Nov 25 2013

University of Michigan Is the First to Leverage Pinterest’s New “Places” Boards

Location-based social media is an innovative way for colleges to connect with prospective students.

Last week, Pinterest announced boards that allow users to collect images and thoughts based on physical locations. It’s helpful for planning a honeymoon or a vacation, but it’s also a great way for colleges to engage with prospective students.

The University of Michigan was a launch partner and already has two place boards. The first is titled Tour #UMich and is aimed directly at high school students. The board allows the students to tour campus with a map and accompanying images

University of Michigan Pinterest

The virtual tour provides an informative and engaging experience. It’s a tool that today’s teenagers will find intuitive and helpful. As users browse the page, they can click through to resources on the university’s website. It’s an innovative way to present information that hasn’t been easily accessible in the past.

Another board — Wolverines Around The World — details students, alumni, faculty and staff who have “traveled the world to study, research, and spread their UMich pride.” While the campus tour is a local board, Wolverines Around The World is very much global, with pins as far away as Mongolia and South Africa.

EdTech caught up with Hillary Frazier, the University of Michigan’s senior social media specialist, who manages the Pinterest account as well as other central university accounts.

EdTech: How was the University of Michigan selected as a launch partner?

Hillary: We were approached by Pinterest earlier this month to partner with them in the launch of Place pins as a university with a deep understanding of the Pinterest platform. Pinterest is our fastest growing social channel, with over 1,400 percent growth in the past year. We do our best to bring unique content to our Pinterest followers each day. Pinterest saw the University of Michigan as a standout on the platform and thought we would make a great partner for the launch.

EdTech: How do you see place boards benefiting your social media efforts?

Hillary: Place boards are the perfect addition to our Pinterest presence. Our Tour #UMich board will help connect with our future Wolverines, allowing them to see campus online before they visit, and then pull the map up on their phones once they arrive, for a simple and visually appealing way to tour, with locations that may or may not be on a typical campus tour. Our campus has such a wide variety of places, and often times students don't know where to find them. This way, they can see the address, get directions on the go and even know what other hot spots are nearby.

Our Wolverines Around The World board fits with our often-used quote by President Coleman, "Wherever you go, go Blue." Our students and alumni have an overwhelming amount of pride for their school and take their Block Ms with them all over the world. These Place pins show the true reach of our alumni community, which is the largest living alumni community in the world, at over 500,000. Travel and study-abroad photos have been a great way for us to build our Pinterest community, and we love to see our global reach, from Table Mountain in Africa, to the Great Wall of China — even the North Pole!

EdTech: Is Pinterest an effective tool for colleges?

Hillary: Absolutely! We've loved seeing the following we're building on Pinterest. Overall, each of our social platforms has a unique audience, from alumni and parents on Facebook to prospective students on Instagram, each tool allows us to reach different groups. Pinterest complements that, and we're able to cater to a wider variety of interests with each board. Additionally, content on Pinterest doesn't "scroll away" as it does on other platforms. We see more users clicking through to our other university sites, and it serves as a visual collection of all of the things we love at the University of Michigan. We're excited to see Pinterest grow and enable new ways for us to connect to the University of Michigan community!

Follow Hillary on Twitter, and check out the University of Michigan’s social media hub at