If you’ve taken a great photo recently or found a blog site you wanted to bookmark, then chances are you’ve uploaded or shared them to a social media site, most probably Facebook or Twitter. And if it’s an academic article, you might post it onto CiteULike or Reddit. But have you considered Pinterest?
With over 70 million users, Pinterest is a growing social networking site where people collect, upload and share images and videos by pinning them to virtual ‘boards’.
Each pin includes a description of the image, and a link back to the source. Like any other social network, Pinterest has a social curation aspect where users can like, or repin images to their own boards. What makes this platform unique is the visual aesthetic and appeal of sharing rich media. The majority of images on Pinterest are aspirational; products, fashion, lifestyle and art. In 2012 the Obama Presidential campaign cashed in on the information that 80% of Pinterest users are female and placed the First Family on Pinterest with a view to increasing favor among female voters.
Increasingly, content is shared by universities, museums, libraries and by academics disseminating knowledge from scholarly journals and books content. So when the Social Sciences team at Wiley launched its first Pinterest board in July, we were keen to see how users would share or bookmark the content we had put together.
The Social Sciences team worked with journal editors in Geography, Political Science, Policy and Development Studies and Sociology to bring about a visual collection of articles and images on Perpectives on Climate Change – a subject that had seen major news coverage with the approaching UN Climate Summit 2014.
After pinning images from the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), the American Geophysical Union, WIRES, and supplementary material from sources online, our initial board of 42 pinned images had over 50 followers in the first month. Our experience has been a positive one, and future plans involve expanding our board to include content from our physical and life sciences journals.
What surprised us was the other ways in which academics engaged with the content. On Twitter, larger associations such as 350.org and MIT’s Climate CoLab got involved, retweeting to their followers and contacting us directly to see if they could also access content on Wiley Online Library. In China, the Wiley Online Library Weibo post was reposted by CNPolitics.org and received over 29,000 hits.
Using Pinterest as a Content Curation tool
Academics, lecturers and teachers are using Pinterest in new and innovative ways to engage with their research communities. We’ve got a few ideas on how you can you use Pinterest to attract the attention of your students, or to disseminate valuable content to your colleagues:
The leading publication, New Scientist, have created a ‘Books worth reading’ board on Pinterest. The board acts as a visual list of recommended reading, with the book covers uploaded as images. Each entry includes a short review as a description, and the link redirects to the full book review on the New Scientist site, allowing visitors to take in other titles or browse further. Why not create a board that highlights essential reading for a university course, or collates articles around a specific interest or theme?
If your department creates videos, such as student guides, podcasts, webinars, and lectures, try adding a still image from the video and link out to the content on your own site, or the third party site it is hosted on. Brighton School of Business and Management embed their videos online, to promote the courses they offer for professionals. Add context to your videos using the description field and make the content accessible to a capture a new audience.
Study skills guides
The internet is full of tutorials, infographics and lessons to help assist student learning, or even to provide advice on writing that first amazing article. The Roeper School created a Student Resources board to assist their students in studying and choosing the right course for university study. Use Pinterest as a resource hub for your students by updating a board with links to useful content. Teachers have also used it to find ideas for classroom arrangements and displays.
You’ve put your CV on Linked In, your bio on Academia.edu and now you’re self-promoting your book on Twitter. If you have a variety of authored works, articles, blog entries and projects, create your own portfolio board of recent works with your own images to encourage followers to read and cite your work. Add your author website URL to your Pinterest board, to generate traffic to your site.
Collaboration is key in the digital sphere, and what better way to communicate your project work by working together to create a visual board of your institutions efforts. The LSE Urban Studies department partnered with early career researchers to create the Field Research Method Lab board – an online platform for researchers to appraise various constraints encountered in the field.
Already on Pinterest? Improve your profile
- Don’t just post photos – Pinterest allows users to upload or share videos of events and editors – podcasts and editor interviews could be added to your boards with commentary.
- Make content discoverable using keywords, # and @ mentions, similar to Twitter.
- Collaborate with contacts in associations or faculties you work with to improve your visibility and following. Aim to follow thought leaders and larger groups.
- Consider the various metrics available on Pinterest Analytics to see how you’re engaging with your community; likes and comments per pin, follower engagement, reach, most clicked, most re-pinned, top fans and influencers (the list is almost endless).
- Photo quality is essential; maximum width 600px and thumbnail view width 190px. And don’t forget to include an alt text (the text alternative to a web image).
- Allow other users to post to your boards for higher engagement, especially for feedback on your ideas or your work – this will help tell your story and helps to interact with your community.
Let us know about your experience with Pinterest by tweeting us at @WileyExchanges. Happy Pinning!