Pinterest as a Serious Social Media Tool

Ask anyone you work with about what social media sites they use. They will probably begin with Facebook and Twitter. Ask them to think about some more and they will throw out Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, or even Pinterest. Going a step further, business or work applications for the use of Pinterest appear to be skewed. Widely utilized by a feminine audience, and adorned with pictures of pretty dresses, and delicious meals in minutes, the social media site has taken off, but not without some misconception. Get past the Do it yourself section, or the home décor, and you’ll find that there are many applications for Extension to utilize and jump in on this highly visual social media tool.

Pinterest is a visual discovery tool, that gives its users a unique way to explore links with information about things they want to do, want to buy, want to be inspired by, or want to learn. Each link or pin is represented by a picture from the site it represents. Below the picture is a caption and room for comments and likes. Think of this way: Each pin is like something that you have cut out of a magazine that you wish to keep the information from. Pins are organized on to boards so to be easily found by the user, or others exploring boards.

Here is an example of a pin. It links to this blog post. The picture gives a nice visual and tells us what it is linking us to!.

Blog Post on Pinterest

What does this all mean for Extension? We can use the Pinterest audience to provide them with research-based information. What better way to give them this information, than how they are looking for it anyway? If a user is looking for something in particular, they simply go to the search box, type it in, and many pins with those keywords will appear. What kind of information might we be able to share?

Some examples Include:

  • Dining for special dietary needs such as diabetes,
  • Nutritional snacks for kids, and families
  • Gardening tips
  • Troubleshooting gardening problems
  • Leadership games, ice breakers
  • Camp craft ideas
  • Publications with direct links for sales (new feature to pinterest!)

One way to understand what we can pin, is to explore what other organizations are pinning already. Some of these are just starting; some have thousands of pins to take a look at! Be sure to follow their boards and take a peek.

  • K-State Research and Extension
  • Burnett County 4-H
  • Colorado State University
  • UNL FoodFitness
  • Dinner Tonight! Texas A&M
  • FoodHero OSU Extension
  • Purdue Extension Hancock County
  • NMSU Cooperative Extension
  • Penn State Extension Ag Entrepreneurship
  • UCLA Extension
  • Oregon State University Extension
  • University of Missouri Extension
  • UGA Extension
  • University of Illinois Extension

As you explore Pinterest I have a couple of tips to leave for you. First, when you write a post, add a graphic that will work for your pin. This ensures you have a nice picture to use, and it’s done already! Use keywords for your organization along with popular buzzwords that may help users find your information. Example: #OSUE article on making healthy meals for your family in minutes! Next, take some time to pin other Extension services, or similar reputable blogs/information. Finally, have fun! Pinterest is meant to appeal to our visual sense. Explore and see how it works for you!

For those of you interested in learning more about Pinterest, stay tuned! I’m working on some more posts for this topic!

-Heather Gottke

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