It's different. It's shiny. It's the fairly new hotness. Yes, it's time for me to ponder Pinterest. Like almost every other social media service that came before it, Pinterest is riding a massive wave of adoption and excitement. Student Affairs, which has gotten on the social media train, is experimenting with Pinterest from several different angles. The "sandbox" approach that many have taken with Pinterest is quite refreshing. Functional areas are literally taking Pinterest for a spin. While this might not necessarily mean that our profession has finally moved into a space of "tech-perimentation," I do think that this is a positive phenomenon.
The always erudite Ed Cabellon wrote up a great post about Pinterest and the Student Union over at the ACUI Commons. Gary Alan Miller's overview of Pinterest is another quality post about Pinterest and Student Affairs. Several examples of Pinterest use by Student Affairs areas are readily available: Oregon State University UHDS, UMBC Bookstore, BSU Campus Center, Pitt Career Services, Penn Career Services, Northeastern University Student Life, University of Minnesota Student Unions & Activities, and University of Arizona Residence Life.
My initial concern regarding Pinterest is one that I've voiced about other web content delivery platforms: accessibility. With such a visual-oriented interface, Pinterest is exceptionally media rich. However, without contextual information (submitted via users when they pin something), Pinterest is virtually inaccessible for folks who cannot see. If Higher Education/Student Affairs readily adopts Pinterest as a communications/engagement channel, then accessibility needs to be part of the core conversation. After all, accessibility is not just ethically mandated, it's also required by law for institutions that receive federal funding.
The benefit of Pinterest (like many other 3rd party services) is that it allows Student Affairs to create web channels that are usually not a possibility on their .edus. Visually rich curation/sharing of information is where Pinterest shines. The social layer within Pinterest allows users to interact in ways that seem like we're just discovering another unique form of social media. For those areas within Student Affairs that are looking for a solid communications strategy, I would recommend getting really good at using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube. However, if you're interested in adding another layer to your already successful implementations on other sites, then by all means, give Pinterest a chance. Start pinning, creating, and engaging.
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