Photo courtesy Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library.

This is the final installment in a six-part series on social media best practices for libraries in 2021.

Pinterest for libraries

According to Omnicore, people spend about five minutes a day on Pinterest. But those five minutes are driving a lot of decisions, and that’s a big opportunity for libraries.

90 percent of people use Pinterest as a way to do their research before they decide to try a new service. Pinterest is also a huge driver of website traffic across all industries, responsible for about five percent of all referral traffic. That was certainly what I saw when I worked at my previous library job. We consistently saw that 16-22 percent of traffic to our library catalog came from Pinterest!

Finally, 34 percent of Pinterest users are between the ages of 18 and 29. This is an opportunity for libraries to convert those young adults into lifelong, loyal library users. 

The Pinterest algorithm for 2021

When you share a new piece of content, the Pinterest algorithm first distributes your Pin to your current followers. If a bunch of your followers engage with your Pin, Pinterest will start showing it to other non-followers.

But Pinterest also uses ranking factors as part of their algorithm. Those ranking factors include:  

Domain quality:  Pinterest will rate the quality of your library website, if most of your Pins are coming from your website. You can boost the domain quality of your library website by converting to a business account if you haven’t already done so. You should also claim your website to show Pinterest that you are a trustworthy content creator.

Pin quality: Pinterest rewards accounts that use best practices in images, keywords, descriptions, and board arrangement.

Pinner quality: Pinterest will reward you for consistently adding Pins to your account.

Topic relevance: Pinterest will reward you for pinning things that your audience is really interested in (like books!) and for using relevant keywords.  

Here are four ways to put the Pinterest algorithm to work for your library.

Focus on new, quality Pins from your library website.

Pinterest loves images that are new. And Pinterest values quality Pins over quantity, which is good news for overworked library staff!

Post new images from your website, like new books, images from new blog posts, and links to new sections of your website like your readers advisory page, virtual browsing page, or your summer reading landing page when it goes live. Anytime you add something new to your library website, make it part of the promotional process to Pin from that landing page.

Screenshot from a library blog.
One thing I’ve learned in researching this guide is that there are lots of blogs with great ideas for any kind of library on Pinterest, like those one for school libraries!

Be a keyword guru.

Pinterest is a search engine. And the best way to get engagement for your Pins and ultimately funnel traffic to your library website is to use keywords correctly on the platform.

Think about what your followers are searching for. Make a list of the keywords that your followers might type into the search bar to find Pins.

Next, put potential keywords into the search bar to see what turns up.  You can also do a quick audit of your followers to see what Pins they have on their boards and what keywords those Pins have. Then add those keywords to your list.

Next, take your list and use those keywords to label Pins, name your boards, and write board and Pin descriptions.  

Screenshot of Pinterest boards from Gloucestershire Libraries
Gloucestershire Libraries does a superb job of naming their boards using keywords their users might search.

Pin way in advance of events and seasons.

Pinterest users start searching for ideas many months in advance of when they will actually need or use them. So, your library can start pinning holiday books in August and Summer Reading Pins in February.

The general advice from most marketing experts is that you should Pin holiday-specific content at least two months in advance of the holiday or season.

Screenshot from Spokane County Library.
Spokane County Library posted this Pin in April, two months before their summer reading program began.

Use hashtags.

Pinterest recommends you add no more than 20 hashtags per Pin. Pinterest also suggests you use a mix of hashtags, much like you would on Instagram. Choose hashtags that are specific to your library or your promotional campaign (if you have one), and some that are universal so your Pins get wider reach.

Use of hashtag in the name of a board by Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library.
The Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library uses a hashtag in the name of a board.

How often and when to post on Pinterest

The latest research suggests that your library should add no more than 50 Pins a day. That’s still a lot of Pins!

I recommend libraries keep it at a reasonable number, between 5 and 15 Pins a day. Watch your analytics and see if your followers respond. You can always adjust your frequency depending on your library audience.

When you Pin, post your new image only to one board. Pinterest will penalize accounts that put the same Pin on multiple boards.  

How much text should be in a Pinterest post?

You can use up to 500 characters in your Pin description.  

Pinterest image best practices

Pinterest wants you to use images that are 1000 x 1500 pixels or a 2:3 aspect ratio. They want high resolution photos. You might also consider adding a short text overlay on your image if you like.

Screenshot of image from Willard Library.
Williard Library’s Pin features the correct aspect ratio, which shows up beautifully in search.

Measuring success on Pinterest

One of the reasons your library should convert to a business account is that you’ll have access to Pinterest Analytics. You can use Pinterest Analytics to see which of your Pins generated the most engagement. You can also check to see which Pins drive the most traffic to your website.   

Pinterest will show you how many times your Pins show up in front of Pinterest users in their home feed, in search results, or through another user’s boards. They also measure a metric they call “Closeups” which is the number of times a user clicks on the Pin to take a closer look at it. And finally, you can see how many times your Pins were saved to user boards.

You may also like these posts

The VERY LATEST Info on Pinterest and What It Means For Library Marketing!

Three Questions You Need to Ask to Make a Powerful Pinterest Profile

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