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It’s technically not a new social platform, but many libraries are just beginning to realize the potential value of marketing on Pinterest. It’s a great way to reach readers, share information on new books in your collection, and build camaraderie amongst book nerds. It’s the perfect content marketing vehicle. You can share Pins and information that add value to your cardholders’ lives in a way that is separate and distinct from your products or services. And it gets your brand name and logo in front of the eyes of a niche group of users. I truly believe it is a worthwhile investment for every library marketing team.

Now, most content marketing blogs (including mine) preach that absolutely everything you do as a marketer should be driven by a clear and concise strategy with measured results. But before you can do that, and really anytime you start working with a new social media platform, you need to give yourself a 3-6 month window to experiment and build an audience. You’ll want to attract followers and then pay attention to what interests and engages them, then provide your followers with the content they want. If you’re getting ready to create a Pinterest account, consider your first half-year in the platform an experimentation period. If you’ve had a Pinterest account for a while but you feel like you haven’t paid it much attention, declare the next 3-6 months to be a “time of discovery.”

When you’re experimenting with Pinterest, be very observant about how your followers engage with your content and track everything. You want Pins that not only get repins and likes but that also actually lead to action. In particular for libraries, Pinterest should drive people back to your website to check out a program, put a book on hold, download an eAudiobook, or stream a movie. Pin all kinds of content and see what creates that reaction in your followers. Once you know how they’ll react to your pins, you can create a strategy.

Here’s some guidelines for your Pinterest experimentation period!

1. Create boards that will inspire your followers to use your services. Library Pinterest followers love book lists, book club ideas, and Pins that talk about a love of reading and a love of books. That makes sense–your core customers are avid readers. Most of them want to evangelize. Make it easy for them by finding Pins that help! And in every case where you can, make sure the Pin links to your library website. You can do this by clicking on the editing pencil after you initially put the Pin on your board.

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2. Drive your collections but pick your images carefully. Pins about books, particularly new releases, do really well on Pinterest but most library websites don’t have catalog or website images that are Pin-friendly.  You want the biggest image possible, preferably 735 pixels in width (the height will adjust accordingly). Here’s a trick: find a larger book cover image from the publisher’s website. Pin the image and then hit “see it now.” Then edit the Pin and add a direct url link back to your catalog so potential readers can click on the Pin and get right to the book to check it out or place a hold.

3. Get into the infographic business. Pinterest is the playground of infographics and many brands find success with this visual format. Infographics are time-consuming to create but you can do them with the help of an experienced graphic artist or by going to the Creative Bloq site, which has many free templates. Infographics are also ripe for re-purposing. You can pick a targeted audience and send an email to promote it. You can blog about them, insert them into a newsletter, and reuse pieces of them for other social media posts. Try one infographic a month and see how your followers react. My guess is that they’ll eat it up!

Is your library using Pinterest? Mine is! Share ideas about boards and Pins that have worked for you with other readers in the comments section!

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Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

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