Pinterest has shown tremendous growth over the past six months, and is one of the few newer (non-google) social media sites to gain traction. But, is it a fad that will show waning interest, like other recent semi-hit Quora, or will it have a longer shelf life?
First, my theory on why Pinterest gained traction. I believe the visual nature of the site appeals to us for the same reason that photo sharing is such a primary activity in the social space. So, in this way, it shares the same traction that, say, Instagram does. Initially, it also tapped into an interest area and a target market (females predominately), and it “solved a problem,” in a way that many social media platforms don’t do. Many social media platforms fail to gain a core audience beyond the typical techie/early adopter set. Pinterest gave itself a leg up by avoiding that trap.
Now that it does have that traction, it’s being leveraged by others beyond that initial audience. Brands from General Electric (fairly thin page) to Whole Foods (much more robust) are experimenting. In the higher education space, University of Pennsylvania’s Career Services (and the great work of Shannon Kelly) is setting a standard with their page. Others like Skidmore College’s D-Hall and University of Minnesota’s Student Union, along with many others, are dabbling. It will be interesting to see where other student affairs pros take it.
So, to my original question: is it a passing fad or here to stay? Obviously, we don’t know the full answer yet. But, my feeling is that it has taken root, and fills a gap and thus will be with us at least for a little while. It’s a fun site, and while it will probably continue to be a primary place for individuals to share, it will be interesting to watch brands continue to experiment and develop their space on the site.
What do you think about Pinterest for student affairs departments?
Gary Alan Miller is the Assistant Director for Social Media and Innovation at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.