Thursday, 21 June 2012

Pinterest 101: A Primer for Libraries

Pinterest.com is a site you'll have heard of - it's THE social media platform of the moment. It has already become one of the top-10 social media sites in terms of numbers of users (and in January 2012 became the fastest website in history to reach 10 million users), and attracted a lot of press coverage when recent investment valued the brand at $1billion. Of course, none of that REALLY matters to us as librarians - we care about how it can be used to bring together communities in libraries, and market our services. The mantra, as always, is about market penetration - are our users there? If so, we should be there too.

What does Pinterest actually do?


So what does it do? Pinterest allows you to pin photos (and videos) to boards, arranged and organised by theme. The images are known as pins, the boards as pinboards. It's very easy to use, and you can pin anything from anywhere online - you can mix your own original content with other things you pull in from elsewhere (this is an increasingly important feature for a web 2.0 tool to make easy, in my view). It's very easy to share. It's very easy to collaborate. It's very easy for people to express their likes and interests and hobbies and passions visually. It doesn't sound like much, but it's clearly enough.

A Pinterest board looks like this:

A nice example from Yarra Plenty, in Australia
Pinterest offers an intuitive way of sharing content with your library's community, across different themes or topics. And it allows your community to share back - that shouldn't be underestimated, it's a rare and excellent opportunity.

Good examples from the world of libraries 


I like what Kansas City Library are doing with Pinterest, like this Pin Your Perfect Library theme. They're inviting their users to get involved and to pin things, and getting a really good response. They're linking Pinterest with their other social media presences effectively, too.

Savedelete.com offers a post with 20 different ways for libraries to use Pinterest. There's ideas you'd expect like using Pins to showcase new acquisitions, but also some great ideas around helping people with research interests, marketing archives, and managing reading programmes. Edudemic offers pretty much the exact same 20 things.

Also relevant from the information-literacy side of things is this guide to Pinterest and teaching / learning, from zdnet.com. They suggest using it for lesson-plans, sharing ideas and project-based learning - and offer some tips on etiquette on the platform too.

5 headlines from Sony's example


One of the blogs recommended on the Essential Tools and Resources of this website is eConsultancy. It isn't about libraries but much of their marketing expertise (which tends to be of a digital nature) is applicable in our field.

A recent post on how Sony uses Pinterest to drive traffic to their website may be of interest to both libraries using Pinterest already and those thinking about taking the plunge. It's worth reading the whole thing but here's 5 headlines I picked out from it:

  1. Sony found out what kinds of things people would be interested in posting on a pinboard by searching Pinterest for existing pins related to the company. This is obviously a useful exercise ('our' equivalent may be looking at what people are posting on library sites - libraries like our own institutions) but the key thing here is that they used it to inform their own posts. If you pin the kind of things your patrons will pin, they'll be more likely to engage.
  2. Before launching, they had an internal competition for employees to make Pinboards about Sony. I really like this as a method for encouraging interest in (and facilitating familiarity with) a new tool, meaning that it's not just the office social media whizzkid who's engaging with it. It also meant they had a load of content ready to go at lauch, without any one person having to put in hours and hours of work
  3. Sony isn't just having a bit of fun with this - they have a strategy with three main goals. Libraries can and should use social media in this way too: what do we want to get out of this? What are the gains here, what are the targets? This can help inform how much time to devote to it. If the goal is to drive traffic to the main library websites, pinboards need to be set up with that in mind
  4. They get 2.5 x the traffic to their website from Pinterest than they do from Twitter! This is amazing when you consider how much more established Twitter is - and particularly when you consider the total number of followers they have on Pinterest is around 3% of their total Twitter followers... So in other words, Pinterest is a website which encourages ACTION from its users, which is really key (it's no use having a gazillion Facebook friends for your library if none of them act any differently towards your library as result of it)
  5. Responsy's Chad White reckons that by September at least 50% of retailers will be using Pinterest and promoting it to their customers - which will mean more people using it overall, and more people expecting to interact with their library on that platform too 
If you have any outstanding examples of libraries using Pinterest (even if it's your own!) I'd love to see them in a comment.


2 comments:

  1. My experience with pinterest:

    I've used pinterest to optimize my site's ranking and the outcome was good, it has improved from page 6 to 4rd spot of 1st page within 3 weeks.

    I found that the seller named "pinterest", which ranked first when you search "pinterest" at Fiverr, has produced the best results on my websites. The seller pins my site with 75 different people, not sure how he did this, but it has improve my SERP's ranking. I've tried 5 other sellers who offer pinterest gigs on Fiverr but they can't improve my site's ranking. I don't know why.

    After using pinterest for SEO for quite some time, I've discovered some of its benefits:
    - Google loves social media signal.
    - Each pin is considered as 3 inbound links.
    - Links and images from pinterest are dofollow.
    - Remember to ping the links of the pins to get indexed by Google.

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