Promoting your store with social media is one of the most effective ways to reach your students, especially because you'll see quick results with minimal effort and little investment. Facebook and Instagram may dominate your customers' browsing time, but that doesn't mean you should discount Pinterest.
Your store is more than just a place to get textbooks or school merchandise.
As a vital part of your campus community, your store may also provide:
- Resources for students and faculty
- Outreach to local charities and volunteer opportunities
- A must-visit destination spot on campus
Offering a board or boards that’s just for your students helps expand their perception of your store — and with more than 100 million active subscribers, Pinterest can significantly increase your social reach with a minimal amount of effort.
Reasons you should start pinning today:
- Pinterest is fundamentally visual, which appeals most to consumers
- You can organize by topic or theme. Have an in-store event or holiday coming up? Create a board to promote it! It takes seconds to create a new board, and mobile apps let you continue to pin at your convenience
- To easily highlight what sets your store apart. It’s a simple way to promote your products, shine the spotlight on your customers and showcase what makes your store unique. Use Rich Pins to provide even more on-the-spot information
- It encourages collaboration with your campus community. Invite other pinners (from your staff, student body or from other stores) to add pins to a communal board. You can also create secret boards for staff members only to plan events or brainstorm together
- Cross-promotion takes just a couple of clicks. By linking your accounts, you can share your boards on Facebook and Twitter. Adding buttons to your website gives visitors the option to save images as pins, follow you and lets you showcase individual pins and boards right on your website.
Pro tip: Use Pinterest like a pro!
To see how other companies and business have used Pinterest to their advantage, check out these success stories.
How to create a Pinterest board for students
Now that we’ve covered why Pinterest makes a great addition to your social media strategy, the next question is how to make it work for your store. While promoting your products directly is undeniably important (and should be part of your overall strategy), we recommend that you also create at least one board that is just for students. No ulterior motives, no aggressive sales pitches — just something that’s helpful to them, visually engaging and inherently shareable.
The University Store at UCM mixes college survival tips, practical life advice and ideas to make dorm living a little bit easier on their "College Life" board.
If you haven’t already, sign up for a Pinterest account. If you intend to link back to your store’s site, use rich pins or demonstrate that your website is verified, you’ll need to sign up as a business rather than as an individual.
Choose a theme for your board
Make a list of topics that will appeal to your customers. This is an ideal opportunity to get input from your student employees, since they’ll know best what their peers are into. Some potential themes could include ways to help students save money, activities they could do on campus or around town, student fashion inspiration, dorm survival strategies, studying tips or funny memes and images to help them de-stress.
Create and name your board
Giving your board a catchy name may help it stand out, especially if there are already a lot of similar boards. Since you don’t know how your board will be discovered, unless it’s secret, keep it appropriate and relevant to your store’s image. Don’t forget to add your description (up to 500 characters) and select a category.
Keep in mind that the most popular categories (“most pinned”) include:
- Food & Drink
- DIY & Crafts
- Home Décor
- Holidays & Events
The University Co-op's page boasts 50 Longhorn-themed boards, including a "Texas-sized Valentine's Day" board which covers all four of the most-pinned categories. With merchandise from the store peppered in, the board also has recipes, gift ideas, suggestions for local activities and items from other vendors.
Search for relevant pins
Pinterest makes it easy to search for topics, ideas or existing groups. For our example board “Cheap Meals for College Students,” we started with the obvious and searched for “cheap meals.”
Next, we clicked on the suggestion to add “for college students”
That provided enough links to keep us busy for a while (and made us hungry!) but we could also find even more relevant pins by selecting “boards” instead of “all pins.”
When you find a winner, make sure you save it to the correct board. Then, scroll down from the pin itself and check out the related pins directly below.
Continue to pin until you have enough to keep a casual browser occupied for at least a little while (around 30-50 pins is a good place to start). Remember that you’ll be adding new pins — daily, if possible — so you don’t need to go overboard when you’re just starting out.
Promote your board
One of the best examples of how to easily cross-promote on Facebook comes from Pinterest’s page.
Their recipe: Fun fact or statement of what the theme is + link with an appealing image = success!
So, along those lines, if we were posting a link for our “Cheap Meals for College Students” board, it could look something like this:
Keep on pinning!
Continue to add to your board, but not all at once. Rather than pinning several new pins at the same time, space them out throughout the day to avoid overloading your followers’ feeds.
Assess your results
Pinterest makes it easy to track how well your pins are performing with analytics. As a business account, you can instantly see which pins are most popular, track traffic back to your website and learn how to maximize your results.
Check out these other boards from other college stores who are active on Pinterest: