Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Promoting Your Library through Pinterest

If you are a librarian and haven't yet heard of Pinterest, it's definitely worth a look, especially if your library is into leveraging social media to promote library services. Pinterest is a social networking site that lets users create groupings (pinboards) of images (pins) they find on the web or upload. Users can then interact with other people's pins and pinboards by "like"ing pins or by following pinboards.

If you have already heard of Pinterest, it is probably because the site is making big news lately on the Interwebs. According to comScore, Pinterest was the fastest growing independent site to hit 10 million monthly unique visits in the U.S. Another report claims that Pinterest drives more referral traffic to online retailers than Google+, YouTube, Reddit and LinkedIn combined.

By default, each pin is linked back to the website from whence it came. BUT, you can easily edit the pin's link and change it to wherever you'd like. The ability to customize pin links unlocks all sorts of exciting possibilities for promoting your library's collections, services, and events. For example, libraries could upload images of newly arrived books and then link those images directly to its catalog record. That is, when a patron clicks on the pin for a book, she could be directed to a page that makes it easy for her to hold or check out a copy. You could post items promoting an upcoming event and then post pictures from the event after it was done. And you could even pin an image of your chat widget, linked to your Ask-A-Librarian page, so that people with questions can get connected to your staff more easily.

Libraries are already jumping on the Pinterest band wagon. Here are just a few examples:
  • University of Louisville Libraries currently has 5 boards, including Books, Videos, and Photographs.
  • Westerville Library in Westerville, Ohio currently has 16 boards, including Bookish Crafts, Quotes About Reading, and Tweens/Teens Library Love.
  • Clermont County Public Library in Ohio current has 42 boards! They cover topics like staff pick books for a variety of age groups and genres, new books each month, and Going Green Books.
If you are interested in looking into Pinterest for your library, Anne Clarke, who is a Children's Librarian in Michigan, recently published a really nice blog post entitled Pinterest for Librarians. Pinterest Online Curation Pinboard with Major Promise for Libraries, written by Joe Murphy, is another good resource. Pinterest is currently in a beta phase. So you'll need an invite to get an account. You can request an invite via Pinterest's website or e-mail us and we can send you an invite through our Pinterest account. Yes, LibraryH3lp is giving Pinterest a whirl!

If you've spent any time with the widget designer in the admin site, you probably have come across the shared widget skins. As it stands, the shared skins is a long list of widgets that our libraries have created over the years. Its length is both a blessing and curse. You have lots of opportunity for inspiration, but then any enthusiasm quickly gets tempered by the sheer magnitude. Enter Pinterest.

We're creating a visual library of widgets and Ask-A-Librarian images intended to inspire and to encourage creativity when integrating chat widgets into websites. Eventually, we'd like to integrate these boards into our website. We've seeded the two boards with some examples (all linked directly to the originating library's Ask-A-Librarian service), but we'd love to have many more! As a testament to Pinterest's active user population, we're already getting followers and likes on our pins. If you would like to add your chat widget and/or Ask-A-Librarian image to our boards, please let us know. And if you'd prefer us not to use your images, also let us know and we will remove them from our boards.

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