#nexconf Presentation: Leveraging Pinterest and Instagram for Extension Work

#nexconf Presentation: Leveraging Pinterest and Instagram for Extension Work

Picture worth a thousand wordsWhile at the National Extension Conference, I had an opportunity to catch an informative session on Pinterest given by Amy Hays and Sara Baughman. I also caught the tail end of a session on Instagram also given by Amy Hays. Since I did not see the session in Sacramento, I just finished watching the Instagram session at learn.extension.org; lots of great information.

Here are more details on the different sessions:

My session notes on Pinterest and Instagram.

Additional sessions worth watching:


Here are some thoughts that I gleaned from this session.

First of all, Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social media sites. It is heavily driven by imagery, which is good for Extension because what we do shows up good in photos.

Hays broke down the nomenclature for a Pinterest site. Essentially, you have 1 Pinterest account. That account can maintain 350 boards or collections of photos. Boards are typically created around a specific topic. For example, I have a Pinterest board created around my favorite cups and balls routines. Each account can presently pin up to 100,000 images. Also, each account can have 100,000 likes.  A like is when you favor another individual’s pin.

Hays provided an example of a collection of boards that focused on Extension programming.

Example of Extension Pinterest Boards
Example of Extension Pinterest Boards

She also highlighted key elements to focus on while creating boards that focused on programming. These elements included:

  • Include an interesting photo.
  • Provide an educational message. Use a rich description of the content.
  • Reply to comments.
  • Populate it with many resources.
  • Use the location feature if applicable.
  • Ensure content is pinnable. If the content is not pinnable, then it may not be shareable on other social media sites.
Important Pinterest Elements
Important Pinterest Elements

Note from the image above that pins from same Website and board are highlighted. It also displays possible related content.

Hays stressed that we need to think about what is happening on our  Pinterest accounts. Are we putting out the right message? We can also see if folks are getting our message by reviewing the Pinterest metrics as well as Google Analytics. We can measure if Pinterest is driving traffic to our web pages.

When setting up your Pinterest boards, Baughman recommended understanding what you are trying to do. Are you trying to get followers, increase repins, or drive traffic to an external site? Once you understand what you want to do, you have to measure success. She recommended two sites to check out for assessing Pinterest metrics: Tailwind and Cyfe. Here is a slide recommending items to track for Pinterest.

Pinterest Items to Track
Pinterest Items to Track

One of the final benefits of Pinterest is that you can set up groups boards where multiple people can pin to a common board.


The second presentation also took advantage of imagery but in a different form. This time the tool is called Instagram, and it is a mobile application with very limited computer support.

As Hays noted, Instagram is primarily known for selfies.

Instagram focuses primarily on hashtags and images. However, it increases power when it shares to other social media platforms, e.g., Facebook.  As Hays noted, 9 of 10 Instagram users also post directly to Facebook. I am one of those users. Instagram is currently being used by a younger group. Hays stressed that it is important to find the right platform for the group you are targeting.

PEW Stats

Hays pointed out that NASA does a great job of getting their educational message out using Instagram… and everything else 😉 They use a consistent hashtag across all their platforms, something that Hays strongly recommends.


Key Instagram elements
Key Instagram elements

Instagram also allows for location marking of images. Hays noted that this can be a huge benefit for citizen science projects. The location of photos is marked on a Google Map and can be used for tracking invasive species, for example. It not only captures a photo, description, and location, but also a date/time stamp.

Hays included a number of ideas for using Instagram:

  • Taking images focusing on different projects you are working on.
  • Sharing photos of what you do as an Extension educator. Show the world what you do.
  • It is the year of the #felfie… sharing photos of you and your farm animals.
  • Market and capture your programs. Ensure you use a consistent hashtag. Give your different programs a hashtag.
  • Build a community around your programming by encouraging others to show your program in action.
  • Support national programs.
  • Become a visual teacher. Here are some examples: #myPlate #myafoffice

Here are ways you can participate, use hashtag #CEselfie #CESvalue when you take an Extension Instagram.

One last idea. Here is a contest the Air Force had using Instagram.

Hey everyone! We are on Instagram @airmanmagazine, and we want it to be a community forum where we share pictures from around the Air Force. Each month we will have a theme and hashtag. We want you to share a photo that captures your life in the Air Force. 

First Assignment: My Air Force Office (#myafoffice)
Airmen have interesting jobs in various locations around the world. This assignment is your chance to show off your “office”. Take a picture that best captures it. Get all the info — name, rank, job, base— put it all in the caption, and tag it #myafoffice

Please tag only one photo with #myafoffice on Instagram and Twitter between now and Monday, February 24th. We will look through and pick photos to be featured in Airman magazine and on our Instagram account. 

-Follow OPSEC (that’s operational security) If your intel people, commander, or public affairs folks would freak out if they saw your post, we probably will too. 
-Do not post personal information about other people, such as full name, location, address, phone number, etc.
-No sexual content.
-No overly graphic, disturbing/offensive material, or hate speech.
-When in doubt, refer to the Air Force Social Media Guide http://1.usa.gov/1in6q4R
Share your Air Force story with us and have fun!

These were both a great set of presentations. Let me know how you are using Pinterest and Instagram to support your Extension work.

Finally, come visit us at the University of Wyoming Extension Pinterest site.