I have been hearing/reading about Pintrest for awhile, but when I first checked it out, I was put off from joining because it required a Facebook or Twitter account, neither of which I had or was interested in starting. However, I decided that this course provided too good an opportunity to pass up, particularly as I had to open a Facebook account for a course last semester. And even better, you can now join Pintrest with just an e-mail address rather than needing another kind of account. It’s going to take a lot more playing before I feel like I have really gained any kind of mastery that would make me any kind of expert. However, I have been having a great time thus far and have learned a lot.
I had been particularly intrigued because there were a number of interesting articles that I’ve found that talk about the ways that Pintrest can be used to further your career, improve the success of your job search, etc. I’ve shared a couple of those on the general discussion board in D2L, but here are some of the “highlights” as I see them.
- “The social aspect of Pinterest comes into play when Pinners browse each other’s pinboards or search for specific types of Pins. Pinners can find inspiration, share their interests and connect with like-minded people. According to the Pinterest mission statement, the company believes that “a favorite book, toy, or recipe can reveal a common link between two people.”
- Pinterest’s rising popularity proves it as a new alternative for connecting people around the world based on shared tastes, styles and interests. For January of 2012, Pinterest’s percentage of total referral traffic matched Twitter and surpassed other popular content-sharing sites like YouTube, Google+, Reddit, MySpace, and LinkedIn.”
- “The sharing aspect of Pinterest makes it a great way to collaborate and communicate with other teachers, students, and parents.”
- “For any professional organization, Pinterest is an important social media tool that can be used to communicate, educate and create some buzz.”
These things all paint a picture of a very dynamic and creative way to use technology and social media to build and maintain a network and to showcase who you are, what you have done and can do. However, I would imagine that one of the challenges in something like this would be to effectively draw lines between personal and professional pins and presence. In your job search, it is generally necessary to use your name rather than an online pseudonym to identify your work.
Therefore, the question becomes how you highlight the things with which you have been involved professionally, while still maintaining your personal boards if they are also under your name. It is possible to chose what you share with others – thus, you can do things like start looking at information about pregnancy, babies, etc., before telling people that you are expecting, but sometimes you want to share things personally that you aren’t sharing at work. And there is not so much space to explain why you have pinned something, so it could be easily misinterpreted. The pregnancy/baby subject being a particularly apt one for this discussion – you might be personally pinning pregnancy and baby things because you have a sister/friend/etc. who is expecting and you are sharing with her, however, a prospective employer won’t know that and might make assumptions that you will be immediately taking maternity leave, etc. The trick is that you have to be vigilant about applying limits as to who can access the things that you have pinned.
I think that for libraries and other information institutions, Pintrest can provide some great opportunities because while each pin serves as a link to something else, they tend to be more graphic and dynamic looking than links in Facebook generally appear. Things that you might pin include information about legislation that will affect libraries; information about book awards; past, present and future programs; and information about books on a staff pick lists or recent releases from popular authors or on popular subjects, etc. While the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” stands, one of the reasons that libraries and bookstores create displays is because people often pick up books with intriguing covers (based on graphic, title or both). If you pin something about a book, you would generally be showing the book cover, which is, in effect, creating a digital display. Pintrest can also be used very effectively if an institution has an archive, a strong collection of older documents/maps/books/etc., or the tendency to create exhibitions.
There are severe weaknesses in the social media presence of the institution for which I’m creating my social media plan. However, one thing being done successfully is that they have started to use Pintrest well. They showcase some of the great things available in the archives and highlighting their exhibits, etc. However, they fail to effectively link the Pintrest account to their website, instead, they are linked to the blog that features images. A blog that is separate from the website, but not effectively highlighted. In this way, they fail to maximize their reach and effectiveness. These are things that I am going to be focusing on in the social media plan (along with the use of some other technologies to expand their audience, reaching the audiences that they purport to be most interested in growing).