Pinterest: the land of endless pins about party appetizers, to-die-for tall boots, and holiday décor. Why would a private school want to mingle with Whole Foods, Nordstrom, and Martha Stewart on Pinterest? It’s the old marketing rule: be where your customers are.
As part of my role as Marketing Manager at Laurel Springs School, I manage the school’s social media presence. When Pinterest burst into the social media universe like a supernova, I was immediately hooked and amassed a healthy personal horde of pins. Switching into work mode, I realized that an enormous proportion of Pinterest users fall into one of the school’s desired demographics. A recent Pew study showed that one third of female U.S. Internet users use Pinterest, and another study found that the average household income of Pinterest users is more than $100,000. How could I create an authentic education marketing Pinterest strategy for Laurel Springs? I will explore just one piece of our Pinterest program here: virtual bookshelves.
If your school is like ours, its most unique characteristic is also its greatest strength. In the case of Laurel Springs, it’s the fact that the learning environment is 100% virtual; as an online school, it does not have a physical building where students and parents can browse shelves of teacher-curated books. Our virtual bookshelves on Pinterest bring department book collections into a virtual space. Teachers are excited to submit titles for the virtual bookshelves, which are organized by major subject area. I work with department chairs to coordinate adding titles. Each pinboard is a visual, virtual representation of books that our teachers recommend. Currently, we have virtual bookshelves for Science, Social Studies, and English.
What’s the return on investment? It’s twofold.
- First, we connect with current and future families. Let’s go back to that old marketing rule of being where our customers are. Each of our virtual bookshelf pinboards have hundreds of followers, most of them moms who want to augment their typical Pinterest feed of recipes and home décor with educational resources that they can pass on to their kids. We want to connect with those parents in a way that matches their digital body language. Some of our followers have children enrolled at the school, and some followers don’t—which means we are expanding our reach into circles of prospective families.
- Second, we develop our school’s thought leadership. For example, over 400 people follow our school counseling virtual bookshelf, and a good portion of those people are school counselors at other schools. Our school counselors worked with me to curate a collection of books on topics like college admissions, study skills, and perfectionism. In this way, our Pinterest account serves as a component of informal professional development in the social space.
Our virtual bookshelves are constantly evolving, and I’m excited to raise the school’s visibility on Pinterest in a different way. Does your school use Pinterest as part of its education marketing strategy, and if so, how?