Photo courtesy Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library.

This is the fifth part of a series on social media best practices for libraries in 2022. These posts include best practices for the following platforms:

The series concludes next week with the best practices guide for Twitter. These are the top platforms used by libraries according to a survey I conducted.

Pinterest for libraries

Pinterest use exploded in 2020 during the pandemic. However, in the last three months of 2021, active monthly users have dropped seven percent. Pinterest is working to re-engage users with the release of new features.

Here are more Pinterest statistics of value to library promotion from Business of Apps:

  • More than 70 percent of Pinterest users are female identifying.
  • Most Pinterest users are between the ages of 35 and 49 years old.
  • 57 percent of Pinterest users access the platform at least once a week.
  • A vast majority of Pinterest users live in the United States. If you are a reader from outside the U.S., you may not see much benefit from Pinterest use.
  • More people log onto Pinterest every month than use Snapchat or Twitter. This stat is probably the most significant of this list. It means that if you’re trying to prioritize which platforms to post on, you should prioritize Pinterest over Snapchat or Twitter.

The Pinterest algorithm for 2022

Like all platforms, Pinterest uses ranking factors as part of its algorithm. Unlike other platforms, Pinterest is incredibly transparent about its algorithm. For those of you who are good at math, here is a detailed post from Pinterest explaining their algorithm.

Here’s a simpler explanation of the ranking factors that affect the algorithm.

  • Domain quality: Pinterest wants to know that you are posting from a real website, and they’ll boost your organic reach if you claim your domain. First, you’ll need to convert to a business account if you haven’t already done so. (A business account also gives you in-depth analytics). Next, you’ll want to add a piece of code to your website. If you don’t have access to your library’s CMS, ask your IT department for help. It’ll be worth the trouble. That simple piece of code will mean the world of difference for your reach on Pinterest.
  • Pin quality: Pinterest rewards accounts that use best practices in images, keywords, descriptions, and board arrangement.
  • Topic relevance: Pinterest will reward you for pinning about trending topics and for using relevant keywords and tags.  
  • Video Pin engagement potential: Pinterest admits it will boost video Pins by as much as 40 percent if the video Pin is viewed for more than 10 seconds, the video Pin is viewed in “close-up” mode (which means a user clicked on and opened the Pin from the Home feed), or the video Pin is repinned. Scroll down for more on video Pins.

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

Post Pins that match trending topics.

Make it a point to check this page once a month to see what topics are trending on Pinterest. Then, find content from your library that matches trending topics to Pin.

Pinterest will give Pins that match trending topics more organic reach. It’s as simple as that.

This strategy is also great for when you are struggling to decide what content to post on Pinterest. Let the platform help you make those decisions.

Whittle your boards down to 10 or less and make sure they are relevant.

This is great news for time-strapped libraries. You no longer need to keep track of dozens of boards on Pinterest.

Instead, create boards that are super-specific or relevant to the work and strategy of your library. Then focus on creating Pins solely for those boards.

You can do a board audit and move Pins from the boards you decide to delete to other boards. You can also delete Pins, especially if they are low performing, without suffering any penalties to your organic reach.

Prepare to incorporate new features.

Pinterest is making plans to roll out a bunch of new features in 2022. These are all designed to increase engagement and interaction on the platform. And if your library is posting to Pinterest, you’ll want to start thinking now about how you might incorporate these into your strategy.

  • Idea Pins: This new feature, released in September 2021, mimics Instagram Stories. Your library can post up to 20 images in a carousel. You can make limited text and background design changes. You cannot post videos as Idea Pins. But unlike Instagram Stories, Idea Pins do not disappear after 24 hours. They are discoverable forever or until you delete them. I’ve posted some Idea Pins on my Library Marketing Pinterest board as examples.
An example of an Idea Pin.
  • Takes: Pinterest says this feature, which is in the test phase as of this writing, will allow someone to create a response to your Idea Pins. For example, let’s say your library posts an Idea Pin with the top five new eBook releases for the month. A reader and follower of your Pinterest board could take your Idea Pin and create a response Take, sharing their review or thoughts on one or more of the books on your list. These two features, Ideas and Takes, should definitely be a part of your strategy for Pinterest this year.
  • Watch Mode: This feature, which is also in the test phase as of this writing, switches Pins to a full-screen presentation mode, with video and still image Pins displayed in a vertical scrolling stream. This means your library will need to follow the best practices for Pin creation, especially in terms of image size. You’ll want your Pins to look professional and beautiful in Watch Mode when it is released.

Try video Pins.

In September, Pinterest officials said they were focusing on the Home Feed, which is the page most people see when they log onto Pinterest. They want to ensure that Pins showing up in the Home feed are as relevant and engaging as possible (makes sense!).

To do this, they admitted they started boosting video Pins in their algorithm. And, as mentioned above in the section on the Pinterest algorithm, there are some very specific engagement factors Pinterest is looking for when they rank video Pins. So here are some guidelines for libraries creating video Pins.

Video Pins can be up to 2GB long, which is about five minutes at high definition. They must be .mp4, .mov, or .m4v. Pinterest videos need to be shot vertically or square.

Just like with YouTube, you should do a keyword search to determine the best title for your video. Make certain that the first 50-60 characters of your description are engaging and inviting. That’s the amount of text that’s likely to show up in the Home Feed.

Use hashtags in your Pin descriptions.

Hashtags on Pinterest act as they do on other platforms, to help users find the content they want and need. Experts recommend you had a hashtag at the end of your description text and at the end of a sentence if you can make it make sense.

Don’t use hashtags in your bio, board descriptions, board names, or your profile name. They’re not clickable in those locations and they take up precious space, plus they hurt your Pins readability.

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 6 and 15 Pins a day.

How much text should be in a Pinterest post?

You can use up to 500 characters in your Pin description.  But remember, only the first 50-60 characters show up in the Home Feed. So those are the characters that really count.

Pinterest image best practices

Pinterest wants you to use images that are 1000 x 1500 pixels or a 2:3 aspect ratio. Pick vertical photos for Pinterest, with images that are taller than they are wider. Pinterest also wants high-resolution photos. You can add a short text overlay to your image without being penalized by the algorithm.

Measuring success on Pinterest

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, one of the reasons your library should convert to a business account is that you’ll have access to Pinterest Analytics. The business account analytics are informative.

You can use Pinterest Analytics to see which of your Pins generated the most engagement. You can filter by a host of factors, including the format of the Pin, gender, age, the device used to view the Pin, and by date.

Pinterest will show you how many times your Pins appear in their home feed, in search results, or on 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 you can see how many times your Pins were saved to user boards.

A snapshot of the many features available using Pinterest analytics. You can see that I started playing around with Idea Pins this weekend!

Some libraries to follow for inspiration on Pinterest

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The Christmas Promise by Richard Paul Evans.

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