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Saturday, April 20, 2024

UC Davis adds Pinterest to arsenal of social media tools

UC Davis has been working diligently to create a virtual social network for the campus. By installing University of California, Davis Facebook, YouTube and Twitter home pages, the university is keeping up with the ever-changing, endless array of online social media sites.

The newly instated UC Davis Pinterest page is no exception. The social media site, which Time magazine has listed in its “50 Best Websites of 2011,” allows for quick and striking visuals of UC Davis campus features to be shared with a vast audience and further disseminated by individuals who take particular interest in a certain post.

The idea behind Pinterest, which was completed in 2010, is perhaps the least tech-savvy innovation of which one would think — a pin board. The old-fashioned organizational instrument, conventionally used for prospective brides-to-be or home decorating gurus, inspired its creation.

University Communications began use of Pinterest in late February. Susanne Rockwell, University Communications social media editor, said the team is continuing to evolve and adapt their skills in response to the site.

“Our goal is to share how great UC Davis is through pictures, videos and stories,” said Rockwell. “We’ve looked at other university sites for inspiration — but I think our students can provide the best ideas.”

Students are encouraged to share suggestions for boards and pins by e-mailing socialmedia@ucdavis.edu.

Director and associate professor in the technocultural studies department Jesse Drew acknowledges this student involvement as a vital necessity for the success of any university social media implementation.

“Students are the driving force of social media and universities are trying desperately to catch up,” Drew said.

With so many outlets of social media, the emergence of a new kid on the block begs the question, what does Pinterest have to offer that others don’t? A distinguishing factor of the site is its focus on the visual. Twitter allows a few words to strike a chord while Pinterest emphasizes aesthetics above all.

A prime example of the commanding effect such photos can have is evidenced by the Study Abroad board on the UC Davis Pinterest site.

Blake Cooper, outreach and marketing coordinator at the Education Abroad Center, collects photographs from UC Davis students on exchange and uploads them to the Study Abroad Pinterest board or the Aggie Abroad Network. The current allotment of pictures totals upwards of 3,500.

“Pinterest allows for the ability to tell stories visually in an image,” Cooper said. “Students studying abroad now stay connected to campus with images [uploaded to Pinterest]. So central campus could come across an image and press one button and this image would lead to the Pinterest site. It’s a way to connect the picture with the program.”

In addition to a Study Abroad board, the UC Davis Pinterest site also hosts an Aggie Athletics, Aggie Traditions and The Sustainable Campus boards, along with a score of other university-related pins. The site is tuned to all things Aggie, conscientiously promoting a social media network wholly unique to UC Davis.

“Since much of social media is based upon sharing images, Pinterest is of course capitalizing on that trend by making it several steps easier to do so directly from the web, and to build a community of sharing in doing so,” Drew said.

Although Pinterest may be a behemoth in the virtual world, don’t expect other sites to fall by the wayside anytime soon.

“I think that the community will continue to grow as Pinterest gains popularity among students, but that Facebook will remain the primary social media forum for some time to come,” genetics major Sara Watson said.

KELLEY REES can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

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