Pinterest for Libraries – what we’re doing

I recently helped set up a Pinterest account for our library (and by “help” I mean that I created the account. Most of the work so far has been done by Jeff Tate, our Digital Branch Librarian, and our fine group of staff participating in the pilot project).

What have we done so far? Here’s a list of our goals and process to date, and a list of a few “best practice” tips we’ve discovered along the way:

Goals and process:

  • Goal: focus on the library, on things our customers might be interested in, and on “local.”
  • Goal: focus on things that make people “click”
  • Goal for each board – at least 9 pins a week.
  • For staff – wear your “library hat” – think like “the library” rather than an individual when pinning something
  • We set up 16 boards for starters, each with at least one staff member in charge of it (most of the boards have a team of 2-3 staff).
  • The boards we set up, for the most part, match up to our neighborhoods in our physical library and on our website (we have grouped subject areas together into neighborhoods, i.e., the Travel neighborhood, the Cooking Neighborhood, etc. Each has a physical collection and a blog).
  • We will soon have a link to our Pinterest account from the main page of our website
  • Write a short, “tweetable” blurb for each pin you create.
Useful Tips:
  • I used a group email (we use Microsoft Exchange/Outlook for email) when setting up the account, and assigned everyone participating in the pilot project to the email group. That way, everyone sees likes, pins, follows, comments, etc  that happen in Pinterest.
  • When creating a new board, fill it up with 9 things – this way, the board doesn’t look “empty” [like my personal Pinterest account looks :-) ]
  • Pinning books from our catalog is great – but it’s also a multi-step process. First, you need to find a bookcover pic and Pin that (because Pinterest Pins focus on images). Once you have the pic, you can then add in the direct URL to the book’s catalog record.

That’s pretty much it. Pinterest is a very simple site … that has taken off like crazy! Like I said, this is a pilot project. Our plan is to use Pinterest for 6 months to see if it works for our library and for our customers. If there continues to be growing interest, we’ll go with it. If interest wains, we’ll kill the project.

More articles on Pinterest and libraries:

What’s your library doing with Pinterest? Let me know!

Focus on Youtube – Summary and Why?

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been writing and thinking about Youtube for awhile. Here’s a list of my recent Youtube posts:

Why have I been focused on Youtube? Well, a couple of reasons. One, I really needed to re-focus on Youtube a bit at work. Writing and thinking about this stuff really helps me figure out what I need to do next for my library’s Youtube account.

One more reason – Youtube is a social network, with subscribers, friends, content creators, comments, likes, and favorites. If you want friends, subscribers, comments … and more importantly, video viewers, you need to be there. You need to watch videos, leave comments, likes, favorites, share videos, etc. That gets you noticed by others in the Youtube community (and your local customers who use Youtube).

Try out some of my suggestions, and see if you can increase engagement in Youtube in 2012!

Community pic by Bigstock

Attracting Friends, Part 1

A couple posts ago, I suggested that libraries stop friending other libraries and to focus instead on their local community. (aside – If you need/want to connect with other librarians, that’s great – make your own personal account for that).

Now, on to how? What are the different ways one can friend others in popular social networking sites, and how can you find and attract friends in each? That’s a bit more difficult, and takes a bit more work. I’ll take a couple of posts and give some pointers (and would love for you to join in and suggest your own idea,s too!).

Here are some general ideas that work for most of the new social networking tools:

  • Setting goals (have I mentioned this one enough?). You need to figure out what you want to achieve with your twitter/facebook/etc account. Do this first!
  • Focus on a target audience – it might help to focus on a target audience, rather than to focus on a generic “patron.”
  • Be human, instead of a stuffy organization. @Zappos and @Timbuk2 do this well in Twitter – when you send them a question or comment about their product, you generally get a real, live person replying, being helpful, answering questions, etc. (hmm… that sorta sounds like a reference librarian).
  • Good content rules! Make interesting posts/tweets/updates
  • Advertise/promote it! Think business cards in the library, articles in the library newsletter, etc.
  • Link to it on your website, and explain what it is and why I should care.
  • Find out where people who use these tools hang out, and go there. And post flyers, pass out cards with your social networking info on it, etc. in those establishments (I’m thinking bulletin board in a coffee shop here).
  • Teach classes on the tool. Show attendees how to set up an account, and how to follow the library. Instant followers!
  • Even better – do the same thing at a local chamber brown bag lunch or other business oriented gathering. Show them how the library can meet real needs via these tools.
  • Library programs/events? Take the first 2 minutes and push it there.
  • Colleges/high schools nearby? Put an ad in their newspapers.
  • How about a local newspaper or local magazine? Put an ad there or check into writing an article for them (better yet, a weekly tech column).

You might have noticed that most of my suggestions on getting friends for social networking tools … doesn’t involve using the tool to make friends. Instead, it’s all about YOU leaving the library and meeting your community. Getting out of the building. Actively introducing your community to these tools. Or even talking to peole inside your library that you notice use the tools.

That’s the hard part – lots of walking and talking and meeting people, physically and digitally. But it will pay off.

Next post – I’ll look at some specifics of finding friends by using the tools – Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Flickr.

Now – on to your ideas. How do you get friends with social networking tools? Have I left off anything?

photo credit

Update: This is part of my slowly-growing series on organization-based friending in social networks. Here’s what I have so far: