Pin and Be Pinned: Strategies for Pinterest Success

The most common question I’ve heard in the past five years is, “Which social media sites should my school be on?” It’s an innocent and honest question, and a good one to continually ask. The question of 2012 has been, “Should my school be using Pinterest?” with the underlying question being: “If I use it for my school, how do I use it well?”


If you’re already using Pinterest or are convinced already, you can jump ahead to the tips (below the hat).  For those of you wondering about why you should consider using Pinterest for your school, here are a couple of key facts about Pinterest’s importance and recent growth:

Keep Calm and Pin On

Here are your overarching tips for effective use (read this great how-to for specifics about using Pinterest to market for schools):


(1) Looks do matter: Pinterest is a great visual way to organize and share the “beautiful things” you find on the web. Your constituents who use it know this, so it’s key to gussy up your offerings.

  • Examples: Good: bright lighting, obvious subject, breathtaking picture. / Not so good: blurry/darker picture, not obvious subject, generally blah.

(2) Be creative: The “wow” factor spreads quickly on Pinterest through likes and repins.  Be sure to feature the things that make your school stand out. Be honest with yourself about this one — schools are often very similar and have “gorgeous grounds” and “brand-new facilities.”

(3) Organize: Parents, alums, faculty/staff, students, and prospective families all are probably using Pinterest differently.  Be sure you meet them in a way that makes sense to each of them (this likely means having several pinboards with different types of pins on each).

(4) Be delightful: People love to get behind a lovely concept.  Give them a chance to do so!

(5) Don’t be braggadocious:  Always ask yourself if you’re featuring the creativity of your constituencies or only using Pinterest to further your school’s own goals.

  • Example: Northfield Mount Hermon School has boards that play to the school’s strengths, but the boards do an even better job giving props to the people who make the school what it is.

(6) Be nimble: Figure out what people like or repin the most, then craft future pins to increase the likelihood your new pins will achieve the same success. Don’t get too locked in to what your agenda is.

Bonus tip-lets:

  • Get your Pinterest goodies (bookmarklets, buttons, etc.) here.
  • You can use hashtags (#) and @names on Pinterest to spread the word.
  • If you like playing with online toys, you can use a tool like pinerly to help make your pins look nicer, track clicks, and (coming soon) schedule your pins.

Here are a couple of things to get your creative juices flowing:

What floats your boat or your school’s boat about Pinterest?  Have tips to share of your own?  Comment below!

Joel F. W. Price

Joel F. W. Price

Technology Education Coordinator at Swarthmore College

Joel F. W. Price works at his alma mater, Swarthmore College, as the Technology Education Coordinator. He also spends time providing consulting and strategy for schools, bands, and other small businesses. In the past, he taught in a high school for students who were kicked out of public schools, toured with an acoustic trio, and worked as the webmaster and social media manager at Friends' Central School. In addition to these pursuits, Joel enjoys spending time on photography, playing sports, and cooking/canning. He also maintains a meticulous record and ticket stub of every concert he's attended since 1995 (well over 300). Also check out Joel's Flickr account at