The photo sharing-and-consuming platform Pinterest blew up in 2011 and 2012, surpassing 100 million visits this March, according to a study.
Yet the social network remains relatively untapped in the world of college and pro sports, with only a few major teams exploring this visual world that features themed boards and users "pinning" and "repinning" (think tweeting and retweeting, only more permanent) images of all kinds.
Not so in Eugene, Ore.
There, the University of Oregon has pinned (sorry) a small amount of its social-media future on these boards -- which skew largely female -- and is seeing the returns. Among schools with the nation's highest-ranked football programs, the Ducks' account is by far the most-followed (more than 2,100). This even compares favorably to some of the top pro boards; it's not quite as high as the Boston Celtics' (more than 3,600) but better than, for example, those of the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys (1,700 and 1,600, respectively).
So what drew the Ducks to Pinterest? How does it fit with the rest of their visual strategy on the web? We caught up via email with Andy McNamara, assistant director of media services, to find out.
First, when and why did you start up on Pinterest?
We set up the account in January or February. After hearing and seeing consistent chatter among my wife's Facebook friends, I did a little research and thought it had potential to be a great platform to engage and interact with our fans on a year-round basis.
So what has your experience been on it? You've got that good follower base ...
It's been a fun learning experience and we've used some trial and error in attempting to figure out and tap into what Pinterest users are most interested in. We also look to develop boards that are interesting to both women and men.
So what are your favorites, in terms of boards and pins? Which have received the best response?
I like the Just Ducky board for the challenge of finding interesting items that can be related back to the Ducks. The National Brand board is also a cool way for us to show our reach [Editor's note: All pins found in this piece are from those two boards]. Some of my favorite pins are Jack Black rocking an Oregon shirt and Dwyane Wade wearing custom Oregon Air Jordans.
About attracting women as well as men -- do you think these social media outlets have helped you reach more female fans in recent years?
Pinterest and Facebook, for sure. I've seen an uptick in male followers on our Pinterest account as of late, but the majority are still women [McNamara estimates it at 80/20].
So, any new ideas in store for Pinterest, and photo sharing across all platforms?
On Pinterest, we just created a board for all of our custom wallpaper and Facebook timeline cover photos that I'm interested in developing further if it's well-received.
As for photo sharing, we are expanding our activity on Instagram though our official account (UODUCKS) and just posted our first in-game photo albums on our football Facebook account this past Saturday [such as the first photo shown in this piece], which we plan on continuing throughout the season.
Ducks are getting loose #uoasu (on Instagram)
By Eric Evans; shared on Facebook.
All images courtesy of University of Oregon athletics.