Anderson, Indiana

AU at the forefront of Pinterest expansion

Mon, 2013-02-04 11:35 -- univcomm
February 4, 2013

The words, “I saw this on Pinterest,” begin way too many of Robyn Bohlander’s conversations, confessed the Summitville wife and mom of six and grandmother.

“I’m addicted,” she joked, thumbing through her massive Pinterest book full of photos of more than 100 projects she’s completed after being inspired by the virtual corkboard. She’s sitting in her “Pinterest room” surrounded by projects in all stages with her materials well organized using tactics she got, you guessed it, from the Internet-based Pinterest.

“It isn’t just about crafts,” Bohlander said. “You can use it for everything — health, recipes, organization and storage ideas, cleaning tips, hairstyles, quotes and sayings, humor and home decor. I’m planning my dream home, my daughter’s weddings, landscaping ideas and diets and exercises to help me get toned.”

She checks the site from her computer, tablet and smartphone several times a day. Scanning through the site is one of the last things she does before she goes to bed.

The social networking site, self-described as a “virtual pinboard,” began in March 2010 by invitation only. Now public, it has more than 11.5 million unique visitors and is used not only as an inspiration and idea gathering source like Bohlander uses it, but as a useful marketing and networking tool for businesses and organizations like Anderson University as well.

Stefanie Leiter, Anderson University's Web content manager, runs the university’s Pinterest account. The university has close to 20 boards and more than 500 pins with themes including Christian life, dorm decorating, organization ideas and healthy college living. They’ve been pinning since June.

Leiter was using it in her own life and started seeing more and more businesses and universities joining in. They see it fulfilling many uses. It is an admissions tool giving prospective students and their parents a better idea of what AU is all about. It could also be a site for current students, staff and alumni to get inspiration and ideas as well.

And as the university hosts different events such as homecoming and Indianapolis Colts Training Camp, Leiter said they will create boards to help promote those events and help attendees be better prepared for them.

“I look at it as a visual representation of our university,” she said. “This gives them an image — something quick and to the point — that represents the university in a different way.”

[Editor's note: AU also maintains social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Vimeo.]

Giving inspiration

Tammy Bowman kept physical idea files for years whether they were ideas for work or home and articles to refer to later on in notebooks and folders.

But being a minimalist, Bowman said Pinterest has allowed her to get rid of much of those files allowing her to have a virtual and portable clippings book.

“I like seeing other people’s clippings or pins,” she said. “It is like you can read other people’s minds. I’ve used it for gift giving and received some great gifts for people that used to struggle. Now they can scope out what I’ve pinned and do some research.”

Bowman, Madison County Community Foundation program director, said she’s used the site to help get inspiration for foundation marketing and other work uses.

Jen Lewis first started pinning more than two years ago and uses it in nearly every area of her life — recipes, menu planning, cooking on a budget, school ideas, homework help, holiday planning, church ideas and gift ideas among other things.

Lewis, married for nearly 12 years, is a mom to four children ages 2 to 10 as well as the women’s ministry director of Alexandria Church of the Nazarene.

“Pinterest is a great way to connect with people from all over who share the same interests,” she said. “It’s a one-stop shopping site. You don’t have to spend hours on Google or another search engine searching ideas from many people. You can find it all in one place and can ‘like’ or ‘pin’ the idea to be used immediately or for you to go back when you’re ready. It’s basically many magazine subscriptions in one.”

“Honestly I can get lost pinning. So many pins out there and not enough time but I will continue to pin the ideas and know that when I get the time and have the need for something, I can log onto Pinterest and there it is.”

Bohlander always has been an avid crafter and do-it-yourself person, but said the site has given her even more inspiration.

“With six kids you don’t always have a lot of money,” she said, pointing out that only her husband works. “When I wanted something I had to figure out how to make it myself. Pinterest has made it easier.”

Typically she will find a project but will put her own spin on it making it unique.

Some of her projects have included transforming an entertainment center into a wardrobe for her granddaughter, crowned photo cubes of each of her grandchildren, Christmas ornaments, clothing, jewelry, wall art from transformed barn windows, a ribbon organizer, Christmas cards and wreaths.

“You could go broke on Pinterest,” she joked. “But if you are thrifty it is a great resource. There really is something for everyone.”

— Abbey Doyle is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Story republished with permission.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.