Lindsey Wilson College’s (LWC) career center has a full-time staff of two and is charged with providing career services for over 2,300 LWC students. If you guessed that their problem was not having enough staff, you guessed wrong. Many students simply didn’t know what career services were all about, and with a staff of just two, the center struggled in getting their message out.
So when graduate intern Weston Pope discovered how to use Pinterest to promote the career center’s services and increase real foot traffic, director Ashley Meadows Miller couldn’t have been more pleased.
In fact, last semester, the number of résumé reviews went up 81 percent. “I attribute that increase to our social media presence,” says Miller. “Our students know we’re here, they know what we do, and they know how we can help them. It’s a win for everyone.”
That 81 percent increase followed their Pinterest setup just last spring, and they spent just 30 minutes a day on the site.
If you haven’t yet adopted Pinterest, remember that it’s easier than blogging, takes just minutes a day, and appeals to the visual learning style of more than 60 percent of your student population. There is no higher-leverage tool for promoting your center and increasing foot traffic.
Here are some tips from my interview with Lindsey Wilson College staff and their huge success.
1) Start by Picking Your Categories
The first thing LWC did on Pinterest was set up the categories, called Pinboards, that they wanted to post about. Once they knew the types of content they wanted to share, it was easy to pin images to match. To help get you started, here are some of the career-related categories that LWC staff pin about:
- Career Advice
- Job Postings
- Résumé cover letter advice
- Attire for men and women
- Career-related books
- LinkedIn Advice
2) Pin Non-Career-Related Stuff Too
“Our Career Center wants to be part of the whole college experience,” says Miller. She regularly posts to a Pinboard called, Dorm Room décor, which links to articles about cheap decorations, posters, and room arrangement. A student might initially follow this Pinboard to get dorm room advice and then wind up reading about résumés. Some of the non-career-related categories at LWC include:
- Dorm room decor
- Staff picks
- Just for fun
- Events around the region
- Events at college
- Local businesses
- Student & alumni highlights
3) Keep Your Pins Relevant
For back-to-school week, the career center staff took fun pictures of the week’s events. Those pictures were pinned and tweeted. Students looking for images of their first week of school found themselves on the career center’s Pinterest page.
4) Know Where Your Students Hang Out
At LWC over half the students use Twitter regularly. So the staff Tweet a link to every new pin. Your school might be more Facebook oriented or text message oriented. Find ways to link your pins to where your students hang out online, perhaps sending weekly emails with links to Pinterest.
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5) Link to the Offline World
LWC students like to scan QR codes from posters on campus. This gives the center an opportunity to promote their Pinboads to the larger student population. For example, LWC can put up posters advertising local community events, and the QR codes link to their career center Pinboard called Local Events.
6) Stay Consistently Active
LWC pins daily. And because they’ve been consistent and set that expectation, they’ve seen an increase of 71.9 percent in their Twitter following since June and an 84 percent increase in Facebook likes. On the ground, this means they are reaching 600 more people than they were before Pinterest.
7) Share the Responsibility
As director of a busy – and getting busier – career center, Miller doesn’t always have time each day to pin. But with the help of Weston, their graduate intern, the LWC career center has several people pinning each week. With training and clear policies, LWC can share the responsibilities of social media.
Your staff surf the internet anyway – why not give them a Pin Button in their browser so when they come across content that fits one of your categories, they can post it? Each Pinboard allows you to assign other Pinners. This takes it easy to delegate based on category.
8) Establish a Regular Post
Friday is fun day with “Fun Friday” pins, tweets, and posts at LWC. Students know to check on social media on Fridays to see a cute cat picture with silly captions, a joke, or a funny image from campus. Setting up a regular schedule will help drive online traffic and shares – and ultimately foot traffic, too.
Take the Next Step
When the College of Ohio CEL started re-pinning my posts last month, I knew right away they had a progressive staff willing to try new things – people who are investing in their center’s future. When your school adopts Pinterest, you send a signal to students, to staff, and to potential partners outside of school. Join LWC, College of Ohio and the 66 other career centers actively using Pinterest to promote their services and engage with students.