Like Pinterest? SSU has its site set on you
By NICK WALDEN / Rohnert Park Correspondent
Susan Kashack has always taken social media seriously. As assistant vice president for marketing and communication at Sonoma State University, she knows her way around Facebook and Twitter.
But when Kimberly Casanova arrived as an intern in September, things really began to take off. SSU now has a rapidly expanding Pinterest page that includes a healthy Instagram section.
“Kim just took charge,” Kashack said. “She has a knack for social media and picking things that are of interest.”
Pinterest bills itself as “a tool for collecting and organizing things you love.” It is a photo sharing site that allows users to create theme-based collection using a pin board style.
People can then “re-pin” images they like to their own board as well as “like” photos. As of March, it boasted more than 48.7 million users.
SSU’s Pinterest site is relatively new, with 152 followers and a total of 265 pinned images on 16 boards such as Wisdom, Dining Services, Great Resources for Students, and Dining Services and Great Recipes. By May, Casanova and Kashack hope to have 180 followers.
What really helps is Casanova’s generational experience with social media.
“Because I am a student, a lot of our audience is like me,” she said. “So I ask myself what would I find interesting, funny or useful.” As the primary moderator of the college’s sites, she benefits from the fact that she belongs to its primary demographic.
Over the years, SSU has been steadily increasing its social media exposure, with goals of getting 13,000 Facebook likes, 450 followers on Instagram, 400 followers on Twitter, and 2,100 LinkedIn connections.
“The idea started with interesting pictures and five or six boards that weren’t really Pinterest but more of what you would find on Facebook,” said Casanova. “Now our focus is to become more of what Pinterest is, which is to pin things that are interesting and informative like the ‘Dorm Room Deco’.”
That category has been particularly popular because it provides students with ideas about how to use and decorate their spaces. The Seawolf Swag board is another popular spot, showcasing branded items that help students show their school spirit.
“That board was to try and attract attention to the store,” said Casanova. “It can help put us on the map if people re-pin something interesting that their followers see which add more exposure because people aren’t expecting to see things from a university.”
Other pages like “Blast from the Past” showcase campus history.
“I love that KC put up the Blast from the Past board,” Kashack said. “Students love to look at how things used to be.”
Sonoma State is not the only college to engage students by using Pinterest. Syracuse University’s site has more than 1,900 followers, 20 boards and over 1,200 pins.
Casanova spends time on other college sites, studying the ways they are using them, she said. She also makes an effort to follow people and re-pin their postings.
“Pinterest gives us a community to share hobbies and cool things,” said Casanova, “which is perfect for a college that has a large fine arts department.”
Instagram and Pinterest are SSU’s only two sites geared more toward students than alumni and donors. As such, Casanova says, “I would like to see more fun boards that would really encourage people to re-pin items.”
SSU’s 11,385 Facebook followers are comprised of current students, alumni, parents, potential students and their parents who want to keep connected with interesting things happening at school.