The Social Student – Thesis Research with Pinterest

Do you want to use social media in your thesis research? Many do. But maybe you see no point in learning social media research. I thought similarly?that is, until I realized that small tweaks can make for amazing transformations.

Take anxiety, for instance. A slight change in your thoughts can actually cure you. Similarly, a slight change to your social media learning curve can make your research faster, easier?and better.

Perhaps you want to do a study on how people in the mental health sphere view mental health pins on Pinterest. Whether or not you do, below is a snapshot of what such a social media study might look like.

Step 1: Set up a Pinterest business account for your academic profile.
If you have a Pinterest business account, you can promote your pin?in other words, advertise your pin.

Go to and sign up for your Pinterest business account. Give your business a name. I might name my business account after my thesis topic?for instance, “Perceptions of Mental Health Research.”

You’ll need to wait up to three weeks to get approved for a Pinterest business account. If you don’t get approved, set up a personal Pinterest account and forget about advertising your pin. Instead, you will go gung-ho on step 6 below.

Step 2: Make the pin you intend to promote on Pinterest.
Make your promotional pin. Use free design software like that at to do so. Perhaps title the pin “Voice your concerns about mental health ? Click to participate in a graduate thesis survey.” But be careful of your choice of promotional image?you don’t want to bias participant views.

In less than five minutes, I created a promotional pin in using a free template with text I modified. This is what the promotional pin looks like.

Step 3: Link your pin to your online survey.
When you upload the above pin in Pinterest, edit it. Specifically, link your pin to your Google Forms survey URL or other online survey. This way, when people click on your pin, they will go directly to your survey.

Step 4: Gather your pins for your visual research.
You can start by going to Pinterest and doing a search for “mental health.” Then, take the top five or so pins for your visual research. Here is an example of one pin sourced at on March 26, 2017.

Put the top five pins you found on a Pinterest board you create. But be sure to make your promotional pin (in step 2 above) the first pin you post?as the first pin posted gets featured at the top of your board.

By putting these pins on your board, you have a record of your research. You’ll thank me come citation time.

Step 5: Make your online survey.
As a survey question, you could ask, “Do you think this pin leads people to view mental health with (1) a lot more stigma, (2) somewhat more stigma, (3) neither more or less stigma, (4) somewhat less stigma, or (5) a lot less stigma.” You could follow up with an open-ended question like “Why do you believe these pins might lead others to view mental health with the level of stigma you indicated?”

Also, you can use Window’s free snipping tool to take screenshots of the pins on Pinterest. Once you have the screenshots, add them to your survey questions in Google Forms or other online surveys. Google Forms allows you to add videos or photos to your surveys.

Step 6: Follow all the mental health pinners for thirty days.
This is especially vital if you didn’t get approved for a business account. Whether you got approved or not, follow all pinners that show up for a Pinterest search of the words “mental health advocates” or “mental health practitioners” or simply “mental health.” Follow all pinners in your target categories?following the daily maximum amount Pinterest will allow. Follow the maximum amount every day for about thirty days, advises viral YouTube blogger “Lazy Ass Stoner.” In return, many will follow you back?and a portion of those might fill out your survey.

You can also message your followers to fill out your survey via private messages. Or you could use Pinterest’s messaging feature to email the pin (or board) to mental health practitioners and advocates.

Step 7: Promote your pin if you’ve got a business account.
When promoting your Pinterest pin in your business account, use keywords like “mental health practitioners” or “mental health advocates” or “mental health patients.” Then set a daily budget and a campaign start and end date. This will help you reach more than just the people who followed you on Pinterest. But, again, you need to get approved for the Pinterest business account for this to work.

Step 8: Put a link to your Pinterest board on all of your social media sites.
Advertise your Pinterest board or pin across your social media platforms. But, if You’re weak on the social media, then consider Facebook advertising your pin image (in step 2 above).

Step 9: Await the responses.

That’s a rough idea on how to make a research project on Pinterest. Pinterest is sprouting in academic research, so harvest that visual forest?one tweak at a time.

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