There has been a lot of buzz in the library world about the social media site Pinterest for about the last year, but what on earth is Pinterest, and how can it be used in a library setting? Pinterest is a set of virtual cork boards. You take items that you like and “pin” them to the relevant cork board. The neat thing about Pinterest is that, being a social media site, you not only share your boards and pins with everyone on the site, you can also see the boards and pins of everyone on the site and the people you choose to follow.
Pinterest is another social media tool, and many libraries already utilize several social media tools. Why should they use one more? First of all, the rate of expansion and reach of Pinterest is huge. Pinterest launched in 2010, and as of July 2013, they have approximately 70 million users worldwide, including libraries, educational institutions, non-for-profits and major brands. There are projects (1, 2), presentations, collaborative Pinterest boards, and more.
Some Do’s and Don’ts for introducing Pinterest to your social media regime:
Do: Sign up for a Pinterest account!
Don’t: Sign up for a library-related account right away if you have never used Pinterest before. Either ask a co-worker who has used Pinterest before, or set up a personal account so you can play with Pinterest before pinning for your library. As long as you have two e-mail addresses (IE: a personal and work e-mail) this is possible.
Do: Have a plan. What are you going to pin? Who are you trying to reach? What is your purpose in setting up a Pinterest account? Reading the Pew Research Center’s Report on Social Networking may help you determine if you are reaching the right audience for the right social media account.
Don’t: Be afraid to throw your plan out the window, or tweak as necessary, when things don’t work as you expect.
Do: Remember the mantra from blogging: Content, content, content: Pinterest has an area underneath the photograph for captions. Write intriguing captions! The worst thing you can do is NOT have a caption. Also remember to attribute your source!
Do: Photo quality matters Pinterest is a primarily visual site, so the first thing a viewer is going to respond to is your picture. You are much more likely to get repins of photographs that not only have interesting content, but are also of good quality. Let’s try a little experiment. Which picture would you repin?
You do not need to be a professional photographer to include original content on your Pinterest, but the better the quality of your pictures, the more likely they are to be re-pinned. Also, if you are using original photographs that include patrons, do not forget to have the patrons sign a media release.
Do: Use and check your analytics! When Pinterest first started, no analytics tracking was available. The first, and still best, service that allowed for Pinterest analytics tracking was Reachli. There are portions of the service that are paid, but the analytics tracking services are all free. Reachli links to your Pinterest account and tracks 5 different metrics: the number of posts you’ve made in a given period, the number of likes, views, and re-shares you’ve received and the total reach of your posts. The reach is calculated thusly: if you have 100 followers, and one of your followers who also has 100 followers shares one of your pins your reach is calculated to be your followers PLUS the followers of person who shared the post for a total of 200 followers. If a post is widely shared, this number can grow very quickly.
A drawback to Reachli is that it does not show you WHO is liking or repinning your posts. The latest update to Pinterest (Pinterest 2.0) includes this feature built directly into a compact dashboard.
This covers just a little of what you can do with Pinterest, why you should do it, and how to get started. Join me, Kevin Toomey and Kate Tkacik in Room 205 Wednesday, October 16, at ILA for further discussion of both Pinterest and Tumblr!