Pinterest presence is the last thing that most the majority of schools, colleges, and universities should focus on right now.
People are paying attention to your website, blogs, Facebook page(s), YouTube channel, and Twitter feed(s). Are you managing them? Are you developing and sharing fresh content regularly? Are you responding to comments, likes, RTs frequently? If you are, that’s awesome! Maybe you should experiment with Pinterest and see how it works for some audience segments. But if your key channels aren’t rockin’, Pinterest is a distraction. Stop messing about, focus, and get to work on the really important channels!
This is particularly true for anyone who thinks Pinterest has a role in student recruitment right now. Let’s consider a few datapoints.
Zinch and Inigral released some research earlier this week on social media and admissions [there's a lot there to digest on prospective students and Facebook]. They learned that of the 7,000 teens they surveyed, only about 5% said they used Pinterest to research colleges. [That's the slide above, if you're interested.] This echoes findings from Noel-Levitz, who reported that 6.3% of prospective students used Pinterest.
I believe that there are institutions (like RISD and FIT) where an initiative for prospective students designed around Pinterest just might work. But my suggestion to most colleges and universities is to focus right now on GSD, not this particular BSO.